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The term ‘activated charcoal’ has been buzzing around for quite some time now. The black powder (that you might have seen in face washes and face masks) has become a trend not just in the beauty world, but also in the culinary world! But what is activated charcoal, and why is it popular? Read on!
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon or animal charcoal) is a powdered mineral that is made of bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits or sawdust. This charcoal is ‘activated’ when put under severe pressure and processing it under high temperatures. This processing changes its internal structure and makes it porous.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Because activated charcoal is super porous, it gets a ‘negative’ charge which makes it attract ‘positive’ charged molecules like gases and chemicals. So, applying it on your body can make it trap harmful toxins and eliminate them from your body.
This is why activated charcoal is a new trend – it has a lot of benefits attached to it! Activated charcoal powders are available both online and in pharmacies, so take your pick!
A word of caution: Activated charcoal is different from charcoal that we use in our tandoors and barbeque parties. Even though they are both made of similar components, charcoal is not processed under high heat – thus, it is toxic for humans. Remember this before you consider reaping the benefits of activated charcoal!
Skin Benefits of Activated Charcoal
Putting activated charcoal on your skin has several benefits. Here they are:
1. Reduces pores
Our daily grind shows its effects on the skin. The skin’s exposure to pollution and dirt and the body’s sweat tends to accumulate on the skin, making the pores larger. Activated charcoal is a great remedy for this problem – it simply traps these harmful chemicals and takes them with it. This brings the pores back to their normal size and makes your skin look tighter.
2. Godsend for oily skin
Activated charcoal works miraculously on oily skin! Oily skin is the result of excess sebum produced by the body, and not taking care of its production can cause pimples on the skin. Activated charcoal absorbs the oil and leaves skin feeling fresh and light.
3. Works as a great exfoliator
Activated charcoal when used with naturally exfoliating materials takes the dead skin and dirt off, making way for soft and glowing skin.
4. Fights blackheads
The ability of activated charcoal to soak itself into the skin makes it an excellent mineral to naturally remove black and whiteheads. It allows the pores to breathe and go back to their normal size too.
5. Naturally brightens skin
Pollution can wreak havoc on your skin. The dirt and grime can not only make your pores large, but can also make your skin look dull. Activated charcoal does its magic by sucking out all the dirt and impurities, leaving your skin bright and beautiful.
6. Helps with acne
Oily skin is also acne-prone skin, which means there needs to be a remedy to get rid of the excess oil. Fear not, because activated charcoal does exactly that! It cleans out oily pores and the toxins that accompany them, thus restricting acne build-up.
7. Soothes cuts, bites, and irritation
Did you know that activated charcoal is popularly used among medics in cases where someone is poisoned? The adsorbing properties of activated charcoal are used to reverse the effects of poison in one’s body. So, applying this on cuts and bites helps immensely in reducing redness, bumps, and even helps suck out venom (produced by poisonous animals). Applying some activated charcoal in paste form is the best way to get rid of skin irritation and cuts.
8. Helps with scalp irritation
Dandruff and an itchy scalp are annoying and painful, and activated charcoal is a great mineral to remedy that. The mineral makes its way into the hair follicles and cleans them out, just as it does with the skin. Using activated charcoal with a hair mask or with shampoo can help achieve great results.
4 Activated Charcoal Recipes for Beautiful Skin
1. Activated Charcoal Face Mask
This face mask is extremely beneficial for getting rid of oily skin and stubborn blackheads.
- 1 tbsp multani mitti
- 1/2 tbsp activated charcoal powder
- Rose water as required
- In a small bowl, mix the activated charcoal and multani mitti.
- Add rose water to the mixture, making a thick paste.
- Apply this paste on the face and neck and allow it to sit till the mask dries.
- Wash it off with cool water.
- Best time to use this mask is after steaming your face, once a week.
2. Activated Charcoal Natural Exfoliator
You can use this easy-to-make exfoliator on your face as well as your body – just adjust the ingredients according to how much you need! This mask will help get rid of dead skin cells and dirt on your face, and give your face a natural glow, and tighter pores.
- 1/2 tbsp activated charcoal
- 1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp rose water
- In a bowl, mix the activated charcoal and sea salt.
- Add the rose water to create a mixture.
- Apply this mixture to your face/body and scrub thoroughly.
- Wash it off with warm water.
- Use this mixture on your face once a week.
3. Activated Charcoal Hair Mask
You can use this hair mask before you wash your hair – it will help eliminate dirt from the scalp and keep it fresh and clean!
- 2 tbsp activated charcoal
- Coconut oil as needed
- In a bowl, take the activated charcoal and mix in coconut oil as much as your hair length requires.
- Apply this mix to your hair, starting from the scalp to the tip.
- Massage in the oil and charcoal mix thoroughly. Keep it for at least 2 hours.
- Wash with regular water, till the water runs clear.
4. Activated Charcoal Mix for Cuts and Bites
Mosquito bites, cuts, and bee stings can be quite painful. For temporary relief, apply this activated charcoal mix on the affected area and watch the magic happen.
- 1 part activated charcoal
- 1 part pure water or rose water
- A medium-sized band-aid
- In a bowl, mix the activated charcoal and rose water/pure water to form a paste.
- Take a band-aid and open it to expose the soft gauze. Take a small amount of the charcoal mix and apply it on the gauze.
- Take this band-aid and stick it on the affected area. Keep it for a few hours.
Things to Note Before Using Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has become a new trend in the world of beauty. Its detoxifying properties have made it a hit among skin and hair care experts, and for good reason. However, there are a few important things one must note before using activated charcoal. Here they are:
- Activated charcoal is also being used in the culinary world for its ability to pull away toxins from the body. Studies have shown positive links between activated charcoal and decreased cholesterol levels, better kidney function, lowered gas problems and fewer hangovers. However, more studies are needed to prove them accurately. So, remember these before consuming health drinks/foods that contain activated charcoal. We have not talked about consuming activated carbon in this article; we have only discussed the skin benefits.
- Always go for activated charcoal made of coconut shells, as they are the safest.
- Go for trusted brands before buying activated charcoal.
- Always remember the difference between activated charcoal and regular charcoal; they are not the same.
- Activated carbon can interfere with the medication you are taking. Thus, talk to your doctor to understand if you can consume activated charcoal if you’re on medication such as oral contraceptives.
Activated charcoal can be a great remedy for your skin and hair woes. Use it wisely and regularly, and you’ll be able to notice the difference very soon!