You may have heard about activated charcoal being used for teeth whitening, as a face mask, or even as a cleanse. Recently, it seems to be one of the hottest ingredients in natural beauty and oral care products. You might be wondering what it is and why it has become such a popular ingredient. Here's everything you need to know about activated charcoal:
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from peat, wood, coal, or coconut shells that are burned without oxygen to create char. The char is heated to very high temperatures (1,800°F) in a multi-step process to make it extremely porous. This is the activation process, which increases the surface area of the molecules and allows it to bind to substances to absorb. High quality activated charcoal is extremely fine, has a high surface area to make it absorb more toxins, is odorless and is tasteless.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
The negatively charged activated charcoal porous texture traps and attracts positively charged molecules such as dirt, poisons, toxins, chemicals and other micro-particles. Since the activated charcoal is not absorbed by the body, it carries the toxins bound to its surface outside of the body. This chemical process of absorption is what makes it very effective and allows it to carry out undesired toxins.
How Can I Use Activated Charcoal?
1. Teeth Whitening and Oral Care. Because of its porous quality, Activated Charcoal binds to the microscopic elements that cause your teeth to become stained and removes them, resulting in whiter and brighter teeth. In addition, it also binds to plaque and harmful bacteria in the mouth, preventing cavities, tooth decay, and bad breath. Simply add a little water or coconut oil to your toothbrush, dip in a jar of Clearly GLOW Activated charcoal, brush for 1-2 minutes, and you will see results almost instantly.
2. Acne and Skin Treatment. With its ability to remove toxins and dirt, Activated charcoal can also have great results as an acne treatment, by clearing out the pores, removing impurities, and preventing acne causing bacteria. You can create your own mask by mixing activated charcoal, clay, water and honey, or simply mix charcoal with a little water (or aloe vera) and use as a spot treatment. For a deep cleanse that works for all skin types, check out our Clearly MASK which includes additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are hydrating and super beneficial for your skin.
3. Hair and Scalp Cleanser. Adding a teaspoon of activated charcoal to your regular shampoo can help clean the hair and remove buildup and dirt that shampoos cannot remove on their own. This quick trick will give you shiny and more manageable hair, as well as more volume as it removes the heavy residue that shampoos typically leave behind. If you have itchy dry scalp or dandruff, make sure to leave it on your scalp for a little longer in order to help remedy any scalp conditions.
4. Detox, First Aid, and Digestion. In addition to beauty (which is what we're focusing on here), people also use activated charcoal to relieve gas and bloating, as a digestive cleanse, to treat alcohol poisoning, to prevent hangovers, and to relieve pain from minor burns and insect bites. While these are common uses, we recommend you speak to your doctor or naturopath before trying out any of these remedies in order to figure out how to best use and what doses are good for your body.
What to Look for When I Buy It?
When buying activated charcoal, be sure that it's completely pure with no additives, as some brands add artificial flavors and sweeteners to make it more palatable. This is not needed as pure charcoal has no flavor. It's also vital to know what it's made from - choose a source of coconut shells or wood grains that have ultra fine grains. The finer the grain, the higher the absorption and the less abrasive it is (especially when used for teeth whitening purposes).
Now that you know what all the fuss is about with this hot versatile ingredient, give it a try and let us know what you think!