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What Even is Activated Charcoal? And Does it Work?

Anit Hora

Posted on July 09 2018

 

Let’s talk about the ingredient that we’ve been seeing everywhere these days with promises of clear skin free of blackheads, clogged pores, and excess oil: Activated charcoal.

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Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from coconut shells or wood that is heated in high temperatures, which “activates” it by changing its internal structure and making it more porous than regular charcoal. When taken internally, this substance acts as a magnet by binding to toxins to prevent them from absorbing into the bloodstream. Hospitals often use activated charcoal in patients with alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses because of this powerful ability.
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Using activated charcoal as a skincare ingredient came from this concept-- that this substance can act as a magnet to attract toxins such as oil, dirt, and dead skin from the surface of your skin, and thus clearing your skin and unclogging your pores. While this sounds like a skin-saving miracle treatment, it may not be as effective as you think. Unfortunately, there is little to no research that proves this to be true. Even if your skin looks shine-free after use, your skin will continue to produce oil over time--yielding no long-term effects. Additionally, activated charcoal can have a drying effect on the skin if overused. If you've used activated charcoal products in the past and saw results, its worth noting that many charcoal masks actually contain other ingredients to help target problem areas, such as salicylic acid and kaolin clay, which is actually proven to bind to and remove inflammation-causing sebum. Unfortunately, activated charcoal may just be a buzz-ingredient that we will see come and go through trends.
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Clay, on the other hand, is an ingredient that has stood the test of time and is definitely here to stay.

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Used by ancient civilizations for skin-ailments, clay is a natural substance that specializes in removing oils from the skin without stripping the skin of essential moisture, which makes it more suitable for all skin types. Cleopatra is said to have maintained her poreless complexion by use of clay masks. If you haven’t noticed, we trust Cleopatra and all of her ancient wisdom and beauty . . . because Cleopatra is obviously GOALS.

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With that being said, clay may just be your summer staple because let’s face it, we are ALL more sweaty and oily during the summer. Clay is exactly what my skin needs to avoid an all-around panic as soon as this hot, humid weather strikes. To avoid clogged pores and bring my skin back to balance, I mix this clay maskwith water, and gently apply over my face and neck with a brush. If your skin is feeling especially red, irritated, or inflamed (perhaps from being in the sun) I recommend mixing the powdered clay with cooling agents like our soothing face mist, yogurt or fresh aloe. With consistent use, clay maskscan help balance the skin, with each clay delivering its own unique set of benefits to your skin.
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The Clay Blend: ..
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Kaolin Clay: This clay does not excessively draw oils from the skin, making it an ideal clay to use on dry or sensitive skin types. It is most often used as a brightening mask because of its ability to boost circulation, which helps deliver more nutrients to your skin cells...
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Rhassoul Clay: Used in both hair and skin treatments, this unique clay is rich in minerals such as silica, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s well known for its ability to swell when added to water, thus making the substance more porous and able to draw out impurities..
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Sea Clay: This clay is rich in algae and minerals such as iron, sodium, potassium, and calcium. It can help improve the appearance of your skin by promoting elasticity and minimizing pores, all while drawing out excess oil and sebum from your pores..
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Bentonite Clay: This clay can absorb more than its initial mass when mixed with water, so when applied topically, it helps draw oils out of the skin. This clay is a bit stronger than its counterparts, making it an excellent all natural acne fighting treatment...
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Use: These four clays are combined in our Clay Mask to deliver optimal benefits to the skin. Mix desired amount of powder with water (or mixing agent of your choice) and apply to skin, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, light a candle, listen to music, relax, and enjoy some much needed you time. Rinse with warm water, paying careful attention to massaging the mask off in circular motions, which stimulates blood flow and gently exfoliates the skin.