Charcoal Masks: The Pros, Cons, and Everything in Between

Considering charcoal? We have the lowdown. Here's what to know about using a charcoal face mask

What you should know about charcoal face masks

Charcoal has many uses. People use it to barbecue, and medical professionals use it to help stop food poisonings and drug overdoses. But in the last couple of years, charcoal has also become a necessity to the beauty community in the form of peel-off masks.  Much like how people have used lemon juice and avocado in their hair to help with shine, charcoal masks help out the skin.

How do these masks help? Well, by spreading activated charcoal (and keep in mind that activated charcoal is nothing like the charcoal you use on your barbecue grill) all over your face, it draws all the bacteria, toxins, dirt, chemicals, etc. to the surface of your skin. After wearing the mask for some time, it's peeled off to reveal a smoother, cleaner face. This trend has become quite popular on social media and other online platforms; with pictures and videos of people using them and even recipes for making a charcoal mask of your own.

If you're one of many people who has seen this trend and you want to try out a mask for yourself, look no further. Here is what you need to know about charcoal face masks, from the pros to the cons.

Charcoal Masks: The Pros

  • They help with oily skin: If you're one who struggles with oily skin and acne, charcoal face masks absorb that oil and bring it to the surface. That's all thanks to the ingredients in activated charcoal.
  • They're a great blackhead remover: Got blackheads? Charcoal face masks are often used to cleanse your skin pores and in turn, help remove everything that's causing the blackheads on your skin, for less money than a blackhead remover might cost.
  • Charcoal is not a harmful substance: Contrary to what you may think, charcoal is safe to use. With its use in the medical field to showing up in products such as soap and even some toothpastes, there's no harm to using it on your skin. Even if your skin is sensitive to certain products, activated charcoal won't irritate it or cause an allergic reaction. However, everyone's skin reacts differently, so be sure to try the charcoal on a small part of your skin before lathering it on your face.
  • They help exfoliate your skin: Charcoal masks remove a lot on your face and that includes dead skin cells. If you're struggling with flaky, dying skin cells, a charcoal mask may be just what you need to remove them.

Charcoal Masks: The Cons

  • Get ready for a world of pain: Once the charcoal mask has been on a while and hardened, it's time to peel it off. This of course will be painful, much like waxing your legs. You're not only removing oil, dead skin cells, and blackheads. You're also removing the colorless hairs that are all over your face. Ouch! Yes, beauty is pain, and much like your legs after waxing, your face will look shiny and smooth once the mask is off. But, if you have a low pain tolerance, it's best to avoid trying charcoal masks.
  • They remove protective skin: A charcoal mask may remove the things on your face that are bothering you, but in doing so, they also remove... everything else. A charcoal mask adheres to everything on your face. This includes a layer of skin that protects you from UV rays, dirt, bacteria, and anything from the outside world. While removing small facial hairs are simply painful, removing protective skin puts you at risk for other things harming you.
  • Blackheads may not entirely disappear: Keep in mind of the possibility that your blackheads may not go away entirely with a charcoal mask. Many of them only remove the keratin plugs above the blackheads, leaving the dirt in your skin. You may be doing all that work just to leave the pores of your skin as messed up as before.

To Try or Not to Try?

At the end of the day, whether or not you want to try out a charcoal face mask is up to you. It's all about what you're comfortable with doing and how much pain you're able to tolerate. If you decide to go for it, remember these two things:

  1. Don't use them too often: Constantly subjecting your skin to irritation from constantly being pulled and tugged from the mask will cause more harm than good. Over time, using charcoal masks excessively will damage your skin.
  2. Follow a proper skincare routine: This is especially important when using charcoal face masks, because as explained above, they remove a layer of skin that's meant to protect you. Be sure to clean your face well and keep it protected from everything around you. Even if you choose not to try charcoal face masks, this is a good tip to remember.

Resources — WebMD, Sio Beauty, UPMC Health Beat, DublinLive, culturacolectiva