With so many ingredients out there, it's hard to tell what actually works. Well, I'm here to let you in on a little secret: charcoal needs to be on your radar. I've been using this ingredient since my early modeling days and I still use it today.
Charcoal can be used in its powder form, taken in a capsule, or infused in a product. So, what makes it so special? Here are some of the benefits:
BENEFIT #1: Treats Acne Or Oily-Prone Skin
I've unfortunately dealt with acne--especially in my twenties. Even today, I still get hormonal breakouts on my jawline and will break out on my forehead and temples, too. It's not fun! If you're acne-prone or have oily skin, charcoal can be an extremely beneficial ingredient. When applied on your face, the charcoal draws out all the impurities and bacteria that are trapped deep within.
You can use the charcoal powder as a spot treatment or apply products with activated charcoal already infused into the formula. I prefer to use a product. Garnier SkinActive actually has a charcoal line created for oily skin in mind. I love, love, love their Pore Purifying 2 in-1 Clay Cleanser Mask. It can be used as a daily cleanser to draw out dirt and oil after a long day or as a spot treatment on a pesky pimple. I love that it's a 2-in-1! The best part? It does it's job without drying out your skin. Read more about this product here.
photo credit: Todd Parker Photography
BENEFIT #2: Minimizes The Look Of Pores
I have some news to break to you--it's nearly impossible to shrink the size of your pores. But it is possible to make them look smaller! When your skin is clogged with impurities, your pores can look more noticeable. This is because the more gunk that's in there, the more the pore will dilate. That's why it's always important to make sure to wash your face.
If I'm on the go, at the gym, or on the beach--I still make it a priority. How? I prepare. I pack some cleansing wipes to help refresh my skin and keep it clean. Garnier SkinActive's Clean+ line has Purifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes with charcoal that can be easily thrown in a bag and used anywhere. The towelette is infused with charcoal and it also helps mattify my skin which is perfect if I'm feeling like I need a little touch-up.
I even use them to clean up my kids' messy fingers, if needed. These products are truly multi-functional--and perfect for moms!
photo credit: Todd Parker Photography
BENEFIT #3: Adds Volume To Limp Or Fine Hair
Many times, it's the buildup of excess product that makes your hair look and feel flat. That's why it's important to cleanse your scalp just as you would your face. Using charcoal clears out that gunk and allows you to start fresh leaving you with better texture and an easier to style your tresses. Just like in skincare, you can use charcoal powder. But I prefer to buy products with the ingredient already infused in it.
Depending on the severity of your hair, keep your charcoal cleansing routine to a minimum. I would say about once a week should be good for most people. In the summer, when you tend to sweat more, you can bump it up to twice a week. A lot of brands have come out with charcoal lines with both shampoos and conditioners (which will be gentler on the hair).
BENEFIT #4: Detoxes Your System
Like I said, I've been using charcoal since my early modeling days. It's one of the oldest detoxifying methods there is. When ingested, activated charcoal helps absorb and flush out toxins faster than they naturally would.
You have options: you can sip the charcoal in powder form and mix with water, take it in capsule form as a supplement, or drink it in juice form with a lemon. I'm a huge fan of Dirty Lemon Raw Detox water for this purpose! Many juice shops, such as Pressed Juicery, also have great charcoal lemonades to stock up on.
Oh, and did I mention it can help a hangover? Yeah. Stock up!
BENEFIT #5: Whitens Teeth
Over-the-counter or even professional whitening treatments can be really hard on teeth--especially if they tend to be more sensitive. Luckily, there's always a natural solution! Activated charcoal is a safe and cost-effective way to brighten those pearly whites. Also, since it is a detoxifier, charcoal helps balance the pH levels in your mouth to help prevent cavities or bad breath.
The charcoal works like it does everywhere else. It absorbs and draws out all toxins or in this case, plaque that can stain teeth. All you need to do is wet a toothbrush and dip in a small bowl of activated charcoal powder. Brush as normal. Once done, swish some water and rinse out in the sink. Do this about 2-3 times a week for best results. If you prefer to use daily, Ernest Supplies (found at Barneys New York) has a great toothbrush with charcoal-infused bristles.
I'd love to hear if you tried any of these tips and if they worked for you. Comment below!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.