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Dirty Love

Dirty Love – the power of charcoal


Since I got so involved with Korean skincare I have come across a pretty great black sheet face mask. Apart from dripping black-tinted liquid all over the sink and myself, I got quite taken with the unusual color and the main ingredient of the face mask: activated charcoal. I thought I would dig deeper into this particular skincare element as I haven’t had an encounter with activated charcoal since that food poisoning I had when I was in 10th grade. My mother insisted activated charcoal was the best way to go and I sure enough it helped like a charm. Turned out, it wasn’t yet another weird thing my mother was pushing on me (like when she insisted I had to swallow a tablespoonful of dry yeast every morning before school because she wanted to fix my gut. True story and also worth mentioning – never once complained about my gut).


Activated charcoal is and has been for a long time widely used to treat all sorts of poisonings and even drug overdoses. It is definitely some powerful stuff. That’s because activated charcoal, which is carbon that has been treated to increase its absorbency, works by attaching to toxins in the stomach and absorbing them before the bloodstream can. As far as I gather, the theory behind activated charcoal mechanism in beauty products is the same: it acts like a magnet to attract and absorb toxins in your skin.


I thought I’d give activated charcoal a try beyond the sheet masks, and went ahead and got a pack of activated charcoal tablets from the pharmacy. I also picked up some bentonite clay and a pack of gelatine (keep reading). It took me a while to find a recipe for the charcoal face mask that won’t be too difficult to wash off – but here’s a great recipe you should also try out. http://naturallyhandcrafted.com/body-care-product-recipes/face-care-product-recipes/diy-activated-charcoal-deep-pore-cleansing-mask/ It doesn’t need washing off because (ding-ding-ding) it’s a peel-off mask and it won’t slip away and drip all over your sink.


There are a fair few beauty bloggers out there that make their charcoal peel-off masks with glue. To that I say, Hell no, not for me. Do you guys even know what your standard glue is made of? And why are you OK with putting that chemical cocktail on your skin?! Gals (and dudes), do not experiment with that stuff – use gelatin. Safe and very gentle on even the most sensitive skin.


Anyway, let’s get cooking! You’ll need:


  • 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal powder
  • ½ tsp bentonite clay
  • 2 tbsp water


Take a fairly large bowl that will fit comfortably on top of a saucepan (you’ll need this step later on). Mix your tablespoon of gelatin together with the two tablespoons of water, and immediately proceed to add the charcoal and the clay. Keep mixing, you want a smooth paste without any lumps. Once done, heat up the mixture, and this is where you put your bowl on top a saucepan with a few inches of water in it. This contraption is routinely referred to as a double boiler.

Once the mixture thickens to the consistency of honey (about 10 minutes) take the bowl off the saucepan and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool off. Check the mixture before putting it on your face to avoid burning yourself, and don’t forget your mask in the freezer either! You don’t want it to freeze and turn into jelly. You want gooey spreadable stuff.


Once ready, take yourself and your charcoal peel-off face mask to the bathroom with a brush at the ready. Use a stiffer brush for mask applications that you don’t mind ever again using for makeup. I’ve seen girls use Real Technique brushes for that purpose but I think Real Techniques are excellent for makeup application so maybe pick up a cheap brush from a drug store anywhere for a couple of bucks, Elf brand is superb for that purpose.


Carefully apply the mask on your forehead, nose and chin. Might be wise to avoid slapping the mixture all over your face as the blogger who thought this recipe up warns that it can be uncomfortable peeling the mask off your entire face – the thing sticks on properly!


If peeling off becomes too much, you can also wash the mask off with water.


Wait until the mask is completely and thoroughly dry on your face before pulling it off or it won’t work as well at clearing your pores. It might be a bit of a wait so you need time and patience.


All in all, I enjoyed my little DIY mask adventure, but I have to say I do prefer the store-bought stuff purely because it’s faster and more convenient. Here are a few activated charcoal skincare products to pick up from the store to try out:


Charcoal Makeup Melter Cleansing Oil-Balm by Boscia. I like Boscia products, they are formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, are free of preservatives, artificial fragrances, color, and ethanol alcohol.


Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask by Origins http://www.sephora.com/clear-improvement-active-charcoal-mask-to-clear-pores-P297524?skuId=1375773&icid2=


Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask by Clinique



Have fun with these and stay clean!





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After learning about how some skin care companies care so much about profits that they will even put out bad products, I put together this site. But frankly, anyone that is selling things that can hurt customers is in my sights.


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