What Is Activated Charcoal? What Are Its Benefits?

What Is Activated Charcoal? What Are Its Benefits?

We know what you’re thinking — charcoal? The stuff you put in your grill before you sear your steaks? The stuff you were terrified to get on Christmas after a week of misbehaving a little extra? Or the stuff used in the emergency room to treat certain kinds of poison (no, really)? 

All of those are valiant attempts at describing the kind of charcoal we’re talking about, but unfortunately, they are merely in the right ballpark. The kind of charcoal we’ve gathered to talk about today is not the lumpy, chemical-ridden fuel source kind. We’re here for the porous, absorbent kind of fine-dust charcoal known as activated charcoal.

Oh! The dots have connected. Now you might be thinking your way through your local skincare aisle in the department store, remembering all those face washes, body scrubs, and exfoliators (maybe even a toothpaste or two) that you’ve tried out with the promise of a detoxifying experience. Now you’re on the right track. 

If you’ve been a Lashify® user for any length of time, you may have noticed that we make use of something called Charcoflex® in products like our Bondage® Lash Adhesive. You might be wondering how activated charcoal relates to lashes. What does activated charcoal have to do with any of this stuff?

We’re so glad you asked! Let’s dive into the wonderful world of this adaptive black substance and discover just why it works so well. If you’re curious about what activated charcoal can do, keep scrolling, and let’s find out together. 

Charcoal: Activate!

Activated charcoal is one of those things that we read on our product labels all the time. It’s on skincare products, balms, scrubs, and a million other things. People have even used activated charcoal to craft black lattes, turning the espresso darker by adding a small dose (although we don’t exactly recommend eating a whole bunch of the stuff, as it may have side effects). 

Activated charcoal is said to have a range of benefits that we’ll get into a bit, but for now, let’s sit with charcoal.

What is it? Where does it come from? And how did it get into our beauty products? First, let’s dissect the difference between activated charcoal and the charcoal people probably picture when you say the word — the kind of black lump that Santa sticks in your stocking after a bad year.

Charcoal vs. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal has been in use for more than 100 years, believe it or not. Its origins had little to do with beauty or skincare, though. When activated charcoal broke on the scene, it was used as an effective treatment for certain kinds of severe poisoning. 

Traditional charcoal includes a lot of harmful chemicals and ingredients that could damage your skin, like petroleum, wood pulp, and peat. Activated charcoal, on the other hand, is composed of wood, bamboo, coal, or coconut shells that have been roasted at very high temperatures.

The “activated” part of activated charcoal comes from the substance being activated by high heat exposure — over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The high heat creates a reaction in the powdery dust that allows a porous texture to open up inside the charcoal. 

This is the main reason it’s so useful for the skin since it can now trap toxins and impurities — making it perfect for those who struggle with naturally oily skin. That’s why you may have noticed almost every product with activated charcoal included notes its power to “detoxify.” 

The biggest asset of charcoal is adsorption, its ability to bind to other substances. This quality is why medical professionals sometimes turn to activated charcoal to help someone recover from a drug overdose.

Potential Wellness and Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal

This black powder is famous for all its potential benefits for both internal health and skin. 

Although activated charcoal started out as a treatment for certain types of poisoning, it became a popular ingredient for beauty and skincare products. That said, it’s still used for treating poisonings and overdoses today, as it’s highly effective at stopping toxins from absorbing in the stomach by binding to them with its porous nature. It’s even approved by the World Health Organization. 

While activated charcoal doesn’t necessarily have extensive research backing it up in the medical world, it’s still pretty widely accepted. Keep scrolling to learn about all the benefits of activated charcoal in your beauty products and internal health.

Buckle in. We’re about to ride the rollercoaster of activated charcoal. 

Kidney and Intestine Health

Your kidney’s main function is to take in ingested toxins and filter them into bodily waste to expel them — much like activated charcoal works. 

More research is needed in this area, but studies performed on the effects of charcoal in animals resulted in the reduction of gastrointestinal damage and inflammation caused by unaddressed bodily toxins. 

Some even suggest that you can use activated charcoal to detox after a hangover. 

However, it’s important to ask your healthcare provider for medical advice before using it in this way. They may advise you that activated charcoal doesn’t seem to have an effect on alcohol, lithium, potassium, or several other minerals — so it can’t do everything.

Intestinal Gas and Bloating

It’s still not fully understood, but there have been instances of activated carbon working to interrupt the buildup of intestinal gas after the ingestion of something with a bit too much fiber in it. 

Because of the porous nature of activated charcoal, the gas and liquid in your body that causes this issue can pass through the holes as a highly absorbent substance.

Water Filtration

Charcoal is a natural absorbent, and it works well. Its millions of pores and potential to cover a wide surface area make it ideal for tasks like water filtration. The pores work to filter out alkalis, bacteria, fungi, chemicals, toxins, and other impurities from the water as it passes through. 

Just like fluoride in the US water system has proven to improve the dental health of millions of Americans, activated charcoal is often used to a similar end, working in one major part of the filtration process to eliminate toxins on the front end.

Teeth Whitening and Oral Health

Speaking of fluoride and dental health, activated charcoal products and supplements might also be a player in the improvement of your teeth. If you stroll down your oral care aisle and look closely, you’ll find that activated charcoal is a main ingredient in a lot of whitening toothpastes. 

These products claim to be antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and, yes, detoxifying. Although a lot of these claims come without the support of scientific proof behind them, many people believe they work.

 Deodorant and Odor Reduction

Once again, the absorbent powers of activated charcoal show up in its use as an odor neutralizer. You may notice many deodorants have active charcoal as a working ingredient for much the same reason it’s used in water filtration: to get rid of those toxins. Odor toxins are quickly snatched up by the porous nature and made void of their effect.

Skincare

Charcoal in over-the-counter skincare products is said to target and lift impurities on the face, making it an ideal ingredient for face washes and exfoliators. We mentioned it briefly above, but those with naturally oily skin benefit greatly from the use of activated charcoal as it adsorbs not only toxins on the face but excess moisture as well.

Dirt, microparticles, toxins, chemicals, and bacteria are all brought to the surface with activated charcoal, making their elimination of them all the easier. 

Now for the Potential Risks of Activated Charcoal 

As with most things in life, where there are pros, there also come a few cons. Activated charcoal overall is widely accepted as a beneficial substance, but there are a few places where you can go wrong, including:

  • Affecting your gut health. While the removal of toxins is a great benefit, in some cases, it can prevent you from being able to absorb certain medications. It might also take with it some of the nutrients from the digestive tract.
  • Constipation. Although some say that activated charcoal helps with this, the reverse can be said as well. When charcoal enters your digestive tract and hardens, it has the potential to create bowel blockages. 

Yeah, we know, not the kind of news you were looking for on this fine day, but we would be remiss if you didn’t know both sides of the coin.

Charcoflex

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Now that you understand the fundamentals of the way activated charcoal works, how does it fit into our Bondage Extra Strength Lash Bond to help your lashes?

This lash formula is specifically designed with activated charcoal to work for you and your lashes to withstand heat and absorb excess moisture and bacteria. Charcoal can withstand extremely high temperatures. This ability to withstand high heat makes it ideal for standing up to the heat you might be encountering while doing your makeup or using our Lashicurl® eyelash curler — and they’ll (hopefully) be nowhere near the cut-off temp for charcoal. 

Once the charcoal has been “activated,” it has those porous insides that make it perfect for absorbing and containing toxins and other impurities. This includes the bacteria and excess moisture your lashes can be exposed to over time. Excess moisture on your lashes puts you on the fast track to premature bond breakdown, the same as oil-based anything. 

Including the Charcoflex technology in our bond helps create that extra strength and long-lasting adhesive that makes it so effective. Your lashes will be so thankful that the activated charcoal is present; trust us. 

Charcoal, the Miracle Dust

After that barrage of information, you’re probably reeling. We get it! The world of beauty is often so much deeper and more expansive than it seems on the surface. There’s a whole plethora of science, chemistry, and testing to be considered when crafting the products we all use without a second thought most of the time.

We put in the time, work, and energy to create our Charcoflex technology, and we’re always overjoyed to see our clients making the most of that hard work when they wear our lash. Still, it’s also incredible to get to share the behind-the-scenes of how we created our products and why. We love, love, love explaining the why!

The next time you venture to the store to stock up on your favorite beauty routine products or scroll through your go-to websites to fill your cart with your must-haves, maybe you’ll notice that the ingredients list is a little clearer to you. You’ll know exactly what you’re buying and just how it works. The more you know, the better set up you are for cultivating the perfect product collection that’s unique to you.

We are so excited to be a part of that lineup for you! We’re confident in what we create for lash lovers, and we’re doubly sure you can trust in all the work we do upfront so you can enjoy the benefit of these products on the back end. We’ll see you the next time you mosey on over to Lashify to restock on all your lash needs, from Gossamers® to tools.

Sources:

Activated Charcoal—Past, Present and Future | PMC

Charcoal, Activated (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names | Mayo Clinic

Activated charcoal: 8 uses and what the science says | Medical News Today 

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