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How Charcoal Face Masks Work (and Which Ones to Avoid)

Social media is (still) full of buzz about charcoal face masks—and snapshots of people with shiny black faces in mid-mask application. In fact, we’ve done a piece or two about charcoal already. But there are still questions.

Here’s the confusion—activated charcoal is good for your skin. Most charcoal masks are not. But Hale CosmeceuticalsCharcolate Masque has charcoal in it…is that bad?

Short answer: no. There’s a key difference between the sticky black charcoal masks and masks that contain activated charcoal. They both use charcoal to detoxify your skin, but how the mask interacts with your skin defines the experience and whether or not it’s really good for your skin.

Product Comparison: Same Active Ingredient

Let’s start with what’s common among all charcoal masks—activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is extremely absorbent—it actually draws out toxins and impurities from below the skin’s surface. That makes charcoal an ideal detoxifier.

However, charcoal can also absorb all oils from your face, including the natural oils that protect your skin’s water space. So, charcoal masks should be carefully formulated to prevent oil stripping and only used periodically.

Product Contrast: Adhesion vs. No Adhesion

So, all charcoal masks use charcoal to achieve a deep cleanse. What the sticky tar-like masks also do is adhere to your skin. Instead of rinsing away the mask, you peel it away. The problem is that most of these masks are actually formulated with adhesives so that peeling isn’t easy…and it’s often painful.

The pain experienced during the peel-off is a sign that more than the mask is coming off. In addition to removing the product, you’re also taking away:

  • The top-most layer of skin
  • Sebaceous filaments (not be confused with blackheads)
  • Any remaining natural oils

While the tarry mask makers claim that the charcoal and peel-off leave behind fresh, clean skin, what’s actually left behind is vulnerable skin because all your natural protection has been stripped off.

Hale Cosmeceuticals’ Charcolate Masque works differently. After you’ve allowed sufficient time for the activated charcoal to absorb deep impurities, you rinse it away. That means you leave your stratum corneum and natural oil protection intact, and the masque removal process is completely pain-free.

To get the skin health benefits of activated charcoal without the risks, try our Charcolate Masque. Contact us to order or explore our other masques for gentle, deep cleansing.

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