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23 Mar

Are charcoal masks actually good for your skin?

Until now, the concept of ‘coal’ was truly one connoted with more bad than good. Enter the fad of activated charcoal masks and it’s a whole new ballgame for the vanity market. However, does the product actually do wonders for your skin as all the beauty gurus suggest or does that dark murky black mask end up ruining that perfect beauty regimen? Well, if Khloe Kardashian is anybody to go by, then there is no other better option.



However, before jumping onto the bandwagon, we decided to ask certified dermatologist, Azeemah Nakhoda (Dr Tasneem Nakhoda’s daughter) whether all the jazz is actually true!

 

 

Something Haute: What do you think about the current popularity of activated charcoal masks?

Azeemah Nakhoda: Charcoal masks are an intriguing trend because black dirty looking charcoal and shiny spotless skin do not seem to go well together. The vast difference between sooty coal and a clean face, and the ability of the prior to causing the latter is one of the reasons people are so fascinated by this idea. I personally believe that charcoal mask is the natural evolution of the (deep sea) mud mask fad.

Something Haute: Does it actually have any positive effects on the skin?

AN: Activated charcoal is basically treated carbon particles that can easily absorb any kind of foreign particles on your skin. Its increased surface area allows it to adsorb dirt, oil and any kind of bacteria that it comes in contact with. Although there are no studies proving the efficacy of this treatment for aesthetic purposes, it has been used medically to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses due to its impressive ability to adsorb toxins. It is also used in the treatment of water that is contaminated with petroleum, demonstrating its capacity for sucking up oil. Therefore, it is easy to extrapolate that it would do the same for the surface of your skin. We are yet to see studies proving that it also binds to skin oil (sebum). *More can be read here.

Something Haute: Do you feel that it’s another passing trend?

AN: What activated charcoal lacks in scientific evidence, it makes up for in the number of advocates who endorse charcoal’s magical abilities to cleanse the deepest pores and purify the oiliest dermis. Be it reality or placebo, the results are undeniable for many, allowing it to be a trend that is here to stay.

 

 

Something Haute: In Pakistan, we find many unknown companies importing off-brand charcoal masks; do you think that could be damaging?

AN: The body does not metabolize charcoal, nor can it be absorbed or adsorbed into the human body. It is inert so it won’t cause allergic reactions or irritate sensitive skin. In essence, it is a very safe product, so off-brand companies that state that their only active ingredient is charcoal should be just as safe to use as branded products. However, most branded and off branded charcoal skin-care products will contain other more “scientifically proven” ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or other surfactants that have been used since years to cleanse the skin. Therefore, when you’re wondering if it was the charcoal in the mask or skin care product that did the job, it was most likely be the real active ingredient (the usual suspects of cleansing products) that will perform their function.

Regardless of which brand you choose to go with, it is always important to patch test any new product on your skin first. Even the most trusted brands can have a negative reaction on your face, and even the most no-name product can prove to be a lifesaver.

Something Haute: What is a good alternative to charcoal masks?

AN: A good alternative to charcoal masks is a manual extraction treatment by the name of Hydrafacial MD available at Dr. Tasneem Nakhoda’s clinic; it cleanses deep pores and removes white and black heads that have accumulated on the surface of the skin. It sucks out all the oil and replaces it with serums that keep the skin hydrated rather than drying it out. Leaving a slick shiny appearance and a minty clean feeling. Hydrafacial MD treatments also treat acne due to their infusion of salicylic and glycolic acid, which are scientifically proven to reduce active acne.

If you are a charcoal mask lover your next step is to get a Carbon Peel treatment available at Dr. Tasneem Nakhoda’s clinic. A carbon powder is applied to your face after which a pass of laser removes the remaining carbon particles from the surface of the skin. This treatment is proven to be a solution for active acne, reducing pore size, evening out skin tone and leaving behind radiant and firmer skin.

  • Watch this space on our feedback on the facial; we will be trying it out soon! And till then, post your questions to Azeemah Nakhoda here and we’ll get answers for you!

Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.