You hear the word “charcoal,” and you might think of the little black dusty squares your family used to barbecue with when you were a child, or the lumps that you were told Santa would leave in your stocking if you were naughty. Then you see activated charcoal starting to appear in all types of beauty products and you think, “That couldn’t possibly be the same charcoal, could it?”
Well, yes and no. The two products start out the same but then go their separate ways, with non-toxic activated charcoal getting one extra step in the production process. The actual activation occurs when it’s oxidized with high-temperature steam or air, and this process is actually what gives it medicinal properties rather than burger-grilling ones.
Activated charcoal has the unique ability to bind toxins to it, so it’s very helpful in the medical world, to treat drug overdoses, poisoning, indigestion, and flatulence. In beauty products, it works much the same way—it draws out the harmful chemicals, bacteria, and dirt on your skin, bringing them to the surface where they can be washed away. Some studies show that it has the power to absorb hundreds, or even thousands, of times its own mass in harmful substances.
Best of all, most products containing activated charcoal, like the Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser in your fall Yuzen box, are safe (and recommended) for very oily, sensitive, or problem skin, including skin with acne, rosacea, and eczema. (So, yes, we think it’s here to stay.)
This cleanser is safe for daily use—just put a small amount in the palm of your hand, add a tiny bit of water to get a spreadable consistency, then work it into the skin using gentle upward strokes. Let it set for a few moments, then rinse with warm water using your hands or a damp washcloth.
Check out shamanuti.com for companion skincare products, like Seaweed Toner and Pumpkin Enzyme Masque. There’s also a great page on the site called “Skin 101.”