You’ve probably seen charcoal used in hangover pills, hair products, and even toothpaste. Activated Charcoal has become a very popular ingredient—and with good reason.1 It has many capabilities and health benefits, from absorbing toxins in your GI tract to brightening your complexion.
We know a thing or two about Activated Charcoal at Oars + Alps, too. We use it in our Blue Charcoal Oars Bar Soap, our Solid Face Wash, and our Peppermint Charcoal Bar Soap, and it's undoubtedly one of our favorite ingredients.
In this post, we’ll talk about what Activated Charcoal is and just how much the soaps and face washes made with this ingredient can do for your skin. We’ll also cover how to work it into your routine for optimal benefits. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get from our customers about charcoal soap. Let’s dive in.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated Charcoal is charcoal that’s been treated to become highly porous and absorbent. The "activation" occurs when oxygen is introduced to charcoal at high temperatures to alter its internal structure and increase its surface area. Charcoal has a negative molecular charge which allows it to bind with positively charged liquids and gasses. This fact combined with the large porous surface area created by activating it makes it especially effective at absorbing large amounts of toxins.2
Activated Charcoal often comes in the form of powder and can be added to foods, skincare products, capsules, and more. Unlike the charcoal you burn in a grill, Activated Charcoal is not harmful to humans when ingested. In fact, it's used in emergency rooms to absorb drugs and toxins in the bloodstream. It also has uses beyond the body, such as being able to clean water of heavy metals, insecticides, and herbicides.3
What Is Special About Charcoal Soap?
First, a simple definition: charcoal soap is any soap that uses Activated Charcoal as an ingredient. Charcoal is typically ground into a powder and mixed with cleansing agents, which in turn creates a product that cleanses and absorbs impurities.
How Does Activated Charcoal Soap Help Skin?
Activated Charcoal is one of the most versatile ingredients you can put into skincare products. It's most often used to address breakouts, dull skin, and premature signs of aging, though it can even be recommended for Eczema and Psoriasis.4 Activated Charcoal's versatility and effectiveness have earned it a strong reputation in the skincare industry as a powerful ingredient.5
When it comes to breakouts, Activated Charcoal is able to draw unwanted gunk from your skin, whether that be oil, dirt, product buildup, pollutants, or bacteria. By extracting these impurities out of your pores, it's able to not only clear up and prevent breakouts, but also minimize pore size and visibility with use over time.6
The gritty texture of activated charcoal soap can also help physically slough away dead skin. When dead skin is left to linger on the surface of your skin, your skin may appear dull or flakey and is more prone to clogged pores and breakouts. Having a layer of dead skin on the surface can also make it more difficult for your skincare products to penetrate into the deeper levels of your skin, which in turn makes those products less effective. Activated Charcoal's exfoliating properties helps resolve these issues, helping to clear your complexion over time.
Charcoal Soap Benefits
Activated Charcoal is one of the hardest working ingredients in the grooming aisle—especially when it’s used in charcoal soap and face wash.8 We've listed some of the most common benefits of using a charcoal soap below to help you decide if it's right for you.
- Helps absorb excess oil
- Helps prevent breakouts
- Tightens pores
- Makes skin firmer
- Exfoliates skin
- Brightens complexion
- Exfoliates dry, dead skin that can lead to flakes and dandruff
- Deeply cleans
- Calms inflammation and redness
Everything You Need to Know About Using Charcoal Soap
We understand many people have questions about charcoal soap and how it can help their skin. In this section we’ll answer some of the most common questions we receive about Activated Charcoal and when, where and why you might want to use it in your skincare routine.
What is Charcoal Soap Good For?
Charcoal soap can be hugely helpful to skin when used as part of a regular routine. Not only does it exfoliate and reduce inflammation, but it can also absorb toxins and excess oil. That means charcoal soap can help reduce breakouts, reduce pore size, give skin a healthy glow, and help prevent signs of premature aging—especially when used regularly. It has also been used to treat conditions like Psoriasis, Eczema and dandruff.10
Is Charcoal Good for Your Face?
When used as an ingredient in face wash or a face mask, Activated Charcoal can have a transformative effect on your facial skin. Your face is constantly barraged with pollution, dirt, and other impurities from the environment. Activated Charcoal helps prevent all of that from getting trapped in your pores so you can wash it away. It also helps to control oil levels by absorbing some of your skin’s natural oil (sebum). Reducing excess oil is also a key way to prevent breakouts.
The texture of Activated Charcoal is also great for physically exfoliating dead skin cells, which will improve your overall complexion and give your skin a healthy glow.11
Can I Use Charcoal Soap for Acne?
Charcoal soap helps to absorb excess oil, dirt, product buildup and harmful bacteria from your skin, all of which are leading causes of common breakouts. Charcoal also works as an anti-inflammatory, absorbing substances that inflame the skin so it can prevent redness and leave you with cleaner, clearer skin.12 Many of our customers specifically tell us that our charcoal soaps are effective at clearing up breakouts on their back, otherwise known as "bacne".
Can Charcoal Soap Remove Dark Spots?
Charcoal alone doesn't remove dark spots, but it is a gentle exfoliant that can remove dead skin. Doing so allows other products that are effective at targeting dark spots (i.e. hyperpigmentation) to more easily reach the underlying layers of skin. Ultimately charcoal works best in conjunction with dark spot treatments like a Vitamin C serum.13
Can You Use Charcoal Soap Everyday?
We wouldn't recommend that the majority of people use charcoal soap or charcoal face wash everyday. Doing so may lead to over-exfoliation, which can dry your skin out and make it irritated and/or red.14
How Often Should I Use Charcoal Soap on My Face?
We recommend using our charcoal face wash two to three times per week, in alternation with a gentle face wash.
Make sure that the charcoal product you are using is meant to be used on the face (i.e. a charcoal face wash). Facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than skin on your body, meaning the products you use on it need to be more gentle. A charcoal body soap is going to be too rough for the more delicate skin on your face.
If you’re using multiple face products made with activated charcoal (for example, a mask and a face wash), be careful that you aren't over-charcoaling! Applying charcoal too frequently to the skin may soak up too much of your skin’s naturally produced oil. If your skin becomes dry, flakey, or irritated, you're likely using charcoal too frequently and should scale back.15
While we're on this topic, here's a tip on masking with products designed to control oil: spot treat! In other words, apply the mask only to areas of your face where there is excess oil rather than applying it to your entire face. For instance, apply the mask to your T-Zone, but not to your cheeks. This will help you avoid over-drying the areas that don't produce as much oil.
Try Charcoal Soap for Men Today with Oars + Alps Charcoal Bar Soaps
Now that you know about the benefits of using Activated Charcoal for your skin, use that knowledge to find the best products for you.
Within our line, for the body we offer our Blue Charcoal Oars Bar Soap, which exfoliates and reduces excess oil on the skin for a deep clean. We also make our Peppermint Charcoal Bar Soap, which has the same benefits plus 100% natural peppermint oil for a refreshing shower experience. Lastly, our Solid Face Wash blends Activated Charcoal with antioxidant-rich Alpine Caribou Moss™ to keep your face looking bright, clear and healthy.
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