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Charcoal

When we hear the word ‘charcoal', the first thing that pops into our heads is an image of miners with faces blackened by long working days spent in the gloomy underground tunnels. It’s, therefore, a bit tricky to imagine how charcoal could possibly sneak into our bathrooms, and yet…

THE SUPERPOWERS OF VEGETABLE CHARCOAL
Also called activated charcoal, this product is formed as a result of the combustion of several different natural organic elements: wood, roots, coconuts, olive stones… Once these elements have been burnt and compressed, thousands of tiny pores appear on the newly created mineral, making it look a bit like a sponge.

Therefore, the main power that charcoal has comes from its ability to absorb toxins, gases and acids. For example, it’s capable of absorbing 100 times its volume in gas, making it a real ally to detoxing.

For years, vegetable charcoal has been recognised as an extremely effective natural remedy to bowel problems (bloating, heartburn and indigestion), but also to combatting kidney failure and cholesterol, which is perhaps less well known. These days, it’s cropping up in our bathrooms, and it's there to stay. A favourite with Ancient Greeks and Egyptians and still popular in Asian countries, activated charcoal is obtained from the cinders of coconut shells or wood that are then 'activated' in a steam-filled furnace. The wood/shells are heated to a high temperature in an oxygen-free environment. This produces a high concentration of pure (AKA activated) charcoal. This charcoal is porous, meaning it has a high absorption capacity.

USING CHARCOAL ON YOUR SKIN?
Pollution, tobacco, excess sebum…these are just some of the ways our skin can be suffocated. It becomes dehydrated, starts to look dull and the pores get clogged up resulting in imperfections.

Thanks to its absorbent powers, vegetable charcoal has proved itself to be a real game changer when it comes to fighting all of these problems effectively. But how can you build it into your beauty routine?

In the world of beauty products, you will mostly find vegetable charcoal in masks. When combined with clay, for example, it helps absorb impurities, eliminate toxins, get rid of blackheads and illuminate your complexion. And, because it’s so effective, vegetable charcoal can also act as a light exfoliator, which is perfect for eliminating the dead skin on the surface of the epidermis. Your skin is soft, purified, fresh and radiant.

But the superpowers of vegetable charcoal don’t stop there. As well as purifying the skin, it also helps to preserve its hydrolipidic film, whilst avoiding the uncomfortable tugging sensation which you can sometimes feel after putting on a clay mask.

Finally, charcoal has antioxidant effects which help in the fight against the daily signs of tiredness that active women tend to experience and, over time, against skin ageing. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHARCOAL FOR SKIN?
Activated charcoal is packed with magnetic positive ions that attract negative ions present in waste. This means it can purify air, water and neutralise nasty odeurs. Being highly absorbant, vegetable charcoal helps ease digestive problems and is a common first-aid treatment for various types of poisoning. Apart from its health-related benefits, it's a great beauty-booster: when applied to skin, sebum and grime cling to its surface. And get detoxed into oblivion!  

HOW TO USE CHARCOAL IN YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE
Thanks to its absorbant properties, activated charcoal is found in treatments that need rinsing off - soaps, scrubs (gel or otherwise), purifying face masks... In other words, treatments where it sponges off impurities. But, you'll also find it in cleansing brushes, facial konjac sponges and exfoliating treatments.

WHO SHOULD TRY CHARCOAL FOR SKIN?
Activated charcoal doesn't harm the hydrolipidic film, making it suitable for all skin types. However, it's particularly good for combination, oily, acne or blemish-prone skin. Charcoal's sometimes combined with salicylic acid to combat acne or tea tree oil for a purifying action. It's a superb cleansing ingredient if your skin has to deal with cigarette smoke or polluted environments. That said, if you have dry or sensitive skin, avoid patches and masks as they can be too harsh for fragile faces. 

A CHARCOAL DETOX
Charcoal's an indisputable detoxifier. Its porous and cavity-filled structure traps toxins, gas and bacteria. Its absorbant properties means it sucks out toxins, purifies our skin and helps cells to regenerate. So you can kiss goodbye to blackheads and skin-dulling dead cells! It leaves skin squeaky clean and germ-free. The result? A clear, blemish-free, glowing complexion.

Article supplied & written by Marie Claire, part of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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