Using pitch-black charcoal to clean your skin may seem counter-intuitive, but the benefits are undeniable. Katie Wright scrubs with the ingredient of the moment.
IF you thought charcoal was only useful for starting barbecues, think again.
The black stuff is the beauty industry’s hottest ingredient right now, but we’re not talking the same bricks you buy at B&Q.
Activated charcoal is produced with a special heating technique that causes the substance to become porous, meaning it can be used to trap chemicals.
“The first time I saw charcoal was in a Korean doctor’s consulting room, he used it to purify the air,” says Katalin Berenyi, co-founder of Erborian.
“Then I saw it in Korean spas. It lined the ceilings of the steam rooms and was used to trap impurities.”
It can do exactly the same for your skin, which is why we’ve seen heaps of new product launches with charcoal featuring high up on the ingredients list.
Activated charcoal absorbs oil up to 200 times better than any other ingredient, meaning not only do Biore Charcoal Pore Strips, €13.99 for six, suck out all that nasty stuff from your pores, they leave skin feeling less greasy too.
A real all-rounder, Quick Fix Facial Purifying Charcoal Mask, €6.99, combines pore-reducing charcoal, fruit acids to exfoliate and cinnamon extract with astringent properties to brighten your skin.
Designed to counteract the effects of pollution, Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel, €25, uses bamboo charcoal to draw out impurities, while glycerin leaves skin feeling soothed and moisturised.
A satisfyingly thick gooey green, BareMinerals Dirty Detox Skin Glowing and Refining Mud Mask, €38 is best painted on with a brush, allowing its four types of clay and charcoal to get to work for 15 minutes, before removing with a flannel for an instant brightness boost.
Part of the new charcoal range, Good Things Pore-fectly Clear Face Scrub, €6.99 , Boots, harnesses the oil-absorbing active alongside willowbark and milled rice particles, providing a thorough exfoliating experience.
Formulated with bamboo charcoal from the Himalayan foothills, Japanese green tea and fair trade Kenyan tea tree oil, The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Face Mask, €25, sloughs off dead skin gently, the chunky 100% vegan mask soothing even the most sensitive skin.
Bringing together tomato-derived antioxidants and activated charcoal, Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask, €19.99, Boots, will help combat spots if used one or twice a week.
Black soap? No, really, Erborian Black Soap, €15.17, and Cleansing Brush, €21, when dampened and used together, produce a light, purifying foam that dissolves make-up and grime. And you can buy the pair for just €28
www.erborian.com plus p&p
Delivering deep cleaning in record time, Biore Self-Heating One Minute Mask, €12.99 for four, heats on contact with water, helping to open pores and allow the all-important charcoal to suck out the nasties that cause spots (www.boots.ie).
Suffering from dull, tired skin? Tom Ford For Men Intensive Purifying Mud Mask, €50, Brown Thomas, uses clay and charcoal to soak up dirt and grease, leaving a refreshed and brightened complexion when you rinse it off.
Charcoal cleans, green coffee beans deliver antioxidants, and coconut oil soothes — Frank Body Creamy Face Cleanser, €21.95, takes away make-up without stripping your skin or blocking your pores.
www.frankbody.com free p&p
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