Do charcoal facemasks and cleansers work?

Charcoal face masks are one of the latest trends in skin care. You may have seen videos online of people peeling off a thick black mask to show clear, glowing skin. The goal of these masks is to suck out blackheads from your pores and clear your skin of toxins.

But do charcoal masks really work? Is charcoal good for your skin?

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The Benefits of Charcoal Masks

Charcoal has long been used for medical purposes, especially to absorb toxins from the stomach in people who have overdosed on drugs. With a similar idea in mind, many skin products contain activated charcoal to absorb pollutants and clear your skin. But the question remains: Is charcoal good for your skin?

While scientific studies haven’t proven charcoal’s effect on the skin, it  typically doesn’t irritate skin or lead to allergic reactions. That’s why charcoal is used in products from cleansers and makeup removers to hand washes, bar soaps, and, of course, face masks. Even toothbrushes and toothpaste can come with charcoal in them.

A charcoal face mask may help remove impurities and make your pores look clearer and smaller. Charcoal’s ability to absorb toxins in other parts of your body is well known, so there’s reason to believe it can work on your skin even if this use is not officially proven.

The Cons of Using Charcoal Face Masks

As with any trend, many companies want to cash in. A social media search of charcoal masks will produce numerous videos of people in pain as they peel the black tar from their faces.

Some products have led to chemical burns, rashes, and pain. Poor quality ingredients can cause negative skin reactions, so test the product on a small patch of skin.

How to Choose a Charcoal Face Mask

Beauty products from other countries aren’t regulated as strictly as they are in the U.S. This means that what’s inside the product may not be something you want to put on your skin. If you do to try a charcoal mask, choose one that is manufactured in the U.S. and has credible reviews.

Exercise caution when making an at-home charcoal face mask. Be sure you’re buying activated charcoal and quality ingredients from a reputable seller.

As with many skin care products, determining whether charcoal is good for your skin is subjective. So, do charcoal masks really work? It depends.

While some people see wonderful results, others don’t. Choosing a quality product is the first step toward having a good experience. You can also talk to a dermatologist about the pros and cons of charcoal skin care and get recommendations on products.

If you’re still unsure or don’t think charcoal masks are right for you, stick with cleansers or other pore cleaners, or see a dermatologist at the UPMC Department of Dermatology for a chemical peel.

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.