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Charcoal: Your Summer-Skin Savior

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    Introducing Worth It, a new series where we personally test-run some of the more oddball, high-priced, or hard-to-find products to determine whether they merit the effort or the cash. Here, you'll find a no-BS rundown of some of the beauty buys you've always wondered about, from wacko ingredients to buzzy, new tools.

    There is a certain kind of dirty that one only gets in summer. Say what you will about breezy evenings and sunny, sandal weather, but the fact is by July I'm fantasizing about sleet. Five seconds after I step out of the shower I need another one, and my feet become afflicted with a particular grime known only to urban dwellers — I call it "Summertime City-Foot." Yes, summer is gross. But, I have recently discovered the magic de-gross-ifier: activated charcoal.

    Just as strange and magical as it sounds, activated charcoal is a wunderkind multitasker. It's both the stuff your hippie cousin brushes her teeth with and what your vet gives the dog when he breaks into the chocolate stash. Apparently, it will remove stink from your refrigerator, clean your drinking water, and "treat poisonings." This is potent stuff. Master aesthetician Ling Chan of Ling Skin Care New York even has a charcoal facial on her menu. “Charcoal is a powerful absorbent that is able to absorb 100 to 200 times its weight in impurities," she says. "This allows it to effectively remove dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin.”

    I'm probably still going to hit the ER should I need to treat any poisonings, but as far as skin care is concerned, I am so sold. When the hot weather hit, I tested three charcoal products — a mask, a body wash, and a heap of straight-up charcoal powder — and came away feeling cleaner and fresher than I have in weeks. If you're prone to summer breakouts, gunky skin, or perspiration of any kind, this is the ingredient for you. And, for your chocoholic pup.

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