Just take a look at your Instagram Stories and the beauty side of YouTube and you can’t fail to notice that there has been an upsurge in carbon-based skincare.
Whether it’s in black-coloured facial masks, black sheet masks, or even charcoal micellar water, it’s undeniable that activated charcoal is here to stay.
But what does charcoal really do for your skin? We find out here. Stay to the end of the article to find out the latest carbon-based skincare releases from some of the biggest beauty brands.
Activated charcoal clings on to things
Long before its advent in skincare, you may have heard of charcoal as a very common medication for all kinds of gastric problems. Having a stomachache? Get charcoal. Having diarrhoea? Get charcoal. That seemed to be the age-old adage that our parents and grandparents passed on to us.
It’s not all the same as simply using any charcoal that you scrounge from the nearest barbecue pit, however.
Charcoal has to be “activated” first – they’re basically treated so that its structure becomes porous and almost spongy on a microscopic level, with lots of hole and nooks.
This kind of structure means that the activated charcoal can do what it does best: cling on to things and remove them from places.
That’s why activated charcoal is commonly recommended for food poisoning, or even certain types of medication overdose. It goes through your stomach and intestines, grabbing on to various things like food particles, toxins, and drug molecules, before escorting them safely out of your system.
They’re sometimes also called activated carbon, but it’s pretty much the same thing.
Beauty brands say it can remove impurities
Because of the way activated charcoal works, many beauty brands are now jumping on to the bandwagon and including the ingredient into their products.
The whole aim of including this ingredient is to cleanse the face of any impurities like dirt, oil, and even bacteria from the surface of the skin and in our pores. It makes sense theoretically, but does it really work?
According to an excellent beauty break-down by Lab Muffin, activated charcoal can “potentially clean deeper inside your pores” than your regular face wash and micellar waters.
It behaves like a clay mask, in that it draws out the oil and dirt from within the pores, instead of just concentrating its effects on the surface of your skin.
However, Lab Muffin also notes that there isn’t any scientific evidence to show that activated charcoal in skincare really does what it’s meant to do, although the theory behind it checks out.
She also referenced this scientific study which found that activated charcoal needed at least a few hours for it to exert its full effects, and that’s with the charcoal in its barest form without any other interfering chemicals that could be present in carbon-based skincare products.
All in all, it seems that activated charcoal does have some potential for use in skincare products but this has not been studied or proven conclsuively. However, it certainly will no harm to your skin if you do choose to use it, unlike many other common skincare ingredients, so that’s already a plus point in its favour.
These are the latest carbon-based skincare
1. Caolion Magic Black Powder
This Korean cosmetics brand places a lot of importance in creating hypoallergenic beauty products that can be used even on the most sensitive of skin, so it’s testament to the non-harmful nature of carbon that they’ve created an entire line revolving around it as a key ingredient.
Caolion’s Magic Black Powder line uses graphene powder as the signature ingredient, which holds exactly 60 carbon atoms in each molecule. It also has a high conductivity, which the brand says will help to stimulate the metabolism in skin cells, while also helping other active ingredients to absorb quicker and better.
As expected from its key ingredient, the Magic Black Powder line is reported to be excellent for skin purifying and deep pore cleansing.
The products available in the line are:
- Magic Black Powder Sparkling Wash Powder: Pour half a teaspoon of the powder on to your hand, add a bit of water, and watch as bubbles start to form. Work it into a lather and proceed to wash your face! (SGD45)
- Magic Black Powder Foam Cleanser: This cleanser is said to eliminate the need for double cleansing with just this one product, while still maintaining the skin’s pH with its sub-acid formula. (SGD37)
- Magic Black Powder Cleansing Balm: The balm texture of this product turns into an oil when it contacts the skin, stripping off makeup and excess oil, before it turns into a milky emulsion to reintroduce moisture to your skin. (SGD45)
- Magic Black Powder Massage Peeling Gel: The exfoliation answer you were looking for, the gel changes consistency when it touches your skin. Leave it on for a couple of minutes, before gently massaging it. This action will remove your dead skin cells and exfoliate your skin to reveal a natural glow. (SGD45)
- Magic Black Powder Eye & Cheek Patch: The hydrogel patches are shaped like swans and will help to tighten pores while moisturising and soothing the delicate skin underneath the eyes. You can even refrigerate it to help de-puff your under eyes! (SGD9)
- Magic Black Powder Sheet Mask: How could a carbon-based line be complete without a sheet mask? This two-piece facial mask also boasts a slim hydrogel mesh form for the most snug fit on your face. (SGD12)
- Magic Black Powder Rejuvenating Mask: Spread this concentrated skincare all over the face, pop the capsules, and lightly massage the goodness into your skin. (SGD65)
- Magic Black Powder Facial Lifting Mask: Dubbed as a “corset” mask for its lifting properties, this is an anti-ageing overnight mask with lavender extract to help you get the best out of your sleep time. (SGD65)
Caolion’s Magic Black Powder line is available at Sephora.
2. The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal
The charcoal that The Body Shop uses is actually bamboo charcoal powder, made from bamboos grown in the Himalayan foothills.
According to the brand, the bamboo is hand-harvested when they are four years old. Because bamboos are so fast-growing, the brand deems it as an environmentally friendly resource.
The Himalayan charcoal in this range also contains crushed green tea leaves from Japan and tea tree oil from Kenya for its anti-inflammatory properties. The texture is deliberately reminiscent of home-made body care, while still doing an excellent job exfoliating the skin.
This range from The Body Shop has been seeing so much success that the brand has decided to donate to the Red Panda Network to help out with its efforts in saving endangered red pandas for every Charcoal Mask or the new limited edition Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Facial Soap sold.
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask is a skin-tingling mud mask which helps to absorb excess oil and slough off the dead skin cells on the topmost layer, revealing better-looking skin underneath. It’s also 100% vegan!
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask retails for SGD32.90 at all The Body Shop stores.
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Facial Soap is a soap bar made not only from the bamboo charcoal from the Himalayan foothills, but also Community Trade tea tree oil from Kenya for its anti-inflammatory properties, shea butter from Ghana for its deep moisturising abilities, and eucalyptus oil for purifying.
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Facial Soap retails for SGD12 at all The Body Shop stores.
3. Boscia Luminizing Black Mask
This is one of the forerunners of the black face mask trend in the skincare world, and it’s no wonder.
Boscia uses high quality activated black charcoal to make this pore-purifying peel-off mask that will leave your skin feeling softer, cleaner, and clearer than before.
Boscia Luminizing Black Mask retails for SGD51 at Sephora.
4. Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleanse Detoxifying Soap Bar
Yet another skincare product that uses bamboo charcoal, this soap bar from Herbivore Botanicals is 100% natural. All oils used are cold pressed and steam-distilled to maintain its top notch quality.
This soap bar can be used for both face and body, and does wonders in exfoliating, deep cleansing, and detoxifying the skin. It can be used by oily, combination, and acne-prone skin types.
Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleanse Detoxifying Soap Bar retails for SGD19 at Sephora.
5. Sephora Collection Exfoliating Cleansing Cream in Charcoal
This cleansing cream from Sephora Collection will help you combine two skincare steps into one.
It’s formulated with micro-beads to gently deep-cleanse pores, and the charcoal variant can also help will help to purify the skin and refine texture.
Sephora Collection Exfoliating Cleansing Cream in Charcoal retails for SGD10 at Sephora.
6. Boscia Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser
Another contender from Boscia, this Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser was well-reviewed by top beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook and many others!
This unusual product requires a little work on your part to even start using it, what with puncturing the balloon encasement that the jelly ball is stored in. But don’t worry, all the work is worth it: the Jelly Ball Cleanser has achieved a stellar 4.3 stars on community review site Influenster.
Boscia Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser retails for SGD29 at Sephora.
7. Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask
This Clinique mask contains charcoal powder that helps to draw out impurities to detoxify the skin, while also purifying your pores by cleansing it of deep-seated grime.
It isn’t all just about the charcoal, however. The mask also includes mineral clays which help to refine pores and absorb excess oil.
Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask retails for SGD50 at Tangs.
8. Sephora Collection Micellar Cleansing Water in Charcoal
So you’ve heard of charcoal-based cleansers and masks, but have you heard of a charcoal micellar cleansing water?
Sephora Collection has a charcoal variant of their no-frills micellar water, using natural-origin charcoal extracts, to better cleanse off the makeup and impurities from your face. The micellar water is suitable for all skin types.
Sephora Collection Micellar Cleansing Water in Charcoal retails for SGD9 at Sephora.
9. Sephora Collection Exfoliating Wipes in Charcoal
Yet another skincare product that you wouldn’t have imagined possible to add charcoal to, but Sephora Collection has done it again.
This makeup-removing wipes come in a large pack with a convenient snap closure to ensure freshness of the wipes. The charcoal is added to the surface of the wipes to improve the makeup-removing efficacy, and is best used by normal to combination skin with a dull complexion.
Sephora Collection Exfoliating Wipes in Charcoal retails for SGD10 at Sephora.