Charcoal of Choice

When it comes to skincare, not all charcoal is the same. // Photo credit: trumzz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When it comes to skincare, not all charcoal is the same.

Activated charcoal is pure carbon made from bamboo, coal, coconut husk, olive pits, peat, and sawdust. “There are different sources of charcoal, with some being much better at activating improvement for skin imperfections, deep cleansing, and minimizing the appearance of pores,” says Celeste Hilling, founder and CEO of Skin Authority. The company’s 7-Minute Makeover, a bubbling, super-charged charcoal fiber mask, relies on black oak charcoal. It is made from Ubame oak trees, which are indigenous to the Wakayama region of Japan. “We heat the black oak to a high temperature, which produces a very porous charcoal structure,” says Hilling. “We then grind it into a black powder and combine it with fibers of pulp from the black oak to make a suede-like fabric from which we make a mask. The micro holes are totally empty, which allow them to absorb or trap bacteria, debris, and environmental pollutants from the skin. It is incredibly cleansing and purifying.”

Another popular charcoal from the Wakayama region is binchotan, a white charcoal. It is found in a variety of products, including Boscia’s Charcoal Deodorant and Charcoal Makeup Melter, which also contains a variety of activated bamboo charcoal. O’o Hawaii founder Holly Harding is partial to activated bamboo charcoal. She finds it even more effective at drawing out toxins. “It has been basically pulverized and steamed, giving it a wider surface area and thereby enabling it to absorb a higher volume of bacteria, toxins, and microparticles,” says Harding.


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