In the past, I was terrified of making my own soap. After watching that scene in The Fight Club, I am deathly afraid of handling lye. So that is that.
However, it turns out that there is an easy and completely safe way to make your own soap. It’s called melt-and-pour, it takes mere minutes to do, and you can customize your scent, color, and additives to your liking.
Speaking of movies, maybe you remember the scene in Annie Hall, where Diane Keaton gloats over the novel black soap for “her complexion.” That black soap is obviously one made with charcoal. But are there really any proven benefits of charcoal soap? I had to investigate and try it out for myself.
- Activated Charcoal vs Charcoal
- What Is Activated Charcoal?
- Activated Charcoal Uses
- Benefits of Charcoal Based Skincare
- Science About Charcoal Benefits for Skin
- Is Activated Charcoal Soap Good for You?
- My Activated Charcoal Soap
- Prefer to Buy?
- How To Use the Activated Charcoal Soap?
- Any Precautions When Using Activated Charcoal Soap?
Activated Charcoal vs Charcoal
Activated charcoal is not the same as the charcoal that you would make by burning wood or other substances in your grill or fireplace.
Charcoal is obtained by burning wood in the absence of oxygen. Activated charcoal is obtained by burning carbon-rich materials at higher temperatures, with the addition of other substances.Askanydifference
Using regular charcoal for health or beauty would be a big mistake. It’s rough, it might not be pure, it’s. mess.
But activated charcoal is a different beast altogether.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is made up of wood, peat, regular coal, and coconut husk or other natural substances.
Activated charcoal is made by processing a material that’s high in carbon at very high temperatures and then “activating” it with steam or hot air. This process increases the material’s surface area and pores, so it’s able to bind to and absorb many types of liquids and gases.Healthline
Thanks to its larger surface area, it is an excellent absorbent in comparison to standard charcoal.
Because activated charcoal can effectively absorb toxins from its environment, it is often employed specifically for that purpose.
Activated Charcoal Uses
Being such an excellent absorbent, activated charcoal is purported to be able to:
- Bind and remove digested poisons
- Alleviate intestinal gas and diarrhea
- Provide water filtration
- Aid moisture absorption in deodorants
- Help clean out pores in skincare
Benefits of Charcoal Based Skincare
Activated charcoal skincare is on the rise. Especially health stores carry lots of cleansers, soaps, and masks with activated charcoal as one of their main ingredients.
The purported benefits specifically for skincare include
- Thorough cleansing of the skin thanks to the porous nature of the charcoal and its ability to remove dirt or grime from the pores.
- Supposed to be best suited for oily and blemish-prone skin because of its antibacterial properties.
- It may reduce pore size by deeply cleansing and exfoliating the skin.
Science About Charcoal Benefits for Skin
The purported benefits of the activated charcoal for the skin are so far only anecdotal. In one study it was established that activated charcoal takes some time, upwards of half an hour, to bind to the substance that is to be removed, and hence it is rather unlikely that just lathering with it and then rinsing the soap off will result in much binding.
Still, in theory at least, as well as from personal experience, I see benefits of activated charcoal, especially when using it in face masks.
An activated charcoal face mask can help draw out excess sebum, reduce shine, and deep cleanse the pores.
Since I keep such a mask on for around 30 minutes, I believe that the charcoal and bentonite clay together perform their magic and truly cleanse the skin. If you want to find out more, check out this Dirt Magnet mask description.
Even with limited evidence, the absorbing feature of activated charcoal appears most suited for oily and acne-prone skin.
The theory goes that acne can be cleared up when activated charcoal:
- binds the toxins and impurities
- absorbs the oil that might be clogging the pores
- The physical particulates of activated charcoal exfoliate the skin, revealing healthy skin
Is Activated Charcoal Soap Good for You?
According to science, activated charcoal does not have clinically proven benefits. On the other hand, there is also zero evidence that it is harmful in any way.
companies claim that charcoal-containing products can treat acne, dandruff, and others; however, clinical evidence does not support these claimsCharcoal: An ancient material with a new face
Personally, I like the feel and look of the activated charcoal soap bar. That black soap that Annie Hall was loving also lathers very well, and has added ingredients that are definitely helping my skin.
Because I have two teenagers, I started making activated charcoal soap regularly and my kids love it.
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My Activated Charcoal Soap
Bentonite Clay (helps detoxification)
Tea Tree Essential Oil (antibacterial powerhouse)
Cypress Essential Oil (toning)
Lemon Essential Oil (lightening and astringent)
Soap mold or individual molds (widely available online)
Knife or soap cutter
As mentioned already, using a melt-and-pour base makes the process super easy.
Cut up the base into chunks. My base comes with pre-drawn lines which makes it a breeze.
Place the chunks in a pot and heat up until it melts completely.
Take off the heat and add charcoal and clay. Mix well with a spoon or spatula.
Pour into your mold. You can use individual molds or one big one. Let it sit for a day at room temperature or a few hours in the fridge.
Cut and cure the soap. Let the cut pieces sit at room temperature for a few days before using.
RELATED POST: Handmade face cleansers
Prefer to Buy?
If it’s too much hassle to make your own soap, here are a few excellent ready-made choices to consider:
Southern Natural Charcoal Face Soap, is a gentle soap for oily and troubled skin. It’s made with Dead Sea mud, goat milk, and peppermint essential oil, and is gentle enough to use on your face and body.
For the additional benefit of a body massage, you might consider Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap. This uniquely shaped bar cleanses, exfoliates, and massages muscles to relieve tension.
If you’re not a fan of a soap bar, Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser might be a good choice. It contains kaolin clay to purify pores and remove oil for smooth, revitalized skin. It also protects the skin’s microbiome and natural lipid barrier.
If you want a good, natural soap for “bros”, read this review about a good option.
How To Use the Activated Charcoal Soap?
To get all the benefits of charcoal soap follow these steps:
- Rinse your face with warm water to loosen the dirt and oil.
- Lather charcoal soap with your hands and apply it to your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
- Use gentle circular motions, focusing on the T-zone and acne-prone regions, scrubbing the face gently for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Rinse your face with warm water followed by a splash of cold water (this will help seal the pores).
- Gently pat your face dry with a clean and dry towel.
- Apply a pore-tightening toner and a follow with your regular skincare regimen
Any Precautions When Using Activated Charcoal Soap?
Generally, activated charcoal products including soap and cleansers are considered safe. However, they might cause eye irritation so make sure to keep the soap away from the eyes.
Also, for very sensitive skin, it makes sense to perform a patch test before using it all over the face or body.
There you have it. An easy and effective DIY to benefit your skin.
If you’re interested in other DIY recipes for clean skincare products, click this: