Image of activated charcoal powder on a wooden spoon

6 benefits to using activated charcoal on skin, teeth, hair & more.

Last Updated: August 3, 2021

Here’s how to use activated charcoal in your health and beauty routine to help clear your skin, whiten your teeth, refresh your hair, and improve your health.

Activated charcoal is the little black dress of the health and beauty scene. It appears in shampoo, toothpaste, face masks, and supplement capsules. This power-house product offers many benefits for your skin, hair, teeth, and overall health — and here’s a little info on how it does it.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.

But first, what is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal isn’t the kind you grill with, which may contain all sorts of harmful chemicals. Rather, it’s a powder composed of charred bone, peat, coconut shells, sawdust, or olive pits.

It's processed at extremely high temperatures or treated with substances that make it very porous and give it a mind-blowing amount of surface area — a football field’s worth in a single teaspoon, to be exact.

It’s also a popular ingredient in beauty products because of its variety of benefits, which stem from the adsorption qualities of this smooth, black powder. The charcoal attracts certain molecules and binds them to its vast surface.

Here’s a fascinating explanation of how activated charcoal works:

6 benefits of activated charcoal

Face masks illustration

1. Clearer skin, smaller pores, and less oil

Activated charcoal pulls out toxins and other impurities from your skin to leave it extra-clean. Use a face mask and cleanser with activated charcoal to reduce acne and create a clearer complexion. It also makes your pores smaller and limits excess oil.

Only use these types of cleansers on your face once or twice a week to avoid dry skin and redness, and follow up with a face mask that includes a quality natural moisturizer like hyaluronic acid.


Does activated charcoal help bug bites?

Yes, it adsorbs the toxins that make bug bites itch, so use a charcoal cleanser the next time insects eat you alive.

It’ll help beat the itch and reduce swelling and pain associated with bites. Activated charcoal bandages help protect cuts and scrapes against infection.

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Illustration of green toothbrush

2. Whitens teeth

We actually tested this one out here at Grove to see if activated charcoal works as a teeth-whitener — and the answer is yes, it really does whiten teeth.

Activated charcoal toothpaste adsorbs molecules to remove surface stains on your teeth and make them whiter and brighter over time.

Activated charcoal powder is more abrasive than most toothpaste, and on its own, it can wear away tooth enamel and may cause tooth decay over time. Most charcoal toothpaste is far gentler than straight-up activated powder, so you can use it more often.

Illustration of hair braided down back with shampoo bottle and bubbles in background

3. Volumizes hair and reduces dandruff

Activated charcoal shampoo pulls impurities out of your hair and eliminates excess oil and product from your strands. Charcoal is naturally gentle, so it won't get rid of healthy moisture — but it'll leave your mane clean and voluminous.

A natural shampoo and conditioner with activated charcoal treat your scalp to a deep clean, reducing redness, minimizing dandruff, and relieving dry, itchy skin.

What are some other health benefits of activated charcoal?

If you haven’t guessed, it isn't just great for your skin, teeth, and hair. Take it as a capsule to benefit your health — but consult with your doctor before you add activated charcoal to the list of supplements you take.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Activated charcoal as a poison treatment

Studies show that activated charcoal, if taken after ingesting a poison — including medication, an illicit drug, or alcohol — reduces the absorption of the toxin into the bloodstream by as much as 74 percent.

The adsorptive qualities of activated charcoal bind toxins to its surface and reduce the effects of the toxin. Contact your doctor or the Poison Control Center for advice on taking or administering activated charcoal after poisoning or drug overdoses.

Activated charcoal to cure a hangover

Take activated charcoal along with your adult beverages to reduce blood alcohol levels, and you might just avoid that dreaded hangover.

And if you do end up with a hangover, take another dose the day after. You may have an easier go of it as the charcoal adsorbs the toxic remains of your good time.

Or find more natural hangover remedies if activated charcoal isn’t for you.

Improve kidney health with activated charcoal

If you suffer from kidney issues, activated charcoal can adsorb some of the waste your kidneys filter and reduce their workload.

Researchers are currently studying the potential of activated charcoal to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. Talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements to improve kidney function.

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