With all the different versions of masks out there, it can be hard to decide which one is best for your skin—gold masks, moisturizing masks, clay masks, avocado masks, cellulose masks, cucumber masks, rejuvenating masks, honey masks, and, believe it or not, chocolate masks are just a few of the many facial masks one can choose.
Look carefully enough and we think you’ll find that many of these masks contain charcoal. If you’re more familiar with charcoal as something that gets your backyard grill going, we’re here to tell you it has other uses! (And whatever you do, do NOT use that kind of charcoal on your face! It’s treated with some really gnarly chemicals!)
In this article, we’re going to look at charcoal mask benefits, how charcoal masks work and why they’re worth using, which charcoal mask you should use and how to use a charcoal mask.
How Charcoal Masks Work and Why They’re Worth Using
It’s not always affordable or easy to get to the facialist. But, the reality is that sometimes daily cleansing just isn’t enough. From time to time, you need a way to really get into the crevices of the skin and basically suck out all that dirt and oil that daily cleansing just can’t reach!
That’s how a charcoal mask works—it does a deep clean to get all the toxins out that regular cleansers just can’t reach. Charcoal masks, as we’ll see below, are like high-powered vacuums for the skin that just suck up all the dirt and oil that ordinarily refuses to budge.
Unlike housekeeping, however, a charcoal mask leaves you feeling revitalized and rejuvenated!
Charcoal Mask Benefits
- Charcoal masks remove impurities – The next time you’re using a charcoal mask, take a look at your skin in a magnifying mirror before and after you use it. We bet you’ll be shocked at the sheer amount of gunk it clears out from your skin—so much so that you can often literally see it in your skin just minutes after you wash it off.
- Charcoal masks cleanse – Of course, you still need to use your regular cleanser (we happen to know a great one if you’re in need), a charcoal mask will really deep clean your skin of dirt and oils.
- Charcoal masks balance oils – Speaking of oils, one of the great things about charcoal masks is that it soaks up a lot of excess oil from the skin, balancing the skins oils, renewing the look of beautiful skin.
- Charcoal masks exfoliate – In addition to getting rid of unnecessary oil, charcoal masks exfoliate the skin.
- Charcoal masks prepare the skin for make-up – If you’ve ever tried to put make-up on a face that hasn’t been properly exfoliated, you know how uneven it can look. Exfoliate with a charcoal mask first and you’ll see the difference is just night and day!
- Charcoal masks help maintain skin’s health – Whether you’re talking about your home, your car, or even your own skin, anything that requires cleaning needs both daily maintenance and a periodic boost to really make sure dirt isn’t lurking somewhere. A charcoal mask does just that--gives your skin a deep clean to get out all the gunk and oil a daily cleanser might miss.
- Charcoal masks brighten the skin – Don’t take our word for it—try a “Before and After” on your skin and see if you don’t see a huge difference in the brightness of your skin!
- Charcoal masks smooth the skin – The exfoliating properties in charcoal masks help smooth out rough skin so if you have texture issues with your skin, try a charcoal mask!
- Charcoal masks soften the skin – It seems counter-intuitive since we typically think of moisturizers softening the skin, but charcoal masks really help increase skin’s softness by making sure it’s exfoliated well.
- Charcoal masks make your moisturizer go on better – You know how you sand wood before you stain it so that the stain goes on more evenly and is absorbed more easily by the wood? That’s kind of how skin works. Moisturizer is much more effective when applied to skin that’s been well exfoliated!
Which Charcoal Masks Should You Use?
Although the field of charcoal masks isn’t enormous, it is important to think about what kinds of charcoal masks there are out there and which one you should use.
Here are a few kinds of different charcoal masks:
- Activated charcoal – Activated charcoal is a bit of an umbrella term for a carbon-heavy substance such as coal that’s been heated at very high temperatures. The heat causes little bubbles to form. When applied to the skin, the bubbles in that charcoal, which is now called activated charcoal, act as a sponge, pulling out impurities and leaving the skin clean. (Just FYI, technically, charcoal is adsorbent, not absorbent because it essentially sticks to particles so they can be pulled out, not because they actually absorb particles like a sponge would.)
- Bamboo charcoal – Ever wonder why pandas have such great skin? It’s because they use bamboo charcoal! OK, that’s a joke, but what’s not is that bamboo charcoal is great for the skin! Working much the way regular charcoal works, bamboo is full of little holes that basically glom onto the junk in your skin and take it with them!
- Coconut charcoal – Yes, believe it or not, if you heat up coconut shells, you basically turn them into little charcoal sponges that work like crazy to remove dirt and oil from your skin.
- Binchotan charcoal powder – Also referred to as white charcoal, binchotan charcoal is made from Japanese oak trees. Like other forms of charcoal, it essentially pulls out impurities like dirt and oil from the skin.
One of the great things about charcoal masks for the skin is that powdered charcoal can be combined with so many other ingredients, depending on what your goal is. Here are just a few of the ingredients that combine well with charcoal (please note—we don’t mean all together! These are just some options that pair well!):
- Honey – The humectant properties of honey add moisture to the skin.
- Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is great for unclogging pores and balancing pH levels!
- Bentonite clay – Bentonite clay is similar to charcoal in that it removes impurities from the skin, but it can also be used with charcoal to balance the natural oils in your skin and help create the appearance of a brighter, smoother complexion.
- Kaolin clay – Like a slightly less powerful version of bentonite clay, kaolin clay draws out the impurities from skin and exfoliates it.
- Botanical oils – If you’ve read the ingredients on our Prince Charcoal Natural Detox Mask, you might notice all the botanical oils we’ve included. From lavender to jojoba seed oil to rosehip seed oil to grapeseed oil, we’ve packed it with oils that not only give it a lovely, soft scent, but help soften and condition mature skin, protect skin from environmental stressors, and balance oils!
- Coconut oil – If you’re doing a DIY charcoal mask, you’ll need something to bind the ingredients together. Coconut oil does that beautifully!
- Salt or sugar – Charcoal masks do a pretty good job of exfoliating the skin on their own, but if you want a little extra scrub in there, you can always add a little salt or sugar (probably not recommended for dry or sensitive skin)
As always, you want to avoid chemical “baddies” like sulfates, artificial fragrances, parabens, and GMOs!
What Skin Types Should Use Charcoal Masks?
As with all beauty products, charcoal masks work best when used on the right skin types. Here are how different skin types should use charcoal masks:
- Charcoal masks for pores that clog easily – Charcoal masks are known for their ability to draw out impurities from the skin. If you have pores that get easily clogged, a good charcoal mask will help create the appearance of a brighter, smoother complexion.
- Charcoal masks for oily skin – Charcoal masks balance oils in the skin like nobody’s business so if you find you have an overabundance of oil in your skin, a charcoal mask should really help!
- Charcoal masks for skin that wears a lot of make-up – Are you someone who wears make-up every day? That probably means a lot of dirt and oil are finding their way into your pores. Even if you cleanse daily, a charcoal mask can really help make sure those pores are as clean as they can be!
- Charcoal masks for dry skin – You might be thinking that charcoal would only dry skin further, but in fact, by exfoliating the skin, they help moisturizer do a better job, so although it may seem counter intuitive, dry skins should definitely use a charcoal mask regularly.
- Charcoal masks for dull skin – If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and wish your skin had just a little more…sparkle…try a charcoal mask and we’ll bet you see a difference! By taking off the top layer of skin, charcoal masks give skin back their brilliance!
- Charcoal masks are great for skin that needs some make-up prep – Putting make-up on skin that hasn’t been cleaned or exfoliated as well as it could be is like cooking food in a pan that hasn’t been cleaned. We know it’s not a terribly appetizing analogy, but it’s definitely accurate!
How to Use a Charcoal Mask
If you’ve never used a facial mask before, it might seem like a bit of a mystery, but the truth is, it’s actually pretty simple!
First, cleanse your skin with a really great cleanser. (Of course, we’re partial, but we think our So Clean! cleanser is pretty spectacular!)
Then, apply a charcoal mask like our Prince Charcoal natural detox mask, making sure you get your whole face, while avoiding the eye area. It’s made for all skin types and takes about 8 to 10 minutes to draw out impurities, cleanse your pores, and nourish the skin. During that time, you can catch up on emails, start following at least 20 new people on Instagram, or start thinking about what you want to binge on Netflix this weekend.
Although you’ll find your skin getting a little tight (as it’s supposed to), we don’t think you’ll experience that oppressive pull most charcoal masks have (the one that makes you think you may never regain normal movement in your face again). Our mask detoxes the skin just as well as the other charcoal masks on the market, but without that horrible, frozen feeling. Also, it smells fabulous!
It’s literally that simple. We like to do this one-to-three times a week, but if you have really oily skin or skin that’s especially prone to congestion, you can increase that.
Frequently Asked Questions About Charcoal Masks
Do charcoal masks work?
Yes, charcoal masks definitely work! Almost nothing short of a professional facial will get dirt, oil, and other impurities out of the skin like a really good charcoal mask! We call ours a “Spa in a jar” for that very reason!
Are charcoal mask filters safe?
Talk about a sign of the times! Today, a charcoal mask could mean the kind you use or your skin or it could mean a filter you use in a face mask to prevent the spread of diseases! Many of those filters are made from carbon, which, when heated, produces activated charcoal, much like the one used in facial masks for skin care.
While we can’t vouch for the efficacy of those filter inserts, they are safe to use.
Charcoal masks vs. clay masks
Though it really depends what specific masks you’re talking about, charcoal masks are generally associated with detoxifying the skin by getting out all the impurities and dirt. Although clay masks do the same thing, they also tend to give the skin a smoother-looking appearance by balancing natural oils and renewing the look of beautiful skin.
So, the next time you fire up the barbecue, we hope you’ll look at those little briquettes a little differently (but not too differently as those have all kinds of weird chemicals on them and are definitely NOT good for your skin!). When used correctly, charcoal is one of the best skin care ingredients you could ever use!
What do charcoal masks do?
Charcoal masks reach inside your pores and pull out all the dirt, oil, gunk, and toxins that even a really great daily cleanser can’t shift. Give your skin that super thorough cleaning.