Activated Charcoal For the Skin:

Products with activated charcoal (or activated carbon) are growing more popular in the beauty and health community. This natural based substance is in high demand, and it may provide some skin benefits. So why use activated charcoal for the skin? We’ll get to this in a bit.

Today, this ingredient is used in toothpastes, bath and body scrubs, facial cleansers, shampoos and other cosmetics.


Activated charcoal benefits for the skin


In this post, we’ll talk about what activated charcoal is. Additionally, the uses and benefits of this product. Thus, allowing you to decide if it’s a product you’d like to explore, in specific applications.


What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated carbon is an odorless, black powder. Surely, due to it’s strong absorption properties is thought to have a place in skincare. Most notably it’s touted ability to help draw oils and dirt from clogged pores in the skin. However, while researching activated carbon, it seems more theory, or testimonials, then fact.

You may have heard of activated charcoal as being used in emergency rooms to help treat overdoses, GI tract infections or nausea. In fact, it has the ability to remove toxins from the body.

Activated charcoal is sourced from superheating natural sources of carbon. Specifically, materials high in carbon content. For Example, wood, or saw dust. They are burned, turning them into a fine black powder.

The end result of creating this substance is an increased surface area, making more holes in each molecule. Thus, leading to better binding abilities and a “sticky-type” substance. Hence, another reason it has become popular in face masks.


activated charcoal in soaps and creams


Activated charcoal is relatively safe it seems to use, as there does not seem be mush documented reactions or irritations. Potentially, another reason companies have produced new lines of product(s) with this “ingredient”.


How is Activated Charcoal Used Today?

Activated charcoal is used in several ways. For example, you could make an activated charcoal face mask. Furthermore, it can be used as a natural ingredient to make scrubs, homemade soaps, and other cleansers.

The question is, are their clear advantages to using it compared to other additives? Truth is, finding hard, consistent, quality data, seems is limited, in terms of it’s positive benefits on the skin. 

With that said it has not stopped it from becoming all the rage. The shear amount of products you can now find both from small business’s, DIY projects, and large scale cosmetic companies, is overwhelming. 


“Potential” Benefits of Activated Charcoal For The Skin:

Like beforementioned, hard data was limited in our quest to find answers when it came to some of the usages of activated carbon.

Truth is, in theory, the ways in which it is being used makes sense. However, much of the evidence, seems anecdotal at best.


Cleanse and Detox The Skin?

Activated charcoal does in fact have absorption properties. Hence, has become touted for it’s ability to attract dirt and other impurities that are burrowed deep in your skin. 


activated charcoal in face masks


In theory, after applicated to the skin, helps to cleanse, and purify, creating a detoxing-like affect. These effects may lead to a healthier looking complexion. Additionally, aiding to bettering overall skin health, which surely, is ultimate goal. 


Claims* for Possible Wound Healing Properties:

Some evidence also indicates that certain wound dressings that contain activated charcoal with silver, may help to decrease bacteria. Possible effects of these dressing may also help with wound healing time.


Claims* to help with Acne Control?

In theory, activated charcoals absorption properties, can aide to lift or remove bacteria from the pores of your skin. 

Acne can be caused by several different things. For example, excess oils, dead skin and bacteria. Hypothetically, activated charcoal may help control your outbreaks. However, more extensive data and research needs to be carried out.

It’s also important to note that many of the products that contain activated charcoal for acne, also contain other regularly used agents/ingredients for acne relief. Just something to keep in mind.


Claims* Teeth Whitening:


activated charcoal and teeth whitening
what is activated charcoal


Many different brands of toothpaste now have an activated charcoal line.

Some potential benefits being:

  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial – (help with bad breath)

One research study in 2019 compared different toothpastes w/ whitening agents compared to a control toothpaste that did not have a whitening agent. All with a whitening agent (including activated charcoal) improved whitening of teeth after continued use. 

* However, the one containing activated charcoal was second to other toothpastes with microbeads, hydrogen peroxide, and blue covarine. This also gives very little proof that it helps with whitening w/o an additional known tooth whitening agent. 


Final Thoughts!

Activated charcoal has become a sizable market in cosmetics, and bath & beauty product lines, it seems. However, more research is needed to clarify it’s benefits for skin applications. 

We found almost no recorded adverse reactions to the proper use of activated charcoal on the skin. However, it’s up to you as an individual to do your due diligence when deciding if it is right for you.

Please be sure to share any experiences you may have had with activated carbon.