The Charcoal Facial Detox Is “Trending” —but Is It Safe? Here’s What You Need to Know

The charcoal facial detox has been a rising star in the skincare world for years now, mainly thanks to its deep cleansing benefits. It’s primarily used for acne, and its drawing power helps remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin. It also has properties that help reduce inflammation and can aid in wound healing. Charcoal can have some serious cleansing power when it comes to skin. Because it’s believed that it can draw bacteria and impurities from the skin, activated charcoal has also become a popular ingredient in face detoxes, too. These detoxes are useful for people with problem skin, oily skin, combination skin, and really all types.

I have pretty decent skin. I get the occasional acne during my cycle or high-stress moments. What I don’t have is skin that has a glow to it, my skin can often be pretty dull and that’s why I decided to try a charcoal detox. 

My experience with the detox has been great. I like that it has a powder consistency so it makes it easy to mix with whatever I decide to create. Another thing I like is how soft my skin feels right after doing it. Charcoal face detoxes are basically like any other detox, with the exception of charcoal. They’re designed to help draw impurities and dirt out from deep within your pores that might contribute to acne breakouts or blackheads. If you think of charcoal as a magnet, it can attract the dirt and impurities that settle into your pores. If you think of charcoal as a magnet, it can attract the dirt and impurities that settle into your pores. Charcoal has been known to dry skin out (which can actually be good for oily skin types), so it’s important to follow up your detox with a moisture-rich moisturizer.

I have been using the detox for four days now and have noticed that extra dirt on my face from the day has been sticking to the charcoal mask. This tells me that it’s definitely cleaning out my pores, even though I wasn’t aware of having bad acne I do believe that this detox will help me get rid of any dirt or impurities that may be on my face before they form into whiteheads or blackheads. 

The detox isn’t too harsh, but due to its strong cleansing properties, you should not expect to use this more than once every two weeks or so. I definitely believe that this is best used as a clarifying treatment, rather than an everyday mask, because it does dry out the skin.

What is a Charcoal Facial Detox?

It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a detox made from charcoal that can be applied to your face and left on anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on preference and skin type. So why use a charcoal facial detox? This product is rather straightforward in its purpose since it draws toxins, impurities, dirt, grime, etc…from within pores while serving as an astringent to tighten skin. This is a method that’s been around for centuries and here are some reasons why you should try it.

Recommended Read: Guide to Using Activated Charcoal for a Stomach Bug

The benefits of a charcoal facial detox

Absorbs oil – charcoal absorbs excess dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin’s surface.

Astringent – will tighten pores and remove sebum (oily secretion). You can use charcoal as an astringent. Be sure to moisturize after using a charcoal facial detox, because it can be drying.

Tightens the appearance of pores – keeping your face clean and healthy will help keep the appearance of your pores lean.

Removes dead skin cells – when used five times a week, charcoal can help remove old cells that cause dullness and dryness in the skin. This increases cell turnover and gives the skin a glow and helps with acne scars as well

Aids exfoliation – this is great for those who have sensitive skin or suffer from breakouts; it promotes cell turnover to eliminate acne-causing bacteria without further irritation.

Mattifies – Drawing out dirt and impurities from the skin, charcoal can help your pores to appear more refined. It doesn’t strip the skin of natural oils but rather works to balance out oil production.

Depuffs- If you’ve had a long day and you’re under eyes are looking more puffy than usual, dab on some charcoal serum then place a cold compress over the area for 10 minutes! Your under eyes will look less bloated in no time.

Whitens – The antiseptic qualities of charcoal work wonder to fight off bacteria which cause an imbalance in the skin that can potentially lead to breakouts and dark spots; this helps even out your skin tone and give it a brighter appearance with regular use.

Dries acne – used as a spot treatment on blemishes, it will help dry them out over time without drying out the rest of your skin, unlike traditional acne treatments.

Removes blackheads – The activated charcoal binds to excess oil as well as other impurities that can cause the build-up of dead skin cells and create blackheads; this will leave your pores looking clean and your skin feeling smooth.

Anti-aging – Charcoal is able to remove environmental toxins from the body which helps minimize premature aging and restores collagen levels in the skin; regular use will give you a younger appearance with a more vibrant glow.

Deep cleanses – The natural absorbent properties of activated charcoal help draw out all impurities from deep within the pores leaving behind clear, blemish-free skin. This is why it’s great for those who have larger pores or tend to break out in blackheads or acne.

Detoxifies – Using activated charcoal decreases the body’s production of oils which helps reduce acne and other common skin problems. It can also provide relief for those suffering from excessive sweating, bad breath, or body odor due to toxins being secreted within the pores.

Makeup Activator – The absorbent properties of charcoal make it great at holding onto moisture as well as any beneficial skincare ingredients that are applied on top making it an ideal base for makeup. This is especially helpful for those with oily skin who want a matte finish and longer-lasting foundation; however, anyone can use this method to prolong their makeup wear.

Smoothes fine lines – Charcoal reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping the skin to retain moisture.

Evens skin tone – One of the most powerful properties of charcoal is its ability to absorb impurities, toxins, and excess sebum from within pores. This effective ingredient can visibly reduce redness and leave the skin looking more even in tone.

Store-bought or DIY?

There are two options with a charcoal facial detox. You could buy a pre-made one of DIY. The real question is, is there really any benefit to applying them to your face over some of those more expensive facial brands?

Store-bought charcoal facial detoxes are great if you are strapped for time, are heading out the door, and don’t have any activated charcoal lying around. They are also helpful because they contain other ingredients that can benefit your face in other ways. These store-bought detoxes usually contain ingredients that aren’t easily on hand, such as vitamins or mineral oils.

Ready to Buy and Use Charcoal Facial Detoxes

L’Oreal Paris Skincare Pure Clay Face Mask with Charcoal$8.95

Face Mask by Olay Charcoal Detox Stick – $6.95

Chic Republic Organic Charcoal and Clay Mask – $20.00

If you go the DIY route, you can create your own detox with the ingredients you have in your home and know that it’s going to be just for your skin type. You can customize your own detox and know it won’t harm your skin, or adjust according to your experience. You have the added benefit of knowing exactly what is going on in your face before you take a risk with an unfamiliar product.

If you are feeling adventurous and would like to try your hand at different recipes check out this list of DIY charcoal facial detoxes.

DIY Charcoal Facial Detox Recipes

Charcoal Detox for Oily Skin

The charcoal, clay, apple cider vinegar, and other ingredients in this recipe are excellent face detox ingredients for absorbing excess oil.

  • 1 tablespoon clay
  • 1 tablespoon activated charcoal
  • 1 probiotic capsule
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water

To Make: Combine clay, charcoal, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl and mix until it forms a paste. Slowly add the water and stir until you have a thick paste. Add the contents of the probiotic capsule to the mixture. Apply detox to face and leave on for 15 minutes or longer if desired. Rinse off with warm water followed by cool water.

Charcoal Detox for Acne-Prone Skin

The ingredients in this recipe work together to clear pores, absorb excess oil while leaving skin feeling soft and moisturized, fight bacteria associated with acne breakouts, reduce inflammation, soothe redness from acne flare-ups, speed up the healing time of reopened blemishes, minimize scars and soothe itchiness associated with breakouts. The ingredients will reduce the appearance of pores and clarify skin. It will also remove any excess oil that may be present without drying your skin out like traditional acne-fighting face washes tend to do.

  • 1 tablespoon Charcoal powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon witch hazel
  • pinch of Green tea leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Filtered water

To Make: Mix the ingredients together in a bowl to make a paste. Add more water if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Apply detox to face and leave on for 20 minutes or longer if desired before rinsing off with warm water followed by cool water.

Charcoal Detox for Dull Skin

This detox contains activated charcoal which is great at absorbing impurities as well as helping fight bacteria on your skin. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to give your skin a little extra glow, this detox can do the trick.

1.   1/4teaspoon of honey

2.   1 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder

3.   2 1 teaspoons of filtered water

To Make: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the mixture evenly to your face using a brush or clean fingers. Allow it to dry for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. Cool water will close the pores but is not necessary if you’re pressed for time.

Charcoal Mask for Problem Skin

This detox features both bentonite clay and activated charcoal which are thoughtful ingredients when fighting acne since they work to absorb excess sebum (oil) on your skin while also drawing bacteria that causes blemishes out from under the surface. To make it, mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay
  • 1 tablespoon of charcoal powder
  • 5 1/2 teaspoons of filtered water

To Make: Mix the ingredients together until you have a smooth detox. Apply to your face and allow it to dry for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. This formula should not clog pores but if you’re still concerned, follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse (just be sure to dilute it first).

Charcoal Mask for Blackheads

This blackhead fighting charcoal facial detox draws toxins from deep within the skin while also absorbing excess sebum (oil) which can cause blackheads.

  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal powder 
  • 2 teaspoons witch hazel 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar

To Make: Mix the ingredients together until you have a smooth detox. Apply to your face and leave it on for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water followed by cool water and pat dry your skin. Do not use this detox more than once a week as it can dry out and irritate your skin.

Charcoal Detox for Dry Skin

This detox is perfect for combination skin that is mostly dry but prone to breakouts from time to time. The yogurt will help soothe irritated skin while the honey enhances moisture.

  • 1 tablespoon of organic plain yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal powder
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey or aloe vera gel

To Make: Mix all ingredients together until you have a smooth detox. Apply to your face and leave it on for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water followed by cool water and pat dry.

Charcoal Detox for Skin Tightening

The egg whites in this recipe help tighten the skin and contain vitamins and minerals that can benefit the skin’s overall appearance. The charcoal in this recipe gently exfoliates.

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon organic plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal powder

To Make: In a small bowl, whip up the egg whites until they are nice and fluffy. Add in the yogurt and charcoal powder and mix into a smooth paste. Apply to your face in circular motions, focusing on your problem areas for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water followed by cool water and pat dry. Use moisturizer afterward.

In order to achieve optimal results, try to find a charcoal facial detox that is tailored for your skin type and does not contain harsh chemicals and dyes. If you have extremely sensitive skin or are concerned about the safety of activated charcoal, consult your doctor or dermatologist before using a charcoal detox.