Activated Charcoal, a Remedy or Just Another Fad?

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”

-Audrey Hepburn


My quest for healthier skin was not driven by vanity, but the need to moisturize.  For the past year and a half part of my job has been to run the Aquatic Therapy program at our Physical Therapy clinic which means I have been soaking in a partially chlorinated and chemically treated pool for 15-18 hours a week.  Aquatic Therapy is awesome, but the toll it takes on my skin is not.

I actually stumbled upon charcoal thanks to a friend and you can read more about my specific skin changes here. Since using the charcoal products, I see and feel a major difference in my skin and wanted to learn more about how and why, in the last couple years, charcoal has been popular in the health and beauty world.


Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal purposes. If you haven’t noticed, it has been a major wellness trend this year.  For 100’s of years it has been an emergency remedy for certain kinds of poisoning and overdoses to help prevent the poison from being absorbed further into the blood stream once ingested. Charcoal is normally made from coal or wood but recently chefs are using coconut shells to add a splash of health and creativity into their culinary creations.

Activated charcoal is created during a high heat process by oxidizing the wood and/or coconut shells. Activated charcoal can act as a magnet of sorts for certain impurities while ignoring others.  Much like the action of the Himalayan salt lamps, the activated charcoal’s negatively charged ions bind to positively charged ions thus having a detox like effect. There are numerous raves of it’s supposed health benefits, including teeth whitening, digestive cleansing, detoxifying impurities, reducing cholesterol, anti-aging, and alleviating gas.


Activated Charcoal as a Health Remedy

A new super food always lurking around the corner, right? Add charcoal to the list of foods like, goji berries, acai, and matcha to cleanse, purify, and rejuvenate the body.  You may have seen activated charcoal pop up in juice cleanses, ice cream, bagels, and pasta.

You can find it in supplement form for ingestion or to use as a poultice for it has been shown to improve inflammatory issues related to bites, infections, stings, and wounds as it draws impurites from the skin.

Symptoms of bloating and abdominal cramps attributed to gas have been shown to significantly reduce, by using activated charcoal. Although this is only one study and you can equally find another study that reports no significant difference. The jury is still out on how beneficial it really is for your gut; most say it’s as a quick fad and not worth the money.

Precautions are given against taking it orally with prescription medications and the foods that contain charcoal should be considered a special treat and not an every food source. This person drank activated charcoal for an entire week and lived to tell her story.

Personally I have not consumed any food that contains activated charcoal so I only report the knowledge I can attain from scientific literature.  Working in the medical field makes me want to find evidence in science before recommending health products, however I also know how one sided scientific literature can be,  Mostly my personal health has been improved far more through holistic products that tend to be shunned by the medical and scientific communites.  The only way to find out if charcoal can help you relieve your gas or whiten your teeth is to try it yourself.

If you are interested and want to try some trendy charcoal drinks, consider these:



  • Black Lemonade: Made with Alkaline Water, Lemon, Activated Coconut Charcoal, Cayenne


Image Courtesy of Pressed Juices


  • Charcoal Lemonade: Made with Alkaline Water, Sugar Cane Juice, Lemon, Montmorillonite Clay, Activated Charcoal. If you are local to the OC, then stop by Juice Served Here in Newport Beach.charcoal_lemonade_cold_pressed_juice_main
  • image courtesy of Juice Served Here


  • Black Magic: Made with Lemon, Lemon zest, Activated Charcoal, Maple Syrup, Himalayan Sat, Waterblackmagic-crop_c87e9847-2431-43e8-a621-050efc1f1e2c_large
 Image courtesy of LuliTonix


Activated Charcoal as a Beauty Remedy

Charcoal has been well known antidote for skin infections and inflammation.  One specific type of charcoal powder made in Japan is, Binchotan.  It is made from Oak and has been used since the 1600’s.  Make room for Binchotan in your beauty routine. You can find it in shampoos, soaps, cosmetic products, facial masks, and toothbrushes.  For skin care, activated charcoal is said to improve impurities, spot treat acne, improve oily skin, relieve red itchy skin patches, and make pores less visible.

Activated charcoal powder clarifies by drawing bacteria and dirt to the surface of skin and can adsorb thousands of times its own mass thus making is popular in facial masks.  On this remedy, I can speak from personal experience. After using activated charcoal on my skin, my pores are less visible, my skin smoother, my dark age spots gone, and my dry skin relieved. There aren’t any known side effects using it topically.

I encourage you to be mindful not to turn health or beauty into an idol; tend to the soul my friend. Healthy skin care should be about nourishing your skin, not about vanity. Women can spend waste a lot of money on health and skin care products searching for the fountain of youth.  Nourishing your skin occurs mainly from a healthy gut first and foremost, but skin care that is toxin free and works to nourish the skin as well is a win-win in my book.

Below in the need more inspiration post, I have listed a link to browse many popular charcoal beauty products on the market.  For me, Beautycounter has worked so fabulously that I have not felt the need to try any others.  The results on their website say, “90% of users after 10 minutes reported skin feeling clean and renewed” and I would definitely agree with experiencing those same results. Beautycounter uses Binchotan charcoal and combines it with other organic indgredients and natural oils for a healthy and effective combination.

After studying and experiencing the effects of activated charcoal, it has great potential to be an excellent skin remedy.

If you are interested and want to try out trendy yet effective skin remedies, then consider these:


My Favorite Charcoal Skin Remedies:



If you have used any of these products leave a comment below and share your experience.

Need More Inspiration?






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