Charcoal in beauty; fad or forever?

With charcoal currently at its most popular in the beauty industry, it’s time to find out why, and what it promises for our skin…

Reporter: Grace Brown | Sub editor: Jessica Penfold.

A different beauty fad is always around the corner with new wonder ingredients popping up almost every week claiming to give you perfect skin; surprisingly charcoal has been named as the latest miracle product to give you deeply cleansed and glowing skin despite it’s black ashy appearance. Now that the winter months are upon us, leaving skin dry and dull, a radiant complexion that charcoal promises is exactly what we need.

While charcoal has been an important ingredient on the beauty radar for some time now in the industry, it’s only become widely known for its popularity amongst everybody else for a few months. From a range of scrubs, masks, soaps, deodorant powders and even drinking charcoal, there’s been a huge amount of praise for the natural ingredient, which can be used to combat acne and blackheads.

Lisa Fleming, 29, a representative for The Body Shop said: “I feel like the Western world has only really just discovered it, so it’s become a fashion. Everyone’s using it now, just like they did with Argan.” While it was most commonly used in tooth whitening before, its purifying qualities have now hit the market for its use on skin.

The Body Shop's Himalayan Charcoal Mask

The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Mask

Like many other beauty brands, The Body Shop have released a range of natural world ingredient masks including the Himalayan charcoal mask, aptly named ‘the purifying glow mask’. Fleming said: “It’s definitely our most popular mask, when it first came out we were giving away free samples of it for customers to try, and we had loads of people coming back to buy it full size. It’s definitely a best seller”.

Activated charcoal has the ability to absorb toxins leaving skin purified and luminous. Due to it’s high absorbency qualities, toxins and oils stick to the charcoal like a magnet drawing them away from the skin leaving pores and skin unblocked from daily pollution and make up residue. When asked if the Himalayan charcoal mask was best suited for a particular skin type, Fleming informed us: “It can work on all skin types; it may not be the best for sensitive skin as the menthol and tea tree ingredients in ours can be a bit harsh and irritate the skin, but it’s great for all skin types otherwise.”

Masque Bar also released their own peel of charcoal mask offering a “luminizing glow”, yet this was met with mixed reviews. Whilst many have praised the company for its wonder mask that draws out impurities, there have also been a lot of negative reviews suggesting the mask does not deserve the praise. Charlotte Bell, a customer on Amazon said: “I wouldn’t recommend this. It was VERY painful to remove, and it left my face burning.” A sentence seen repeated many times on review sections of retailers that stock the product.

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The mask, which displays no cautions other than to “avoid contact with eye area, eye brows, hairline and lips”, should consider a heavy duty warning compared to other brands of peel off masks. Whilst the charcoal used within the product did leave skin feeling thoroughly cleansed, it’s often met with downfalls such as irritation and red patches, both of which I experienced myself.

Masque Bar were unavailable for comment at time of publication.

I tested out three different types of masks listed below to see which one I feel is best suited for my skin and all the different outcomes of the three.

Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask

With a 100% recommendation rating as well as 5 stars on The Body Shop website, I was eager to try this out. I received a sample of this from my Glossybox and immediately fell in love. I’ve always been fond of Body Shop masks in general, but this is definitely worth spending £15 on. The formula isn’t too thick and it’s easy to apply with your fingers. Once left on for around 15 minute, gently wet the mask and massage into your face. Its exfoliating qualities will leave your skin glowing – just as the label claims. Skin is left deeply cleansed, soft and dewy. I loved, loved, loved this product and would recommend to any body.

Before, during and final shot - minus face make up

Before, during and final shot – minus face make up.

Price: £15 for 75ml
Where can I buy it?: In store & online

Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask

I bought this after seeing it online and was intrigued by the bubble appearance of it. I was little sceptical about trying this, as I couldn’t read any of the ingredients or instructions as the label is in Chinese. However quick research online will instruct you. A small chestnut sized amount is enough to cover the whole face applied with the spatula provided. Within five minutes, your mask will start to foam due to oxidization leaving you looking like the moon emoji. Once fully oxidized, massage the mask in to your skin before rinsing off with warm water. The mask leaves skin beautifully soft and clear, however it’s definitely more fun than practical.

Before, during and after shots.

Before, during and after shots.

Price:£9.86 for 100g
Where can I buy it?: Amazon stocks it here

Masque B.A.R Luminizing Charcoal Mask

This mask is very thick and looks a lot like liquid latex whilst applying. Directions insist on a thick opaque amount for best results, avoiding eyebrows, hairline and lips at all costs. Peeling this mask off was more painful than the previous two masks. I didn’t like this mask at all. It left my face with huge red marks all over it for around 12 hours – not the “luminizing” look I was aiming for. Where I have a normal skin type, not in the least bit sensitive, I was really surprised that it had this affect on me. I wouldn’t recommend this mask.

Before, during, and after shots - skin was left red & patchy

Before, during, and after shots – skin was left red & patchy.

Price: £9.99 for three sachets at 10ml each
Where can I buy it?: In store and online at Boots

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