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Activated Charcoal: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful


Activated charcoal has attracted a lot of attention in the past year or two. This popular ingredient is used in many organic skincare and dental care products. It’s versatility means it can be used in powder and paste forms — and even infused in toothbrush bristles.

Activated charcoal has developed a fan-following due to its remarkable abilities to detox and cleanse your skin and teeth. It can also help with moisture control while sweating. If you haven’t jumped on the trend yet, let’s take a look at why you should.

The Good

Activated charcoal has many good qualities that stem from the way it’s formed. First of all, it’s not the charcoal you use for your outdoor grill.

Pure charcoal is actually carbon. When compressed into charcoal briquettes, the absorptive properties of the carbon is lost, and you end up with a tasty way to grill your burgers and corn in the summer.

On the other hand, charcoal becomes “activated” when oxygen is introduced. At a microscopic level, activated charcoal holds millions of pockets that are ready to absorb acids and bacteria. This helps detox your skin and tooth enamel. Those pockets also help hold moisture and sweat when charcoal is used in a deodorant.

The Bad

While activated charcoal doesn’t have many downsides, there is one major issue. This ingredients can produce different results in different people. For some, activated charcoal can work wonders, while others might find that it makes no discernible difference at all.

When using pure charcoal to brush your teeth with or when ingesting it as a detox, there can be side effects. Charcoal — on its own — is so effective at detoxing your body that it can pull good nutrients from your gut. They’ll be disposed of and never absorbed for your body to use. This can also be true with any medications you’ve taken close to the time of ingesting charcoal.

The Beautiful

The beautiful part about activated charcoal is its ease of use and many applications. When mixed with other ingredients, it can produce amazing results for your oral health, skin and hair.

When used for oral health — such as in toothpowder and toothbrush bristles — it can help in the following ways:

  • Helps to detoxify and remineralize tooth enamel
  • Reduces occurrence and buildup of plaque
  • Brightens and whitens tooth enamel
  • Reduces staining of the enamel from tea or coffee or other dark colored beverages
  • Its antibacterial qualities keep gums in good condition
  • Helps to prevent bad breath

Activated charcoal is also popularly used for skin in the form of masks, creams, cleansers and even scrubs. It can help your skin in the following different ways:

  • Cleans and detoxifies pores and blackheads
  • Maintains healthy sebum levels
  • Reduces acne
  • Reduces inflammation and redness
  • Helps to get rid of dark spots
  • When used in deodorant, it helps adsorb wetness

It is becoming more common to use on hair. Usually available in the form of shampoo, activated charcoal offers the following benefits:

  • Helps to reduce dandruff by controlling production of sebum
  • Helps with itchiness of the scalp
  • Can help relieve redness
  • Can help relieve scalp sensitivity

Is it in your skincare?

At Primal Life Organics, we love activated charcoal. We use it in a few of our products to give their benefits a boost. You can find it in certain flavors of Dirty Mouth Toothpowder and Boost Whitening Paste as extra whitening power; Charcoal Ion Toothbrush for added stain-fighting power; and certain scents of Stick Up deodorant for powerful help on extra sweaty days.

What have you used activated charcoal for? Did you notice a difference in your skin, hair or teeth? Let me know in the comments!

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