We've all seen the videos on YouTube. Charcoal masks have been huge this year, and they make huge promises too. As well as claiming to unblock your pores, they also claim to leave your skin feeling clean, clear and silky smooth.
This is because they're filled with skin purifying charcoal.
And sure, it hurts a little when you peel it off, but pain is beauty, right?
Generally speaking, anything we do with our skin need to be gentle. Our skin is our first barrier against germs and dirt, so we want to keep it as protected as possible.
So if you're using charcoal masks or have considered using it, here are 5 things you need to know:
1. Activated Charcoal Doesn't Work Like That
Charcoal can work as a sponge. That's why hospitals use it for people who have been poisoned - the poison will stick to the charcoal instead of being absorbed into the body.
Charcoal, then, can potentially soak deeper into your pores than your average cleanser and draw out any dirt that has settled there.... if you left it on for a few hours. Studies conducted show that activated charcoal would need two to three hours sat on the skin in order for the dirt in your pores to become attached to it.
This isn't likely to happen when you have a surface mask that comes off in fifteen minutes or less!
2. The Products You Buy on Amazon Aren't Regulated
There's a reason why the stuff on Amazon is so cheap and the stuff in Boots is more expensive.
It's because the stuff on Amazon isn't regulated in the same way as it is in stores.
This means you don't know what you're buying when you buy a charcoal mask off of Amazon. Some of them have even been found to contain PVA glue, which recreates the peeling effect of the mask, as well as black colourant.
No charcoal... !
3. Your Skin Feels Smooth Because The Under-layer Is Exposed
There's a reason your skin feels so smooth after you've used a charcoal mask, it's because you've ripped off the topmost layer and have exposed a fresh layer of skin underneath.
This is bad for a number of reasons, but mostly it's because that layer of skin isn't ready to battle the dirt, germs and weather that the top layer of skin was.
Not only this but it takes off the layer of essential oils that form a barrier between your delicate skin and the outside world. These oils keep your face moisturised and protected, so ideally, you don't want to remove it!
4. It Hurts Because It Rips The Skin Off Too!
If you've seen any of the videos on YouTube you'll have seen that the people are in real pain. This might be funny to watch, but it's not good for your skin, and the reason it's hurting so much is because it's ripping all the tiny hairs off of your face!
So you're effectively giving yourself a face wax at the same time.
4. It Irritates Your Skin
Not only this, but even if it does pull out you blackheads, chances are it's ripping them out. This could have long term negative effects for your skin and lead to enlarged pores or even infection.
Not only this, but because non-regulated products can contain ingredients other than activated charcoal, there's a chance that it may cause an allergic reaction. Depending on your skin type it could also irritate your skin.
4. You Don't Need To Buy It Online
Activated charcoal can be good for your skin, but you don't need to use it in the way the facial mask does. We've seen what damage it can do when it's ripping away that lovely layer of essential oils, skin and tiny hairs as well.
If you really want to try it, why not looking at making your own gentle facial cleanser with activated charcoal? You can mix activated charcoal with ingredients like honey, rose water and sea salt to create a facial mask and then wash it off with warm water (which, but the way, is a great pain-free way of removing the charcoal masks if you've put one on!)