Thanks to its reported ability to absorb toxins and pollutants, activated charcoal has emerged as one of the most popular additions to personal beauty kits over the past few years. While it has its use as an eyeshadow, charcoal is being combined with a number of different botanicals to clean and refresh skin, giving it a more healthy glow, as well as whiten teeth.
In fact, activated charcoal made from wood, coal, peat, coconut shell, or petroleum is now being added to everything from face masks to toothbrushes. Meanwhile, it should not be confused with Kohl which is made from the mineral Stibnite has been used ever since Ancient Egypt as a medication and a cosmetic to accentuate eyes and eyebrows etc.
Another nice thing about activated charcoal is that it is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other beauty products, ranging in price from Sephora’s black “Q-tips” used for applying and fixing make-up (30 for just $3) and Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Charcoal &Black Sugar Polishing Mask used as a face scrub as well as a mask (also $3) to Bioré face strips used to clean out clogged pores ($3,99 for a package of 6).
Other affordable choices on the market for detoxing pores include Yes to Tomatoes soap (7 oz, bar for $4.99) and Gender Bender Charcoal Soap from Perfectly Posh ($9), as well as Konjac Cleansing Sponges, made with Korean bamboo charcoal and Origins active charcoal face mask with white clay ($17).
Clinique’s Pre Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25) is particularly recommended for women with oily skin. In addition, Dr. Jart’s Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal Sheet is another Korean skincare product consisting of a one-time use mask that aid in clearing up blemishes ($35). Of course, this is just a sampling of the hundreds of charcoal products now on the market.
While this kind of beauty may only be skin deep, activated charcoal when taken internally (either in capsule form or mixed with juices) has long been used to absorb excess gas in the digestive system, treat cholestasis in pregnant women, prevent hangovers, reduce cholesterol and to help counteract drug overdose or poisoning from substances such as cyanide, lithium and even alcohol.
It is important to note that charcoal can reduce the effectiveness of some oral medications (including syrup of ipecac), and it is best to consult with your healthcare provider about any interactions that may occur. It is also recommended that patients take charcoal tablets or capsules an hour after taking certain prescribed medications to be on the safe side.
Note: Too much charcoal can also cause constipation and black stool.