From masks to toothpastes, cleansing gels, scrubs and even soaps: charcoal has been a trendy new ingredient in our beauty routines for some time now. But what exactly are the benefits and properties of this new star ingredient?
A brief history of charcoal.
A distinctive black powder, botanical charcoal’s therapeutic benefits have been recognised since ancient times, when the Egyptians, for example, used it for its medicinal properties and to purify water. Its high adsorption capacity in the body also led to its use in cases of poisoning. Not to be confused with absorption, adsorption is a phenomenon whereby molecules attach to certain solid surfaces, including charcoal, thus creating purifying properties. Finally, its Carbon Black version can be found as a colour pigment in various make-up products such as mascara, kohl and eyeliner.
What is botanical charcoal?
Botanical charcoal is obtained by the combustion of vegetable matter, such as wood, straw, fruit stones or nut shells. It consists mainly of carbon, but also contains hydrogen, sulphur and oxygen. A second carbonisation step at a very high temperature (between 600 and 900°C) then ‘activates’ botanical charcoal’s properties and gives it its porous appearance. With 5 times the porosity and 10 times the adsorbent power of non-activated charcoal, its benefits are magnified!
What are the benefits and for what skin type?
Botanical charcoal is known mainly for its digestive actions and benefits for gastrointestinal complaints as it helps to eliminate toxins and thus purify the body from the inside. It is therefore often included in capsules, and charcoal therapy programmes are becoming increasingly common.
In more recent times, botanical charcoal has found its way into cosmetics, providing adsorbent, purifying and detoxifying powers to cleanse the skin in a flash! Its porous surface gives it high adsorbent properties which allow it to capture and retain micro-pollutants and impurities for easier removal.
As an ingredient in masks, soaps and cleansers, or in the form of an active powder, it works wonders on combination to oily skin by absorbing the impurities and excess sebum responsible for imperfections such as shine, blackheads and spots. This makes it an ideal ingredient for city dwellers who are exposed to pollution every day and it is also suitable for sensitive skin. You can even find it in some konjac sponges.
In short, charcoal has clearly demonstrated its many benefits for the skin and is the new star of our bathrooms: an essential ingredient for a guaranteed ‘new skin’ effect.