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. Masterclass: Tangled

    Getting a comb through your hair needn’t be a horrible experience - there are reasons why your hair may be tangly, and steps you can take to improve it.

    More +
  2. Local Loves: Diddy’s

    Our newest all day hangout is bringing back old school cafe culture in a thoroughly modern, fun format. Meet Diddy’s!

    More +
  3. Fix Your Home With Nature

    A lot of us are clued up on natural beauty and healthy food, but what about non-toxic alternatives for keeping your home clean?

    More +
  4. Hair Musing: Lauren Hutton

    We’re head over heels - not just for this icon’s hair, but her playful spirit and attitude too.

    More +
  5. Reads: A Simple Table by Chi-San Wan and Natali Stajcic

    ​Recipes and rituals to keep life in balance - our former Expecting featuree, Chi-San Wan has released a book with her friend and fellow foodie, Natali Stajcic. A Simple Table is a self-care toolkit covering food, drink and daily rituals. We caught up with Chi to find out more.

    More +
  6. This Charming Girl

    We spent a day in a South London studio with body activist, photographer and model of the moment, Emma Breschi - all for our latest Glasshouse editorial offering.

    More +
  7. Spotlight: Bikis Ceramics x Glasshouse Salon

    Glasshouse friend and bonafide ceramicist Naomi Bikis has created the matcha tea set of dreams for Glasshouse Salon. Find out what she has to say.

    More +
  8. Beauty Box: Lip to Lid

    ​Looking for some fresh spring beauty inspiration? Matching you lip colour to your lid colour isn’t as scary as it sounds - especially if you consult our tips and tricks first.

    More +
  9. The Glasshouse Guide to Concealer

    ​We’re navigating the world of concealers in our latest Glasshouse Guide - how to do them naturally, effectively and avoiding the dreaded “cake face”.

    More +
  10. Step by Step: Crimson Lip

    ​Our latest makeup how-to is a simple yet stunning look perfect for morning, night and in-between.

    More +
  11. International Women’s Day: Self-Care

    ​International Women’s Day is upon us, which gives us time to reflect on where hair and beauty is at for women in 2017. Our verdict? It’s all about self-care and not bowing down to external pressures and unrealistic standards.

    More +
  12. Hair Trends: The Power Mop

    Nope, we’re not talking about a new, whizzy household accessory - but the latest hair trend that packs a punch.

    More +
  13. Happenings: David Hockney at Tate Britain

    ​See through the end of winter with some much-needed colour and vibrancy in the form of David Hockney’s current retrospective at Tate Britain.

    More +
  14. Kitchen Table: Activated Charcoal Pancakes with Lemon Curd

    Break with tradition this pancake day and opt for the Social Pantry’s activated charcoal pancakes, coated in indulgent lemon curd.

    More +
  15. Hair Musing: Lulu B

    Heavy brows, an ice white dishevelled ‘do and the tongue-in-cheek Insta to match, plus-sized model Lulu B is our latest hair (and life) crush.

    More +
  16. Q&A: Greta Van Der Star

    ​We’re in serious need of some escapism at this time of year, and have found it in the form of photographer Greta’s beautiful Arizona image series.

    More +
Load more posts