I’ll try just about anything when it comes to beauty trends as long as it doesn’t involve a scalpel or extreme dieting. So when activated charcoal started showing up in everything from facial cleansers to lemonade, boasting extreme health benefits, I was intrigued to say the least. Apparently black is the new green.
Activated Charcoal has a long history of homeopathic benefits and recently it’s been getting a lot of press as a health and beauty aid.
So what is it?
Activated charcoal is manufactured from burning sources of carbon such as wood, peat or coconut shells to a high temperature which removes all the oxygen. The result is a very porous material that is negatively charged and highly adsorbent, meaning it attracts and gathers like a magnet the positively charged unwanted toxins and poisons it comes in contact with.
A simple example would be a water purifier, ever notice a few black specks floating around in the pitcher? That’s activated charcoal from the filter doing its job to detoxify, helping to rid our drinking water of chemical impurities.
Just as it works to give us more desirable drinking water, it also works internally in our body. It is not absorbed by the body, so when ingested in tablet form or mixed in juices and food it binds to the unhealthy toxins and impurities in our digestive system and helps to flush them out.
It is a widely used homeopathic remedy to counteract the effects of food poisoning, insect bites and even the occasional hangover. Hmm… Activated Charcoal Margaritas anyone?
Activated Charcoal can also be used in a myriad of ways to enhance your beauty regimen. It’s an ideal ingredient for facial cleansers and masks because of its ability to detoxify by attracting and adhering to toxins lurking in your pores. The activated charcoal added to these products helps trap the impurities built up on our body from dirt, oil and bacteria, leaving our skin feeling super clean and refreshed. It’s gentle enough to use on all skin types, but works especially well for people with oily or acne prone skin.
For Your Pearly Whites
There is evidence to support that brushing with activated charcoal can actually help to change the PH in your mouth, creating a healthier mouth and aiding in cavity prevention. It is also rapidly gaining popularity as a natural and affordable teeth whitener. Dentists charge hundreds of dollars for teeth whitening and even over the counter bleach strips can be expensive and harsh to use. For a fraction of the cost, activated charcoal in its loose powder form can be used directly on your toothbrush or with added toothpaste to gently whiten your teeth.
After regular brushing and flossing, dip a clean, wet toothbrush into the powdered charcoal or sprinkle a capsule of charcoal onto your toothbrush. Brush normally and rinse well. Can be used daily.
Things to keep in mind
Activated charcoal can be found in liquid, capsule and powdered form. You do not need a doctor’s prescription to purchase it but as with all products there are always warnings and side effects. Since it can be both ingested and used topically, it’s good to take note of them.
When ingested activated charcoal adheres to substances in the stomach and intestines which may cause a decreased effectiveness with medications and vitamins along with constipation, dehydration and black fecal matter. DO NOT take within 2 hours of any medication or vitamins. Drinking plenty of water when taking activated charcoal is advised to prevent dehydration.
When trying activated charcoal for the first time, if you are pregnant or nursing always consult your doctor first if you’re worried about potential harmful effects. Same goes when taking oral medications to avoid the possibility of a drug interaction.
As a topical agent, know that in its most common form it’s very black in color and may stain if spilled on clothes or not rinsed properly from the sink.
Looking for a product or two to try out this rapidly spreading beauty trend? Here are a few of our faves!
Urban Oreganics Cleansing Grains are a mild, soap-free cleanser that contains activated charcoal to remove toxins, minimizes pores, and absorb oil. The organic, gluten free oats and kaolin clay anti-inflammatory properties treat acne and gently remove dead skin cells. 4 oz. Bottle is available in the DETOX Clean Beauty Box.
NYC based Juice Generation has created three different raw juices that include activated charcoal for a detoxifying kick. They worked for months to create the delicious blends and if it weren’t for the tell-tale black color you’d never know you were drinking charcoal. You can check out these healthful beverages even if you don’t live in the big apple. They currently deliver anywhere in the continental U.S. for $58 per 6 pack + shipping.
Check em out at www.juicegeneration.com
One Love Organics makes a lot of products we adore, but The Cleansing Sponge is one you want to stock up and give as gifts. It’s that good. Made with 100% pure konjac plant fiber infused with activated bamboo charcoal. The natural woven fibers of the sponge detoxify pores and encourage skin renewal while buffing away dirt and makeup. Soft yet exfoliating, the Cleansing Sponge is ideal for everyday use on even the most sensitive skin.
At $10 per sponge these are a steal. www.oneloveorganics.com
An ultra-therapeutic bathing experience, inspired by the healing waters of an outdoor wood fired cedar tub. Plantfolk Apothecary’s Wood Fired Tub is a purifying blend of mineral salts with the addition activated charcoal, black lava salt, locally wild-crafted pinyon, and alder-smoked sea salt. $20 for a 10 oz. glass jar.
Check out Plantfolk’s beautiful site and products at www.plantfolkapothecary.com
By far one of the coolest products we’ve seen to implement activated charcoal, the Morihata Binchotan charcoal eye mask helps to relieve fatigue by easing pressure on the optic nerve and promoting blood circulation to the eye area. A sheet of Binchotan charcoal is layered into the mask which emits infrared rays that gently help stimulate blood flow to heal and soothe the eye area. It is great for relaxation, meditation, stress relief, sinus pain, airplane travel and a restful sleep. $23 per mask. Learn more about Binchotan charcoal and the mask here.
Danish brand, Sort of Coal, has created an invigorating shampoo, made with white charcoal powder, the highest grade of charcoal available. The result is deeply cleansed hair and a scalp with a healthy PH balance.
$21 for a 6 oz. glass bottle. Check out Shiro Activated Charcoal Shampoo here.
For internal detoxing activated charcoal capsules are the way to go. There are a ton of reputable brands, but we’ve found Kal has great quality at a great price. We like them for taking after indulging in too many IPA’s or an unfortunate food poisoning episode. They also work well when breaking the capsule apart for teeth whitening or mixed with water as a concentrated blemish treatment. We get them on Amazon for under $12 for 100 capsules.
Have you tried activated charcoal as a topical beauty aid or as part of your internal health regimen? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!