The Skin Care Benefits of Charcoal

August 23, 2018
Cortne Bonilla
By: Cortne Bonilla | by L'Oréal
The Skin Care Benefits of Charcoal

Chances are if you’ve been paying attention to the latest skin care product launches, you’ve noticed things have gotten a little dirty. Face masks, cleansers, and even makeup remover wipes are featuring a very unique addition: charcoal. It turns out, when you want to get your skin really clean, you may want to consider getting a little dirty first. To learn more about the beauty benefits of charcoal we turned to two of our consulting experts—The Body Shop’s Beauty Botanist, Jennifer Hirsch and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman.

When it comes to her personal skin care routine, Hirsch thinks of charcoal as her insurance policy when cleansing, thanks to its uncanny ability to help detoxify the surface of the skin. “By detoxifying the skin, charcoal reduces the impurities it holds and the opportunities for congestion to build,” Hirsch says. “This can result in a clearer, more radiant-looking complexion."

As your body’s largest organ and biggest protector against environmental factors like free radicals and pollution, the skin can absorb a lot of unwanted toxins on a day-to-day basis—which is why it may be beneficial to incorporate a detoxifying agent, like charcoal, into your weekly skin care routine. “Charcoal exudes a negative charge that is irresistible to positively charged toxins, pulling them right off of the skin,” Hirsch explains. “The carbon in the charcoal needs to be physically in contact with the skin long enough to draw the impurities off of the skin. So, the longer the mask sits on your skin (within reason, of course), the more effective it will be.”

As for why charcoal is such a popular skin care ingredient, Dr. Engelman believes it’s all about the benefits. “Activated charcoal contains carbon molecules which act like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil,” she says. “When dirt and oil in your pores come in contact with the carbon, they stick to it and then get washed away when you rinse.”

Because of how the carbon molecules work, not all charcoal skin care products will deliver the same benefit. “By design, cleansers don’t stay on the face for more than a minute so activated charcoal in a cleanser would work to remove surface impurities,” Dr. Engelman explains. “For a deeper cleanse you will be using a mask. Masks sit on the skin for longer periods of time, so they are able to sink deeper into the pores.”

Our Favorite Charcoal Skin Care Products

Interested? We thought so. Lucky for us, charcoal is a popular ingredient in many skin care products—especially in the category of masks and face washes. Here are our favorites from the L’Oreal portfolio of brands.  

Garnier Blackhead Eliminating Scrub

Garnier SkinActive Blackhead Eliminating Scrub with Charcoal

This gel scrub, formulated with charcoal and salicylic acid, is perfect for those with oily skin and blackheads. This eliminating wash reduces the appearance of imperfections by clearing the pores, effectively reducing blackheads and helping to prevent new ones from forming. The results? In one use, smooth your skin and unclog pores. After one week, pores are diminished and complexion is clearer.

Garnier SkinActive Blackhead Eliminating Scrub with Charcoal, $7 MSRP

AcneFree Kaolin Clay Detox Mask with Charcoal

There are two ways to use this newly-launched kaolin clay mask, and that’s either as a cleanser or as purifying facial mask. Either way you use it, it’s bound to purify your pores. It’s infused with charcoal and kaolin clay to draw our impurities for a fresh-faced look.

AcneFree Kaolin Clay Detox Mask with Charcoal, $7.99 MSRP

L’Oreal Paris Detox & Brighten Face Mask

This super-charged face mask is packed with three pure clays and charcoal to beautify your skin in just minutes. It boasts an indulgent, creamy texture to turn your masking experience into a spa-worthy one. This mask will help to even out skin’s tone, draw out built-up impurities and increase luminosity!

L’Oreal Paris Detox & Brighten Face Mask, $12 MSRP

Garnier SkinActive Clean + Purifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes

Think charcoal is only limited to liquid cleansers and face masks? Think again. These oil-free towelettes—with charcoal—draw out oil, dirt and makeup, making them an easy and ideal clean-up product. It removes oil and mattifies the skin, leaving it shine-free. Gently wipe across face and eyes, no rinsing needed.

Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Purifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes, $5 MSRP 

Garnier SkinActive Super Purifying Charcoal Facial Mask

Formulated with charcoal, algae extract, and hyaluronic acid, this sheet mask can detox the look of your skin while boosting hydration levels.

Garnier SkinActive Super Purifying Charcoal Facial Mask, $14.94/6 MSRP

Need some more convincing? Here’s why charcoal needs to be a part of your skincare routine.

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