For centuries, charcoal was used to cleanse and detoxify, as well as to absorb odors and cure intestinal issues. Even the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is said to have prescribed it for treating ailments. Then someone decided to use it to make briquettes for backyard grills and outdoor cookouts, and charcoal lost its association with health altogether. But now it’s back in a huge way and popping up in everything from facemasks and teeth whiteners to juice tonics and shampoos — and for good reason.
First, the charcoal you find in beauty and health products is not the same as what’s used to fire up the grill. Instead it is activated charcoal, which is made by heating wood (either bamboo, coconut shells or other natural substances) to very high temperatures until it turns to carbonized ash. It is then processed with steam to “activate” it, or make it extremely porous. This allows activated charcoal to bind powerfully to just about any substance. Think of it as a high-intensity magnet that draws out toxins and other unsavory substances and you’ll understand why it’s become the ingredient du jour of the beauty and health industries. Best of all, it works naturally and is nontoxic.
This is one bandwagon to jump on. Here are our favorite charcoal-infused products, which you should definitely be incorporating into your everyday life.
Active Wow Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder
This coconut charcoal powder has earned some pretty rave reviews on Amazon. Since activated charcoal binds to just about everything it comes in contact with, it can be effective at removing surface stains on teeth from coffee, red wine and tobacco and foods. But be forewarned, it might temporarily turn your bathroom sink into a tar pit.
Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrush
If you’d rather avoid the mess of a charcoal powder, this toothbrush with charcoal-infused bristles is a next-best option for stain fighting. And it naturally detoxifies, too.
Brooklyn Botany Charcoal Mud Mask
This gentle mud mask by Brooklyn Botany is designed to nourish skin without compromising hydration and it easily rinses off after use, leaving no damage. Activated charcoal gives it a deep-cleansing boost, drawing out toxins and bacteria, and minimizing pores.
Nylea Blackhead Remover Mask
If you’re looking for more targeted pore cleansing, this peel-off charcoal-powered mask by Nylea works to penetrate deep into pores and remove blackheads and other nasty gunk.
Bioré Deep Cleansing Charcoal Strips
Excess oil and clogged pores around the nose are no match for these charcoal strips from Bioré that act like little magnets, lifting dirt and grime. Warning: you cannot unsee all the after shots posted by satisfied reviewers.
PureHeals Pore Clear Black Charcoal Cleansing Foam
Okay, we all know Korean beauty brands are amazing. This cleansing foam from PureHeals works to stop clogging before it starts. Charcoal acts as a deep penetrating detoxifier and mushroom extract gives skin anti-inflammatory protection. Added grape extract and antioxidants nourish skin.
My Konjac Sponge
People are going nuts over this sponge! Made from the fibrous root of the Japanese konjac plant and infused with charcoal, it gently exfoliates and sloughs off dead skin cells while it detoxifies, leaving your face feeling fresh and new.
Origins Clear Improvement
So your face is looking swell, but what about the rest of you? This body wash by Origins is formulated with bamboo charcoal to remove daily buildup and give skin a nice enriching cleanse. The minty aroma from clove and wintergreen leaves you feeling mighty refreshed.
Hask Charcoal Purifying Shampoo
Yup, charcoal has benefits for hair, too. This shampoo removes build-up without stripping as it leaves hair moisturized and shiny.
PiperWai Natural Deodorant
Charcoal can absorb 1000 times its weight in moisture, which makes it a no brainer for use in deodorants. It also works without harmful aluminum or chemicals. This rub-on formula deodorizes naturally by forming a PH-balanced shield that neutralizes odor and protects your clothes from the effects of sweat.
Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag
This air-purifying bag is great for small spaces like cars, closets and bathrooms. The bamboo charcoal absorbs odors, allergens and pollutants.
Juice Served Here Charcoal Lemonade
Charcoal-infused lemonade has become super popular in the juicing world, as the activated charcoal binds and flushes out impurities in the digestive track — that is, if you can come to terms with drinking something that looks like watered-down soot.
Nature's Way Activated Charcoal Capsules
People swear by these charcoal capsules for treating gas and bloating. They work by capturing gas and unwanted substances in the digestive track and moving them along. It sounds great, but always good to check with your doctor first.
The Lookbook is Bravo’s celebration of personal style. We keep you up to date on the inspiring looks from trend-setting stylistas, test and report on the most-coveted fashion and beauty products, and offer solutions to all your style-related conundrums. Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.