Masks are a great way to treat your skin and give it a little refresher. Some people swear by doing masks a couple of times a week, while others only use them from time to time. Whatever your mask philosophy, make the most of your mask time by using one that’s going to give you a ton of benefits.
Activated charcoal has been a trendy ingredient in everything from ice cream to deodorant in recent years, but it’s more than just a trend. Charcoal can be a great ingredient to use in skincare, and in this guide, we’ll walk you through 5 activated charcoal recipes so you can find one that’s right for your skin type.
- What Is Activated Charcoal?
- What Are the Benefits of Activated Charcoal?
- How to Use Activated Charcoal
- Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Masks
- Create Your Own Charcoal Masks
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal can be made from a number of substances. For skincare purposes, it often comes from coconuts, bamboo, or other hardwoods. It’s processed at a very high temperature until it becomes a fine powder. The high temperature is what “activates” the charcoal and makes it different from other forms of charcoal.
This charcoal has a negative electrical charge, so it naturally attracts anything with positively charged molecules. This makes it great at absorbing toxins from the body. Internally, charcoal is sometimes used medically to neutralize dangerous chemicals that have been ingested.
What Are the Benefits of Activated Charcoal?
Plenty of personal care products have been appearing on the market lately that attempt to harness activated charcoal’s unique qualities, but charcoal has been used for millennia to clean and purify the body.
The toxin-absorbing properties that activated charcoal has internally are also effective at absorbing impurities from your skin. It can help reduce oil and remove dirt from your pores, giving skin a tighter and fresher overall look.
Many people with oily skin find activated charcoal to be a particularly valuable ingredient since it can absorb oil without stripping and damaging the skin. Environmental pollution can also be lifted from your skin with the help of charcoal, and if you’re a makeup addict, the occasional deep-cleanse to remove residue can also be beneficial.
How to Use Activated Charcoal
You can use activated charcoal as a mask treatment in several different ways.
Since activated charcoal can draw out toxins, you can use it to spot treat target areas that need extra care, like acne breakouts. You can also use it to soothe and clean bug bites, cuts, and other skin irritations. In these cases, you can simply use charcoal powder and water mixed together to form a paste.
Dab some charcoal paste on these problem areas and leave it for anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. This will help reduce pain and itching. It also can help prevent infection and help these skin troubles heal faster.
Full Face Mask
To balance and refresh your skin, you can use an activated charcoal mask treatment all over your face. Environmental pollution can seep into the top layers of your skin, but activated charcoal can help lift it out. It will also gently soak up oil without drying out your skin. People with very dry skin may find it still draws out too much oil to use regularly, so exercise caution.
Ideally, you should let a charcoal mask sit on your skin for 20 minutes or more to let it have time to draw out excess oil and dirt from your skin. Wash-off masks are better than peel-off masks because peel-off masks can cause some mild damage during removal.
If you have oily hair, a flaky or damaged scalp, or are lacking volume, you can use a charcoal mask on your scalp to help remove dead skin and excess oil. This build-up can weigh your hair down and even inhibit its growth.
Fortunately, unlike some clarifying shampoos, activated charcoal won’t strip your hair. It also won’t leave behind residue that can weigh your hair down like many products and shampoos.
You can massage a charcoal mask into your scalp before your regular washing routine, but some people also mix some activated charcoal into their shampoo for day-to-day use.
Make Your Own Activated Charcoal Masks
There are a couple of different ways to approach charcoal masks, depending on what you want to use them for. Overall, though, it’s best to keep things simple, since the charcoal may cancel out other skin ingredients due to its neutralizing properties.
You should talk to your dermatologist before you use charcoal masks if you’re on any prescription skin care products.
You’ll need good-quality activated charcoal to make these, and a few other ingredients that you may already have around the house.
Gentle Charcoal Mask for Dry Skin
While charcoal masks can be hard on dry skin, this one is a good option if you want to give your skin a refresh. The aloe gel adds a bit of soothing moisture, and balancing kaolin clay helps repair damaged skin.
You can specifically focus this mask on areas where you experience breakouts, like your chin or forehead, avoiding dry areas like your cheeks.
1 tsp activated charcoal powder
2 tsp kaolin clay
1 tsp aloe vera gel
Water as needed
- Mix the charcoal and clay powders together before adding the aloe gel. Make sure the aloe is then fully combined to create a paste.
- Then, slowly add a few drops of water at a time until the mixture reaches a thick, but spreadable consistency.
- Apply the mask to damp skin and leave it on for about 15 minutes, then wash off with warm water.
- Make sure to apply moisturizer afterward, and don’t use this mask more than once per week.
Exfoliating Charcoal Mask
If you’re looking for ultimate pore perfection, charcoal is great at lifting dirt from them, but some gentle exfoliation has additional benefits. Exfoliating your skin helps remove layers of dry, dead skin for deeper cleansing, encourages new skin regeneration, and boosts circulation.
This mask takes inspiration from cleansing grains to give soothing, natural exfoliation with oats. Witch hazel is mildly astringent to help encourage your pores to tighten, and lavender oil is cleansing, relaxing, and mildly moisturizing.
2 tsp of ground oats
2 tsp activated charcoal
½ tsp witch hazel
3-5 drops lavender essential oil
Water as needed
- Pulse old-fashioned oats in a blender or food processor until they become powdery, with just a few slightly larger chunks.
- Mix with activated charcoal powder.
- Add the witch hazel and lavender oil.
- Then slowly add water, a few drops at a time, until your mixture reaches a thick but spreadable consistency.
- Apply to your face, focusing on your T-zone and any flaky patches.
- Leave on for about 20 minutes, then moisten the mask and move your hands in a circular motion to exfoliate for about a minute before completely rinsing off.
Oily Skin Remedy Mask
Activated charcoal is like an oil vacuum; this makes it ideal for oily skin types.
Bentonite clay is one of the best for oily skin since it is highly absorbent and calming. A touch of aloe in the mixture ensures that you aren’t drying out your skin too much, which can, in turn, cause you to over-produce oil. Lemon helps tighten up your pores and control sebum.
2 tsp activated charcoal
1 tsp bentonite clay
½ tsp of aloe gel
2-3 drops of lemon essential oil
Water as needed
- Mix the charcoal and clay together first, then add the aloe gel and lemon oil.
- Make sure the gel is fully combined with the dry ingredients and then add water a few drops at a time until the consistency is thick but spreadable.
- Apply the mask, focusing on oily areas, like the T-zone.
- Leave on for 20-25 minutes and then wash off with warm water.
- Apply light moisturizer afterward.
Balancing Charcoal Mask
Skin naturally has a bacterial colony to protect it and an acidic pH, but sometimes we can throw that off with products that neutralize our skin’s acidity or kill our natural good bacteria.
Yogurt is acidic due to its fermentation process, and it’s loaded with probiotics. Raw honey has healing and moisturizing properties that can help with acne and other irritations. In this mask, yogurt and honey combine with charcoal to clean up the bad and replenish the good.
2 tsp activated charcoal powder
2 tsp unsweetened whole milk yogurt
1 tsp raw honey
- If your honey is thick or crystalized, warm it first by submerging the jar in a pot of warm water for a few minutes.
- Mix the honey with room temperature yogurt until fully combined, then blend with the activated charcoal.
- Apply a thin layer to your face and let sit for about 20 minutes before washing thoroughly with warm water.
Charcoal Scalp Mask
Activated charcoal will help draw product residue from your hair and scalp, and help loosen up dry skin.
By adding coconut oil, you nourish and condition your scalp to help prevent further dryness. Apple cider vinegar helps adjust the pH of your scalp and can make your hair smoother and shinier. If dandruff is a serious issue, tea tree oil can help clear up your scalp.
2 Tbsp activated charcoal
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
3-5 drops tea tree oil (optional)
- If your coconut oil is solid at room temperature, warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave until it’s mostly liquid.
- Then, combine with your charcoal powder.
- Once you have a thick paste, start gradually adding your vinegar and then tea tree oil.
- Rinse your hair so that it’s completely damp, and then massage the mask into your scalp.
- Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly and shampoo normally.
Create Your Own Charcoal Masks
Everyone’s skin is different, so no two people will have the exact same experience when it comes to masks. While there are plenty of charcoal products on the market, by creating your own, you can control the ingredients and tweak the formula to your needs.
Remember that if you start feeling itchiness or pain, you should remove a mask right away. That could be an indication that you are sensitive to one of the ingredients.
With the five mask recipes in this article, we hope to give you a starting point. While research still continues on the topical effects of activated charcoal, many people have found it to be a powerhouse for their skin. We hope you’ll find the best formula that gives you the next success story.