What Is Charcoal Powder?
Charcoal powder is made from charcoal that has been ground into a fine powder. It’s commonly used in beauty products, such as face masks and cleansers. It’s also known for its absorbent properties, which is why it’s often used to treat oily skin.
Some people confuse it with activated charcoal, but they are not the same thing. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to make it more porous. It’s often used in emergency situations to treat poisonings.
How Does It Work?
Charcoal powder is said to work by adsorbing impurities and toxins from the skin. This helps to cleanse the skin and give it a more radiant appearance. Additionally, charcoal powder is also known for its exfoliating properties. It can help to remove dead skin cells, which can improve the appearance of your skin.
The Real Benefits of Charcoal Powder (According to Experts)
The purported benefits of charcoal powder are extensive. But, what do the experts have to say? There haven’t been many studies conducted on charcoal powder in cosmetics specifically. However, there are a number of proven benefits of using charcoal in skincare:
- It can help cleanse the skin. Charcoal is known for its adsorbent properties. This means that it can help to remove dirt and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. A 2019 study titled Formulation and Evaluation of Activated Charcoal Peel Off Mask (Sveta V. Kulkarni et al) is evidence for this.
- It can help unclog pores. The same study revealed that charcoal powder can help to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of blackheads. This is because the pores are temporarily enlarged when you’re using the charcoal, allowing for deeper cleansing.
- It can exfoliate the skin. As charcoal powder is abrasive, it can help to slough away dead skin cells. This can improve the appearance of your skin and make it feel softer and smoother.
There’s also a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the use of charcoal powder in skincare. The ingredient is often used in anti-acne products as it can help to reduce the appearance of blemishes. However, experts say that this might actually be thanks to other ingredients it’s typically paired with (such as alpha-hydroxy acids), rather than the charcoal itself.
The Myths – What Charcoal Powder (Probably) Doesn’t Do
Now that we’ve looked at the potential benefits of charcoal powder, let’s bust some myths.
It probably won’t help you get rid of acne. There’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that charcoal powder can help to treat acne.
However, as we mentioned earlier, charcoal is often used in products that contain other acne-fighting ingredients. So, if you’re using a charcoal mask or cleanser, it’s likely the other ingredients that are doing the work, not the charcoal.
It probably won’t help you get rid of fine lines and wrinkles. Again, there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that charcoal powder can help to reduce their appearance. Finally, don’t believe any claims that charcoal powder detoxifies the skin. Your skin is very good at getting rid of toxins on its own – it doesn’t need any help from charcoal!
How to Get the Most Out of Your Charcoal Products
Now you know there are benefits – and some myths – associated with charcoal powder, but how can you get the most out of charcoal products? Because it’s an adsorbent, it can bind to various things (including dirt and oils). This means two things to watch out for.
First, it can be quite drying, so it’s important to use charcoal products in moderation. Scrubbing your face with a charcoal cleanser every day is probably not a good idea. Instead, use it once or twice a week, depending on your skin type.
Second, charcoal isn’t selective about what it binds to. This means that it can also bind to healthy oils and active ingredients from other products you’re using and remove them from your skin. So, if you’re using charcoal products, make sure to follow up with a hydrating moisturizer.
Other Legitimate Uses for Activated Charcoal
While charcoal powder might not be the miracle ingredient it’s claimed to be, that doesn’t mean it has no uses. Activated charcoal is actually very effective at flushing out toxins, which is why it’s often used in emergency situations to treat poisoning. However, this is only true for charcoal that’s been made for medical use – the charcoal in your skincare products probably won’t do much.
It can also be helpful in treating digestive issues like bloating and gas. This is because charcoal can bind to gas-producing compounds in the gut, helping to relieve symptoms. Most studies on the subject have used charcoal in pill form, so the most legitimate uses are internal.
So, while charcoal powder might not be a miracle ingredient, it does have some benefits – and some legitimate uses. Just don’t believe everything you read about it!
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