Everywhere I look another beauty product has popped up with activated charcoal as an ingredient, boasting all types of eternal beauty benefits. Because I'm the resident I'll try anything once girl, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and integrate the element into my mainstay routine. I rubbed it on my face, my teeth, in my hair, and on my body. Yes, apparently I'm not as afraid of commitment as I thought.
Follow along during my week-long journey to charcoal nirvana.
1. Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask
My first foray into the world of charcoal started with a mask ($25; sephora.com). The mattifying offering promises to "absorb oil, impurities, and environmental pollutants to help detoxify skin." The charcoal powder works to draw out deep-seated debris to purify pores, while the mineral clays soak up excess oil. When I was feeling especially sweaty (my skin is more dry than oily, so I wanted to wait until I really needed some serious cleaning) I applied a thin layer and left the mask on for 10 minutes, as directed.
Grey in color but surprisingly smooth and light in texture, the mask felt good. Afterwards, my skin looked fresh, smooth, and my pores were noticeably more refined. And you know how I feel about refined pores.
2. Sort of Coal Kuro Shampoo and Shiro Hand Soap
I'm no stranger to greasy hair—I wash it about once a week on average and don't mind a little oil on my roots. So when I realized charcoal was deep cleansing for the scalp, I couldn't wait to hop on board. Especially suited for medium to oily hair, this shampoo ($21; sortofcoal.com) is made with "active white charcoal powder from juvenile Korean red pine needles, which works efficiently to cleanse and adsorb impurities from your hair." It's also meant to remove dandruff and bad smells (we've all been there) from your strands.
I used The Kuro shampoo in my nighttime shower and it left me invigorated and squeaky clean. The color is off-putting at first (it's black), but kind of looks cool running down the shower drain (and it doesn't stain the tub!). I made it a full week without washing with the help of just a few sprays of dry shampoo, so it was a success.
The soap provided a lovely scent and immaculately clean hands to boot. I'm a very avid obsessive hand washer, so I'm hooked.
3. Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge
This sponge ($15; sephora.com) is made with bamboo charcoal to help cleanse and exfoliate your skin. "The konjac root absorbs debris and impurities, while the bamboo charcoal acts as a natural antibacterial agent, to cleanse deeply and detoxify pores without irritation." It can be used over the face, neck, and even the delicate under eye area, so naturally I rubbed it all over the place.
I rinsed the sponge with warm water and gently applied the cleanser. Then, I massaged around my face in a circular motion, and rinsed thoroughly. It felt really nice and intensely satisfying to lather up (I used La Mer cleansing lotion) and seemingly buff away any impurities.
I noticed a tighter feeling on my face than usual (probably because it was more thoroughly cleaned) so I doubled up on the amount of moisturizer I applied after the cleansing. My face sucked up every last bit and I felt glowy and lovely all over.
4. My Magic Mud Whitening Tooth Powder
After a tip from a fellow editor, I ordered this raw detoxifying powder off Amazon ($21; amazon.com) and couldn't wait to see what it could do. Brushing my teeth with charcoal wasn't exactly my idea of a party, but a proper teeth whitening for just $21 is exciting just the same. The powder contains activated coconut shell charcoal, mint, and orange extract powder to whiten, polish, and reduce tooth sensitivity. I also picked up a Morihata Black Charcoal Toothbrush because the directions warn you against using your regular toothbrush (it will turn it black). I dampened the toothbrush with water and plopped it down in the tooth powder. It made a bit of a mess (mostly my fault, not the product) and got to brushing.
Let me tell you, there is no stranger feeling than watching your mouth fill up with black soot-like powder. However, the Magic Mud is virtually tasteless—AND it works. I gargled, spit, and inspected my mouth. The black coloring had cleared and my teeth were noticeably whiter. Like, really noticeably whiter. Since then, I've been using the charcoal powder on my teeth every single night and have gotten even better results. Plus, it's fun to use and makes me feel like I'm being a bit more homeopathic or something.