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What you should know about the trending beauty ingredient, charcoal

As charcoal-based cosmetic products flood the market, here’s taking a look if the ingredient is worth all the hype.

more lifestyle Updated: Dec 08, 2017 16:32 IST
Prerna Gauba
Prerna Gauba
Hindustan Times
charcoal face wash,charcoal,charcoal scrub
Charcoal-based face masks promise a host of benefits — but avoid overusing them

We all face skin problems every once in a while, and the pollution in the city only ends up aggravating them. And as the market gets flooded with beauty products that claim to contain charcoal, an apparently magical ingredient, it is natural to wonder what this substance does, to sell face washes and toothpastes like hot cakes. It turns out that charcoal does a world of good to your body by drawing out impurities, chemical, dirt, and toxins, leaving you with flawless skin, whiter teeth, and clearer underarms.

How does it work?
The substance has found use as detoxifier and treatment for many poisons, as it binds to toxic particles found the body, eliminating them thereafter. Activated charcoal, derived by pressurised and controlled combustion of natural sources of coal, has absorbent properties, which allow it to act as a magnet for toxins, dirt, oil and other impurities. Activated charcoal also works well for gentle exfoliation of the skin, also ridding the skin of excess oil, which is great for acne prevention. It is for this reason that activated charcoal can be used for treating individual areas on the skin affected by acne. One can use peel-off carbon masks for the face once a week or once every fortnight, since experts recommend starting slowly. However, once your skin starts responding well, you can increase the frequency of the treatment.

Pick according to your skin type
If you have acne, go for peel-off or clay face masks. Face washes with charcoal work best, as they contain kaolin clay and other drying agents that help to reduce comedones and control the inflammation brought on by acne. People with normal skin type can use charcoal-based scrubs or cleansing bars/gels for tanning and remove pigmentation by combining the effects of exfoliation and detoxification.

Make it yourself at home
You can also make your own charcoal mask at home. Though using activated charcoal capsules can be messy, it is worth the trouble. Mix activated charcoal with honey and baking soda, and use it as a scrub for skin lightening. Activated charcoal and honey can also be used for lightening underarms. Make sure not to use homemade charcoal face masks more than once in two weeks as it can cause damage to the skin’s protective barrier, leaving it susceptible to sun damage and irritation.

Moisturise well
Now, since charcoal-based products and treatments target excess oil production in the skin, they can cause dryness and flaking as well. It’s necessary to follow up your charcoal skin treatment with a good moisturiser. Using sunscreen, too, is must, as it helps to exfoliate, and more importantly, prevents hyper-pigmentation that the sun’s harsh rays can cause.

How much is too much?
Just as excessive use of any substance is unsafe, it is important to not overuse homemade charcoal products. When it comes to readymade products, do enough research on their safety and effectiveness, and make sure to read about their ingredients. Avoid scrubs with heavy charcoal content as they could damage the skin and strip it of its natural moisture.

With inputs by Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta and Dr. Simal Soin

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 16:31 IST