How To Use Activated Charcoal In Your Skincare Routine

Activated charcoal has been having a moment for a while now. Who can forget those dramatic (yet strangely tempting) pictures of charcoal-infused ice cream or pitch-black hamburger buns? Or the sudden influx of charcoal tooth products waiting to turn your mouth black like that one Heath Ledger scene in "The Patriot"? But the benefits of activated charcoal aren't just limited to dental and digestive health. Beauty enthusiasts have also been exploring charcoal's potential in skincare.

Activated charcoal is not too different from the briquettes you might use at your next cookout, except that it is burned at a higher temperature until it breaks down into a fine black powder (via Today). This powder can then be incorporated into all kinds of skincare products, whether you prefer to get your masks and scrubs from store shelves or make them yourself.

So, what, exactly, can activated charcoal do for your skin, and how can you incorporate it into your beauty routine?

The benefits of activated charcoal for skin

As a super-absorbent, detoxifying, and slightly textured powder, activated charcoal stands to bring a lot of skincare benefits to the table. To start, it may help clear your skin of impurities, which brings you one step closer to achieving better overall texture and clarity (via Medical News Today).

"Activated charcoal helps clean the skin by removing oil, debris, and dead skin cells from the skin's surface. It can also temporarily shrink the look of pores for smoother-looking skin," dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman tells Today.

This ability to decrease oil and impurities on your skin means that charcoal is a perfect tool for clearing out pores and helping prevent breakouts. A 2013 study in the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences has even linked activated charcoal to certain bacteria-fighting properties, which may help the health and appearance of your skin even more.

The trick is to use charcoal as a once or twice weekly addendum to your normal routine. If used too often, Hartman says, "activated charcoal can remove too much oil and moisture from the skin's surface, which can lead to flaking or irritation." So, what are a few ways to hit the perfect balance and reap the benefits of charcoal in your skincare regimen?

Ways to use activated charcoal in skincare

Activated charcoal is gaining real recognition in the skincare industry and can now be found in products made by major brands like Burt's Bees. In fact, Bioré now offers an entire charcoal line. But you can also use activated charcoal to create some effective and inexpensive DIY skincare treats right at home.

For cleansing and clarity, try an activated charcoal face mask, which, according to Healthline, can be made at home. Add 1 teaspoon of bentonite clay to 2 teaspoons of water, and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, add 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal and half a teaspoon of raw honey, mixing it all together into a thick consistency. Apply to a clean face and let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. For extra benefits (and a gorgeous scent), you can also add a drop of essential oil to your water at the beginning. Healthline suggests a few tempting favorites like lemon or lavender.

For gentle but thorough exfoliation, you can also put together your own activated charcoal face scrub, like Hello Glow's DIY version. Just combine equal amounts of activated charcoal, witch hazel, and aloe vera gel, and then add a drop of tea tree essential oil. Apply to your face and massage into the skin with soft, circular motions for about a minute before rinsing.