Charcoal in soap? The first time you heard it, you probably wondered if you heard it right. Charcoal soaps have, however, become the new craze in the skincare industry. This is because of the many benefits of activated charcoal for the skin.
Charcoal has been used as a cleansing and filtering agent for ages in the ancient Egyptian and Hindu cultures. Activated charcoal has the ability to absorb toxins and has therefore been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Charcoal soaps use this absorptive power of activated charcoal to bring out amazing effects on the skin.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal or activated carbon is charcoal that has been treated with high temperature steam. This treatment, called ‘activation’, increases the surface area of the charcoal to make it light, porous and highly absorptive.
The carbon molecules in activated charcoal have the ability to chemically bind other molecules to their surface and keep them together. They have the capacity to carry thousands of times their own weight. Activated charcoal works like a filter – drawing out and trapping toxins and purifying whatever it is used in.
Benefits of charcoal soap for the skin
In skincare, the absorptive power of activated charcoal provides a cleansing effect on the skin by absorbing oil and dirt. It might seem counter-intuitive for a fine black powder to have cleansing effects but the fact is that it does!
Here are the skincare benefits of charcoal soap:
Works on oily skin
Oily skin is the skin type that has excess oil due to the overproduction of sebum (the natural oil) in the skin. Treating oily skin can be quite tricky, especially in the summer season when the skin is sweaty, giving it an unattractive shiny, wet appearance.
Most products that treat oily skin overdo the effect and completely wipe out all the natural oil on the skin. This can make the skin sensitive and irritated causing further damage. Charcoal soap absorbs the excess oil from the skin without dysregulating the oil production. It leaves the skin oil-free while also moist and supple.
Deep cleanses the skin
Most cleansers cleanse the skin off dirt and grime but also strip away all the skin’s moisture leaving it dry and dehydrated. This kills the natural and healthy microbiome (good bacteria) of the skin making it dull, irritated and prone to damage and aging. Charcoal soap absorbs the excess oil and dirt without killing the skin’s microbiome.
Gives the skin a smooth texture
Excess oil mixes with environmental pollutants, dirt and dead skin cells to clog up the pores and make them larger and more noticeable as black heads. Blackheads give the skin an uneven, unattractive texture. Cleansing with a charcoal soap bar unclogs the pores and detoxifies the skin. This allows the pores to shrink and gives the skin a smooth and flawless appearance.
Prevents and treats acne breakouts
Acne breakouts occur when the skin becomes infected with harmful bacteria. This happens when dirt and grime clog up the pores on the skin. The skin becomes inflamed and red with bumps filled with puss as its anti-inflammatory response.
Oil control and cleansing are sure shot ways of preventing acne. Charcoal soap deep cleanses the pores to unclog them and prevent infection. It also works as an antimicrobial thereby fighting acne that is already infected to reduce its severity. Charcoal soap reduces redness and irritation and promotes skin healing so that pimples dry out much faster and leave minimal scars.
Works as a gentle exfoliator
Activated charcoal has a powdery and slightly gritty texture. This makes it excellent for gently exfoliating the skin to remove all the dead cells that stick to the oil and grime. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which prevent flare ups and redness. Also, the antimicrobial nature of activated carbon prevents skin infections.
When charcoal soap is coupled with essential oils, the combination works as an excellent all-round skincare product. The activated charcoal removes the dead cells and stimulates new cell production while the essential oils nourish and hydrate the skin. This also makes charcoal soap an effective solution to skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Prevents premature aging
Loose skin and hyperpigmentation are two of the major signs of skin aging. Charcoal soap helps tighten the skin and removes wrinkles and lines. It also removes the dark and old skin layers of the skin and stimulates the production of new skin cells. This not only has a de-tanning effect on the skin but also makes it firmer and healthier.
Is suitable for all skin types
While choosing a skincare product, it is important to understand how compatible it is with your individual skin type. However, with charcoal soap, that isn’t the issue as it works well for all types.
It is an excellent oil regulator removing excess oil in oily and acne-prone skin while moisturizing and nourishing dry skin. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it suitable even for the sensitive skin type.
How to choose a charcoal soap for your skin troubles
The effectiveness of activated charcoal depends on the quality of the source material, that is, the charcoal it is made from. Good quality wood charcoal yields a more superior variety when compared to activated charcoal made from peat and coconut husks. Know the source used for your charcoal soap to understand its quality.
If you want to use charcoal soap for acne, choose one that uses a mix of organic essential oils. These will ensure that with deep cleansing, your skin is also properly nourished and hydrated. The oils will also serve as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents to protect the skin.
Alcohols, preservatives and synthetic fragrances.negatively affect the skin’s natural microbiome. Choose a charcoal soap that is free from these ingredients to protect, preserve and support your skin’s microbiome.
To slow down aging, keep your preference towards a charcoal soap bar that also contains hydrolyzed silk to replenish collagen. This will ensure the skin retains its tightness and prevents the formation of wrinkles and loose skin.