Activated Charcoal: Nature’s Purifier

In the past, you may have been more likely to find charcoal in a fireplace than on your face, but times have changed and activated charcoal is now one of the most popular and ubiquitous ingredients in the natural beauty world. This is down to its myriad of healing, extracting and purifying properties which are effective in everything from face masks to oral hygiene products.

So, what is activated charcoal? An odourless, tasteless black powder, activated charcoal is pure carbon made from wood or other materials (like coconut) that has been processed to make it able to absorb various substances. These can include gases and particles inside the digestive system, and when applied topically activated charcoal can absorb impurities from the skin. It’s so powerful, doctors feed it to people who’ve been poisoned, but in smaller doses it’s a wonderful and versatile substance that can assist with healthy digestion, clear skin and white teeth.

Image: Morihata
Image: Morihata

Here at Glasshouse, we now stock several brilliant activated charcoal products which we find ourselves reaching for on a near-daily basis, so we thought we’d share them with you and highlight some of the key benefits of our favourites.

Our most comprehensive lifestyle range comes courtesy of Morihata, whose products are made from Japanese Binchotan charcoal which is regarded as the purest and most effective type of activated charcoal. One of their most popular products is a toothbrush made with charcoal powder blended into the actual bristles of the brush. Activated charcoal is known for its powerful deodorising properties, so is ideal for combatting bad breath as well as removing plaque. The charcoal also prevents any bacteria growing on the brush when it’s not in use, keeping those pearly whites both pearly, and white.

Another favourite is Morihata’s facial puff, which is a 100% natural konjac sponge infused with pure charcoal powder. Konjac sponges are made from the konyakku plant which can be found growing wild at high altitudes in Asia. It’s a non-toxic, naturally alkaline sustainable sponge and is pH neutral, meaning it helps balance the pH of the skin too.

We’re all a bit wary of London’s tap water, so naturally anything that promises to purify it is fine by us; Morihata’s pure charcoal sticks can be added to a water jug to absorb any nasties in the water, and they also soften the taste (and look great too). The sticks can also be placed in a hot bath to encourage healthy circulation, and are effective for about 3 months.

Image: Morihata
Image: Morihata

The latest addition to the Glasshouse product family is the Sister & Co Raw Coconut & Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish (bit of a mouthful, if you will). This magic black paste works to remove stains and discolouration from the teeth with the combination of food grade activated charcoal powder, coconut oil, and bentonite clay. It also contains peppermint oil to freshen the mouth and breath. The bentonite clay works in conjunction with the charcoal, aiding its extracting and detoxifying process, and this is a safe, natural way to whiten and brighten your teeth with no harmful chemicals or enamel-damaging effects.

Image: Rosie Herdman
Image: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal

For when our skin needs a polish, we often turn to the Guy Morgan Apothecary Midnight Black clay mask. Made with a base of Rhassoul clay which has been used for over 12 centuries in skincare, this mask also contains the prized ingredient of organic activated coconut charcoal powder. As expected, charcoal appears here for its powerful ability to draw out toxins and impurities from the skin and again the combination with a clay is extremely effective. The mask comes in a dry powder form, simply mix with water and slather on your face (we recommend keeping a special towel for this one as it’s a pretty spectacular deep black colour).

Not even plain old soap is excluded from a charcoal injection - Honest Skincare’s range of handmade soaps include a charcoal soap bar which is excellent for skin clarification on the body. When worked into a creamy lather, this soap is also great for shaving with as it’s non-drying and creates just the right amount of foam, leaving the skin soft and smooth.

Image: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal
Image: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal

We love the colour of charcoal products, there’s something deeply satisfying about slathering oneself in a deep onyx-coloured face mask or spreading black paste on our teeth - it feels a bit rebellious but also like it really works, in an oxymoronic kind of way. We’ve become absolute converts to the benefits of using activated charcoal in just about everything, in as many ways as possible, and we think you will be too!

Click here to shop our full charcoal collection.

Words and cover image: Rosie Herdman

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. The Acey Goes In-House

    ​Our go-to sustainable fashion destination The Acey has gone in-house - producing a beautiful, ethical capsule collection of pared-back dresses. We sat down with brand founder Holly to find out more.

    More +
  2. Illustrated: Alexa Coe

    ​With her clever nudes and seamless pen lines, Alexa Coe is our latest illustration-crush - and we’ve fallen equally as hard for her female subjects. We caught up with the London-based artist to find out more.

    More +
  3. White Heat

    A breezy white wardrobe meets fresh-faced makeup and wispy locks in our latest summer beauty editorial, captured on film by Laura Allard-Fleischl.

    More +
  4. Work with us at Glasshouse Salon

    Fancy being a part of our close-knit Glasshouse team? We have just the opportunity for you.

    More +
  5. Q&A: Antonia Magor, Nutritional Therapist

    With her holistic methods and positive approach, London-based nutritionist Antonia Magor is empowering people by tapping into their relationship with food, balance and health.

    More +
  6. Beauty Forecast: Soap Bars

    ​Thought soap bars were better off banished to the back of the bathroom cabinet? Think again! Soap is making a comeback in a cooler, more natural and eco-friendly format. We meet some of the brands who are doing it best.

    More +
  7. Jessie Harris: Collection FIVE

    ​We go weak at the knees every time East London based jewellery designer Jessie Harris releases a new collection. Her latest offering is as lust-worthy as ever - with her signature shapes showcased in a beautiful new lookbook.

    More +
  8. Happenings: Visible Girls: Revisited at Artlink Hull

    From skinheads to new romantics, street corners to nightclub toilets, photographer Anita Corbin captured 1980’s female subculture like no other. Her pioneering pictures are set to travel the country, starting off in Hull with Visible Girls: Revisited.

    More +
  9. Photography: Italy by Rosie Herdman

    ​Our Creative Content Manager recently returned from a three week trip in La Bella Italia - here her film diary captures the country from north to south in all its summertime glory.

    More +
  10. Step by Step: Illuminated

    ​Bronzed skin and pops of highlight - for our latest makeup tutorial, ultimate glow is the name of the game.

    More +
  11. Masterclass: Air-Drying

    Warm weather is the perfect excuse to ditch the dryer and embrace the many perks of natural air-drying. We’ve picked the brains of Glasshouse senior stylist (and air-drying advocate) Ashleigh to help guide you through.

    More +
  12. Hair Musing: Anita Pallenberg

    ​With the sad news that 60’s bohemian icon Anita Pallenberg has passed away, we pay tribute to an iconic rock princess and her equally as legendary head of unkempt hair.

    More +
  13. Q&A: Tanita de Ruijt of Jamu Kitchen

    Jamu Kitchen’s turmeric-tinged tonics have a whole host of natural healing properties based on ancient Indonesian traditions. We’re a sucker for interesting concoctions - especially if they can give us a little extra oomph - so we caught up with the brand’s founder Tanita to find out more.

    More +
  14. Hair Trends: Warm Tones

    As the weather warms up, our hair colour is following suit. Put down the silver shampoo, and meet our new favourite palette for hair and beauty.

    More +
  15. Reads: Last Days of Summer by Akila Berjaoui

    We’re dreaming of long, hazy days and sand-speckled skin. Luckily Australian photographer Akila Berjaoui is here to help with her 70’s-inspired photobook, Last Days of Summer.

    More +
  16. The Natural & Organic Beauty Troubleshooter

    To see out Organic Beauty Week, we’ve put together a guide answering some of the most common questions and dispelling misconceptions around the world of natural and organic beauty.

    More +
Load more posts