Coal is the new beauty buzzword and ‘activated charcoal’ is the ingredient of the moment. There’s nothing new about charcoal, by the way; it has been used for health and beauty purposes since Egyptian times. Later, a lot of coal-infused beauty products were inspired by the charcoal-lined ceilings in Korean steam rooms, which helped trap impurities and purify the air. However, the ingredient fell out of grace ten years ago when consumers realized that substandard products were also making their skin dry and unappealing. Come 2017 and it has made a vociferous comeback, thanks to Korean beauty brands and viral ads of women unclogging their pores with coal masks and nose strips. As gross as they appear, ‘effective’ is the word that’s getting women excited. What exactly is ‘activated charcoal’ you may be wondering? Well, in layman’s terms, it means oxygen has been added to make it more porous and effective at unclogging pores.
“Charcoal masks are an intriguing trend because black, dirty looking charcoal and shiny spotless skin do not seem to go well together,” certified dermatologist Azeemah Nakhuda said in a recent interview. “The vast difference between sooty coal and a clean face, and the ability of the prior to causing the latter, is one of the reasons people are so fascinated by this idea.”
Does it actually have any positive effects on the skin?
AN: Activated charcoal is basically treated carbon particles that can easily absorb any kind of foreign particles on your skin. Its increased surface area allows it to adsorb dirt, oil and any kind of bacteria that it comes in contact with. Although there are no studies proving the efficacy of this treatment for aesthetic purposes, it has been used medically to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses due to its impressive ability to adsorb toxins. It is also used in the treatment of water that is contaminated with petroleum, demonstrating its capacity for sucking up oil. Therefore, it is easy to extrapolate that it would do the same for the surface of your skin.”
Do you feel that it’s another passing trend?
AN: What activated charcoal lacks in scientific evidence, it makes up for in the number of advocates who endorse charcoal’s magical abilities to cleanse the deepest pores and purify the oiliest dermis. Be it reality or placebo, the results are undeniable for many, allowing it to be a trend that is here to stay.
– With additional information from Shahjehan Saleem
Coal based beauty products that you may want to try out
Here’s a list of products, collected from various surveys and personal trials, which we recommend you try out to feel ‘with it’. You may not find all these products in Pakistan but then when will online shopping or visiting relatives come in handy?
Konjac Cleansing Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal
We agree that this does look a bit like some terrifying thing you would find in your drain,
but this dermatologist-tested sponge is really meant for your face. Apply your cleanser to
the sponge and rub it in. The sponge helps to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and it gets rid of icky pimple-causing bacteria.
GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment
Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t just a jar of mud. It has K-17 Clay and Activated-X Charcoal, plus a bunch of other hero ingredients that purify your skin and target breakouts, razor bumps and discoloration. Sounds ‘super’ doesn’t it?
Lush Dark Angels Cleanser
Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding
A two-for-one formula, Boscia’s combining black and white charcoal to maximize results. An impressive duo of activated bamboo and binchotan charcoal, the brand’s yin-yang blend features Kaolin clay that is absorbed deep down into pores t cleanse, refine and give an overall radiant complexion.
L’Oreal Pure Clay Mask
For women (and beauty conscious men) who cannot be bothered to import beauty products, L’Oreal has come up with a locally available solution in terms of the Pure Clay Mask.
The reviews are good and it is being acknowledged as a happy alternative to GlamGlow.
It is affordable, has the active ingredients and will provide the fresh post-mask feel
and after-glow. Don’t over think it!