mage of activated charcoal paste, representing a blog post on &Better's website discussing the truth and environmental impact of using activated charcoal in skincare

The Truth About Activated Charcoal: Should You Be Using It?

You may have seen activated charcoal being used in facial cleansers and body soaps and wondered if it is as good as people say. Well, the truth is that there isn't enough evidence to support the detoxifying and exfoliating claims that are often made about this ingredient. What's more, producing activated charcoal can have serious negative consequences for the environment.

What is activated charcoal?
Charcoal is a carbon residue that results from the slow heating of high-carbon-content materials like wood and coconut shells. According to WebMD, charcoal becomes activated “when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area.” The expanded surface area is porous and has a negative electrical charge. This means the activated charcoal will attract substances with a positive charge, like toxins.

Because of its negative charge, activated charcoal is often used in a medical setting to “treat drug overdoses or as an emergency anti-poison remedy”, according to Healthline.

What is activated charcoal doing in personal care products?

Recently, activated charcoal has become popular with personal care brands from shampoos to deodorants to teeth whitening products. The pitch is that the charcoal helps to draw out impurities in your body. However, the fact is there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.  

Why activated charcoal is not the best choice
And, what you may not know is that activated charcoal is not a socially responsible product. There are three main reasons for this:

  • First, charcoal is typically made from wood in areas with a tropical climate. Charcoal production causes deforestation and forest deterioration. 
  • In addition, the emissions of greenhouse gasses produced by charcoal manufacturing in these tropical locations are causing significant environmental issues. 
  • Furthermore, the people involved in the production of activated charcoal are exposed to social and public health risks.

What are alternatives to activated charcoal?

If you are looking for a product with exfoliating or detoxifying properties, pumice sand and bentonite clay are better alternatives.

Pumice sand
Pumice sand is a type of volcanic sand that is formed from the explosive eruption of a volcano. It is a light, porous, and abrasive material that is composed of small, frothy fragments of volcanic glass and minerals.

Used in skincare products such as facial and body scrubs, pumice sand is a particularly good exfoliant. The abrasive nature of pumice sand helps to slough off dead skin cells, revealing smoother and softer skin. It is a natural exfoliant that is gentler than some other exfoliants, such as microbeads or plastic particles, which can be harmful to the environment.

Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay is a type of clay that is formed from volcanic ash. It is composed primarily of montmorillonite, a mineral that is rich in a variety of beneficial minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron, and potassium.

Bentonite clay has a unique ability to absorb water and other liquids, and can swell up to 20 times its original size. This makes it useful in a variety of applications, including as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions, as a natural detoxifier, and as a natural skincare ingredient.

Bentonite clay is comPumice sand is a type of volcanic sand that is formed from the explosive eruption of a volcano. It is a light, porous, and abrasive material that is composed of small, frothy fragments of volcanic glass and minerals.monly used in facial masks and other skincare products, where it is believed to help draw out impurities and toxins from the skin. It can also be taken internally as a supplement to help detoxify the body, improve digestion, and support overall health and wellness.

Bottom Line:
Charcoal is non-toxic and safe for people to use, yet it is harmful to the environment and those who create it. 

At &Better, we always embrace better choices for our consumers, the environment, and society - even if it costs more. We choose to use pumice sand and bentonite clay as better alternatives to activated charcoal. It’s the better choice.

Learn more about our products and ingredients and Do Better!


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