So what is it? Activated Charcoal (sometimes called activated carbon) is charcoal which has been treated with oxygen to make it more receptive to drawing out impurities, it’s alleged that it can absorb thousands of times it’s own mass in grime and dirt. It’s been used for medical purposes for years, treating some types of poisons, drug overdoses and helping with symptoms of indigestion; it’s a natural remedy for flushing out toxins and chemicals so they won’t be reabsorbed by the body. Recently activated charcoal has also become a regular ingredient in beauty products from shampoos to toothpaste. I’ve used charcoal toothpaste for a few months now and it definitely makes teeth look less stained (I’m a black coffee lover!), it binds to stains like coffee and red wine so they come away more easily. On the plus side it’s a natural product so you’re not piling chemicals onto your face, but it does dry out the skin and I don’t need my skin to be any drier.
It’s accepted that environmental triggers can accelerate the ageing process of our skin and therefore we want to make sure that we get rid of as many pollutants as possible, which makes activated charcoal a very attractive ingredient. So in order to try activated charcoal in my daily routine I got hold of some samples of Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant. (I used to hate asking for samples in stores or salons, but don’t be afraid to do this, that’s what they are for. Products can be very expensive and sometimes you can spend a lot of money on something that just isn’t right for your skin. Be nice to the beauty advisers and it will reap dividends.)
Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant is a powder formula which activates when mixed with water “releasing powerful enzymes, skin-smoothing alpha hydroxy acids and anti-pollution technology” to deliver smooth, clean skin. “Activated Binchotan Charcoal purifies the skin, helping to adsorb environmental toxins from deep within the pores, while Niacinamide, Red Algae and Tara Fruit Extract help guard against the damaging effects of pollution.” It has no artificial fragrances, colours or parabens. Basically when the dirt, oil and grime that’s stuck in your pores come into contact with the carbon they stick to it and then are rinsed away.
I’ve never used a product I had to mix myself so it is a bit unusual. After cleansing on a morning I put about half a teaspoon onto wet hands and then rubbed together to get a creamy paste, this is applied to the face in circular motions, avoiding the eye area. The instructions say to massage gently for up to a minute but I’m wary of any type of exfoliant on my skin so I didn’t massage for the full time. You then rinse off with warm water. I have to say that my skin did feel very clean indeed, it also felt very dry after a few minutes. This is a wonderful product for removing dirt etc, and I will be purchasing the full size product, but it won’t be in my daily routine due to the drying effect. However, I am concerned about the effects of environmental factors on my skin so I will probably use it every two or three days. If you suffer from oiliness, or live and work in a city surrounded by lots of pollutants then charcoal should definitely become one of your daily go to products.