Because of its unparalleled ability to bind impurities and unwanted toxins, activated charcoal is brilliant for skin care. Used in proper proportions, it can pull toxins and contaminants from the skin and rinse them down the drain. It can also bind good stuff, like vitamins and minerals, so you must use it sparingly and in combination with the right replenishing ingredients. We use activated bamboo charcoal in our popular Detox Exfoliating Mask with organic honey and raw cacao to provide nourishment along with the purification. And, we use it in our Oh So Detox Soap, where it works with organic olive oil and shea butter to cleanse and soften the skin. Oh So Detox has no essential oils, so it is well-suited to those with very sensitive skin or noses, as well as people who struggle with eczema or psoriasis. Other great brands that use it in unique ways are: Boscia Charcoal Makeup Melter Cleansing Oil-Balm ($32), Julep Konjac Face Sponge ($12), and Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Soap ($12).
Activated charcoal works to whiten teeth the same way—just put a dab of your toothpaste on the brush, and then dip it in a bit of activated charcoal powder.
It is harmful to the lungs if inhaled, so you must be attentive and try not to breathe in any loose powder—mash it into the toothpaste first. It can bind up many of the pigments from coffee, tea, and red wine that stain your teeth over time. Brush with charcoal twice a day for a week and see if you notice any difference. It's messy as sin and tastes like you face-planted in a fireplace, but I noticed a difference.
So, there you have it. The lowdown on activated charcoal. It's a hot skin-care ingredient at the moment, and I hope this helps you understand how and why it works. After using activated charcoal in the ER so many times and understanding the organic chemistry of how it works, I can tell you that it definitely isn't voodoo. But it sure is a little bit of Black Magic.