Activated Charcoal. What is it and why should you use it, or not use it?
My introduction to this ingredient came in the form of a whitening toothpaste that also uses coconut oil and essential oils to create a polishing but smooth paste. I really love it and so I wanted to explore the other uses of activated charcoal. So, I hopped on Amazon and found an organic food grade activated charcoal powder that is from hardwoods here in the USA.
I found it difficult to find good information about activated charcoal and its uses in relation to general skin and teeth care. In trying to understand the “organic” claim of the product it was a bit confusing. Carbon is a defining point in the periodic table of elements for what is considered organic. If there is a single molecule of carbon it is considered to be an organic but this is entirely different than the organic movement in society for cleaner ingredients and environmentally sound practices. Given the lack of regulations for our products it makes the search for information even more daunting.
How do you know what brand is giving you a product you can trust? If you are able to shop locally that can be so beneficial because talking to employees or owners can really help answer a lot of questions. I have a great experience on that I’ll share in another post. However, if you are like me and don’t have a plethora of options for your ingredients nearby it’s easy to go online. I start with Amazon because I find it has the most reviews of products and it provides a foundation for further research. (I’m totally open to suggestions on this though!)
In my search for activated charcoal powder I searched organic activated charcoal. In the list were numerous products from Rocky Mountain Essentials aka Gold Mountain Beauty. This is the company I went with because they had the most information I could find but I still felt like there should be more provided on their website. The questions they answered posted by customers is where I got the most information. I also perused green lifestyle blogs for reviews and specifically mentioning their brand. In essence, this brand is a small family-owned business focused on natural products that tries to utilize best practices, like using untreated and sustainably harvested trees. From the reviews they also seem very concerned with customer satisfaction which shows through their willingness to provide detailed answers and their Bullet-Proof 100% money back guarantee.
I purchased their product through Amazon so shipping was fast, package came in perfect condition, and they even emailed me the day before I received it to highlight some important details such as BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU OPEN THIS. It is in a ziplock style bag but it is such a fine powder that it can easily get everywhere the second you open it. They also provided tips on how to use it and a guide to it’s uses.
Whichever brand or containment method your powdered charcoal arrives in some things hold true. This is not a product for those of afraid of a little mess and it will likely end up staining something. However, if you can live with the above it’s pretty fun to make a DIY mask. I found a great recipe from Wellness Mama that includes bentonite clay, honey, and essential oils. My face can be pretty sensitive so I left out the EO for the first time. I also patch tested on my chin to test for redness and honestly just to gauge how catastrophic the clean up was going to be.
I have combination skin and it’s been more on the dry/flaky side lately so I was wondering how drying this mask would be. I think using the honey is essential if you are prone to dryness and be sure to use a moisturizing soap/cleanser to help remove it. If you use a daily moisturizer I’d also use it after this mask.
My opinion on this mask was that I loved it. I’ve previously tried the Aztec bentonite clay mask with water and the version with apple cider vinegar. The redness was intense as well as how dried out my skin got. It just didn’t do good things for me. Needless to say I’m excited to find a mask that I can incorporate it into so that I don’t waste it.
Here’s the recipe I recommend:
1/2 tsp bentonite clay
1/2 tsp activated charcoal
1 1/2 tsp water
1/2 tsp honey
and if you need some extra acne fighting add a drop or two of tea tree essential oil or one that works for your skin (just don’t get it in your eyes!)
- If you are using an essential oil combine it with the water first.
- Next sprinkle the clay over the water mixture, let sit for 10 seconds, and mix with a rubber spatula.
- Then add the honey and continue mixing.
- Finally sprinkle the activated charcoal over it and mix it until it is a smooth consistency.
- Apply to face with a makeup brush. I used a (clean) flat rounded foundation brush which worked wonderfully and is now designated strictly for this mask.
If you want to use this on your body I would just double the recipe. I actually used it on my back and upper shoulders where I have been having some breakouts lately.
This will be a regular mask that I incorporate into my routine because it is exfoliating but gentle; it left my skin feeling very smooth and soft.
I used a basic wash cloth to remove (which is stained beyond repair) with warm water. After the initial rinse off, I went back with a bar of soap, rinsed, patted dry with a cotton towel, and then used my daily oils to moisturize my face and back. No prolonged skin staining or redness!
I love DIY products because they are fun to make and I learn so much from researching them.
What are some of your favorite DIYs? Also, I’d love to know what other tactics you all use to research ingredients, products, brands, etc?
P.S. no products mentioned are those that I am affiliated with. I am just sharing my experience and why I chose the brands I did. I promise to always explicitly say if I am affiliated with any brand or item I am talking about.