Is Activated Charcoal All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Charcoal masks, activated charcoal pills, charcoal scrubs… it seems that what was once an item designated for the Christmas stockings of naughty children, is now the coveted component found in almost every beauty product. This fad is growing into one of the most buzzed and trendy beauty phenoms, but what is all this hype about, and is it legit?

While claims insist that charcoal is the miracle cure for hangovers, cleansing your system, and making your heart healthier, they’ve yet to be proven scientifically. However, it has been used in hospitals for years to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses since it attacks toxins and absorbs them faster than the bloodstream can. Same goes for its use in beauty regimens—as the charcoal attaches itself to the dirt and oil in your face, it can then be washed away with soap and water. Hence, immediate results.

Whichever way you choose to use activated charcoal, as a detoxifying substance or in your beauty routine, it’s important to understand how best and safely to use it. If you’re looking to aid in de-bloating or stomach discomfort, the best form of ingestion is in tablet form or capsules, which you can purchase at your local health food store. But don’t get overzealous; charcoal isn’t meant to be part of your daily vitamin intake. Only take it when it’s needed and follow directions very carefully. Activated charcoal is so intense that when consumed in high amounts, its effects on the stomach are likened to having your stomach pumped.

However, there are countless safe ways to use it in beautification. Brushing your teeth with charcoal can lead to some pretty bright and sparkly smiles. Buy activated charcoal in the pill form and break open the capsule into a bit of toothpaste or a little water, then mix and brush as usual. Luckily charcoal has no taste, but the consistency may be unpleasantly gritty. The results, though, are immediately brighter and whiter teeth.

For a face mask that will pull the dirt from your skin, use the activated charcoal in capsule form. Empty a few into some lukewarm water—until you get a paste consistency. Add honey or aloe gel and apply the mixture to your face. Let dry, and wash off. Charcoal is fantastic at lifting impurities and cleansing the surface of dirt and dead skin. You’ll love your smooth, soft skin after this treatment.
You can also unload these capsules into your body wash for an at-home, all-over cleansing scrub, or add a capsule to your regular shampoo to cleanse your hair of any build-up. If you have light hair, just an extra rinse will take care of that dark tinge left behind by the charcoal.

It’s true that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, so keep in mind that while activated charcoal is magical for pulling and lifting impurities from the body and the skin, too much of it can over-dry or deplete you of essential bacteria and nutrients. While the activated charcoal hype has its real merits, just be smart and always follow directions or consult a doctor before deciding to ingest it.

Photo Credit: Wasanajai/Shutterstock


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