Have you heard about charcoal yet? That it’s not just for heating up your burger on the grill? Yes, there’s another form of charcoal—not the grilling kind—called activated charcoal. Simply put, it’s created when oxygen is added to regular charcoal. It’s another choice that has so many benefits that I had to explore it.
Activated charcoal isn’t new. It’s been around for a while—used in hospital emergency rooms to treat alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses. Here’s how it works…it attaches to toxins in the stomach and absorbs them before the bloodstream can. The idea behind activated charcoal in beauty products is similar: it attracts and absorbs dirt and oil, pulling it away from skin and hair. When you rinse, the impurities get washed away.
Activated charcoal has proven to have many beauty and health benefits when used safely and properly:
Science has not had the chance to catch up to these ideas yet. “How well does (charcoal) work on the skin? Truthfully, there isn’t solid clinical data one way or the other,” says dermatologist Dr. Kraffert. However, from personal experience, I’ve found that regular use (2 to 3 times per week) over the past 2 months has brought positive results. Not a clinical test, but speaking form experience, I’ve been pleased. And, apparently many others have too, as it’s been the “hot topic” for some time now.
I’ve used both charcoal soap and a charcoal mask that have moisture focused ingredients added. If you’ve tried charcoal in the past, you realize that it can be drying. Today, with the new wave of interest in charcoal, you’ll find a variety of better choices that include moisturizing ingredients. However, make sure to replace moisture with lotions and creams that avoid the following:
Parabens – mimic estrogen in the body which has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues
Preservatives – can mimic estrogen and have been linked to hormone (endocrine) disruption
Fragrance or Perfume – linked to health issues like allergies, asthma and hormone disruption
To be sure you are avoiding parabens, watch the ingredient label for these clues…methlyparaben, ethyl, butyl, propyl are all from the paraben family, even if the word “paraben” isn’t in the name.
Preservatives are needed, yet there are organic, safer choices rather than those typically found in the average lotion. Here are the preservatives you might want to avoid…imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea. These are well established as a primary cause of contact dermatitis as per the American Academy of Dermatology.
Avoid Fragrance. According to the Environmental Working Group, Federal Law doesn’t require companies to list what’s in the fragrance on labels. Recent research from the EWG and the Campaign for
Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand products and none of them listed on the label. Fragrance can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world.
Cleaning your face with charcoal? I know, it sounds crazy! Let me know if you’re brave enough to try it.