Activated charcoal for skin: the cleansing ingredient that’s great for oily, acne-prone and combination skin types

Posted by for Skincare

Activated charcoal has risen within the skincare world, thanks to its ability to provide a thorough and deep cleanse. Here, we explore the benefits and list our favourite charcoal-infused products.

You may have heard of charcoal skincare products before. While we know it sounds a bit… weird, charcoal can actually be a very beneficial skincare ingredient for those who deal with excess sebum production.

Why? Well, its main purpose is to remove toxins from the skin, which includes oil, pollution and dead skin cells. It’s no surprise then that the ingredient continues to grow in popularity: a study by Cult Beauty found it’s one of this year’s most Googled skincare ingredients, racking up 104,850 (and counting) searches so far.

So, we asked Diane Ackers, skincare expert for cosmeceutical brand Doctors Formula, everything we need to know about the skincare ingredient, from how it helps oily complexions to whether it’s suitable for acne-prone skin.

What is activated charcoal and what are its general benefits in skincare?

“Activated charcoal is a super deep cleanser. It acts like a magnet to attract and draw impurities – think dirt, grime and excess oils – from clogged pores and onto the surface. From here, they can be easily removed from skin’s surface. This means it’s effective for skin types that suffer from breakouts, blemishes and blocked pores. It also helps to remove dead skin cells, so it leaves skin soft and supple after use.”

How does activated charcoal help oily skin?

“Charcoal is especially good on oiler skin types, thanks to its deep cleansing properties and ability to remove excess oils. So that three o’clock T-zone shine can be kept at bay for longer. It results in a balanced, shine-free complexion after use.”

Do those with acne-prone and combination skin also benefit?

“Those with combination (and oily) skin often get excess blackheads and oil trapped by dead skin cells and activated charcoal can help by drawing out these blockages and sweeping them away. As for acne-prone skin, it can benefit so long as the acne is not excessively pustular or “wet” acne, as that can be too tender to target at times.”

How should you use products with activated charcoal?

“It’s best to always follow the product brands instructions on use. Activated charcoal often comes as a key ingredient in mask treatments so usage can be anything from one to three times per week. These great weekly skin treatments really keep skin in good condition and, combined with ingredients such as salicylic acid and probiotics, can help to normalise excess oil production in the skin. It’ll leave you with a more balanced, clear and strengthened complexion.”

Best skincare products with activated charcoal, picked by the Stylist beauty team

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Main image: brands/designed by Matt Phare

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