Whether it’s for pearly whites or as a hangover helper, activated charcoal is garnering much-deserved attention as the latest wellness and beauty do-it-all.
While Gwenyth Paltrow has waxed lyrical about the benefits of activated charcoal for a booze-induced upset tummy, there’s actually a host of wellness and beauty can-dos with this simple yet potent ingredient.
A health go-to for more than 10,000 of years, activated charcoal is a carbon-based porous powder—usually sold in capsule or powder form, traditionally to be taken orally to alleviate symptoms of food poisoning, nausea and urinary tract infections. However, in the age of wellness, activated charcoal is also becoming known for so much more.
Said to absorb up to 200 times its weight in impurities, the black beauty has been adopted as a topical must-have, blended with anything from oats to aloe vera to make purifying face treatments and clarifying hair masks—or simply used as double duty to banish mouth bacteria and foster pearly whites.
How Activated Charcoal is Made
Activated charcoal goes through a natural process before becoming the popular bacteria binder. Burning materials such as wood or coconut shells forms carbon. High temperature then removes the oxygen before it’s activated with steam. The result? A highly magnetic substance that binds poisons, heavy metals, chemicals and intestinal gases.
“Carbon is 100% alkaline and is spinning with electrons making the substance highly electrical,” says James Colquhoun, nutritionist and Food Matters filmmaker. “Carbon’s negative ionic charge attracts positive ionic charges (of toxins and poisons) causing them to bind and then escorts them out of the body via the eliminative channel of the intestines.”
However, some health practitioners say while topical beauty uses haven’t shown any documented adverse reactions, taking activated charcoal internally should be reserved for times it’s really needed, such as for bouts of food poisoning.
Carbon’s negative ionic charge attracts positive ionic charges (of toxins and poisons) causing them to bind and then escorts them out of the body via the eliminative channel of the intestines.
Contraindications: When taken internally in high doses, activated charcoal binds with and eliminates vitamins, drugs and other nutrients. For acute cases, take activated charcoal for a brief period of time under the supervision of your naturopath or other health practitioner. Ensure lost nutrients are replaced. Activated charcoal will not adsorb cyanide and is not recommended for corrosive acids or alkalids. Consult with your naturopath, or other health practitioner in these situations.
Crunchy Betty’s Activated Charcoal Scrub
- 1/4 c. finely ground oats
- 1/4 c. white rice flour
- 1/8 c. finely ground almonds
- 2 Tbsp cosmetic clay (fuller’s earth, bentonite, kaolin, french green, or rhassoul)
- 1 Tbsp ground dried calendula
- 1 Tbsp ground chamomile
- 1 tsp activated charcoal
- 1/4 tsp evening primrose oil
- 7 drops turmeric resin oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Grind oats, almonds, calendula, and chamomile into a powder (the almonds won’t look powdery). Mix together in a small bowl, and add in the rice flour, clay, and activated charcoal. Mix well. Drop-by-drop, add in the evening primrose oil, turmeric resin oil, and peppermint essential oil, stirring well after every drop. Place the scrub back into the food processor, and let it run for another 30 seconds.
To Use as a Scrub: Place 1/2 tsp in the palm of your hand or in a small dish. Add a bit of water, milk, almond or coconut milk, or witch hazel (for extra oily skin) and allow it to soak into the scrub for 30 or so seconds. Wet your face with water, and then apply the scrub, in light circular motions, around your face. Scrub for 30 seconds to a minute. Rinse well. Moisturise. Love your skin.
To Use as a Mask: Mix together 1-1/2 Tbsp scrub with 1 Tbsp water or milk. Spread onto a clean face. Allow to dry for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well. It will be tingly and refreshing.
Recipe courtesy www.crunchybetty.com