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What Are the Skin Care and Beauty Benefits of Charcoal Soap?

A bar of sudsy charcoal soap; a tube of a charcoal mask; a bar of charcoal soap broken in half
Herbivore/Origins/Herbivore

Charcoal soap is one of the hottest skin care trends in recent years, but what’s the deal? How does it work? Is it worth using? How do you get the most out of rubbing charcoal all over yourself? Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re not familiar with it, however, the idea of using literal charcoal on your face can sound a bit intimidating. You might be surprised to know that it’s actually a very common, safe, and beneficial ingredient that can clear up blemishes and leave your face glowing. Here’s everything you need to know about giving your skin a boost with easy-to-use charcoal soap.

What Is Charcoal Soap Made Of?

Bars of charcoal soap with white wrappers
Herbivore

Charcoal soap is, as you probably guessed, made from charcoal as a primary ingredient. Different bars of soap may use different ingredients as the base for the charcoal.

Of course, the charcoal isn’t the only ingredient in a charcoal soap. Since charcoal soap typically comes in a bar, rather than a liquid or gel wash, it may include common bar soap ingredients like glycerin. Many charcoal soaps are often lightly scented with natural oils, like tea tree, lavender, bergamot, citrus, or others. Since these soaps are designed to be purifying, though, you’re unlikely to find one that has a strong scent or a bunch of artificial dyes and perfumes.

For instance, the Herbivore Bamboo Charcoal Bar uses all-natural bamboo-based charcoal for a clean soap that is friendly both to the environment and to your skin.

How Does Charcoal Soap Work?

A bar of charcoal soap broken in half; a hand holding a bar of charcoal soap with suds
Herbivore

The main goal of charcoal soap is to purify and detox. Charcoal itself is well-known for its strong absorption abilities, meaning that it can draw out and absorb impurities from deep in your pores. Then, the soap lets all those pore-clogging and blemish-causing bits wash away when you rinse the suds off your face.

Anyone can use charcoal soap, but it’s especially beneficial for anyone struggling with uneven texture, acne, and general blemishes. Charcoal works to draw out the toxins that cause acne and redness, while also gently exfoliating the skin. It works for most skin types, helping you achieve smoother, brighter skin with a minimum of extra ingredients.

Is Charcoal Soap Safe for My Face?

A tube of charcoal mask product; a woman holding up a tube in front of her face, which is covered in charcoal mask
Origins

Absolutely! Like any other skin care product, you’ll want to make sure to test it out before incorporating it as a regular part of your routine. Check the ingredient list of any soap you’re considering to make sure that it doesn’t include any ingredients that you know you’re sensitive to. The only thing to watch out for is that charcoal soap can be a little bit drying for some skin types, so make sure you have a reliable moisturizer in your routine to keep the dryness at bay.

Charcoal is a popular skin care ingredient for face masks as well as soaps. If you’re looking for even more purifying power, consider a charcoal mask like the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. A more intense active charcoal formula, which also includes white clay, is designed to draw out all the impurities and environmental toxins that are irritating your face. Leave it on just for 10-20 minutes, once or twice a week, and you’ll see a big difference.

Is Charcoal Soap Safe for My Body?

Two square bars of charcoal soap
The Yellow Bird

It definitely is! You might decide not to use charcoal soap every day on your body, since, as with the skin on your face, your skin can get a little dried out if you’re not careful. However, it’s fantastic for purifying and deep cleansing. Consider adding it to your routine especially for times when you need a little extra cleansing power, like when you’re switching deodorants or after a workout.

Look for an all-natural charcoal bar soap like the Yellow Bird Activated Charcoal Soap Bar. Made from activated charcoal, it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin but powerful enough to help clear up body acne. Made from all-natural and organic ingredients, including moisturizing shea butter, it also has a calming lavender and lemongrass scent for a clean, fresh scent and feel.

The Yellow Bird Activated Charcoal Soap Bar

All-natural charcoal soap cleans gently but thoroughly.


Now that you’re comfortable with the charcoal trend, you might feel ready to try out some of the other hottest skin care trends. Whether you’re clearing your complexion with niacinamide or hydrating and revitalizing with rose water, the sky’s the limit with customizing your beauty routine with unique ingredients!

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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