Activated Charcoal: The Soot-colored Health and Beauty Miracle that Whitens Teeth and Cures Acne
Remember when charcoal was that sooty stuff that you put on the grill and lit aflame so you could get a nicely charred burger or steak? Well, charcoal isn’t just for outdoor cooking anymore, it’s turning up in beauty products ranging from tooth whiteners and mouthwashes to facial masques and deep-cleansing scrubs.
Produced from the burning of coconut shells, bamboo, or other non-toxic organic material, activated charcoal is a porous substance with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. If you’ve ever used a Brita water filter, and noticed the small black granules that sometimes emerge from a new filter, then you’ve seen one modern-day use for activated charcoal. Toxins such as chlorine, copper, cadmium and mercury in our drinking water cling to the surface of charcoal and are thus filtered out.
It may seem like something new, but the therapeutic use of charcoal goes back centuries. Ancient Egyptians used charcoal in their embalming rituals. Native Americans would ingest small amounts of to combat the gas-inducing properties of legumes. Charcoal was used as a poultice for wounds during the industrial revolution. It was the Japanese who first began using charcoal as a skin and tooth cleanser, and Japanese products made with Binchotan charcoal are more popular today than ever before.
Just to be clear, the charcoal on your grill is NOT the same as the charcoal they’re using in toothpastes and soaps. Briquettes can include anthracite coal, limestone, borax, sodium nitrate and sawdust, none of which we recommend smearing on your face. But if you do want to try a product made with food grade charcoal, we’ve selected seven of the best:
Active Wow: Activated Coconut Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder
Active Wow’s proprietary formula contains activated charcoal powder from organic coconut shells to whiten teeth; bentonite clay to sooth gums and remineralize teeth; and orange seed oil, an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It will brighten your smile, improve your breath and strengthen your gums without bleaches, dyes, or other harmful chemicals. $24.79, amazon.com
Zinda Naturals Black Oil Mouthwash
Sure, the idea of swishing a mud-colored potion around in your mouth everyday might seem off-putting, but this all-natural elixir has a refreshing flavor and leaves your teeth and gums feeling remarkably clean and smooth. $27.99, amazon.com
EakkyStore Bamboo Charcoal Oil Control Purifying Mask
Does it make sense to smear obsidian slime all over your face if you are experiencing facial acne breakouts on a frequent basis? Only if it works, and according to EakkyStore’s devout online fan following, this obsidian slime, which has anti-inflammatory properties, will have your face flawless in no time. $19.20, amazon.com
Brooklyn Botany Charcoal Scrub
Brooklyn Botany’s deep-cleansing scrub helps remove excess oil and impurities from the skin and minimizes the appearance of acne scars, wrinkles and pores. When used on the body, it reduces the appearance of cellulite. What doesn’t this stuff do? Be forewarned, the onyx-colored scrub can be a bit messy in the sink, so it is highly recommended for use in the shower. $14.95, amazon.com
SAPO Organic Bamboo Charcoal Soap
If the idea of washing your face with the same bar of soap that you use on your body (or the idea of washing your face with a bar soap in the first place) is abhorrent, then the SAPO charcoal soap is going to surprise the heck out of you. The specially-formulated cleanser is fortified with bamboo charcoal, shea butter and coconut oil to gently remove impurities from the skin and treat a range of conditions that include acne and psoriasis. Grapefruit essential oil gives the bar an uplifting scent. $27.54, amazon.com
Briogeo Scalp Revival Exfoliating Shampoo
If product build-up or a dry, flaky scalp have your hair looking dull and lifeless, the chemists at Briogeo have concocted a soothing, exfoliating shampoo made of Binchotan charcoal, peppermint oil, tea tree oil and coconut oil. It is already a hit with beauty bloggers, swimmers and winter sports enthusiasts, but maybe your scalp will come up with a whole new user profile. $41.99, amazon.com
Kishu Charcoal Water Filter
Sometimes the simplest products really are the best. Toss a Kishu charcoal twig into a glass pitcher and fill with tap water. The Kishu filter will absorb the toxins in the water and impart beneficial minerals. With regular use, the Kishu filter will last about 4 months. $28.49, amazon.com