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Do Activated Charcoal Face Masks Actually Work?

They are being talked about all over the Internet as a way of clarifying the skin and removing “toxins", but is there any science to back up the use of charcoal face masks?

The idea is to cover the face with glue that is mixed with charcoal and then let it harden until it can be pulled off. Blackheads are supposed to get embedded in the glue and be plucked out. It is more likely that bits of skin will be pulled off resulting in irritation. Activated charcoal does have the ability to bind substances to its surface and is used in water filters, air filters, shoe inserts and is a staple in emergency rooms to deal with swallowed poisons. But there is no evidence it does anything when applied to the skin which isn’t surprising because there are no “toxins” to deal with there. “Toxin” is a meaningless term unless specific substances and specific amounts are documented.

In many cases people make concoctions at home with charcoal bought in art supply stores, which is not activated charcoal, and Elmer’s glue. While the glue made of polyvinyl acetate is not “toxic,” it can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. I don’t know of anyone who has tried a charcoal face mask more than once.


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