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To keep your complexion in tip-top shape, it’s important to use products that nourish your skin while minimizing the damage caused by free radicals (molecules that cause skin damage and aging) in the environment.
While there’s an abundance of products on the market that promise to improve your skin, charcoal face products have a unique advantage because they claim to naturally draw the impurities from your skin like a sponge. But the proposed benefits of activated charcoal aren’t new. “Activated charcoal has been used in hospital emergency rooms for decades to treat alcohol poisoning and overdoses. The charcoal draws the harmful toxins from the body so the body doesn’t absorb them,” says Michele Green, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Charcoal works the same way when used as a face mask.”
Although most charcoal skin care products are used to treat oily or acne-prone skin, activated charcoal may also be used to help treat cellulite and body odor. “Because charcoal draws out impurities like dirt and oil, it’s a natural way to clean and clear your skin,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist with a private practice in New York City.
Here are our picks for the best charcoal face masks and skin care.
As a warning, even the best charcoal skin care products should not be used with retinols, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide.
BIORÉ Self-Heating One Minute Mask
This charcoal mask is great for those on the go, and it’s gentle enough to use once or twice a week. To use, apply the mask to a wet face (it’s activated by water) and gently massage your face for one minute — the mask will naturally heat up as you continue to massage. After one minute has passed, rinse thoroughly. “It’s made with natural charcoal to deep-clean pores, plus kaolin and menthol,” says Dr. Jaliman. The kaolin helps to exfoliate and absorb excess oil while the menthol reduces redness and increases circulation.
See price on Walmart
Julep Konjac Cleansing Sponge
This super-gentle exfoliating sponge is made from all-natural Konjac Root and enriched with charcoal powder to help detoxify and clarify the skin. You can use it morning or night, and it’s designed for all skin types.
See price on Nordstrom
ORIGINS Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
If you regularly deal with dullness, uneven texture, enlarged pores, and oiliness, you may find some relief with this ultra-purifying mask. “This mask helps to get rid of environmental toxins and dirt that can clog pores and make the skin look dull,” says Jaliman. Additionally, the charcoal helps to absorb excess oil and prevent future breakouts from forming. Use one to two times per week for the most noticeable results.
See price on Jet.com
Yes to Tomatoes Activated Charcoal Bar Soap
This bar soap for face and body is one of the best charcoal skin products that you can buy online right now. It may help naturally remove and absorbs impurities from the skin, and it will leave your skin feeling clean and hydrated (unlike most bar soaps). Bonus: it’s available at most drugstores.
See price on Walmart
Boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask
Boscia’s peel-off mask is a Sephora best-seller for a reason. “It contains both black and white activated charcoal, so your skin will be super clean,” says Dr. Green. Boscia is one of the world’s first botanically based skin care lines, so all of their products contain a healthy dose of botanicals — and this face mask is no exception. In addition to activated charcoal, it contains jojoba, honeysuckle flower extract, rosemary leaf oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, and willowherb. Jojoba in particular may help with inflammation, suggests a December 2013 review in the Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
See price on Sephora
Brooklyn Botany Activated Charcoal Scrub
You can use Brooklyn Botany’s Activated Charcoal Scrub on both your face and your body. In addition to activated charcoal, it uses Dead Sea salt and essential oils to exfoliate, moisturize, and rejuvenate. It can also be used to eliminate skin itchiness and odor on your underarms, your feet, and your scalp.