Five ways to use ac­ti­vated char­coal

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - By Lisa Turner

Black Magic Why ac­ti­vated char­coal is pop­ping up in beauty prod­ucts from face masks to tooth­pastes.

Ac­ti­vated char­coal is noth­ing new on the health scene; an­cient Egyp­tians used it as early as 1500 BC (Cleopa­tra re­port­edly lined her eyes with char­coal), and women around the world have used it for teeth whiten­ing, skin care, and nat­u­ral cleans­ing. In mod­ern medicine, it’s used in emer­gency rooms to treat drug over­doses and poi­son­ing, by at­tach­ing to tox­ins and pre­vent­ing their ab­sorp­tion. The the­ory in beauty prod­ucts is the same: ac­ti­vated char­coal at­tracts and binds to tox­ins, bac­te­ria, dirt and oil, pre­vent­ing them from caus­ing harm.

But when we say “char­coal,” we’re not talk­ing about the stuff in the bot­tom of your grill left over from your last bar­be­cue. Never use that; it’s filled with harm­ful chem­i­cals. Ac­ti­vated char­coal is de­rived from wood or co­conut husks, and then treated to in­crease its abil­ity to bind to tox­ins. The re­sult is a coal-black pow­der that’s avail­able in sev­eral forms, in­clud­ing pow­ders, cap­sules, soaps, and tooth prod­ucts.

If you take it in­ter­nally, drink plenty of wa­ter; it can cause de­hy­dra­tion with­out ad­e­quate fluid in­take. Be­cause ac­ti­vated char­coal can in­ter­act with sup­ple­ments and med­i­ca­tions, check with your health care provider be­fore tak­ing. And try these five ways to in­clude char­coal in your life:


Used in hos­pi­tals and emer­gency rooms to coun­ter­act drug over­doses, al­co­hol over­dose, and poi­son­ing, ac­ti­vated char­coal binds to tox­ins and es­corts them from the body. It can also be used to re­move pes­ti­cides, chem­i­cals, and other food and en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­ins from the body, re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion and mak­ing skin clear and bright.

Rec­om­mended detox dosages range from 1 to 3 grams be­fore meals to much higher doses. It can be taken in cap­sule form, or the pow­der (choose one de­signed for in­ter­nal use) can be added to cleans­ing smooth­ies, green drinks, or pineap­ple juice for ex­tra detox ac­tion.


Ac­ti­vated char­coal is thought to bind with ex­cess se­bum, bac­te­ria, and tox­ins on the skin that can ex­ac­er­bate acne and break­outs. To ban­ish your blemishes, use an ac­ti­vated char­coal soap on a reg­u­lar ba­sis; you’ll find bars com­bined with hemp oil, jo­joba beads for ex­fo­li­at­ing, sea salt, sal­i­cylic acid, es­sen­tial oils, and other in­gre­di­ents de­signed to com­bat blemishes. Af­ter wash­ing, use an ac­ti­vated char­coal mask to pu­rify skin, draw out dirt and tox­ins, and bal­ance oily skin. You’ll find masks that com­bine char­coal with aloe vera, ben­tonite clay, sea veg­eta­bles, sal­i­cylic acid, green tea, and other blem­ish-calm­ing botan­i­cals.


Ac­ti­vated char­coal has long been used to pre­vent cav­i­ties and gum disease, ward off bad breath, and whiten teeth. It’s thought to bind to tan­nins—tooth-stain­ing com­pounds in red wine and tea—and lift them from the teeth. To keep your mouth healthy and bright, try a char­coal tooth pow­der; they’re of­ten com­bined with ben­tonite clay—used to in­crease rem­iner­al­iza­tion of the teeth—and may be sweet­ened with xyl­i­tol and fla­vored with es­sen­tial oils. Or for an easy, mess-free so­lu­tion, look for an ac­ti­vated char­coal tooth­paste. You’ll find them com­bined with ben­tonite clay, an­tibac­te­rial co­conut oil, and es­sen­tial oils for com­plete oral health.


Ap­plied top­i­cally, ac­ti­vated char­coal has long been used to treat bug bites and stings, rashes, and skin ir­ri­ta­tion, all of which can de­stroy your sum­mer-sexy skin. To treat bites or stings, wash first with ac­ti­vated char­coal soap to re­move any sur­face tox­ins, then com­bine a quar­ter tea­spoon of ac­ti­vated char­coal pow­der with two tea­spoons of olive, sesame, or co­conut oil and ap­ply lib­er­ally to af­fected ar­eas. Cover with a cloth ban­dage to pre­vent stain­ing, and reap­ply ev­ery 30 min­utes. For skin red­ness, rashes, and ir­ri­ta­tion, make a sooth­ing mask from 2 ta­ble­spoons co­conut oil, 2 ta­ble­spoons aloe vera and 2 tea­spoons char­coal pow­der. Ap­ply to skin and leave on for 15 min­utes, then rinse and pat dry.


In the sum­mer, a buildup of chlo­rine, salt wa­ter, and styling prod­ucts can weigh down hair and de­crease shine. A char­coal hair treat­ment can re­move dirt and tox­ins from hair and scalp, al­low­ing them to be eas­ily rinsed away. (Bonus: it’s great for treat­ing scalp con­di­tions like dan­druff , eczema, and pso­ri­a­sis.) To re­move buildup, com­bine 1 tea­spoon ac­ti­vated char­coal pow­der, 2 ta­ble­spoons nat­u­ral sham­poo, and 1/2 cup warm wa­ter; ap­ply to wet hair and sham­poo as usual. For a con­cen­trated scalp-heal­ing mask, com­bine 1 tea­spoon ac­ti­vated char­coal with 1/4 cup al­mond oil. Rub into scalp and hair, cover hair with an old towel or shower cap, and let it soak in for 15 min­utes. Sham­poo and con­di­tion as usual for a clean, itch-free scalp and lus­trous locks.

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