Why is charcoal being activated – and in which beauty products should you be using it?

We’re sure that by now you’ve seen activated charcoal being used in all sorts of things, from crackers to toothpaste. It’s also popped up in loads of beauty products, so we decided to investigate its benefits.

The nitty gritty – what is charcoal?

Charcoal is derived from wood and coconut husk that is essentially burnt. To activate the charcoal it is heated in a specific way to make it more porous, enabling it to absorb more than 1000 time its weight in toxins. In the medical and veterinary fields it is often used to treat poison ingestion and drug overdoses. 

What are charcoal’s skincare benefits?

For skincare purposes, charcoal is mainly used for its purifying properties. Since it acts like a magnet for oil, dirt and any toxic particles, it’s a great ingredient to have in a mask or exfoliator. If you’re using it in a facial scrub or exfoliator, ensure that the charcoal is fine – it shouldn’t feel coarser than powdery sand.

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Try this Hey Gorgeous Activated Charcoal Mask, R235 (Faithful to Nature)

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Charcoal also has hair and scalp benefits

Scalp is skin, so as mentioned above, activated charcoal can be a beneficial ingredient to treat an oily scalp (and thus oily roots as well).

As for hair care, aside from treating oiliness, charcoal is great for removing residual product build-up. By removing build-up, it often creates great shine, as residue creates a dull coating over healthy hair.

Try Dr Organic Activated Charcoal Shampoo, R189 (Dis-Chem)

Charcoal’s oral care benefits

In toothpaste, charcoal has two benefits. It’s said to absorb plaque-causing bacteria, and it also has a whitening effect. The whitening effect is achieved by polishing stains off the tooth surface. As polishing toothpastes can be abrasive, ensure that you only use one with very finely ground charcoal and alternate it with a fluoride-containing toothpaste to remineralise your teeth and prevent sensitivity.

Try this Olgani Detoxifying Charcoal Toothpaste, R119 (Faithful to Nature)

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