Here’s Why You Should Use a Charcoal Mask, According to Derms
Charcoal is commonly found in pore strips and face masks, but if you’re unsure about putting the ingredient on your skin, we’re here to explain. We talked to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank and Dr. Marie Hayag, both board-certified dermatologists based in NYC, about the benefits of charcoal for the skin and how to incorporate it into your routine.
What does charcoal do for the skin?
“Charcoal, particularly activated charcoal, is found often in face masks because of its ability to draw impurities, bacteria and oil out of the skin to reduce acne,” says Dr. Frank. This is because charcoal has absorbent properties. “It binds to other substances, which means it could possibly help remove excess oil from the skin,” Dr. Hayag adds. However, both doctors emphasize that very little scientific research has been done to back these claims — it’s mostly anecdotal.
What skin types can benefit from charcoal?
Charcoal is best for those with oily, acne-prone or combination skin. “Oilier skin types are most likely to benefit from using a charcoal mask because the charcoal may help draw out excess sebum and help mattify an oily complexion,” Dr. Hayag says. “For those with dry skin, it can potentially leave your skin even drier and tighter than you started out with.” Look for charcoal-infused products that also have hydrating ingredients and always follow up with a moisturizer.
Why is charcoal commonly found in face masks?
According to Dr. Hayag and Dr. Frank, there’s no scientific reason that makes charcoal more effective in a face mask than it would be in, say, a toner or another skincare product. It can, however, provide a light exfoliating effect when you wash your face and help draw impurities from the skin.
If you’re interested in trying a charcoal face mask for yourself, we recommend the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask. It contains kaolin clay and charcoal to suck up excess sebum and help unclog pores. If you prefer a peel-off mask, reach for the Garnier SkinActive Black Peel-Off Mask with Charcoal.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn