By Erin Schmidt
If you have been inside a beauty or health food store lately, you have probably come across a myriad of new products containing Activated Charcoal. It seems to have gained overnight success because of its tremendous detoxification benefits, and is often found as a key ingredient in a variety of cleansers, face masks, toothpastes and even charcoal pills.
However, if you haven’t tried using charcoal yet, you might be wary of it because it is often misunderstood. Most of us might think of charcoal being something you throw on a grill, however, it comes in many forms.
Most charcoal used in water purifiers, health and beauty products is made from burning wood, coconut shells or bamboo at very high temperatures (over 600-800 degrees celsius) and then steaming with water to “activate” it, which causes the charcoal to become highly porous and increases the surface area for absorption.
Then, it is often ground up into a fine, odourless powder. Because the charcoal is so extremely porous, so it can latch onto impurities and toxins and pull them out of waterand skin by attaching itself to them and then trapping them. This allows you to expel them from the body or wash them away, revealing clearer skin.
Activated charcoal is so powerful, it is even used in hospitals to save people’s lives who have ingested poison or have overdosed on certain drugs. However, some doctors caution against ingesting charcoal too often as it may interfere with certain helpful vitamins and drugs that you may already be taking. It may also cause constipation if ingested too often.
Here are just a few of the common issues that can be remedied with activated charcoal:
1. Skin issues: Charcoal can bind to micro-particles trapped in the skin, such as bacteria, dirt, dust, chemicals and toxins, and draw them out, making them easier to rinse away. Hence you’ll see many activated charcoal face masques on the market for a once-a-week deep cleanse.
Adding activated charcoal to your skincare routine has been found to both prevent and heal acne and blackheads, because your pores get deeply cleansed, preventing bacteria from getting trapped which can lead to breakouts. If you’re prone to congestion, acne or blackheads, it is likely a great addition to your skincare regime.
2. Teeth whitening and oral health: Many new Charcoal toothpaste products have come onto the market. Although research has not been done to back up some of these claims, charcoal does appear to help whiten teeth and assist with getting rid of bacteria in the mouth. Although in another article, Popular Science warned that using Charcoal too often may harm your tooth enamel, so don’t overdo this.
3. Skin infections: In many traditional medicines, charcoal has been used to help with bacterial infections in wounds as it may absorb microbes.
- Deodorant: Charcoal can now be found in underarm Deodorant as it helps get rid of natural odours.
- Kidney Health & Weight Loss: Charcoals has even been used to assist kidney function by filtering out toxins. In the same vein, many claim that adding activated charcoal recipes to their morning routine has assisted with weight loss. However, many references suggest that charcoal can also bind to helpful minerals, vitamins and even medications you have recently taken, so use this with caution.
- Water Filtration: Activated Charcoal has been used for a very long time as a natural water filter. Charcoal can absorb a wide range of toxins, chemicals, bacteria, fungus, drugs and viruses found in water, and simultaneously add beneficial minerals back into the water naturally.
Activated Charcoal can be very beneficial for treating skin issues such as acne, lack-lustre skin due to toxin build-up, or congestion. The result is also glowing skin!
Just be careful about how much activated charcoal you’re introducing to your diet or skincare, and how frequently. All in all, it is a proven catalyst for detoxification and deep cleansing.
- Article: “What are the benefits of Activated Charcoal?” by J Huizen. July 2018.
- Article: “Four reasons to avoid Activated Charcoal” by S Medlin. June 2018.
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Erin Schmidt is the owner of Bella Vida in Santa Barbara, California. Bella Vida is a luxury, natural skincare brand, and proud to be Certified Cruelty-Free by the Leaping Bunny Program. An eco-conscious brand, Bella Vida is also an advocate for zero waste and protecting our oceans from plastics.
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