Ingredient Decoder: Charcoal

Charcoal skincare products have been known to trigger a few double takes. After all, this ingredient is supremely effective – both at sweeping away bacteria and oil without drying out skin and at clearing pores without any irritation. In honour of the BLAQ charcoal skincare treat inside every March Birchbox this month, we took a trip back to science class to find out exactly how this all-natural purifier works.


What Is Activated Charcoal?
Unlike the charcoal you toss on the BBQ in the summer, activated charcoal — also known as activated carbon — has been treated with oxygen. This process makes the charcoal much more porous, and it also exposes a large surface area of carbon. Once the carbon molecules are exposed, they’re more likely to bind with organic chemicals like toxins, odours, and contaminants – exactly what you don’t want hanging out on your skin. Activated charcoal is so powerful at removing toxins that it’s often used in water filters (those black specks you sometimes see in your water filter jug are harmless carbon particles) and as a treatment for victims of chemical or food poisoning.

How Does It Work?
Applied topically, activated charcoal acts like a powerful magnet, drawing out impurities from the skin. Charcoal can also suck out those tiny flakes of skin that over time can build up and form milia – hard white bumps under the skin’s surface that can make your skin feel bumpy and look uneven. To keep pores free and clear, try using a charcoal-based mask once or twice a week – like the BLAQ Peel Off Mask.

Who Should Use It?
Unless you have a specific allergy to the ingredient, all skin types can use products that feature charcoal. The BLAQ Hydrogel Eye Masks are particularly great at detoxifying and de-puffing tired eyes. Oily complexion? Good news, charcoal is especially amazing for those with large pores – since more pollutants tend to accumulate in your skin. The BLAQ Peek Off Mask makes light work of removing pollution and dirt from even the deepest of pores. Apply weekly to your damp T-zone, leave for 15 minutes, then peel off for clear, radiant skin.

Get your March Birchbox today and choose the BLAQ skincare treat that you’ll receive after you check out!