Activated Charcoal: What It Is + Why Your Skin Needs It (Plus A DIY Deep Cleansing Mask)

Charcoal is so much more than just a beauty trend. While you can hardly skim a beauty blogger’s post, scroll Pinterest DIYs or shop for skincare online without seeing this black beauty product pop up on your screen, charcoal has actually been used for centuries in skincare, cleansing, beauty rituals and even in modern medicine.

Because this is a word that’s being used across the beauty world and world wide web, we want to help break down what is activated charcoal and why you need to add it to your skincare routine and medicine cabinet.

First things first, activated charcoal is vastly different from charcoal you use to grill out in your backyard on Sunday afternoon. BBQ charcoal is loaded with chemicals and should never be consumed – or made into a facial mask. The charcoal we’re using in our health + beauty regimes is naturally sourced from coconut husks and helps to soothe a myriad of body issues and skin conditions.

This black substance is most popular for its properties as a natural toxin remover and can be used both internally and externally to detoxify. Activated charcoal is a powerhouse when it comes to purifying the skin from blackheads + buildup and even the body from poisonous or harmful materials.

What makes charcoal activated? When oxygen is added to charcoal that’s naturally derived (from bamboo, wood, coconut shells or other natural sources), it increases the charcoal’s porosity and surface area – making it even more pure, potent and effective.

AC is made up of millions of tiny pores that attract, trap and bind toxins. While it may seem like charcoal absorbs bad things so our body doesn’t have to, it actually adsorbs. Activated charcoal uses a process called adsorption to bind harmful chemicals – attracting and attaching toxins to its pores. Essentially, bacteria (and blackheads!) is transferred from our pores to charcoal’s pores – and we’re oh so thankful for it.

From clearing up breakouts + blemishes in the skin and whitening + brightening teeth to improving overall health and soaking up poisonous substances (i.e. from food or alcohol) in the body, there are countless uses for this natural detoxifying remedy inside and out.

As our toxic load contributes to acne and premature aging, activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins, chemicals and bacteria – helping to keep skin clear, smooth and youthful. It makes the perfect purifying mask or spot treatment to minimize the appearance of pores and diminish breakouts.

Here’s a simple, deep cleansing mask you can make at home:

  • 1 capsule (1/2 teaspoon) activated charcoal
  • 8 drops purified water
  • optional: 1 drop essential oil (try tea tree or lavender for added antibacterial + calming benefits)

(Care for your skin with this purifying mask once a week. Let sit for 10 minutes and be sure to use an old washcloth to remove it as pure charcoal will leave a black trail on your towel – or apply before showering! Finish with a few sprays of Complexion Mist to replenish skin.)

Charcoal can be found in powder form or capsules, and can be incorporated into endless products such as soap, tooth products and even deodorant. Its powerful detoxifying and deodorizing properties powerfully reduce (a.k.a. adsorb!) odor-causing bacteria and purify your pits.

Are you convinced to add activated coconut charcoal into your lifestyle? From treating BO, detoxifying your whole body, calming acne, helping to heal intestinal issues and soothing irritations from bites and rashes, we think AC is a must for your medicine cabinet and skincare routine.

Want to read more about how our founder, Bethany, has used activated charcoal in her own health journey? Check out her story here!

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We're breaking down what is activated charcoal, why your skin needs it and a DIY deep cleansing mask. Check out this post to get all the AC details! | Primally Pure Skincare

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Courtney O’Connor

Courtney Joy O’Connor is Primally Pure’s In-House Holistic Esthetician and Content Curator. Being in the beauty industry for over a decade, her experience + expertise with pure products, the healing power of touch and holistic skincare rituals are at the core of all she creates. She has trained extensively with industry experts across the country to offer her community the most educational content and transformative treatments. Courtney lives at the beach with her plant babies and loves road tripping, blending superfood bliss balls and exploring our big, beautiful world.