Charcoal skin care products
Charcoal skin care products: a diamond in the rough or just another fad?
Guest Written by Kelsey McGillis
You’ve probably only heard of charcoal being used for your barbecue but charcoal is actually one of the oldest known absorbers; even the ancient Egyptians used it to absorb odors! Today it’s also used in hospitals to treat drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning. In addition to these medical usages, charcoal has become quite trendy lately. From charcoal lattes, to charcoal toothpaste and face masks, chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about this ‘miracle ingredient’. However, how truly effective is charcoal outside of the emergency room or your barbecue? We consulted a few experts on the subject of charcoal skin care products.
To begin, what should we make of the charcoal skin products that seem to be popping up everywhere? With director of skincare company Origins, Wendy Brooks, making claims that “charcoal is known to absorb 100 to 200 times its weight in impurities, making it an excellent natural ingredient to help purify and deep-clean skin,” it’s hard not to jump onto the charcoal bandwagon. But do the doctors that specialize in skincare agree with such bold claims? Our own skin expert, Dr. Lisa Kellett disagrees, stating “[These products] are cosmetic grade so they’re not treatments and it’s not particularly more efficacious,” Kellett says. “Some people say they have more anti-inflammatory activities, but there’s not a lot of evidence-based medicine to prove that.”
Additionally, one of today’s biggest beauty crazes is activated charcoal toothpaste; promising you a brighter, whiter smile than ever before. And while many swear by the stain absorbing capabilities of this product, the American Dental Association tends to disagree with these claims. Dentist Dr. Kim Harms warns that “There’s no evidence at all that activated charcoal does any good for your teeth,” explaining, “Like any abrasive, we’re worried about the effects on the gums and enamel on the teeth. We don’t know about the safety and effectiveness of it.”
Finally, on top of charcoal’s popularity in teeth whitening and skincare products, it’s found its way into many beverages and foods. While charcoal’s absorption abilities may sound like they’d do wonders for your body and diet, it does pose its fair share of risks. Emergency toxicology expert Dr. Katherine Boyle explains that the product possibly entering someone’s lungs can not only cause severe damage but could also be fatal. In addition to its dangers, charcoal also just may not work, plain and simple. As charcoal can absorb poison from someone’s stomach in the hospital room, it can also stop your body from absorbing key vitamins and nutrients from your food. Charcoal is therefore not only the wonder solution to your dietary dilemmas, but can also pose its own set of complications.
Overall, charcoal is an ingredient like any other that can work wonders for some and be detrimental to others. As with anything you put on or into your body, do your research first and don’t put all your faith into every fad ingredient that pops up.