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No, we’re not talking about the stuff usually found in coal, so don’t go collecting the grime from your summer barbecue just yet. Charcoal exploded into the beauty scene in 2017, and caused quite a sensation. Beauty bloggers trying out charcoal products went viral all over the internet, because charcoal’s shocking black colour and tar-like appearance is not something you usually see in the clean, white, purified world of cosmetics, especially for applications like tooth whitening.

A Closer Look At The Black Beauty Trend

Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 428.13% increase in internet searches looking for charcoal treatments, and a 1023% increase in the sales of activated charcoal products.

On social media, no one was talking about charcoal in 2015, but by 2017 there were over 110,000 mentions. The charcoal trend is huge, and many beauty therapists have realised the potential of adding it to their cosmetic repertoire, for example, by offering charcoal facials.

If you’re not sure where to start, then events like the Taiwan Beauty International Show which will occur from the 13th until the 15th of September in Taipei, Taiwan and the largest companies from the globe will be exhibiting and showcasing the best products in the business.

In 2017, the event attracted 1,129 professionals from 32 countries. The top five countries comprising the largest number of buyers were Mainland China, Japan, USA, Singapore and Malaysia. At this year’s event among the excellent exhibitors, ÂGE D’OR which just won Monde Selection awards 2018 will exhibit to seek more overseas business, while EyRA, an Italian startup and Cosmoprof Trends Winner, is going to explore Taiwan and Asia market via the show and they will discuss about The Global Cosmetics Market and Consumer Trends, such as the new applications for charcoal and it’s spot in the cosmetics industry.

Charcoal may just seem like the latest beauty fad, but it has actually been used as a cosmetic for thousands of years already. There are records of it being used by the ancient Egyptians, who affectionately called it “black magic” and used it to colour their makeup, and ward off infections. Even back then, they recognised its healing properties.

The Science Behind The Hype

More recently activated charcoal has been used in air filtration systems, to purify water, and even in hospitals as a treatment for poisoning, as well as drug or alcohol overdoses. Medical grade activated charcoal is now being added to cosmetic products, because of its lauded ability to absorb toxins and pollutants. Although many didn’t believe that it could be true, there is some science behind how it works.

The idea is simple enough, charcoal contains many tiny particles, which added together have an incredible amount of surface area that’s ready to suck up toxins. In fact, just one teaspoon of activated charcoal equates to 10,000 square foot in surface area. Activated charcoal is made by treating charcoal made from coconut shells, or more sustainable ingredients like bamboo, with acid or steam. The steam or acid breaks down all the volatile organic compounds, which leaves behind large holes on surface of the activated charcoal particles. These pores are big enough to entrap toxins, oils, dirt and pollutants. When used cosmetically or medically, activated charcoal’s porous surface has no problem binding to chemicals and carcinogens, in order to remove them from the body.

Due to this, people are starting to use it for a multitude of different medical and cosmetic uses. Now there are charcoal detoxes where people actually consume charcoal for a week, in order to eliminate built-up toxins in their system. Some beauty therapists have even replaced the usual rehydrating glass of water after their beauty routines with a charcoal chaser. However, what has the cosmetics industry really excited is charcoal’s beauty enhancing properties.

Charcoal Facials

Charcoal is a super absorbent substance that is incredible at removing impurities from the skin, making it the perfect ingredient for natural facials. The results can be astounding, as it produces glowing, soft skin. Not only does charcoal ironically tackle dirt on the surface of the skin, it also draws out impurities beneath the surface, which means that it works really well on oily parts of the face that are prone to clogged pores, such as the tricky T-zone area.

There are other advantages to using charcoal face masks, such as refining pores. The charcoal in the mask works by binding to the dirt and grime in and around the pores, which removes it, and in doing so makes pores smaller and less visible. In fact, charcoal face masks are so revered by consumers that internet searches for beauticians and beauty therapists offering it have gone up by 86.4% over the last six months.

Making a face mask using charcoal is one of the most effective ways to use it as a beauty treatment. This can be done by mixing activated charcoal with your usual clays and muds, such as bentonite clay. You then wait for the mask to dry, which usually takes around ten minutes, and rinse it off.

You can also use charcoal as part of your skin cleansing routine at the end of a facial by mixing it into soap and eucalyptus or tea tree oil for healthier and clearer skin. When mixed with a cleanser, charcoal quickly absorbs excess oils and leaves skin smooth and refreshed. The tiny but rough particles in the charcoal also create a super fine scrub that removes dead skin, leaving it looking younger.

Charcoal is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin, and also helps soothe any irritated skin, by reducing swelling and even helping ease any pain. It is also effective on acne prone skin and skin with minor infections, because charcoal is actually antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. It is effective whilst still being very soft on skin, because it does not kills these things, but only binds to them and removes them.

Teeth Whitening

It may seem counterintuitive to put a black sooty substance on your teeth to whiten them. However, charcoal is a very good teeth whitening treatment. It combats bacteria and plaque, and removes surface stains created by food and drinks like tea and coffee. The charcoal picks up particles and any staining that is on the teeth, making your teeth noticeably whiter and brighter. It offers a natural alternative to other teeth whitening treatments, which is great for health conscious clients.

To use charcoal for tooth whitening, you can do a process called oil pulling, which is where coconut oil is swilled around the mouth for a five to ten minutes to remove germs. You simply add some activated charcoal to your coconut oil mixture, and it then also whitens the teeth. Charcoal teeth whitening treatments also help prevent cavities and gum diseases, and even banishes bad breath.

Hair Treatment

Charcoal can also be used in hair treatments, because of its ability to gently remove oil. It can actually absorb over one hundred times its own weight! It’s a great natural alternative to using harsh chemicals to strip oils away. Charcoal hair treatments leave the scalp clean and healthy, and can even work on dry, itchy scalps and dandruff.

To create a scalp treatment, simply add 2 tbsps on bentonite clay, 1 tsp of activated charcoal, and 2 drops of rosemary or peppermint essential oil to a bowl. Then slowly work in 4 tsps of rose water to create a smooth paste. You then apply the charcoal mixture to the scalp for 20 minutes, before washing off.

You can also create a charcoal hair treatment by simply adding a teaspoon of activated charcoal to your usual natural hair masks and conditioning treatments. Charcoal hair treatments produce shiny, bouncy hair with excellent volume. Your client’s hair will look more vibrant and lighter, because it is no longer being weighed down by any built-up grime. Charcoal is much more effective at removing dirt than regular shampoos. Activated charcoal also removes toxins, which can be present in hair, especially for those who live in cities and polluted areas. However, be careful about using charcoal on very light coloured hair, as it can stain.

An Ingredient For Natural Makeup

Charcoal may have only become popular recently, but there are already many different ways that it is used in cosmetology. Many beauty experts recommend using it as an ingredient for truly natural mineral makeup. Charcoal makes an incredible mascara and eyeliner for health focused clients, who are trying to steer clear of mass produced make-ups that are full of chemicals.

To make your own mascara, all you need to do is mix together one teaspoon of activated charcoal, ½ – 1 tsp of bees wax (depending on how much hold you require), 1 tsp of coconut oil, and finally 4 tsps of aloe vera gel. Once your solution is mixed together, simply apply to the eyelashes with a regular mascara brush. It also helps condition the lashes, and increases their strength and volume.

The Future For Charcoal

Charcoal is one beauty trend that is here to stay, despite being almost unheard of just a couple of years ago. Incorporating it into your beauty treatments will attract new, health conscious customers to your business. Especially, if you specialize in natural treatments, which are very popular amongst millennials. The natural beauty market is set to become a multi billion dollar industry, as the public awareness of harmful chemicals in traditional beauty treatments grows.

Activated charcoal is incredibly versatile, and there are even more uses than those listed above. So it might be worth experimenting with different applications to create your own signature charcoal beauty treatments, which will create a sense of exclusivity for your beauty business and attract more clients.

This article is brought to you by Taiwan International Beauty Show.