Activated charcoal is the hottest “new” thing to hit skincare lines. I keep “new” in quotation marks because, truthfully, coal products have been widely available in skin care lines for years if you knew where to look.
However the recent focus on all-natural ingredients and holistic health has brought charcoal right up to the forefront of skincare lines: existing products have been rebranded to emphasize this super-ingredient, and entire product lines have been created around coal products.
To the untrained eye this may seem like nothing but a whole lot of marketing hype, but in reality activated charcoal actually, does have plenty of incredible benefits in skin care regimens. So it’s true that there is a ton of buzz, but don’t let the marketing frenzy deter you. These products do deserve the accolades that they’re getting.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of activated charcoal skincare products
These reasons are just the beginning of a long list of the positive attributes of charcoal-based skin care products, but they should give you an idea of why we’ve compiled this checklist of goods. Because with charcoal products flooding the market it can be near impossible to know where to start.
Masks that rinse off covers that peel off, soap bars, cleaners that exfoliate, cleansers that don’t… and the list goes on. Luckily we’ve covered products in a wide variety of categories to help you determine which one(s) might best suit your individual needs.
The 10 Best Charcoal Skin Care Products on the Market
All of the products in this article contain activated charcoal as an active ingredient. As such, to keep reviews short and sweet, we’ll avoid continuing to extoll the virtues of coal in general and instead will focus on what makes each product unique and why you might find a reason to love each one on the list.
Glamglow Supermud Mask
The GLAMGLOW Supermud mask is made with an advanced clearing formula designed to cleanse, restore, and refresh your skin in a single treatment.
GLAMGLOW makes some pretty radical claim about the effectiveness of this mask, stating that a whopping 94% of users saw clearer skin after justa single use. This sounds crazy, but this is a boutique product by a trusted brand with a cultivated base of self-proclaimed “#glamaholics.”
And it isn’t that crazy when you consider the fact that you can watch the mask remove blackheads from your skin. Yes, you read that right. Many users saw little black dots appear on the cover as it dried, and their blackheads were visibly diminished after removing the mask.
This product may be too harsh for users with very dry or sensitive skin, but the results for the Supermud mask are incredible and well worth the investment.
- Remove blackheads from your skin.
- Has Glycolic acid (to reverse sun damage).
- Has Salicylic acid (to treat acne).
- Has Lactic acid (to improve skin tone and skin collagen production).
- May be too harsh for users with very dry or sensitive skin.
Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Cleanser
The “Yes To…” product line makes a range of skin care products, from hand lotion to shampoo to this fantastic charcoal cleanser. This Yes To Tomatoes charcoal cleanser was explicitly developed for users with acne-prone skin and contains 1% salicylic acid to help to reduce breakouts in addition to the detoxifying effects of the coal.
This product is not high enough to be used as a medical treatment, but that’s one of the reasons that we love it; this cleanser is gentle enough to be used as a daily part of your routine.
The exfoliating effects of this facewash come from tiny little jojoba beads. In addition to providing exfoliation that is gentle enough to use daily, environmentally-conscious buyers will be thrilled to know that these beads are biodegradable!
- Has exfoliating effects
- Designed to treat minor acne.
- Contains 1% salicylic acid to help to reduce breakouts.
- Gentle enough to be use daily.
- These beads are biodegradable.
- Some says it is too harsh for their skin.
- Smells artificial.
- Foams a lot.
Origins Clear Improvement Exfoliating Cleansing Powder
Yes, you read the product title correctly: this product is indeed a powder. Mixing the powder into a cleanser may sound like a bit of a hassle, but there are a few reasons that this product is worth adding the extra step to your skincare routine.
First, you can use this product either as a cleanser or as a mask depending on how much water you use. Adding just a little bit keeps the product thick and clay-y so that you can apply it as a mask. Add a bit more, and you’ve got an exfoliating cleanser.
Add a little more than that, and you’ll have a more regular bubbly soap. Ordinarily, you would have to purchase three different products to achieve all three goals!
Also, because this product is a powder rather than a liquid or gel, you can stash it in your carry-on when flying to a weekend getaway.
- Airplane carry-on approved.
- Flexible to your daily needs.
- Mixing the powder into a cleanser may sound like a bit of a hassle.
Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Soap Bar
Herbivore Botanicals has added a few killer ingredients to amplify the cleansing properties of its signature cleansing bar.
One is tea tree oil, which has antibacterial properties that help to kill bacteria and reduce skin infections (a contributing factor in many breakouts).
Another is bergamot oil; in addition to having a delicious citrus-y smell, this oil also combines with the bamboo charcoal to cut down on your skin’s oil production. Finally, there’s a little bit of coconut oil thrown in to help balance out the drying effects of the activated charcoal so that your skin stays soft and smooth after every use.
One of the reasons that we love this product is that it can also be used to treat acne on other parts of your body.
Lots of people experience breakouts on their chest, shoulders, or back in addition to their face. These breakouts can happen for plenty of reasons – stress, reacting to a new shampoo, or driving home in sweaty workout clothes, to name a few – but many users noted that within a week or so of using this bar soap on their problem areas their breakouts had nearly disappeared!
- Treats acne
- Has tea tree oil that help to kill bacteria and reduce skin infections
- Has bergamot oil that cuts down on your skin’s oil production
- Has coconut oil so the skin stays soft and smooth
- A little expensive for its size
- Might cause breakouts but manu user noted that within a week or so of using this bar soap on their problem areas their breakouts had nearly disappeared!
Garnier SkinActive Purifying Cleansing Towelettes
Tons of people swear by their favorite facial wipes. Some love using them as a no-fuss makeup remover that simplifies their nighttime routine; others like to use them to freshen up between activities or after a workout.
Wipes are among the most convenient skin care products out there. They travel well (you can leave a pack in your car or your purse, and take up almost no space in your suitcase) and are a one-stop solution that doesn’t require you to pull your hair back or rinse off stubborn exfoliating beads.
Garnier’s charcoal cleansing towelettes are a blessing to face wipe lovers everywhere. With a single swipe, you can remove makeup, draw dirt out of your pores, and avoid oily buildup on your skin.
Most users implement wipes as a one-off convenience product when they are too tired to go through their usual multi-product routine or need a quick fix in a pinch, but regular use of these wipes can lead to purer, brighter skin. With a fresh smell and a non-greasy formula, this addition to Garnier’s SkinActive+ product line is a clear winner.
- Product that you can use on-the-go.
- Products that remove makeup and cleanse your face in one step.
- Fresh smell.
- Some do not like the feel of the wipes on their faces.
Biore Deep Charcoal Cleanser
Users with sensitive skin or dry are warned off of charcoal skincare products, as they often contain active ingredients that can lead to irritation or excessive drying for those skin types.
If you fall into either category then don’t lose hope – the Biore Deep Charcoal Cleanser is gentle enough for users with sensitive skin and still capable sufficiently of harnessing the cleansing power of activated charcoal.
Drugstore brands get kind of a bad rap when it comes to skincare, but if you’re looking for something simple to supplement your skincare routine without breaking the bank, then this charcoal cleanser can do the trick. I’ve used this product off and on for several years, and it’s my go-to charcoal product.
I love that I can feel it working while it lathers up (a little light tingling on my skin) and it feels SO fresh after I rinse it off. I also love that the formula is smooth and creamy, with no exfoliation aspect, since a lot of exfoliating products are too harsh for my sensitive skin.
This product is excellent if you’re looking for something to control your skin’s oil production without harsh exfoliation or a crazy price point.
- For sensitive or dry skin
- Good exfoliating product.
- Contain active ingredients that can lead to irritation or excessive drying
Freeman Charcoal and Black Sugar Polish Mask
This product gives you a lot of bang for your buck and works well on the vast majority of skin types. Users love it because they can feel it working; the mask warms up as it goes to work.
If you have sensitive skin don’t let that description scare you – Freeman products, in general, are not too harsh for even sensitive skin types.
What sets this product apart from other charcoal masks is the gritty black sugar. It may take you a few uses to get past the texture of the product – some users describe it as dusty or sticky – but the grit is a huge plus because it lets the product to double-duty as both a mask AND a scrub.
After you apply the mask to your face, the charcoal will attack skin impurities, oils, and toxins as it dries. Then, after only about five minutes (which, in the world of facial masks, is incredible) the sugar becomes a facial scrub to exfoliate away dead skin cells and any blackheads that may have been loosened up by the cover.
The results will leave your skin looking clear and bright, and feeling deliciously smooth.
- If you want a mask that won’t take 20+ minutes to dry.
- If you want a mask that exfoliate away dead skin cells and any blackheads\
- Irritates skin
Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser
The incredible skincare benefits of activated charcoal don’t have to be used just for your face – your entire body can reap the advantages of coal products.
This is particularly the case for those of us who struggle with acne on our backs, shoulders, or chests. This is a standard (but also totally annoying) skin dilemma that products like the Shamanuti charcoal cleanser can address.
In addition to drawing out toxins and mitigating oil production, this cleanser contains maple sugar (a gentle exfoliant) and tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial agent) to keep your skin happy and healthy.
It even provides cranberry oil, a less common ingredient that can also help to protect your skin from sun damage – always a crucial element of your facial skin care routine, since your face is nearly still exposed to the sun, but also a clutch addition to your shower routine if you suffer from shoulder acne.
- For acne prone skin
- For sensitive skin
- Contains maple sugar (a gentle exfoliant)
- Contains tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial agent)
- Contains cranberry oil (protects your skin from sun damage)\
- Sometimes can cause breaking out.
Shills Purifying Black Peel-Off Mask
This mask doubles up as a deep pore cleanser and a blackhead remover. The formula contains numerous vitamins and nutrients that are essential to your skin’s health, leaving your skin feeling nourished after every use.
Included in these ingredients are grapefruit and rosemary oil, which are both all-natural ingredients with properties that can brighten your complexion and even out your skin tone.
After this mask dries, you’ll want to pull it off beginning at your chin and working up towards your forehead. The cover does take 20-30 minutes to dry, but the results are worth the wait. (You also really want to avoid cutting that time short, because the mask won’t pull up your blackheads if it isn’t thoroughly dry.)
And just don’t take our word for it – the SHILLS mask also comes with rave reviews from sites like beauty sites like Bustle and a pretty high cult following of Youtube influencers.
- Peel-off mask to remove blackheads.
- Cleanse pores while detoxifying the skin.
- The mask adheres to the skin too strongly, which can make it difficult to remove.
Secret Key Blackout Pore Peel Off Mask
Secret key makes a complete “Blackout Pore Pack” product line specifically designed to treat blackheads.
Ingredients like volcanic ash, kaolin clay, fruit extracts, and witch hazel work with the active charcoal powder to get to the root of your blackhead troubles and send you on the road to recovery.
The Pore Peel Off Mask works explicitly to draw out excess skin oils and remove dirt and dead skin cells that are stuck deep down inside your pores.
A standout component of the Pore Peel Off Mask is that it comes in a gel formula rather than mud or clay. This means that the mask is thin and easily manipulated, making it super easy to apply even in stubborn places like the sides of your nostrils. As the gel dries, it turns into a hard filmy substance rather than merely drying out and “claying up” as other masks do.
This is probably one of the ways that the cover can reduce the potential for skin irritation with use, and contributes to its easy removal. Users also report that they had an easier time removing this mask than others that they’ve tried, so all around this is a healthy choice for potential customers with sensitive skin.
- Easy-to-apply mask.
- For sensitive skin.
- Turns into a hard filmy substance rather than merely drying out and “claying up” as other masks do
There are hundreds of charcoal products on the market, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But whether you’re looking for a deep-cleansing mud mask, on-the-go makeup removing wipes, a peel-off blackhead treatment, or a gentle foaming cleanser, there is bound to be a product on this list for you.
We all have unique skincare needs, and hopefully, this list can help you to identify which products best fit your daily routine, skin care goals, and skin type.