I’m sure we’ve all seen those viral videos of people screaming as they peel off a black, tar-like face mask from their t-zone. If you haven’t, then congratulations for not being as Facebook-obsessed as the rest of us.
These face masks have caused a social media phenomenon recently with everyone wanting to get their hands on these purifying peel offs. Turns out, the dark colour is caused by one of the main ingredients – charcoal. It’s the latest beauty craze and is being put into not only face masks, but toothpaste and soaps too. Is this worth the hype? And more importantly, is it safe?
So, what is activated charcoal?
Other than being the IT ingredient, of course.
Also called activated or active carbon, it’s a form of carbon that is rich in minerals and is actually used in hospitals as an emergency treatment after poisoning. Why’s that? Because it removes toxins, impurities and flushes things out of the body so well. Obviously, this medical charcoal is a lot higher in volume, but you can see why it would help clear your skin.
More recently, the purifying abilities of charcoal have been discovered when it comes to using this on the body, rather than in it. This has led to the creation of thousands of face masks, washes, scrubs, soaps and even toothpastes.
Charcoal Face Masks
Charcoal-centred ingredients seemed to break into the mainstream with peel off masks that overtook social media and chatter amongst friends. Everyone was asked if they’d been able to get their hands on the magical peel off masks that left your skin baby-smooth.
More recently, they are everywhere. Boots, Superdrug, department stores, you name it. You can get a charcoal face mask absolutely anywhere. The purifying abilities are fantastic and will leave your skin feeling smooth, but you must be careful.
Online sellers saw the latest fad and grabbed ahold of it. Masks were being created in seconds, and these weren’t all good ones. A few charcoal peeling masks were found to include PVA glue and other hideous ingredients. Although these might leave your face feeling smooth after you’ve peeled (and screamed a lot), you were actually stripping away the top layer of your epidermis, natural oils and hair. This would leave your skin open to dirt and infection like never before.
So, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good. But expensive doesn’t mean fantastic either. Look at the ingredients and always search for a reputable seller or online website. Some of these masks might be fun to peel from your face, but they shouldn’t hurt. You can always try a wash off mask or cleanser instead, whilst still experiencing the benefits of activated charcoal.
The charcoal takeover didn’t stop at skincare, it made it’s way to the toothpaste aisle too, with recognisable brands like Pearl Drops even jumping in on the action. With claims to clean and whiten your teeth, why wouldn’t you give this one a go.
Of course this uses the same logic that I mentioned earlier – the use of activated charcoal to remove toxins. With this in mind, the toothpaste should be able to remove stains from your teeth or toxins from your mouth.
For any noticeable whitening, you would have to try a properly dedicated whitening kit or proper dental work, but as that can cost hundreds of pounds, a few pennies on a new toothpaste doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?
So, are there any bad sides to this development? Well, charcoal is an abrasive ingredient so frequent use could wear down the enamel on your teeth. As long as you’re sure to use this toothpaste occasionally, alongside your regular toothpaste, your pearly whites should be fine.
Have you bought any charcoal products? Have they lived up to the hype? Let us know!
Follow Ashleigh on Twitter.