Clean Beauty: Activated Charcoal For Hair, Skin and Teeth

May 21, 2021

Bowl of activated charcoal.Activated charcoal, which is carbon that's been treated to increase its absorbency, is definitely trending right now but it really isn’t all that new. It's been used in hospital emergency rooms for years to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses because it works by attaching to toxins in the stomach and absorbing them before the bloodstream can. What is newer, is using activated charcoal in the health and body care arena. But it does make sense: The theory behind including activated charcoal in beauty products is it will act like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil.

Skin Benefits:

Because toxins stick to the activated charcoal, it makes a good deep cleanser and detoxifier.

  • Balances Oily Skin

Oily skin? Activated charcoal may be just the ingredient you need to balance things out. Used in a cleanser or mask, activated charcoal can pull the unwanted excess oils from your skin, leaving it smooth. Therefore, if you have combination or dry skin use activated charcoal products very sparingly.

  • Soothe and heal bites, cuts and skin irritations

Whether you were stung by a bee or had a cut from the kitchen that’s become infected, activated charcoal can help speed the healing and relieve the symptoms. Apply the activated charcoal topically and it will absorb venom and infection. It will also bring down swelling.

To make a paste: Slowly add water to a bit of activated charcoal powder and mix until it is a spreadable consistency.

Hair Benefits:

  • Detoxifier

A shampoo with activated charcoal can gently detox by attracting dirt and oil which is then washed away. It is a gentle detoxifier so it shouldn’t dry your hair out but again, those with a tendency toward dry hair should use sparingly.

  • Volumizer

If you’re carrying around enough dirt and oil, your hair will start to sag and regular shampooing may not be getting it all out. Regular shampoos remove surface dirt, but activated charcoal will pull out even more and not leave residue.

  • Calms the Scalp

Leave shampoo on your hair for a few minutes and the activated charcoal will work as a scalp treatment, working on your scalp the way it does on your skin and hair; pulling out toxins and purifying.

Teeth and Mouth Benefits:

There are plenty of proponents who say that a regular coating of activated charcoal whitens their teeth and kills off bad breath-causing bacteria.

  • Surface stains

Surface stains, also known as extrinsic stains, come from the usual suspects: coffee, red wine, tobacco, and dark coloured foods and drinks. They live on the enamel layer and can be lightened or removed with an activated charcoal toothpaste.

The caution is in the abrasiveness of activated charcoal toothpastes so it is best to err on the side of caution and brush the paste on very gently. You can also cover the teeth with the paste and leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse. 

  • Fresh Breath

There is a study linking activated charcoal to better breath. It is a small study in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology [1]. It states that brushing with this kind of toothpaste raises the pH of your mouth because the charcoal binds to acidic elements and increases the rate of excretion from the body. This can help reduce the buildup of acidic plaque and improve your breath if you struggle with halitosis.

All in all, activated charcoal products seem to be a gentle, harmless option to spruce up your hair, skin and teeth. Just one caution: Activated charcoal products may stain grout and fabrics, so protect your counters, floors, and clothes before using.



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