Issue 35 / Charcoal Is The Skin Care Product You Never Knew You Needed

Charcoal Is The Skin Care Product You Never Knew You Needed

Feb 01, 2016

We examine why charcoal has become a beauty staple, and found the best charcoal-infused products on the market.

Charcoal is not something most of us would think of as a great ingredient for our skin care products (I immediately picture a flaming barbeque pit), but there has been a surge of charcoal skin care products as of late, and I decided it was time to do some digging on the trend that doesn't seem to be just another passing fad. Having used a few charcoal products myself, I understood the appeal but not completely. What about these products was making my skin feel so clean and soft? Why was charcoal such an important factor in these products?

I took my questions to Erica Palmer, the R&D group leader of Bioré Brand, Kao USA. I had gotten the chance to try out a couple of Bioré’s charcoal products and wanted a better understanding of what made them, and others, so great.

“Charcoal is known for its ability to draw out impurities and trap them,” Palmer told me. “[The] high surface area of charcoal allows it to absorb up to 800 times its volume in oil and impurities. Charcoal skin care products work like a super-magnet to draw out and trap oil and impurities from the skin”

At Bioré, charcoal has been given its own limelight, with an entire product line of skin care citing charcoal as the main ingredient.

“Charcoal gives our cleansing technology a boost and allows for a unique deep clean benefit,” Palmer said. “For our Bioré cleansing products, we leverage the impurity-cleaning ability of charcoal to enhance our cleansing system, called Skin Purifying Technology. Together, they allow us to deliver a deep clean that does not strip or damage skin. In the case of the Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser, you can achieve a thorough, deep clean daily that doesn’t deplete your skin."

Some charcoal products are, of course, better than others. Just like any other skin care product, shoppers should should keep an eye on the ingredient list. Palmer suggests looking for natural charcoal, which is often called charcoal powder.

“Activated charcoal is also best for skin care as this is the treatment that ‘activates’ the surface cleaning ability of natural charcoal,” she said. However, she also notes that this may not actually be stated on a product’s packaging. “This is not explicitly called out on the Bioré package but it is designated on our material specifications.”

So, who really benefits from using charcoal skin care products the most? Palmer says those with oily skin will love charcoal products. Other skin types can still enjoy the benefits, but may not want to achieve that level of deep clean on a daily basis.

If you are one of those looking to add charcoal to your regular skin care routine Palmer suggests the following:

Daily: Bioré’s Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser or Pore Penetrating Bar for a daily deep clean.

Bioré’s Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser ($9.99 CDN)
Photo Credit: Bioré

Bioré Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar ($9.99 CDN)
Photo Credit: Biore

Two to three times per week: Bioré’s Self Heating One Minute Mask to clean away accumulated dirt. Dirt-filled pores tend to be more apparent and seem larger in appearance. This product will help minimize clogged pore issues.

Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask ($9.99 CDN)
Photo Credit: Bioré

Once a week: Bioré’s Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strip. It's the best way to get at any of those blackheads or pore clogs that may have alluded a daily cleanser and scrub product.

Bioré Deep Cleaning Charcoal Pore Strips ($9.99 CDN)
Photo Credit: Biore

Bioré isn’t the only company giving charcoal a new, cleaner name. Many beauty brands, including makeup companies, have been using charcoal for its cleaning properties. I hand-picked a few other charcoal-based products for you to give a try. Check them out below.

Mistura Beauty Smoke and Mirrors Palette ($39.49 CDN)

Mistura Beauty Smoke and Mirros Eyeshadow Palette ($39.49 CDN)
Photo Credit: Mistura Beauty

This palette is great for getting the perfect smokey eye. The charcoal helps to make the darker shades richer, gives you a smooth and consistent application, and makes the shadows long-lasting.

Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque ($60 CDN)

Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque ($60 CDN)

Photo Credit: Dermalogica 

This masque gives your skin a pick-me-up by detoxifying, brightening and invigorating the skin while removing impurities and excess oil. It also helps to refine pores, calm redness and improve overall texture.

Sephora Collection Deluxe Charcoal Antibacterial Brush Set ($78 CDN)

Sephora Collection Deluxe Charcoal Antibacterial Brush Set ($78 CDN)

Photo Credit: 

Makeup brushes get really gross, really fast. The antimicrobial properties of charcoal help keep these brushes fresh for a longer period of time. This synthetic set includes a large foundation brush, an angled brush, a precision sweep, an angled concealer brush, an allover shadow brush, and an angled liner brush.

Boscia White Charcoal Mattifying Makeup Setting Spray ($48 CDN)

Boscia White Charcoal Mattifying Makeup Setting Spray ($48 CDN)
Photo credit:

Use this product after applying makeup to refine pores, mattify and give your makeup a long-lasting finish. The white charcoal helps to lock in moisture while giving you a shine-free finish.

Origins Clear Improvement Detoxifying Charcoal Body Scrub ($34 CDN)

Origins Clear Improvement Detoxifying Charcoal Body Scrub ($34 CDN)
Photo credit:

This body scrub provides your skin with a deep clean that clears pores and removes dead skin. The end result is softer and smoother skin with a refreshing scent.

The Body Shop Spa of the World Himalayan Charcoal Body Clay ($24 CDN)

The Body Shop Spa of the World Himalayan Chacoal Body Clay ($24 CDN)

Photo credit:

This body mask is made with bamboo charcoal from The Himalayas in India to purify and deep clean your skin. The perfect addition to a pamper night, this product will draw out impurities from your body while you destress your mind.

Main Image Photo Credit: The Aloha Way 

Rosemina Nazarali


Rosemina (@RoseminaN) is a writer and content strategist who has a special place in her heart for beauty. She’s always on the pulse of current trends and loves trying new products -- especially if they are brown-skin worthy! When she’s not playing with makeup, she’s travelling, going to concer...


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