Know all about activated charcoal

Charcoal has made it’s way from the grills to the vanity table. The only difference between the charcoal used for barbecuing and activated charcoal, which can be used for body care in a multitude of ways, is oxygen. Brands like Biore, Origin, Glam Glow and Yes to Tomatoes have launched masks and deep cleansers with activated charcoal in them ranging from as low as $3.39 to a hefty $69. An alternative to buying it from the brands mentioned is to buy the “raw” activated charcoal. It’s also sold in capsules so you can use it in different ways like soaking your produce to get rid of any pesticide residue. This is, however, more of a DIY option, so if that’s not your style, you’re better off sticking to the brands.

The benefits from using activated charcoal seem to be endless, and beauty gurus have already added it to their holy grails. Experts, on the other hand, aren’t as quick to crown it king. Activated charcoal has been most commonly used in the medical field to assist the body in purifying itself in an emergency, and beauty gurus have gravitated to it for that very reason. YouTubers, like HeyFranHey, for example, have videos advising the use of DIY activated charcoal masks and cleansers for those who want to purify/detoxify their faces. This purifying characteristic of the charcoal can help acne prone skin. As a disclaimer, you should keep in mind that activated charcoal cannot absorb all products that could lead to poisoning, so it’s best to consult your doctor before using this as an at home remedy for any kind of poisoning.

In addition to the brands mentioned previously, Lush is another company that has a few charcoal products. I wanted to know why they support the use of activated charcoal despite the lack of scientific proof and support from dermatologists. I chose to visit the Herald Square location where I was greeted by Maya, one of the workers there. She informed me that Lush is “an effects-based company” which in short means that they decide what ingredients and products work based on “live” tests. “We test our products on real people as opposed to animals,” Maya said, “so if the skin says it works, we say it works.” Two of their popular charcoal based products is Coalface, which is a cleanser for combination skin, and Dark Angels, which is a facial scrub. Both products are highly revered by Lush customers: the Coalface has 4.3 of 5 stars based on 719 reviews, and Dark Angels has 4.4 of 5 based on 724 reviews. The Lush website has a great review system that allows potential customers to not only see product ratings but what customers collectively love and/or hate about the products.

To add to its varieties of use, it is also said that you can use activated charcoal to brush your teeth. Google images is full of people’s before and after from using charcoal to brush their teeth. Lush even has a charcoal toothpaste. I wanted to learn about this from the health perspective, so I called Central Park West Dentistry to get more information. Tatiana Cammichia, a specialist at the office, talked about her experiences with health trends. “There’s so many fads out and I try them personally, but I could never endorse them professionally without the proper scientific backing.” Gammichia stated that CPW is “very strict” about what they suggest to their patients.  

So there you have it. Activated charcoal may be a hot trend right now, but it’s best to consult your doctor before adding it to your everyday body regimen, especially when it comes to dental health.

Shamecha Marie Lywood 

Photocredit: Nawacorp