Activated Charcoal:

Why it’s so good for you inside and out

Hannah Pownall

The Guide Editor

Hannah is our resident Editor of The Guide. Having worked across various beauty brands, as well as 7 years experience as a makeup artist, she brings a mix of journalism with real beauty knowledge.

"Cleanse your skin, whiten your teeth and detox nasty toxins from your body with activated charcoal "

Charcoal and activated charcoal have been used for both natural and western medicine, as well as art and horticulture for thousands of years. It has such a multi-faceted use and even dates back to World War I, where activated charcoal was used in gas masks to prevent soldiers from being poisoned by chemical exposure.

Today, we are seeing it everywhere, in everyday use. From people using it to cleanse their skin and whiten their teeth, to hospitals using it to treat snake bites and poisonings. It is praised so highly because of its ability to absorb and remove toxins from your body, meaning activated charcoal could quite literally save your life (and your skin!)

How does it work?

Activated charcoal works to trap toxins and chemicals in its particles. Rather than letting the body absorb the deadly toxins, the charcoal creates a reaction where the chemicals bind to the surface of the charcoal, allowing it to be soaked up and assimilated from the blood stream. This means your body doesn’t absorb the toxins, instead allowing them to be flushed out. Activated charcoal can also absorb thousands of times its own weight so only a little is needed to flush out a large amount of toxins.

What’s the difference between charcoal and activated charcoal

Activated charcoal and regular charcoal are almost identical – the only difference is that activated charcoal has been created solely for therapeutic use. To create activated charcoal, regular charcoal is heated with a gas that causes the charcoal to expand, creating a porous surface that can trap toxins.

Activated charcoal for your skin

Why would you want to use this on your face, you ask? Well, it’s actually great in assisting the treatment of acne! Due to its adsorption abilities, the activated charcoal works to bind to and draw out environmental toxins, oil and dirt that contribute to breakouts and acne. This process also helps minimise the appearance of large pores too, as it essentially removes the dirt and oil, thus making the pores look smaller.

Luckily for you, activated charcoal is so well regarded in the beauty industry that you can find a plethora of products that have this ingredient already added in there for you! Garnier have just launched a new acne and blackhead treatment that contains activated charcoal. The Pure Active 3-in-1 Charcoal Cleanser actually works as 3 products in 1. It’s a wash, scrub and a clay mask to purify the skin, unclog pores, reduce stubborn blackheads, and neutralise shiny skin. As well as containing our hero ingredient, activated charcoal, it also has antioxidant blueberry and anti-bacterial salicylic acid to help treat acne.

Activated charcoal for your teeth

I’m sure you’ve seen this featured on every second vlog and blog lately – people brushing their teeth with this gritty, black substance. Activated charcoal works by changing the pH balance in the mouth, preventing cavities, bad breath and absorbing plaque that stains teeth. Apparently you’ll notice a difference in as little as a week!

Activated charcoal for upset tummies

Activated charcoal helps promote a healthy digestive system by removing toxins that cause allergic reactions and poor immune system function. By removing these toxins, you could experience less gas and bloating, increased energy and an increase in mental function. Factors such as pesticides in food, chemicals in the water we drink, exposure to mould etc., can create a toxic burden in our bodies. Adding some activated charcoal to your water for a few days before each meal can help remove these toxins and alleviate an upset tummy. For best advice on your personal condition, seek professional medical guidance.

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