The Truth About the Charcoal Craze

Dr. Angela Seabright
Ryan Miller

| 2 min read

Image of a variety of charcoal beauty products.
Whether you’ve brushed your teeth with it or used the peel-away masks for your skin, the charcoal fad has been heating up lately.
Clinically used in hospitals to help absorb excess alcohol or oral drugs, activated charcoal helps the body to avoid overdose. Now, charcoal is being used as a popular ingredient in a variety of products toting various health benefits.
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder that is ‘activated’ through higher temperatures. According to Healthline, what makes it different than standard charcoal is its porous quality.
The ingredient has been a buzzworthy topic due to its ability to absorb toxins in the body, which has led to its usage for potential weight loss. However, the detoxifying properties of activated charcoal can lead to harmful effects on the body.
“Activated charcoal isn’t smart and it does not discriminate,” said Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “It doesn’t know what it’s absorbing or not absorbing. If you are consuming food simultaneously with charcoal, it could potentially cause issues and interfere with absorbing good nutrition from food and/or medication that you need.”
Another surprising part of the charcoal phenomenon is the tear-away mask that has taken over YouTube and blogs. While it may be amusing for some to watch people try to remove the mask and see the dead skin, the truly terrifying part is the damage that can be done.
According to Health, removing this strip can take away more than just blackheads – it can remove the outermost layer of your skin, which helps protect it from the environment. While it is clinically safe, it is best to consult your dermatologist to seek better alternatives.
Safer options for a simple face mask include clay masks, which benefit the skin and make for a less painful removal process. These DIY treatments date back to ancient times and can be inexpensive solutions for your face over charcoal.
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Photo credit: trumzz

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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