Medically reviewed by
  • Charcoal adsorbs oil, bacteria and microparticles from the skin.
  • It works like a magnet, attracting and lifting dirt from deep within the pores.
  • Charcoal masks are ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Individuals with sensitive or dry skin can also benefit from hydrating charcoal mask formulations.

What Do Charcoal Masks Really Do?

Charcoal is a highly effective natural detoxifying agent. It is commonly used for teeth whitening, water purification and as an emergency treatment for overdoses. Charcoal is also increasingly used in skin care, although its efficacy has not been clinically proven. It is often heat activated to increase its potency and is typically made from bamboo, hardwood or coconut.

When applied to the skin as a mask, activated charcoal is adsorptive, drawing dirt, bacteria, oil and microparticles away from the surface of the skin. Charcoal binds to dirt like a magnet, which helps to extract buildup from deep within the pores.

After using a charcoal mask, the skin is thoroughly cleansed, more luminous, and the pores appear smaller.

Best Charcoal Masks for Blackheads

Blackheads occur when oil becomes plugged in a hair follicle. Charcoal is ideal for targeting blackheads as it reduces oil and buildup on the skin. Peel-off charcoal masks are particularly effective at unclogging pores and removing blackheads, as the unwanted detritus clings to the mask when peeled away from the face.

Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask

Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask

Specially formulated for those with oily skin, this mask combines charcoal with kaolin clay and salicylic acid to target blackheads and acne. Extracts of tomato, watermelon, aloe and pumpkin offer soothing and hydrating properties. The mask boasts more than 96% natural ingredients.

Check price
Pros
  • No parabens or silicones.
  • Ideal option for the budget-conscious consumer.
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and clean.
Cons

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask

Charcoal powder penetrates the skin deeply to draw out stubborn blackheads. Clinique’s formulation is particularly recommended for people with sensitive skin who are looking for thorough cleansing.

Check price
Pros
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Deeply mattifying.
  • Reduces the prominence of pores and blackheads.
Cons
  • Some users note that it can leave the skin feeling dry.

No B.S. Charcoal Detox Peel Off Mask

No B.S. Charcoal Detox Peel Off Mask

Activated charcoal in this formulation draws dirt and blackheads from the skin, while squalane leaves it feeling smooth and hydrated. Garden cress extract helps to improve uneven skin tone. Suitable for all skin types.

Check price
Pros
  • Expect amplified results with regular use.
  • No parabens or artificial fragrances.
  • Hydrating extracts moisturize skin.
Cons
  • The peeling process may be painful.
  • The formula can be gooey to apply.

Best Charcoal Masks for Acne and Acne-Prone Skin

Activated charcoal can absorb thousands of times its own weight, making it a perfect skincare solution for cleansing the excess oil, bacteria and dead skin cells that provoke acne. If your prone to breakouts these masks can help keep the skin clean and prevent build-up.

Eve Hansen Activated Charcoal Bentonite Clay Face Mask

Eve Hansen Activated Charcoal Bentonite Clay Face Mask

This mask combines activated charcoal, bentonite clay and kaolin clay for the ultimate cleansing experience. Ideal for those with particularly oily skin. Cucumber extract delivers soothing, anti-inflammatory effects to reduce redness in the skin, while green tea extract delivers antioxidants.

Check price
Pros
  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Leaves the skin looking radiant.
  • Packed full of organic botanical extracts such as apple, spirulina and calendula.
Cons
  • Slightly smaller jar than other brands (1.75 oz).
  • Some users find the mask has a slightly rougher texture.

Calily Life Organic Deep Cleansing Activated Charcoal Mask

Calily Life Organic Deep Cleansing Activated Charcoal Mask

Carefully crafted with organic activated charcoal and kaolin clay, this mask powerfully draws impurities from the pores. Calily’s point of difference are its aloe and chamomile extracts, which offer deep hydration to soften the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines.

Check price
Pros
  • Acne-eliminating and anti-aging.
  • Aloe leaf juice helps to further reduce acne.
  • Contains dead sea minerals to nourish the skin.
Cons
  • Not all of the ingredients in the mask are natural.
  • Some users experienced mild irritation following use.

Detox Clarifying Powder Face Mask

Detox Clarifying Powder Face Mask

This formulation is perfect for those who want a bespoke spa experience. Detox’s mask comes in a powder form, liberating you to choose any liquid you desire (think water, coconut milk, yoghurt, even coffee) to blend your own fresh mask to your taste. The powder itself contains activated charcoal to target acne, vitamin C to help smooth fine lines and spirulina to leave the skin nourished.

Check price
Pros
  • Targets acne, large pores, excess oil and impurities.
  • No preservatives.
  • Completely natural and organic.
Cons
  • Some users find the formulation slightly drying.

Best Charcoal Masks for Dry Skin

Well-formulated charcoal masks should leave the skin squeaky clean without feeling dry or tight. Those with skin that tends towards dryness can rest assured that these masks deeply yet gently cleanse dry and sensitive skin, leaving it nourished.

Burt’s Bees Detoxifying Clay Mask

Burt’s Bees Detoxifying Clay Mask

This mask is made with sunflower seed extract, which contains essential fatty acids to create a natural barrier for the skin. Kaolin and charcoal powder draw out dirt from the pores, while acai extract restores nutrients and antioxidants.

Check price
Pros
  • No synthetic parabens or fragrances.
  • Botanical extracts such as honeysuckle extract add extra care for dry skin.
  • 99% natural formulation.
Cons
  • Some users notice a temporary tight feeling after use.

Avant Charcoal Age Defying Mask

Avant Charcoal Age Defying Mask

This creamy mask offers healing and renewing properties thanks to the addition of organic coconut oil, sunflower seed oil and beeswax. Ideal for those seeking to deeply cleanse and purify dry or aging skin, the formulation also promises to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles while reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and age spots.

Check price
Pros
Cons
  • Some notice a crumbling sensation as the mask dries.
  • Some users find the scent overpowering.

Best Charcoal Masks for Oily Skin

Activated charcoal is ideal for balancing oily skin and overly sebaceous pores due to its adsorptive nature. For those who want to correct super greasy skin, these masks offer potent cleansing qualities.

Fine Vine Activated Charcoal Mud Mask

Fine Vine Activated Charcoal Mud Mask

Activated charcoal and dead sea mud penetrate deep into the pores to attract and absorb dirt, oil, microparticles and shift dead skin cells. Shea butter and aloe vera restore smoothness and softness without greasiness.

Check price
Pros
  • Super quick — can be rinsed off after several minutes.
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • 100% natural formulation rich in powerful botanical ingredients.
Cons
  • The natural formulation can render the mask prone to mold–store in a cool, dry place.
  • Some users note mild inflammation after application.

Imagine Dermatology Bubbling Charcoal Mask

Imagine Dermatology Bubbling Charcoal Mask

Bubbling is the most novel way to deliver excess sebum from the skin. After application the formulation turns to dense foam, oxygenating skin and forcing out oil hiding deep within the pores. Made with organic ingredients and free of fragrance, this mask is perfectly suited to those seeking a powerful yet gentle way to manage oily buildup.

Check price
Pros
Cons
  • Care is needed to avoid bubbling around the eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Some users note the formulation feels itchy.

Best Charcoal Masks for Men

Activated charcoal provides invigorating benefits for men’s skin. Men’s skin is usually 25% thicker than women’s, with a tendency towards larger pores and greater sebum production. When used regularly, activated charcoal masks help keep skin clear and shine-free with a healthy glow.

Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Mask

Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Mask

Specially designed for men, this mask aims to pull dirt, excess oil and impurities from the surface of the face. The unique formulation includes hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to deliver hydration and anti-aging benefits.

Check price
Pros
  • Designed for all skin types.
  • Firms, hydrates and evens skin tone.
  • Vitamin E helps to repair skin cells.
Cons
  • Some users report mild irritation immediately after use.

Beau Brummell Charcoal Face Mask

Beau Brummell Charcoal Face Mask

A powerhouse trio of charcoal, kaolin clay and bentonite clay work to pull out grime deep from the pores. Rosemary extract offers antioxidant properties to keep free radicals at bay, while the addition of lavender soothes and calms the skin.

Check price
Pros
  • Oil-reducing and anti-aging.
  • Free of synthetic fragrance.
  • Perfect for the T-zone.
Cons
  • Can leave skin with a slightly tight feeling.

» Want to learn more about the best face masks for acne? We looked into the best clay, exfoliating, and homemade masks to add to your skincare routine.

Takeaway

Charcoal is a natural purifying agent. When applied to the skin as a mask, it draws out the dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that block pores and cause blemishes and dull complexions, among other things. For those with blackheads and oily or acne-prone skin, regular charcoal masks can help keep the skin clean and radiant.

While many find charcoal masks a beneficial addition to their beauty regimen, others do not see visible results. Choosing a high quality product made with dermatologically approved ingredients is vital to achieving a beautiful outcome.

References

Derlet, Robert W. MD. (1986) Activated Charcoal—Past, Present and Future. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1306980/

Figueiredo Gomes, Celso de Sousa. (2018) Healing and edible clays: a review of basic concepts, benefits and risks. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10653-016-9903-4

Foster, Steven. (n.d.) Aloe Vera: The Succulent With Skin-Soothing, Cell-Protecting Properties. desertharvest.com/physicians/documents/HB-44.pdf

Ho, Chi-Tang; Wang, Mingfu; Wei, Guor-Jien; Huang, Tzou-Chi; Huang, Mou-Tuan. (2000) Chemistry and antioxidative factors in rosemary and sage. content.iospress.com/articles/biofactors/bio00393

Ryoo, In-Ja;Moon, Eun-Yi;Kim, Young-Hee;Lee, Ik-Soo;Choo, Soo-Jin;Bae, Ki-Hwan;Yoo, Ick-Dong. (2010) Anti-Skin Aging Effect of Syriacusins from Hibiscus Syriacus on Ultraviolet-Irradiated Human Dermal Fibroblast Cells. koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201022262412736.page

Muggli, R. (2005) Systemic evening primrose oil improves the biophysical skin parameters of healthy adults. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2005.00274.x

Danby, Simon G. PHD; AlEnezi, Tareq MD; Sultan, Amani MD; Lavender, Tina PHD, RM, RGN; Chittock, John BSC; Brown, Kristy BSC; Cork, Michael J. PHD FRCP. (2012) Effect of Olive and Sunflower Seed Oil on the Adult Skin Barrier: Implications for Neonatal Skin Care. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x

Nagori, Kushagra. Sharma, Mukesh. (2014) Spirulina: A wonder herb to treat topical diseases. rjtcsonline.com/HTML_Papers/Research%20Journal%20of%20Topical%20and%20Cosmetic%20Sciences__PID__2014-5-2-4.html

Mayoral, Flor A. MD; Kenner, Julie R. MD, PHD; Draelos, Zoe Diana MD. (2014) The Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid: A Clinically Based Guide to Selecting Topical Skincare Products. sasds.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Zoe-Draelos-The_skin_health_and_beauty_pyr.pdf

Saraf, Swarnlata; Sahu, Sneha; Kaur, Chanchal Deep; Saraf, Shailendra. (2010) Comparative measurement of hydration effects of herbal moisturizers. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141305/

Katiyar, Santosh K. (2003) Skin Photoprotection by Green Tea: Antioxidant and Immunomodulatory Effects. ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cdtiemd/2003/00000003/00000003/art00008

Kim, Se-Kwon; Karadeniz, Fatih. (2012) Biological Importance and Applications of Squalene and Squalane. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124160033000147

» Show all

About The Author

Articles by

Emma Stone, PhD, is a contributing health and wellbeing writer for Zwivel.

Questions & Answers

Patients ask » Doctors answer

What's Your Question?

With thousands of doctor answers and counting, our forum is the best place to get expert opinions on cosmetic treatments.

[startIndex]
[startIndex]
Close
OPEN
×
Start a private virtual
consultation now