'Does this thing really work?' is probably what the lot of skeptics are thinking, and perhaps even the most fastidious of skincare users too are in doubt of the purification power of charcoal. But the beauty community has been all-abuzz in the face of this ingredient, singing the praises of its dirt-eradicating capabilities even though, you know, it kind of looks like dirt too. Boasting much more than meets the eye, this innocuous looking black soot has a multitude of beauty benefits as it draws oil, dirt and bacteria from clogged pores to give you that thorough cleanse that regular face washing can't achieve. Charcoal powder also has the ability to absorb thousands of times its own mass in harmful elements, making it an ideal ingredient in masks and scrubs.
In fact, it's so ideal that a number of intrepid beauty gurus have taken it upon themselves to test out a DIY blackhead mask made using craft glue and activated charcoal powder (trust us, don't try it). And while DIY has its merits, finagling a charcoal recipe and hoping for the best isn't the way to go about ridding your face of acne and blackheads. Instead, invest in some good charcoal based products that will go a long way in giving your skin the dirt power it needs to cleans up nice:
1. Glamglow Supercleanse Daily Clearing Cleanser, $39
Don't be alarmed when a press of the pump pushes out a black, mud-like substance — it's supposed to work that way. This cleanser is a revolutionary mud-to-foam face wash that changes colour and transforms from a mud into a rich foaming lather to dissolve oil, makeup, and pore-clogging impurities. Gentle and effective, Supercleanse can be used every day on all skin types and a loyal following has even crowned it their Holy Grail cleanser.
2. Lush Dark Angels, $75
If you're still on a scrub that leaves you dry and raw, toss that into the bin stat and go for this one from Lush. With powdered charcoal sourced from Dorset in England milled with cold-pressed avocado oil, rosewood, sandalwood oil, rhassoul mud and black sugar granules, this best-seller is set to give you the scrub of your life. Smelling heavenly and exfoliating like a dream, Dark Angels is a face polish with antiseptic and moisturising properties that leaves your skin feeling soft, balanced and fresh without stripping it bare.
3. Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque, $94
A new launch to hit stores, this mask is dull skin's ultimate quick fix. Besides dexotifying your skin and ridding it of sebum and bacteria, Dermalogica has worked in several other key ingredients for a multi-tasking product that also brightens and invigorates. Formulated with sulfur (of the non-demonic kind, FYI) to promote healthy cell turnover, niacinamide to help reduce redness and inflammation, as well as Chilean wild mint to clarify skin and refine the pores, this is the mask that will have you purchasing a back-up tube.
4. Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask, $50
For those who lament the size of their pores, this mask will help you shrink them down to a smoother appearance as it utilises white China clay in addition to charcoal. It does what it says on the tin; the activated carbon first draws out deep-dwelling toxins, dirt and debris before the clay absorbs and traps these pore-cloggers, ensuring you're completely rid of them when you wash off the mask. With regular use, the pore-clearing action (followed up with a lotion and serum) will have your complexion looking porcelain perfect.
5. The Konjac Sponge Company Konjac Sponge Puff with Bamboo Charcoal, $18
Yes, it looks like something that either lives in your sink pipes or on the seabed but we say don't knock it until you try it. Infused with bamboo charcoal, this is no ordinary sponge as its 100 per cent natural material works to combat oily skin prone to spots and breakouts. Use this in place of your hands and you'll be amazed at how it cleans and refreshes the skin, whisking away excess oil and ridding your complexion of acne-causing bacteria. It's organic animal-derivative free nature also means it's safe for those with sensitive skin and is suitable for vegan consumers.