Detoxifying Your Skin Using Charcoal

Some people hear the word detox and think that we don’t need to worry about detoxing because our bodies are always detoxing. This is partially true. Our bodies are always detoxing. We have natural detox pathways that work hard to convert and get rid of the toxins in our bodies. The problem with that idea is that our detox pathways can get backed up if our toxic load is too high and we are not naturally supporting them. This increased toxic load is a major contributor to skin issues. 

Where do these toxins come from? One place we experience these toxins, especially on our skin, is from the environment. 

The Environment & Your Skin

Every year The American Lung Association runs a report on the state of the air in the U.S. They compare a lot of different factors and look at how things are improving or getting worse state to state and overall. I assumed that things were improving with advances in technology and the increased awareness around the environment. This isn’t exactly the case.

According to the report:

“Even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe. “

This means that we all need to do everything we can to rid our bodies of toxins and support our natural detox pathways. Especially for our skin. Skin health is not just related to what we eat. It’s what we put on our skin, the water we drink and use, and toxins in the environment. 

Here are some ways pollution can impact our skin:

• Creates premature aging at an accelerated rate due to the increased breakdown of collagen

• Increases age spots

• Increases dullness and dehydration

• Rough and uneven skin

• Build up of toxins lead to acne and large breakouts (defense mechanism)

• Increases skin sensitivity

• Can reduce vitamin E content

 

Toxic Load & Body Burden

Your toxic load is the accumulated amount of toxins affecting the systems of the body at any given time. This is also referred to as your body burden.  So what impacts this? Other than the environment, we get exposed to toxins in beauty products, lotions, shampoo, plastics, perfumes, kids toys, medical supplies, cleaning products, furniture (pretty much everything) as well as our own toxins created during metabolism. That’s a lot of toxins and can sound overwhelming, but there’s actually A LOT you can do on a regular basis to naturally support detox. One way is through the foods you eat. I teach you how to do a whole food based detox in this post. 

 

Our Natural Detox Pathways

 

 

The liver isn’t the only participant in detoxification. Phases 1 and 2 occur in the liver (more on that in this blog post), but then what has to happen once those toxins have been converted? They need to get out of our bodies. If we have a healthy gut, then one way they leave is through poop. Yep, if you’re not pooping enough (at least once a day) then you’re most likely recycling xenoestrogens/estrogen back into your body throwing off your entire hormonal balance (this goes for women AND men). Another way we get these toxins out is through urine, breathing, and sweating. Sweating meaning they come out through our skin. This is why a common response to detoxifying too quickly can be acne or this could mean that your toxic load is high. Acne is a common defense mechanism against toxins. 

 

Detoxifying Your Skin

Since our skin is our largest organ and one way we get rid of toxins is through sweat it’s important we remember to take time to detoxify it. Impurities from our own toxic load and from the environment can get trapped in the skin and lead to less than desirable outcomes (acne, redness, dry skin, oily skin, etc). 

 

Activated Charcoal & Detox

One of my favorite ways to detoxify my skin is using charcoal! Activated charcoal is made from organic material that allows it to absorb 3-4x more toxins from whatever it is being used for. Charcoal (assume I mean activated charcoal) not only works for the skin, but is also used for bloating, poor digestion, and things like water filtration (2). Nature is cool. 

Charcoal is attracted to toxins and impurities in the skin. It binds to them and pulls them out of the pores when removed (3). It’s powerful, comes from nature, and actually works. It can’t get much better than that. Since it is powerful, it’s important to see how your skin reacts to it. Some people can use a charcoal based soap/cleanser daily. This can dry out your skin depending on your skin type. I recommend starting off with 1-2 times per week and seeing how you react. 

How exactly do you use charcoal on your skin?

1. Charcoal soap or cleanser. You can purchase a charcoal based cleanser or charcoal bar soap. Remember to see how your skin reacts since it can dry some people out. 

2. Charcoal face mask. You can purchase activated charcoal and make your own face mask using this recipe. You will notice that this recipe not only uses activated charcoal, but also bentonite clay and a few other ingredients. They are all amazing for your skin. This is a great DIY if you want to go that route. You could also purchase a charcoal based face mask. Just make sure you are reading the ingredients. Beauty products are extremely under regulated and can contain harmful ingredients that will do the opposite of what we are looking for here. 

I like the No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask from Beautycounter (read more about how I’m involved with them below). It uses charcoal powder and kaolin clay to bind to impurities in the skin and help get rid of toxins. You can use it 2-3 times per week depending on how your skin reacts. If your skin feels dry after the initial use, then I recommend starting with once a week. You can also use it as spot treatment for acne. It scores as an overall 2 on the EWG app, and is verified as a top choice for masks. 

 

A great (and free) app for checking the toxic levels of beauty products is the EWG Health Living app. Whenever I’m unsure of a brand or product I always look it up. You can also use it to find good brands to try. Download it and start decreasing your toxic load now. 

Best Practices for Using a Charcoal Mask

1. You want to make sure you are starting with clean skin prior to applying the mask. Use a cleanser or cleansing bar to clean your skin then gently dry. I use this charcoal cleansing bar. 

2. Now apply an even layer of your charcoal mask and let sit for 10 minutes. Don’t go longer than 15-20 minutes as the charcoal will dry out your skin. You really only need 10 though. 

 

3. After the 10 minutes are up, wash off your mask off and apply a toner and moisturizer. I use this toner and 2 drops of this facial oil. It helps moisturize skin and evens out skin tone. I have some red areas on my face that have greatly improved from using this. Plus your skin feels amazing. Beautycounter has 2 other types of face oils, toners, and masks for different skin types. 

 

Beautycounter & Better Beauty Products

I do a lot of DIY (make my own body butters, cleaning products), but I recently found Beautycounter (which I linked to above) and discovered that they have a lot of amazing products. Not only that, but a great mission. There are certain products that I think you can DIY easily, but others that are 100% worth it to buy (I will eventually do a post on that). For me, the charcoal mask and charcoal cleansing bar are worth it. 

Beautycounter is a B corporation, which means they have a positive impact on society, their workers, the community, and the environment. They are held to a specific standard in order to remain a B corporation and hold themselves to an even higher standard. The mission is not just to get everyone using Beautycounter, but to educate people on less toxic beauty products in general. It’s an extremely important topic to raise awareness about and can have such a positive impact on someone’s life, which is why I’m so passionate about it. And why I decided to join their team. I’m now a Beautycounter consultant and could not be more proud. This does mean that I may earn commission off of some of the links in this post. I only ever link to products I actually use and love. I also don’t use Beautycounter exclusively and will continue to share other brands and products I love. 

 If you would like to learn more about Beautycounter and their products, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can email me at amandamontalvord@ gmail.com. 

Resources

(1) State of the Air 2016: http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/healthy-air/state-of-the-air/sota-2016-full.pdf

(2) Activated Charcoal–Past, Present, and Future: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1306980/

(3) Down & Dirty by Emma Hobson; The International Dermal Institute: http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/index.php?action=browse&subAction=subjects&publisherID=128&journalID=21370&pageb=1&userQueryID=&sort=&local_page=1&sorType=&sorCol=

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