Last updated: September 26, 2020

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If you love skin care and beauty, then you’ve probably seen the black face masks and black toothpaste that have been all over the internet recently. Both products share the same eye-catching color, and it is due to one key component: activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is an organic product. Its toxin-absorbing properties have a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses. Recently, it has become extremely popular in the beauty industry due to its magnificent properties for our skin and overall health. Keep reading if you’re curious to know more!

Key Facts

  • Also called activated carbon, this type of charcoal is obtained through an activation process. This black powder has the ability to absorb toxins in the stomach by binding to them.
  • In medicine, activated charcoal has generally been used as a detoxifier. It is often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses.
  • As a beauty product component, activated carbon tends to be found in face masks, shampoos, soaps and toothpastes. It can help draw out dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier.

Ranking: The best activated charcoal products on the U.S. market

This section will introduce you to the very best activated charcoal-based products that you’ll find on the U.S. market. We’ve also listed some facts on each item to help you evaluate and compare them well. We’re sure you’ll find all this useful when the time comes to buy the product that’s just right for you!

No. 1: Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal 560 mg Capsules

Nature’s Way is one of the most recognized and trusted consumer brands  for dietary supplements. They are mainly known for their expansive line of whole herbs, standardized extracts, vitamins & minerals, and homeopathic remedies. And now they offer activated charcoal tablets!

Each serving of Nature’s Way activated charcoal tablets contain 560 mg of charcoal. They contains no preservatives, yeast, milk, lactose, wheat, sugar, soy or corn. The brand recommends taking two capsules two to three times daily (after meals) to support healthy digestion. These capsules may not be for everyone, so consult your physician if you are unsure!

No. 2: Aliceva Charcoal Peel-Off Blackhead Remover Face Mask

Aliceva Black Charcoal Peel Off Mask works to gently detoxify and purify skin by drawing out impurities, oil and environmental toxins. The brand claims its unique formula will get t rid of stubborn blackheads without any harsh chemicals such as dyes, animal oil, mineral oil, parabens and petrolatum.

Keep in mind, the brand recommends people who have open wounds, redness, eczema, ulcers or skin abnormalities not to use this mask. Previous customers who have used this product say it has a great smell, smooth texture, and leaves skin feeling clean and fresh. Plus, it also comes with its own applicator brush!

No. 3: Active Wow Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder

This highly rated product by Active Wow is perfect for anyone looking for natural teeth Whitening. Their 24K White Charcoal Powder whitens your teeth with the power of activated coconut charcoal, all while detoxifying the mouth, removing bad breath, and gently polishing away stains quickly and easily.

Best of all, it’s free from chemicals, artificial flavors and colors. Their powder will also last for up to 100 uses, so you can be sure it is a good investment. All you need to do is wet a toothbrush and dip it in the powder before using it for cleaner, whiter teeth!

No. 4: Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bag (4 Pack)

Did you know that activated charcoal is an effective odor remover, natural air deodorizer,  and also air purifier? Made from 100% activated bamboo charcoal, the California Home Goods Charcoal Odor Bags are perfect for keeping your home fresh and odor-free without the extra effort.

These bamboo charcoal air purifier bags filter and trap nasty smells, excess moisture, air-borne bacteria, and more. Use them as closet deodorizers, cigarette smoke eater, gym bag freshener, and much more. These little bags are packaged in durable eco-friendly material that’ll last for up to 2 years.

Bonus: No. 5: Dental Expert Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

If you don’t like the idea of brushing your teeth with powder, then this activated charcoal toothpaste may be a better solution for you. This toothpaste by Dental Expert is a whitener and stain remover that polishes teeth, strengthens enamel, and freshens breath.

Dental Expert teeth whitening toothpaste has no artificial colors or chemicals, and is 100% safe for use by adults. It also has a nice mint flavor, which gives it a better taste over the powder.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about activated charcoal

Before you buy, it’s important to know all the details. To make it easier for you, we have designed the following section to include everything you need to know about activated charcoal. You’ll also find answers to the most frequently asked questions by past users, so that you have all the information you need.

Spa treatment

Activated charcoal is found in facial masks known as “black masks”.
(Source: Latsenko: 47767020/

What exactly is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the same substance as that found in charcoal bricks or burnt pieces of food. The charcoal is “activated” by processing it at very high temperature. It is first extracted from carbon-rich materials, such as wood, coconut shells, or sawdust. Once the extraction is complete, the product has to go through an activation process in the laboratory.

The way activated charcoal is extracted makes it extremely adsorbent, allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms. In other words, it improves the activated charcoal’s ability to capture and hold toxins. The natural product resulting from this process can absorb up to 200 times its own weight in impurities!

How does activated charcoal work?

The adsorption capacity of activated charcoal is its main characteristic. And yes, you read well: do not confuse adsorption and absorption. Adsorption is a process in which atoms, ions or molecules from a substance (it could be gas, liquid or solid) adhere to a surface. Absorption is a slightly different process in which a fluid is dissolved by a liquid or a solid.

Activated charcoal was once considered the universal antidote. Nowadays, it is promoted in the beauty industry as it is used to attract impurities and toxins from our skin. You’ll discover below that this product can also be used in other situations, such as poisoning or overdose.

What is activated charcoal used for?

Activated charcoal has a variety of benefits and uses, ranging from cleansing our digestive system, to whitening teeth. In the world of beauty products, it is used as a cleansing and purifying agent. Often found in face masks, its ability to adsorb impurities makes it ideal for removing blackheads, pimples or other skin imperfections.

It is used systemically in medicine, thanks to its toxin-binding properties. Activated charcoal is administered orally in case of intoxication. It can bind to a variety of drugs and toxins, preventing their absorption into the body. It may be used to treat prescription drugs overdoses, as well as overdoses of over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen and sedatives.

You’ll find the different uses of activated charcoal in the table below:

Cosmetics and health Household Other
Purifying and detoxifying masks Water and air purifier Metal extraction
Makeup Odour neutraliser Purification of drinking water
Exfoliating products Fruit preservation Medical detoxifier
Component of soaps and shampoos Sewage treatment
Whitening toothpaste

What are the cosmetic properties of activated charcoal?

You’ve probably realised by now that this is the rising star of cosmetic products. Putting charcoal in your hair and on your face might not seem glamorous, but it’s proven to have many health and beauty benefits when used safely and properly.

Activated charcoal used in a face mask will bind to dirt and help pull it out of your pores, making them less visible (it’s the oil and dirt that makes them appear bigger). It leaves your face feeling fresh, as well as fights acne and pimples. All in all, it purifies your skin, freeing it from toxins and impurities; after use of this product, your skin will come out feeling smooth, clean and healthy.

The use of activated charcoal has recently spread significantly, and it is now found in shampoos that can gently detox by attracting dirt and oil. And because it’s gentle, it won’t disrupt your hair’s natural moisture levels!

You’ll also see it in facial brushes and toothbrushes, and as a whitening and purifying ingredient in toothpastes.

We’ve summarised the cosmetic benefits of activated charcoal in the list below:

  • Sebum regulator: it removes excess fat from the skin
  • Elimination of toxins and impurities
  • Pore size reduction
  • Anti-bacterial effect
  • Improvement of acne and pimples
  • Shampoo for greasy hair
  • Teeth whitener and purifier

For whom do we recommend activated charcoal?

While it is beneficial to anyone wanting to keep their skin healthy, is particularly useful for people with oily skin and those who suffer from acne or pimples.

By supporting sanitation and cleaning of your teeth, it is also a great tool to use for dental whitening. But activated charcoal isn’t tailored to a specific group of people. Anyone looking to purify and cleanse their skin by freeing it from all kinds of impurities will love the benefits of using activated carbon.

Carbon activado estado natural

This product is particularly recommended for individuals with oily or combination skin.
(Source: Tudsamalee: 57803409/

How should I apply my activated charcoal mask?

Activated charcoal face masks are very popular, so you should know exactly how to apply them correctly. Use plenty of water to clean your face and pat dry with a clean dry towel. Then apply a layer of mask evenly on your face with upward strokes. Do not apply around the eyes or on lips. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes to let it dry.

Once the time is up and the mask has worked its magic, remove it with washcloth soaked in lukewarm water.  You might notice small bits of the black charcoal mask left on your face. Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and rinse with water. Apply a gentle moisturizer that won’t clog your pores and let your skin air dry. Because the charcoal mask will remove toxins from the topmost layer of skin, you should wait at least 1-2 weeks before using another charcoal mask.

Here’s our little trick: using micellar water will help if you have difficulties removing it!

What are the harmful effects of activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is safe for most adults when used short-term, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely free from adverse effects. There have been reports of skin dryness and severe skin irritation after topical use. Some people have also suffered burns, erosions and even skin ripping. Note that this tends to occur with homemade or poor quality masks.

The use by systemic route has worse consequences and therefore needs to be particularly accurate and monitored. Some side effects of activated charcoal may include constipation and black stools, as well as interfering with the absorption of other supplements. It can also interfere with prescription medicine by decreasing how much medicine your body absorbs, which can reduce the effectiveness.

You’ll find the precautions you should take while using this product via systemic route in the list below:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Toxins that interfere with intestinal motility
  • Risk of gastrointestinal obstruction, perforation or haemorrhage
  • Recent surgery or drug interactions
  • Electrolyte imbalance and/or loss of body volume
  • Administration via gastric tube in case of unconsciousness or seizure
  • Not recommended after ingestion of corrosive products
  • Pregnancy and lactation (unknown safety)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of activated charcoal?

We’ve listed its main cosmetic advantages and disadvantages in the following table:

  • Sebum regulator
  • Antibacterial effect
  • Improvement of acne
  • Whitener
  • Purifier
  • Dry skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Erosions

Shopping Criteria

When choosing activated charcoal products for any of the uses above, it’s vital that you know the charcoal’s source. Not all activated charcoal pills or supplements are equal. This is why we’ve designed the following section to discuss the most relevant factors to have in mind when analyzing different products. This will help you find the products that best suit your needs.

These are the different aspects to keep in mind:

  • Quality
  • Composition
  • Skin type
  • Packaging
  • Concentration
  • Price


There is always a wide range of products available on the market. You absolutely need to aim for good quality activated charcoal products, as you’ll be applying them on your face, hair, teeth, or may even ingest it. In the activated charcoal powdered form, many products have added artificial sweeteners to make them tastier, but you should avoid these. Artificial sweeteners are loaded with chemicals!

We mentioned earlier that there had been reports of individuals suffering from side effects when using poor quality products. People with sensitive skin need to be careful because some of the products can cause irritation and dryness. You definitely want to avoid this from happening, so make sure that the product you buy offers a top quality.


This is always a key factor when it comes to beauty products. You have to be particularly careful with this, as you’ll be applying the product on sensitive areas such as your skin. Activated charcoal is never the only compound found in beauty products and it may not be one of the active ingredients. You have to look at the rest of the product as well in terms of the ingredients, like in a cream or mask.

We strongly recommend you to take the time to read the composition of a product before buying it. Activated charcoal is still a largely unstudied, and consumers are at the mercy of the manufacturer. If you are allergic to any substance, make sure to always check the ingredients before purchasing.

Aplicacion de mascarilla

Activated charcoal has multiple cosmetic properties.
(Source: Petrenko: 46965186/

Skin type

Your skin’s specific characteristics are key when purchasing a cosmetic with activated charcoal. As we’ve mentioned before, activated charcoal draws bacteria, poisons, chemicals, and dirt to the surface of skin, helping you to achieve a flawless complexion and fight acne. This means it can work wonders on oily skin as it removes excess oil, reduces the appearance of existing blackheads and stops new acne from forming.

On the other hand, you’ll have to be extremely careful if you suffer from sensitive skin or a skin condition. People with this skin type often have eczema, rosacea or another skin condition. Your skin can be easily irritated.  You need to watch what products you put on your face, but because charcoal is all-natural and super gentle, it should be kind to your skin. If in any doubt, do a small patch test first.

While cosmetics are indeed used to enhance beauty, their number one goal is to contribute to healthy skin. Innovative activated charcoal could be your secret to healthy, beautiful skin. Whether you have normal, oily, sensitive or combination skin, activated charcoal could become your go-to skin care.


The different functions of packaging makes it an extremely important aspect in cosmetics.Sometimes “active” is substituted for “activated”. If stored in airtight containers, activated charcoal has an almost indefinite shelf life. If left exposed to the environment, in time, activated charcoal will adsorb various elements and eventually “fill up.”

As discussed earlier, it must absolutely detail all necessary features, such as its composition, ingredients and recommended expiry date or shelf life. They are essential to prevent allergic reactions or other side effects on your skin.


While there are a number of activated charcoal products available on the U.S. market, the concentration will vary from one product to the next. Knowing your goals will help you evaluate the concentration of activated carbon you should aim for. You might want a higher or lower concentration.

The effects of beauty products vary depending how active the ingredient is. Tooth whiteners with a very low concentration of activated charcoal are therefore less effective than products with a higher concentration. Understanding exactly what effect you expect from your product is essential to choose the one that is best for you.


Coconut shell-based activated carbon usually has a higher price, compared with nutshell and coal-based activated carbon. But the reality is that price and quality don’t always go hand in hand, so make sure you choose the product that best suits your needs without exceeding your budget.


Activated charcoal has become an instant health fad after being marketed as a miracle supplement and appearing in products like teeth whiteners, face masks, and detox drinks. It is, quite simply, used remove toxic substances from the body.

Activated carbon has become so popular that it is already a celebrity favourite: Gwyneth Paltrow, Khloé Kardashian, Blanca Suárez and many others say that this product is a key component in their beauty routine. You may also find activated charcoal used in products by well-known brands such as Clinique, Lush or The Body Shop.

This natural compound will offer a great variety of benefits to your skin and your overall health, so what are you waiting for? If you liked this guide on activated charcoal and its cosmetics, feel free to share our article on your social media, or leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Tudsamalee: 57803110/

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