Activated charcoal is one of my new favorite beauty and wellness finds. It’s easy to be put off by the inky black substance (kind of like that black water – does anyone actually drink that?)…but after using it in various forms over the past few months, I’ve absolutely come to love the benefits I’ve seen.
What is activated charcoal?
I initially found out about activated charcoal through some magazine or another – you know, one of those “this is the hot new thing!!” articles. And I was like, “Really? People are using this stuff? Why?”…until I did a little research into its uses and benefits myself.
Activated charcoal has been used in various forms for centuries (like, since ancient times). It works by trapping toxins and chemicals in millions of tiny pores on the surface of the substance…which is great, because the toxins are then flushed out of the body rather than absorbed into it. In fact, activated charcoal is used in emergency rooms all throughout the US to treat certain types of poisoning. (Note: this type of treatment needs to be administered by a medical professional…so head to the emergency room asap if this is you!)
I was fascinated at how many stated benefits I found for activated charcoal, including: alleviating gas and bloating, treating alcohol poisoning, preventing hangovers, treating skin conditions (like acne and rashes), helping with bug bites / stings, neutralizing odors, filtering water, and naturally whitening teeth.
Once I became aware of all this, I started seeing products using activated charcoal everywhere…and decided to take the plunge and try it out for myself. I’ve used it internally and externally, and I’m officially hooked!
Here are my 4 favorite products / uses for activated charcoal…
Detox Dream activated charcoal drink from The Garden Table, Broad Ripple
are my go-to’s for an uneasy or bloated stomach. When I feel like I’ve eaten something that isn’t sitting well with me (typically if I eat too much dairy or have some eggs), it helps to settle my stomach so I don’t feel sick. It also takes away that uncomfortable “stomach hardness” – if you have food sensitivities, you know what I’m talking about!
One of our local Indy restaurants, The Garden Table
, has a cold-pressed juice called “Detox Dream
.” It is made with filtered water, lemon, maple, ginger, cayenne, and activated charcoal…and as you’d imagine, the drink is inky black. It took me FOREVER to try this drink because every time I went in to grab some, they were sold out! Anyways, the drink is supposed to help flush your system and cleanse your liver. You need to make sure to drink it on an empty stomach as well, because it will block absorption of any nutrients from your food or supplements. (Activated charcoal doesn’t know bad from good – it is a non-discriminatory sponge!). This is, by far, one of the better detox drinks I’ve tasted. I didn’t feel hugely different after I drank it, but something about drinking a weirdly black drink makes me feel #hipstercool.
bar of Coalface (left) and crumbs of Dark Angel (right)
Both of my favorite “external” charcoal products are both from Lush Cosmetics.
Hands down, Coalface
is most effective thing I’ve ever used to wash my face. Which makes sense, because the porous activated charcoal absolutely grabs all the makeup and grime from the day so that when you rinse, your face is squeaky clean! Foundation, eye makeup, mascara, everything – it takes about 5 seconds to wash my face at night because this stuff is so effective. Plus, I believe it makes my night cream
more effective – other soaps leave a film or moisturizing layer that is harder for the night cream to penetrate, while Coalface
rinses straight off. I also love that Lush is “pay by weight” when it comes to soap. Ask them to cut off a small slice so you can give it a trial run before buying a whole bar!
is more of an exfoliator / scrub, so it’s not something I use daily. I use it once or twice a month, primarily as a way to slough off dead skin (nasty, but necessary). I wouldn’t consider this to be a cleanser, either – I typically re-wash my face with Coalface after rinsing off the Dark Angels, because it can leave a tint to your skin (and sink). If you’ve never tried a facial scrub before, this would be a great one to start with, though. It is soft and soothing, so even people with sensitive skin can use it. Both Dark Angels and Coalface smell like black licorice…not my fave, but it is light and you do get used to it. If you check out the description of the product, there are so many other natural ingredients with plenty of benefits to keep your skin feeling fresh!
There you have it – the low down on activated charcoal. Have you ever tried any products featuring it? What are your favorites, and what benefits have you seen?