Ways To Use Activated Charcoal For Everything In Your Life

Inky, jet black activated charcoal is so trendy right now. From ice cream, to soaps, to toothpastes, and cocktails (yes, I know), people are embracing this usually-not-really-charcoal charcoal that's often touted as a "great detox." But how many of those claims are true? And how versatile is it, really?

First of all, activated charcoal, as I said, is usually not really charcoal. "Activated charcoal is made from Korean red pine needles, Japanese bamboo, Asian oak, or coconut shells. It could also be made from peat, coal, or petroleum. This last one is to be avoided, so find out where your charcoal comes from," Janice Rosenthal, owner of Garden of Essences, told me.

Activated charcoal is ground into a fine powder that can be used in a ton of different ways — particularly when it comes to health, beauty, and wellness. While the color might look a bit off-putting and maybe a little scary for some people (inky black beauty products will do that to you), it just might be worth incorporating some products that contain activated charcoal into your beauty or wellness routine.

For deodorant and antiperspirant

Activated charcoal can work well in a natural deodorant with antiperspirant. \"As natural beauty movement continues to flourish, many are ready to leave their conventional antiperspirants behind and make a switch to natural deodorants. However, the switch has not been successful for everyone, as underarm detox can bring uncomfortable effects of excessive sweating and stronger-than-usual body odor,\" Kasia Rothe, CEO of natural personal care product company Rustic MAKA, told me via email.

Activated charcoal products can help with this because they have a sort of magnetic \"surface,\" which keep you from getting so stinky.

For face and body masks

Charcoal face and body masks are perhaps currently the trendiest of all activated charcoal products. Recipes and videos instructing how to create your own activated charcoal masks are all over the internet right now. But, even simpler, they\'re also readily available at pharmacies and beauty supply stores.

Activated charcoal face masks are a favorite way for Tyshia Ingram, beauty and wellness writer and co-founder of makeup and skincare company Belle Marron, to incorporate activated charcoal into her beauty routine, as she told me via email. She simply combines rosewater, activated charcoal, and aloe vera and applies it to her face to assist in removing makeup and impurities from her skin.

As Mandi Dowsey, owner of Ellicott City, Maryland-based salon, Waxuality, told me, they incorporate an \"activated charcoal mask to draw out impurities and blackheads during our back facial, vulvacial and brojacial (which are essentially facials for your privates) services.\" These masks, Dowsey said, will help your skin feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

For whitening your teeth

While it might make you a little bit uneasy to look in the mirror and see your teeth and mouth all blackened from your natural toothpaste, activated charcoal can clean and whiten your teeth all at once.

\"I used to have a love/hate relationship with natural based toothpaste. Love that they are absent of many chemicals but hate that I was missing those whitening agents,\" remarked Ingram. \"But did you know that activated charcoal is a great natural way to whiten teeth? I know it seems a little suspect using a fine black powder to whiten teeth but it works! The secret is that activated charcoal pulls toxins and removes stains. The result: whiter teeth.\"

For filtering water

The water purifier in your refrigerator may or may not implement activated charcoal, but as it turns out, activated charcoal can filter water using the same properties that allow it to help remove impurities from skin.

Ingram advised, \"At this point, you know that activated charcoal is awesome at removing toxins from the body and the same goes for water. Do yourself a favor and invest in a pack of simple activated charcoal water filters — you can get them for everything from your coffee maker to your water bottle,\" she said. This could be especially useful if you live in an area where your tap water isn\'t super great, or if drinking unfiltered water worries you.

For purifying air

According to Mind Body Green, activated charcoal is great to purify air and also soil. If you use activated charcoal sachets, the activated charcoal \"naturally helps remove odors, bacteria, mold, harmful pollutants and allergens.\"

If you then add the contents of those sachets to soil, they will retain moisture and help your plants grow. Removing allergens and mold from the air you breathe can also impact your physical and respiratory health by preventing disease as well as sneezing, coughing, and runny nose related to allergies.

For a skin cleanser

Walk down the skincare aisle in just about any pharmacy or beauty supply store and you\'ll likely find one (or many more) facial cleanser that contains activated charcoal. The cleanser I currently use, for instance, is an activated charcoal cleanser. I use it because I feel like it helps prevent and clear up any breakouts.

\"If you are prone to having very oily skin, a cleanser with charcoal is a great way to remove excess sebum and oil every day. The charcoal doesn\'t strip your skin of the oils it needs, so your skin won\'t overproduce oil to compensate,\" said Jamie Johns, the senior skincare merchant at Birchbox, via email. \"In the summer months, even normal/combination skin types can benefit from using a charcoal cleanser at least once a day.\"

For cuts, scrapes, and stings

Honey is known for its great reputation for protecting and healing cuts and scrapes (and burns), but it\'s not the only natural product that can make an impact.

\"Any wound or infection can be healed faster by an activated charcoal. For minor skin concerns including bites, stings, cuts, scrapes, venom and allergies, activated charcoal can be applied topically,\" Daisy Jing, YouTube vlogger and founder and CEO of Banish, told me via email. \"It will also bring down swelling and lessen pain.\" Heal your wounds faster and prevent infection with activated charcoal dressings.

For bathing

Chalet Cosmetics\' charcoal bath bomb looks like a lump of actual coal, but, according to company co-founder Andrea Rodriguez, \"Charcoal bath products are a great way to detoxify.\" She says, \"Drop one of these charcoal bath fizzies in the tub for a soak that will remove toxins from the body.\" It might look like you\'re soaking in muddy, dirty water, but your skin will look and feel good by the time you step out.

For shampoo

You can also use activated charcoal as part of an all-natural shampoo. According to Mindy Body Green, shampoo bars that are made (at least partially) out of activated charcoal can still lather and clean as well as any conventional shampoo.

You might have to experiment a bit to find the one you want, but, according to the article, as long as it stays black after each wash, it should last for a while while still nourishing your hair. If the bar turns gray, some of the components of the bar are washing away after each wash, which means over time it will become less effective at cleaning your hair.

If you\'re looking for a detoxifier, activated charcoal is it

Activated charcoal is great for removing impurities from skin, hair, water, air, and teeth. Using it internally, by taking it in the form of a pill or tablet, is more controversial. While black-colored ice creams and cocktails use a small amount of activated charcoal in something that you\'ll eventually digest, beauty products are where activated charcoal is currently really thriving.

Like beauty, food and drink trends can change with the wind, but it seems likely that dark-as-night wellness and beauty products will continue to grace the aisles of skincare departments, health stores, beauty supply stores, and pharmacies for quite a long time.