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Two Ways To Use Activated Charcoal In Your Beauty Routine

Would you ever purposely put charcoal on your face? If you asked me that about a month ago, I’d probably laugh at the question, but just a few minutes ago I found myself doing just that. Actually, I put some in my mouth, too. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of charcoal you use to grill up a burger, but it was charcoal nonetheless. Super quick science lesson: Activated charcoal (AKA activated carbon) is carbon that has been treated with oxygen. What results is a fine black powder that contains millions of itty bitty pores, giving it a huge surface area. This allows the charcoal to soak up gases and other toxins that come in contact with it.  

Have you ever noticed those tiny black particles that are used in water filters? Yup, that’s activated charcoal. It’s also used to treat poisonings, gastro-intestinal issues, and – oh my goodness – even hangovers. So what does this have to do with your beauty regimen, you might ask? I’ll tell you what. Here are two awesome ways to use activated charcoal to your beauty advantage!

Disclaimer: Activated charcoal is a fine black powder, making it extremely messy. It won’t ruin your sink, but you should be prepared to wipe down your bathroom after every use! Trust me, it’s worth it :)

1. As A Teeth Whitener

Using activated charcoal as a teeth whitener is my new favorite thing.

What you need:

Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

A toothbrush (I used this Preserve toothbrush made from recycled yogurt cups – how cool?!), some toothpaste, and an activated charcoal capsule! I used Solaray Activated Charcoal. You can also get activated charcoal in tablet form, you’d just need to crush it up first.

What you do:

Activated Charcoal Capsule

Carefully open one activated charcoal capsule, dumping its contents onto a paper towel.

Activated Charcoal on Toothbrush

Put some toothpaste onto your toothbrush as you would normally do. Dip your toothbrush into the activated charcoal, completely covering the toothpaste with the black powder. Then brush your teeth as usual! While you brush your teeth, your mouth will turn completely black (my favorite part – it looks so cool). Once you rinse, the color should disappear. If it doesn’t, rinse off your toothbrush and brush your teeth with water only.

Follow these steps and you’ll have a bright white smile in no time! I’ve been brushing my teeth with activated charcoal once or twice a day for the past week and I’m already starting to notice a difference – plus, my mouth just feels cleaner! I’m excited to see the transformation in weeks to come.

2. In A Face Mask

Activated charcoal is a star ingredient for a face mask. Not only does it remove unwanted toxins from your skin, it also removes ALL of your makeup! An activated charcoal face mask will leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed. It’ll feel as if your skin can breathe again.

What you need:

Activated Charcoal Face Mask Ingredients

1 teaspoon activated charcoal (in powder form)

1 teaspoon water or rosewater

1 teaspoon aloe vera gel or juice

5 drops tea tree oil

1 pinch sea salt

What you do:

Activated Charcoal Black Face Mask

Activated Charcoal Face Mask

Mix all ingredients until you have one even color and consistency. Apply the mixture to your face in a thin, even coat. Allow the mask to dry and then wash off!

This mask is safe for most skin types, but you should first do a spot test to make sure this mask is right for you. Apply to a small patch of skin, let dry, wash off. Wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts.

Photos by FP Brigette.

See more  of our beauty tips!



Anon -August 13, 2012, 12:48PM

Thinking about trying this. Will you do a before and after on the brightening of your teeth?

Kasia -August 13, 2012, 1:16PM

Do not do this to your teeth! I did it some time ago and my enamel is now much weaker. :( It is the thing I regret the most doing.

Hai-Yen -August 13, 2012, 2:00PM

When I went to Vietnam last year, I bought the “Ponds Pure White” with activated carbon and it’s actually pretty good.

fp brigette -August 13, 2012, 2:06PM

Kasia – thanks for the heads up! Most whitening methods can strip your enamel if used too often. If you’re finding that your teeth are sensitive to activated charcoal, it’s best to reduce use to 1-2 times a week.

Mariel -August 13, 2012, 4:54PM

Orgins makes an activated charcoal facial mask that is to die for!!! Love Love Love it!

Abbey -August 28, 2012, 8:52PM

I just used this mask, it is absolutely amazing! It makes your skin feel tingly when wet and then when it’s dry you take it off and your skin feels baby smooth! Absolutely recommend it! I had no bad reactions to it whatsoever

meg -September 13, 2012, 9:44AM

if you mix bentonite clay with raw apple cider vinegar (try Braggs) until it’s a paste and use that as a mask it’s amazing. then finish off with rose water or witch hazel as a toner and you’re set

Steve -December 5, 2012, 5:44PM

Kasia is clearly a greedy dentist…

sarah -December 27, 2012, 7:02PM

great stuff, add activated charcoalwith bentonite clay, and alittle apple cider vineger, make a paste, put on the skin and rinse off after 15 minutes,, use your favorite moisturiser. Thanks

Marianne -March 18, 2013, 8:02PM

To Kasia: I’m not sure if the carbon partcles are abrasive to your teeth, but how about rather than brushing with it, letting it sit on your teeth for a frw minutes like a paste then rinsing it off and brushing your teeth as usual.

Yazmin -April 3, 2013, 9:56PM

Thanks the post and for the resultant feedback on these ideas. I’ve just tried holding a paste of activated charcoal in my mouth for whitening and now I’m doing the mask with ACV, bentonite and charcoal. I appreciate the ideas and opinions!

compare teeth whitening products -April 19, 2013, 9:38PM

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of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such info.

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Mitchell -May 14, 2013, 5:50PM

Your style is very unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this

parkour w polsce -May 17, 2013, 6:31AM

I’m total agree witch you guys.

Patricia -May 20, 2013, 11:11AM

Keep in mind, however, that you should not do this more than recommended.
Most chemical teeth whitening products contain baking soda and peroxide, so it makes no sense to
pay extra for a product made with the same ingredients you can purchase for less than
a dollar each. Once the enamel is ruined, the tooth’s dentin will be revealed.

Samantha -July 1, 2013, 10:18PM

I LOVE charcoal<3 I normally just put a couple drops of water into my hand with the opened charcoal capsule, but I normally leave the mask on my face ALL NIGHT and the next morning….TADA! Breakouts and blemishes reduced! Never thought of adding other ingredients to it! Thanks!!!!!!

Carmen -July 6, 2013, 12:38AM

Has the charcoal ever stained your skin? It does on my hands and am concerned ill end up with a stained fave

lindsay -July 17, 2013, 4:27PM

While I don’t have a problem using it on my teeth, I did try the mask and it did stain my skin. I had to use a salt scrub to remove it. I do think it helped my skin though, pulling out the toxins and such.

maria -July 20, 2013, 12:03PM

Hi, I have just bought some activated charcoal capsules. I was thinking of using them only as a cleanser and not a mask. I have a cleanser that i like and i was wondering that if i opened a couple of capsules and added the powder to my cleanser to give me an added bonus of the charcoal. Would that be ok to do that? What does anyone think?

Audrey -August 18, 2013, 12:50AM

@Maria, I don’t think that adding charcoal to your facewash would work as well as just using it alone. My guess is (and it’s only a guess) that the charcoal would bind to the ingredients in your facewash and not bind to the impurities in your skin anymore. I don’t think it would hurt anything, but it won’t help either.

carrie @carrieloves -September 20, 2013, 1:29PM

Thanks for this! The last time I was in ULTA I was asking about masks with charcoal and they looked at me like was off my rocker – so much fun.

hot-tea-nanako -September 21, 2013, 7:12PM

If you’re worried about your enamel reacting poorly to the activated charcoal, add calcium magnesium powder to you toothpaste. You can also add blue green algae to your mouthwash. Both are full of strengthening components that are fantastic for weak teeth.
I use calcium bentonite clay in masks and tea, and use activated charcoal in my toothpaste, but I’m new to activated charcoal masks. I use the oil cleansing method and I’m excited to see how a charcoal/castor oil combo work (that’s what’s currently on my face)

RAY -October 14, 2013, 9:54AM

l use vaseline for men.face wash with activated charcoal it wont work my skin changed from beter to worse . it burns my skin

JW McCabe -October 17, 2013, 3:40PM

@Ray well it isn’t the charcoal in the Vaseline wash!

Activated Charcoal is essentially inert and it is very rare to find anyone who would be allergic or even irritated by it, without having a serious medical condition such as a form of ichthyosis. I suggest, if you want to continue using AC in your regime, simply use it in its natural form with a little water and create a mask and leave on 30 minutes or more.

I believe that the Vaseline wash contains Potassium Hydroxide as one of the top 5 ingredients. That is what burned your skin, not the Charcoal. It my not have ”burned” your skin akin to say a fire but will produce heat and a tingling sensation. Which if you are sensitive can irritate you and cause breakouts.

Ria -November 3, 2013, 3:09AM

You know you can buy activated charcoal in bulk and not have to open little capsules for your needs. My mom is an MD who has used activated charcoal my whole life for all kinds of treatments on me (to ease pain and itching of poison oak, to soothe eczema, to sooth bee stings, etc.) and buys the charcoal from natural food stores in big bottles (it’s cheaper than opening capsules).

Yakinican -November 30, 2013, 6:26AM

Skin care campanies want to make money. Who says white color car less quality than tan and black color is less quality than white. We learned this from our society. If you are white or black, be proud in your skin color. Do not add any chemical in your skin, you will any way end up in skin disease or problem. The black, tan and white color preference psychological, it is not true one color is not superior or inferior to other.”equal but different” God made you perfect, try to eat health , go gym to work out to be physical fit , and go to school to learn new things to be mentally fit.

gloria -January 29, 2014, 5:11PM

If you use a microfibre cloth with a little cleanser/soap to get it off, it will come out of all the pores completely, no staining!
Same goes for bathroom cleanup afterwards, go with microfibre. My tiles were actually much cleaner after getting off the charcoal.

Hubby and I do a charcoal bath or full body scrub once a week. amazing!

Jess -February 4, 2014, 4:23AM

Don’t try on teeth!!!!!! It is the worst for the enamel. It would be okay on the face though. Just don’t use to much the first time around. Warning- if use to much of the face mask it will stain skin and be a pain to get out- will also stain teeth.

Hallie -February 4, 2014, 6:58PM

I have chronic ear infections. When ever one comes on I make a charcoal poultice and sleep with it over my ear. It literally pulls the infection out. Not to be gross but pussy nasty infection stuff! Charcoal is amazing stuff!

Brie -February 8, 2014, 11:06PM

I appreciate this post as I have used activated charcoal in a variety of ways for some years now. I practice natural and preventative health and my background is in herbalism.
I thought you may appreciate a few options for use of activated charcoal… Venomous bites (this saved my tissue when I was bittnen by a brown recluse) 2tbsp activated charcoal, 2tbsp quick oats add water to make a thick paste. Place over bite area and cover with plastic wrap (tape it down on all sides) . Change every two hours(keep moist) . Next use is food poisoning . Add 1-2 tbsp to a big dollop of yogurt and eat it. Great for kids too. Note that there will be black stools after ingesting this, this is just part of the deal, don’t freak out. This has been tried and proven true in my household. Hope this will help someone! And always keep a bag of activated charcoal in the cabinet!

Roxy -March 1, 2014, 5:15AM

Activated charcoal has changed my life i used to get large cystic acne that was very painful and now I have none. I don’t know what I would do without this little miracle cure. I use it on my face with a activated charcoal jelly sponge from ulta and I also put food grade charcoal powder in water and drink it and my teeth look whiter also I don’t even brush with it and can see a difference! ♡

Shadrach -March 24, 2014, 3:11AM

Brie, What is your opinion about using AC for a rattle snake bite? Just curious, wondering if this is a good thing to carry when out for a hike…

Anonymous -March 31, 2014, 3:54PM

Where can I get activated carbon capsules or powder .would love to try this. Have

Lucu -April 1, 2014, 2:37PM

You can get AC from drug stores or We gave it to our dog when he had upset stomach just use human doze. It works great!

Perfect Smile -May 29, 2014, 1:46AM

I’m just thinking of buying activated charcoal for teeth whitening purpose. But I don’t know it can also be used in face mask. Can’t wait to try it on my teeth and face and see how it will turn out. Thanks for sharing!

katie -June 3, 2014, 4:38PM

i found out about the teeth thing a long time ago and i liked it at first but then it started to strip the enamel from my teeth :( but the mask seems really good :) i’ve just tried it for the second time. apparently rice water is good too.

cherry -June 25, 2014, 9:58AM

If no tea tree oil wat can I use

Angie -June 27, 2014, 5:58AM

Where can I buy these activated charcoal pills?

Tera -June 29, 2014, 1:19AM

I buy my charcoal and bentonite clay from I also buy several other herbs from them. Very inexpensive and excellent quality. Don’t be duped by the commercial skincare industry, go straight for the good, natural ingredients and skip the preservatives and fillers. If you don’t have a good understanding of how to mix products, just google natural recipes and you will get a ton of ideas! Play around with mixtures until you get a good mix for your skin, teeth, and body. Most natural things are just as good for your inside as they are outside. Multitasking!

Lacey -September 3, 2014, 12:40PM

How long does this recipe last before it goes bad?

nurlana -October 23, 2014, 1:10PM

How often have to use it? And can I use coconat oil instead of tea tree oil?

Connieh I -January 5, 2015, 1:55PM

I’ve used activated charcoal for the past 20 years. Cheapest place to buy I’ve found is

Donna -January 18, 2015, 11:32PM

Can activated charcoal be used to darken white or gray hair?

Sarah -January 19, 2015, 3:12PM

I want to try a charcoal face mask but don’t have all those ingredients on hand. I have some castor oil, sunflower seed oil, apple cider vinegar, whitch hazel with aloe, and activated charcoal capsules. Any ideas of what I could do with those ingredients?? Maybe just charcoal and water would work?? Thanks!!

Claudua -January 24, 2015, 1:50PM

I recently bought my activied power 16 oz off Amazion for about $20. Bucks.
I made some homemade teeth whiter/tooth paste.
Use 50% coconut oil 4 Talbsp 50% 4 Talbsp baking soda 1 teaspoon of actived charcoal and some peppermint oil about 20 drops or more. Soften oil in microwave then mix in remaining ingredients. Put in a small jar.
Use two or three times a week.

Anonymous -May 10, 2015, 1:49PM

To Lindsay,
That charcoal black sugar facial polisher stained my face to a little and I want to know what kind of salt scrub did you use, what ingredients did you use to remove the stain?
Please help me, email at

Dunia -June 15, 2015, 9:59AM

Did it work for your teeth and how long did you kept doing it in tell you actually saw any noticeable results

Vicky Rocky -September 28, 2015, 4:26AM

You said it is useful for all skin types…!!! Is this useful for removing sun tan

Cynthia -December 13, 2015, 11:39AM

I noticed the comments about the activated charcoal as teeth whitening. There is no studies yet about how damaging it can be to the enamel. I use it but not to brush my teeth, instead I let it sit on my teeth and mouth. I cover my teeth with the charcoal and let it sit. I even leave it on overnight, this way you are not hurting the enamel. The properties of the charcoal make it bond to the stains and particles and will get rid of them. It is also a good way to kill the bacteria in your mouth.

Shaina -December 16, 2015, 4:36AM

I never imagine that this could be possible, and now I can also see toothbrush that used the same idea. very clever!

Podessa -February 15, 2016, 11:21AM

In regards to whitening teeth, it is great to use once or twice a week. If you feel that it is weakening your enamel use or calcium bentonite clay which might be helpful. Make sure it is the one you can ingest or drink. Has to be all natural and can be mixed with

Ms. P -February 15, 2016, 11:23AM

In regards to whitening teeth, it is great to use once or twice a week. If you feel that it is weakening your enamel use or calcium bentonite clay which might be helpful. Make sure it is the one you can ingest or drink. Has to be all natural and can be mixed with Xolitol.

Jenny -April 10, 2016, 8:08PM

Is anyone else having trouble getting the stains off? I just tried the face mask and now its stuck to my face! I can’t get it off with facial cleanser. Oil cleanser removed the worst of it but theres still visible stains all over my face.

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