What's the Deal With Activated Charcoal?

Have you heard about activated charcoal? While this super fine black powder may look like dirt, it’s actually extremely effective at cleansing and detoxifying. It has also been around for thousands of years, but is becoming a popular trend in the wellness world again.

While activated charcoal may look like the stuff leftover in the bottom of your grill, it’s not even close to the same thing. Activated charcoal is pure carbon and comes from wood, debris, peat, and other carbon sources. Charcoal can be activated in two ways - chemically with an acid, or physically with heat, both methods result in a fine black powder each piece of which has millions of pores and a huge surface area given it’s size. It’s these properties, as well as the negative charge that it carries, that make activated charcoal unique and useful.

Stripping the oxygen molecules away from the carbon gives activated charcoal it’s unique properties, it has tons of nooks and crannies where it can trap harmful substances. So, rather than roaming around in your body, harmful substances stick to the charcoal molecules and are excreted through your digestive system.

One of the most well known uses for activated charcoal is in an emergency detox situations, a drug or alcohol overdose or a situation where someone has ingested poison. NOTE: Those are not situations that you want to handle on your own, please seek immediate medical attention.

Traditionally, activated charcoal has been used to absorb toxins internally, it can also benefit your skin by absorbing impurities from the outside! Because of it's unique structure and negative charge it has several useful applications on the skin.

  • Gentle exfoliation. In addition to absorbing and removing impurities, activated charcoal has a slightly gritty texture that makes it an excellent, but gentle exfoliator.
  • Balances oily skin. Oil production is necessary for healthy skin, but too much can be problematic. Oily skin can trap dirt and other gunk inside our pores resulting in clogged pores and skin impurities. This happens especially when you aren't exfoliating! Activated charcoal can bind to these impurities and excess oil without overly drying your skin.

  • Shrinks appearance of pores. As mentioned above, oil on your skin can trap gunk in your pores, which makes them appear enlarged over time. Using activated charcoal as a facial mask and scrub will help loosen the debris and suck up any impurities that might be stuck in your enlarged pores.

You can make your own activated charcoal mask and scrub (there are plenty of DIY recipes online), or you can order a ready-made product. My favorite is the Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar and the No. 3 Charcoal Mask. These two things changed my skin so quickly I thought it was a joke.

I have had acne prone skin my whole life, but using the Charcoal Cleansing Bar daily and the mask 1-2 times per week, I rarely get any trouble spots! The other thing I love about the charcoal bar is how gentle it is. I can wash my face twice a day and it doesn't get super dried out, which when you are swimming 2-3 times per week it's a challenge not to have dry skin!

If you are curious about why I chose Beautycounter, visit THIS PAGE to learn more.

Click here to shop Beautycounter's balancing charcoal line!


Who am I?? I am a Family Nurse practitioner with over eight years of clinical experience helping ordinary women cut through all the hype and figure out what actually works for their bodies. If you've ever been told by your healthcare provider that "it's all in your head" or that what you are going through is "normal," I can help! It's not all in your head and just because something is common doesn't mean it is normal.

 Schedule a free consultation so you can get started on your path to optimal health now!


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