What is it? Activated Charcoal (also called Activated Carbon) is a carbon substance that has been charred and then processed so that it has a high surface area. This higher surface area increases the Activated Charcoal’s ability to absorb the material. This high absorption gives Activated Charcoal many uses outside of skin care including being used in medicine to treat poisoning, by environmental agencies for air and water purification, and in an industrial setting to polish metals.
Is it Vegan or Cruelty-Free? Activated Charcoal is commonly made from wood or coconut shells burnt at high temperatures, so it is vegan. Activated Charcoal as an ingredient by itself is Cruelty-Free, but it may be included in products that have been tested on animals or alongside other ingredients that are not Cruelty-Free. However, Activated Charcoal is most popular in cosmetics from “natural” and Cruelty-Free brands as it is a good alternative to other ingredients that may be viewed as less “natural” or that have a greater potential to be tested on animals.
How is it produced? Activated Charcoal can be produced in two ways: physically or chemically. Either way, Activated Charcoal starts as a carbon-rich material, usually coconut husks, nut shells, or a variety of woods though petroleum pitch and peat can also be used. If the carbon material is treated physically, it is exposed to hot gasses and then burnt at a very high temperature. If the carbon material is treated chemically, the base material is exposed to a strong chemical and then a chemical reaction is triggered to cause the carbonization of the material. Either way, the original carbon material is reduced to a fine, highly absorbent dust.
What does it do? Activated Charcoal has amazing absorption properties which make it a natural choice for deep cleaning the skin. Dirt and oil are absorbed by the Activated Charcoal and can then be rinsed clean from the skin which may help with oiliness and acne.
Where is it found? Because of Activated Charcoal’s many uses in a wide range of human life, it is produced all over the world. The first uses of Activated Charcoal for medicinal uses including on the skin were in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. In cosmetic use today, it is usually found in face masks and cleansers.
What skin type will most benefit? Activated Charcoal is best used for acne prone, oily, or problem skin. It is also suitable for sensitive skin though it can be drying. There are not many studies on Activated Charcoal specifically for treating acne, but there have been countless studies on its absorbing effects. At the least, most scientists agree that it would work as an effective removal option for dirt and oil on the skin.