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Charcoal Peel Off Mask Benefits and Side Effects

by Sandy Taylor

Activated charcoal peel off masks have been on the market for quite a few years and they remain one of the most popular facial cleansing products of all time. Everyone in the beauty community is literally obsessed with these masks because they provide an extremely satisfying feeling when you peel them off. Although the stuff you pull out of your skin looks nasty, it simply feels amazing to have a fresh face once the mask is off.

But do you know what you’re putting on your face? If you have skin conditions like rosacea or eczema, would this work for you? The Aliceva Black Mask is one of my favorite charcoal peel off masks because its free of harsh chemicals and works well on sensitive skin.

In this post, we will go over some of the benefits and side effects of using charcoal peel off masks.


What is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is carbon that has been processed in a special way. It is micro-porous, meaning it has a large number of small pores. This micro-porosity gives the activated charcoal a larger surface area.

The larger surface area allows for maximum absorption. When it comes to skincare, this is the ultimate goal. Activated charcoal is able to absorb a large amount of the dirt and toxins clogging up your pores.

You will sometimes hear activated charcoal described as something that acts like a magnet for dirt and toxins. This isn’t exactly true, in that there is nothing about the activated charcoal that directly attracts the things clogging up your pores.

It can seem like there is a magnet effect, though, because of how well the activated charcoal absorbs those things. When put into contact with dirt and oil, the charcoal will absorb it.

It is the micro-porosity of activated charcoal that makes it such a powerful skincare tool. More surface area means more absorption.

How do Charcoal Face Masks Work?

A charcoal face mask works by applying activated charcoal over the surface area of your face. The activated charcoal can then do its job as a super-absorber, attaching itself to dirt, oil, toxins, and impurities.
To help visualize how good activated charcoal is at absorption, check out this video:

You can think of the water as your skin and the blue chemical as the dirt and oil on your skin. The charcoal face mask works in the same way, by absorbing what you don’t want so you’re left with clear, fresh skin.

After you apply the face mask to your skin, it has time to settle in do its job. Ideally, nearly the entire surface area of all the little pieces of charcoal powder within the mask will have a chance to grab onto something. When you remove the face mask, the dirt, oil, toxins, and impurities will stick to the charcoal and will leave your pores.

Activated charcoal has a gritty texture, so charcoal face masks can also provide exfoliation. Applying the face mask and the process of removing its aid in the exfoliation process.

What are the Benefits of Charcoal Peel-off Face masks?

Charcoal peel-off face masks have a number of potential benefits. First, they can help pull out more dirt, oil, and toxins from your pores thanks to the larger surface area and porous nature of the activated charcoal.

According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, activated charcoal is known for having “antibacterial and anti-fungal properties” so these masks can help remove dangerous impurities.

Charcoal peel-off face masks also feature many of the same benefits you get from other face masks. These include cleansing, exfoliation, moisturization, and toning. Different face masks will offer focused ingredients that help certain things like acne-prone skin or aging skin.

Some of the benefits of face masks come from how long it is on your skin. Because it sits on your skin longer than a cleanser or other products do, it has more time to soak in. This lets it draw out what you don’t want while putting in what you do want.

What do Dermatologists say about Charcoal Peel-Off Face masks?

Dermatologists are somewhat conflicted about the efficacy of charcoal peel-off facemasks. Many dermatologists, including Dr. Jaliman, recommend the use of activated charcoal facemasks because of their superior ability to draw out dirt, oil, and environmental pollutants.

Dr. Jessica Wu explained to Women’s Health that activated charcoal is safe and won’t irritate skin or cause allergic reactions but that it might not be doing all that much. Wu says that charcoal peel-off face masks are likely effective because of other ingredients and not the charcoal itself.

Other dermatologists have spoken out about the potential downsides of some charcoal peel-off face masks. Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Health that skin and hair can stick to the charcoal in the same way blackheads do. Thus, removing the peel-off charcoal mask can be painful.

To prevent pain, Dr. Jaliman recommends exfoliating before applying the mask. Check out this video for an explanation of why exfoliation is important and some tips on how to do it:


Will Charcoal Face masks Damage My skin? What are the Side Effects?

Some dermatologists warn that there is more to be concerned about than just pain. Some even warn of the risk of permanent damage. According to Dr. Anne Trussell, this could include enlarged pores, scarring, and permanent hypo-pigmentation in people with darker skin tones.

Most dermatologists, though, don’t see anything that makes charcoal face masks any worse than other face masks. A notable exception is the DIY charcoal face masks people are making with glue. Dermatologists agree that these are dangerous.

Even worse are charcoal masks being sold online from unregulated vendors. These often include glue and sometimes even super glue. Dermatologists like Dr. Seth Forman warn that these masks can lead to scarring or infection since they tend to remove layers of skin.

Charcoal peel-off face masks that are FDA-approved are safe and may even be dermatologist recommended. There isn’t hard evidence of the good they can do, but there is plenty to suggest that activated charcoal does a superior job of cleaning out your pores. Just make sure to choose an FDA-approved product to avoid damaging your skin.

How to Peel off Charcoal Mask without Pain

The best way to peel off a charcoal mask without pain is to peel it off right after it dries. Charcoal masks begin to absorb oil, dirt and dead skin from your face as soon as it’s applied. If left on the face for an extended amount of time, the mask will deplete your skin of its natural oils, making it painful upon mask removal. 

The average amount of time required for 1 layer of the charcoal mask to dry on your skin is around 10 minutes. Therefore, the best time to peel off a charcoal mask without pain is also around the 10 minute mark. 

How to Make Activated Charcoal Mask for Blackheads

Here’s a great DIY recipe for creating a peel-off activated charcoal mask for blackheads that you can make at home:

DIY Activated Charcoal Mask for Blackheads
Easy to make peel-off activated charcoal mask for blackheads that can be made at home!
Check out this recipe


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