The Secret Ingredient For The Clearest Skin Of Your Life

Update: More people are turning to activated charcoal to help clear their skin. In light of the conversation surrounding this trend, we decided to put this story about the best activated charcoal products on your radar again. 

Originally published on January 24:

January may be nearly over, but that doesn't mean everyone isn't still talking about detoxing. However, laying off the vodka martinis isn't the only way to clean up your act. Add a little activated charcoal to your beauty routine, and the results may amaze you. Why? This buzzy ingredient draws impurities, chemicals, dirt, and other such micro-particles to the surface of the skin in a more effective manner than your traditional face cleanser ever could.

So, why stop there, right? The beauty world's version of black magic can be found in everything from shampoo to bath salts, too. And, just in case you need more proof that this stuff kicks ass, AC powder can absorb thousands of times its own mass in icky dirt and grime, which is why it's becoming a super-popular ingredient in facial masks. "There has been a trend in the beauty industry geared toward a metaphysical element of treatment," says Jim Wetzel, co-owner of space519 in Chicago. "With the rise in popularity of yoga, chakra and energy healing, meditation and holistic remedies, a spa-orientated moment in skin care has risen.”

But, activated charcoal isn't exactly a newfound discovery. Long before its incorporation into beauty products, the substance was widely used in the medical world. Geraldine Macenski — R.N., aesthetician, and licensed massage therapist at NoMI Spa at the Park Hyatt Chicago — says she used to use AC for medication and poison overdoses when she worked as a registered nurse in the emergency room. "Charcoal is the purest form of carbon readily available to us," says Macenski. "It excels in absorbing properties, particularly organic compounds, odors, toxins, and gases." So, whether you live in a polluted city, perpetually fall asleep with your makeup on, or you simply want to try something new, we've rounded up 26 activated charcoal products that are guaranteed to take clean to an entirely new level. Because, you've got nothing to lose but some extra gunk and grime.       
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While you may have tried oil blotting papers before, nothing beats charcoal when it comes to banishing that midday shine. Not to mention, the bamboo version in these thin sheets boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties, so it's perfect for gals battling — or wanting to prevent — breakouts.
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We're huge fans of sheet masks and we're huge fans of Korean beauty products — this baby satisfies both. Black in color, this specialized treatment contains spearmint extract, activated Korean charcoal, and arginine to detoxify, improve elasticity, and minimize the appearance of large pores.
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You know that feeling when you get off a plane from traveling and your face feels, well, disgusting? Us, too, which is why we were thrilled to see that Origins made their Activated Charcoal mask in these super-cute to-go pods. Take that, airplane skin.
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GlamGlow has a cult following among beauty junkies in the know, thanks to its downright amazing masks and cleansers. This clearing treatment is a prime example of why it has such a devoted following. It features activated charcoal and a blackhead-busting six-acid AHA and BHA blend that will leave your skin looking flawless. It's also great for whiteheads, razor bumps, and pimples, meaning everyone should own a jar of this stuff.
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Thanks to activated charcoal, antioxidants, and minerals, this konjac version will help prevent and fight a blemished complexion.
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We love Gloss48 for its rad indie finds, and this mask is no exception. The potent combination of Dead Sea mud and rice bran works to suck out impurities, tighten pores, and provide a gentle exfoliation. The formula is concentrated, so a dab will do, even if you want to use it as a spot treatment for a pesky pimple.
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If you've never tried a charcoal face soap before, we suggest you start with this baby as it is truly the real deal. The Kishu Binchotan charcoal is considered the highest quality charcoal, so you can rest assured that it will leave your skin as clean as a whistle.
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We love this cleanser because it's basically like Biore's blackhead strips minus the ripping part. It claims to clean two times better than your average cleanser, but without leaving your face feeling like a dry piece of toast.
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There's nothing more thrilling than seeking out an awesome drugstore find — especially one that's fewer than five bucks. This two-in-one product works as both and exfoliant and a mask, thanks to black sugar and purifying charcoal. It's designed for all skin types, so everyone can double down.
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This natural and organic mask is chock-full of activated charcoal and other great-for-your-skin extracts. Results-driven ingredients like pomegranate, green tea, ester C, DMAE, and hyaluronic acid will have you looking like, well, an angel-face in no time.
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Aside from the unique packaging, we love the cypress scent of this face and body bar almost as much as the squeaky clean results. The medicated charcoal and bamboo vinegar remove impurities while exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. It's perfect for those dealing with acne, inflammation, psoriasis, and dermatitis, so lather up!
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While you may know Lush for their fizzy bath balls and salty soaks, this killer cleanser is where it’s at in our book. Black sugar, charcoal, and rhassoul mud exfoliate and get rid of all the icky stuff, while organic avocado oil provides nourishment to your face, body, hands, or wherever you choose to slather on this goodness.
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While many charcoal products are suitable for all skin types, this mask is actually designed for those with acne- and oil-prone skin. Activated charcoal, black clay, and palmarosa essence are the key ingredients to dissolve dead skin cells and remove dirt and toxins without further irritating the skin.
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Whether it's your sweaty melon under a hat, or you just got back from a day at the beach, you definitely need to deep clean those tresses. And, we love this chemical-free white charcoal shampoo to do just that. We'd bet our weekly Starbucks budget that you'll never look at shampoo the same way again.
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Behind the adorable name and packaging lies a ridiculously effective soap. Sure, the benefits from the charcoal are amazing, but there are also tea tree and eucalyptus oils to treat and prevent blemishes, and ground oats and cocoa butter to help impart a healthy glow. Meow-velous.
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There's a lot going on in this mask, so it definitely lives up to its name. We're talking finely-ground walnut shells, raw cacao, manuka honey, olive leaf powder, and three (you read that right) types of purifying clays. Oh, and activated bamboo charcoal, of course. The result is a smooth, soft, toned, and ridiculously clean complexion. Trust us, you'll become obsessed with this miracle-worker after just one use.
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While you can use these salts as a soak, there's no need to stop yourself from filling up the tub and settling in for a full-body detox — especially after a long weekend.
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We say "yes" to anything this brand throws our way, so we're super-psyched about Yes To's new detoxifying Activated Charcoal Bar Soap. Bonus points for working just as well on your body as it does your face.
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Who needs an activated charcoal shower gel? Your body after hot yoga class. Don't be turned off by the liquid-y black substance. It smells divine, purges toxins like a boss, and rinses clean.
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If you've never been to the Pacific Northwest, this soap will help take you there, thanks to delicious notes of Oregon peppermint, Portland rose, Washington geranium, and PN cedarwood. Made with nourishing oils and shea butter, the addition of activated charcoal is merely the cherry on top.
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This body cleanser takes it a step further by being an exfoliant, too. Activated charcoal and volcanic ash sweep away dirt and grime while uplifting fig and green tea essential oils clean out all the cobwebs in your mind. Fun fact: The antioxidant-packed acai and goji berries in this formula are hand-harvested at their peak, so rest assured that this is one potent potion.
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Think you've tried every tooth-whitening product on the market? Allow us to introduce you to this powdery miracle blend of charcoal, coconut shell, mint and orange extracts (read: flavor) that gently (and safely!) work to polish your teeth to a gleaming perfection. And, don't worry. It's completely safe to swallow, just in case some of it goes down the wrong pipe. Oh, and don't balk at the price: an entire jar will last you three months.
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We love a good body scrub — especially one that can be used on our face, hands, and feet, too. But, don't worry. The exfoliant aspect (walnut shell powder and sea salts) is an ultra-fine grain consistency, so you don't have to worry about it being too rough on your delicate features. Add activated charcoal, Dead Sea mud, bentonite clay, and nourishing butters and you've got yourself one serious head-to-toe deep cleansing beauty product.
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The charcoal aspect of this product lies within the first step, an exfoliating charcoal mask that absorbs toxins and preps the skin for the absorption of the other products to follow. This cool resurfacing system is perfect for a DIY facial at home, so if you haven't tried this amazing results-driven brand before, this is the perfect opportunity. Consider us obsessed.
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This sulfate-free body wash has been around long before the activated charcoal trend became en vogue, and yet it's still one of our favorites. Aside from the benefits of the activated charcoal, sage, juniper berry, and lemongrass aid the cleaning process and help to reduce any inflammation or irritation. It doesn't hurt that it smells amazing, too.
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Sure, it looks a bit manly — but believe us, ladies, you're going to want to lather-up with this big bar, too. Pumice and sandalwood exfoliating powder work as effective exfoliants for those rough heels and feet, courtesy of your Friday night stilettos. Activated charcoal lifts dirt and toxins while natural moisturizing oils will leave your skin feeling supple, not scratchy.
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