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Benefits of an activated charcoal mask

Activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in many skin care products, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Charcoal can help to absorb excess oil from the skin, making it an effective treatment for acne. It’s especially handy for drawing the oil out of clogged pores, and getting rid of stubborn blackheads. Both inside and outside of your body, charcoal has incredible, cleansing properties that can help you to purge your skin of toxins and prevent blemishes.

When seeking a skin treatment with activated charcoal, however, it’s important to know that you’re only putting healthy ingredients onto your face. Some face masks with charcoal contain forms of glue (and dubious online sources will actually encourage you to put Elmer’s glue and charcoal on your face). Though it may seem like it should go without saying: You should definitely steer clear of glue, at least when it comes to skin care–using glue on your face can cause skin peeling and other forms of damage.

Other ways we use activated charcoal for beauty

Where to buy activated charcoal

We recommend buying a pure, food-grade, coconut activated charcoal product from a health food store or online. We particularly like Gold Mountain Beauty’s Coconut Activated Charcoal Powder, which can be used on the skin and teeth and can also be ingested. If you can’t find a suitable product in loose powder form, you can buy charcoal powder capsules, and cut them open to release the powder.

How to make a DIY mask with activated charcoal

To make our super-simple, pore-cleansing mask, you’ll need ½ tablespoon of activated charcoal powder and ½ tablespoon of bentonite clay. Both of these ingredients will help to draw out impurities and purge excess oil from your pores, effectively deep cleaning your skin. Eliminating excess oil will help to reduce acne breakouts, clarify clogged pores, and minimize the appearance of large pores.

You’ll also need about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and ½ tablespoon of raw honey. The apple cider vinegar will pair perfectly with the bentonite clay: When the two are combined, they balance out each other’s pH levels. Bentonite clay can be harsh on its own, but apple cider vinegar makes it healthy and safe for topical application. Apple cider vinegar also contains plenty of minerals and antioxidants to promote healthy skin. Meanwhile, raw honey has powerful antimicrobial properties to prevent acne breakouts; it’s also a humectant that can help to heal and hydrate the skin.

To make the mask, just combine all four of the ingredients and mix to form a creamy paste. (The bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar will probably fizz when combined.)

How to use a charcoal mask

Before using your face mask, cleanse your skin and apply a warm compress (such as a towel) to it for 3-5 minutes. This will help to open up your pores, allowing the ingredients to penetrate and clean them more deeply.

With clean fingers or a clean makeup brush, swipe the mask over your face in gentle motions. Apply an even layer over your entire face. Leave the mask on for 20-30 minutes, so that it can set and dry. (Don’t be freaked out if the mask starts to feel very tight on your face as it dries–this is normal!)

Once the mask has dried, use a clean washcloth to gently wipe it off of your face, making sure to thoroughly remove it. Follow up with your toner, serum, and/or moisturizer of choice, and enjoy your refreshed, glowing skin!

Camille Bond is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has interned in the film industry and the publishing industry, as well as for a political campaign. When it comes to the world of beauty and wellness, she loves researching natural skincare brands, concocting DIY recipes, and discovering new mediation techniques!