Can I Use Activated Charcoal on My Face?

activated charcoal on face
Source: Pixabay

The Debate in Using Activated Charcoal on Face

Well, there is no specific evidence that supports the exfoliative or anti-aging properties of activated charcoal as per a review study by the Clinics in Dermatology journal. Nevertheless, despite this, users are convinced it works thanks to anecdotal evidence which hint on its effectiveness. So, the answer is yes, you can use activated charcoal on your face skin to see what it does to you personally.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is common charcoal exposed to heat and powdered for use. By heating the charcoal in high temperature, little holes form making it extremely absorbent. Due to this property, activated charcoal is claimed to absorb toxins from the body which is why it is used to treat poisonings or drug overdoses.

In skincare, activated charcoal is also assumed to have the potential to remove impurities on the skin. On the face, charcoal is applied as a mask to exfoliate and impart other benefits to the skin.

What Are the Benefits of a Charcoal Facial Mask?

Activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in many beauty products including cleansers, soaps, oils, lotions and masks. Charcoal masks are claimed to have the following benefits:

  • May remove impurities- activated charcoal is believed to absorb toxins on the skin just like it does in the body. Like caffeine face masks, charcoal face mask may draw both dirt and impurities from the skin.
  • May regulate facial oiliness- activated charcoal allegedly reduces skin oiliness by absorbing excess oil. It also removes dead skin cells which may leave your skin glowing.
  • May diminish acne breakouts- since activated charcoal can balance the skin oils and remove impurities from the skin pores, it may reduce acne breakouts.

Is Using Charcoal on My Face Dangerous?

While there are no scientific studies the effectiveness of charcoal masks, there is also very limited research claiming it is dangerous. Some beauty experts, however, caution on using this facial mask due to the following reasons:

  • Removing a charcoal face mask is quite painful- there are countless of videos on Instagram and YouTube of people trying out this facial mask and the removal looks painful.
  • Charcoal mask may strip natural oils from the face. Although satisfying to see how blackheads get removed with this mask, but cosmetologists claim it is a bad idea. Andy Milward, a skin care expert explains that what we think are blackheads are actually sebaceous filaments which are required to stay intact on the skin.
  • If not careful about the application process, charcoal face mask can remove hair from your brows and hair line.
  • Charcoal masks may exacerbate acne by causing scarring and infection.


DIY Detoxifying Charcoal Face Masks You Can Try

If you feel adventurous and want to hop on to the chance of trying it at home, then these DIY recipes can get you there.

For oily skin

  • 1 tablespoon activated charcoal
  • 1 tablespoon clay
  • 1 probiotic capsule
  • 1 drop of essential oil (for acne)
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

For blackheads

  • 2 tablespoons activated charcoal
  • 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (unscented)
  • 2 tablespoons fine white/brown rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil (you can also use almond or jojoba oil)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

For antiaging

  • 1 or 2 activated charcoal capsules
  • 1 egg white (beaten until fluffy)
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice

For acne

  • Activated charcoal
  • Aloe vera gel
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil

For exfoliating

  • 10 activated charcoal capsules
  • ¼ cup grounded oats
  • ¼ cup kaolin clay
  • ¼ cup bentonite clay
  • 7 drops each, tea tree and lavender essential oil


When applying a charcoal mask on your face ensure to avoid applying on your hairline, eyebrows, and near your eye lashes because the mask can remove hair.



  1. Brandon Burroway, Nelson Sanchez, and Rachel Fayne. Clin Dermatol. 2019. “Charcoal: an ancient material with a new face” PMID: 32513407.

  1. Michelle Nati. 2019. “Using charcoal on your face is actually incredibly dangerous.”

  1. Stephanie Gerber. Hello glow. 2020. “8 detoxifying charcoal face masks you can make at home.”


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