Nobody is a fan of those terrible blackheads and many will do whatever it takes to get rid of the dark impurities collecting in their pores.

A blackhead forms due to the collection of oils produced by the sebaceous glands, mixed with dead skin cells which become exposed to the outside atmosphere. The contact with oxygen turns the oil and skin debris combination into those unsightly dark spots that no one likes to see.

Luckily, with the explosion of activated charcoal just about everywhere you look, you now have a natural treatment for blackhead relief and removal. Activated charcoal in its natural form is all the rage these days. What was once used as a go to effective rudimentary poison detox is now being used to treat constipation and whiten teeth.

While ingesting anything foreign such as activated charcoal can have its benefits, it can also come with potential complications.

Lately, users of the all-in-one product have moved to praising its ability to be used in skincare. Activated charcoal is extremely porous in nature, allowing it to penetrate deep into the skin to treat a variety of potential issues from deep removal of dead skin cells, to blackhead removal.

The focus here will be to let you know all about how to use activated charcoal to remove blackheads.

Chemical Makeup of Activated Charcoal


The answer to activated charcoal lies deep within its chemical composition.

Activated carbon is created from the controlled burning of any pure carbon source. This source can include wood, coconut husks, peat, and a variety of other carbon sources that when burned, leave nothing but pure carbon behind.

However, not just any carbon source will work its magic. Unless the carbon is properly activated, you’ll just be smearing ash on your face. While it may be fun to draw on your face, it won’t do much in terms of actually helping you. The activation process can occur in two ways, both of which lead to the carbon becoming carbonized.

Chemical Carbonization


charcoal carbon fuel heat embers

Image via: Pixabay

For a carbon source such as wood to become carbonized, it must be transformed from this original state into a carbon-rich residue.

To decrease the likelihood of burning the source past its point of effectiveness, an acid, base, or salt, the result of an acid-base reaction, can be added to to the heated carbon. This pre-heat chemical addition will help slow down and control the process of reducing the source into a pliable and usable product and will greatly reduce the chance of heating the carbon too far and leaving it as nothing more than useless ash.

During the heating process, temperatures reach heights of between 600 and 900 degrees Celsius and the chemical add-on will eventually burn off in the heating, leaving the professional with nothing but the sought-after charcoal in its activated form.

Physical Carbonization


fire flame carbon burn hot

Image via: Pixabay

This method is distinct from the chemical activation method, in that there is no axis or salt helpers to control the burn.

Experts heat the wood, peat, or coconut husk up to between 600 and 900 degrees Celsius. During this process, there is very little room for error or oversight.

The heat is not from flame, as this would leave you with the same ended product as what you’re still trying to scrape off your grill back from Labor Day.

This heating process is much more delicate and involves the heating of stable gases such as pure nitrogen or argon. The carbon source is placed into a chamber, the gas is released, and the argon or nitrogen is heated, creating an extremely hot vacuum to denature the carbon source into its purest form.

Once the super heated carbon has reached its optimal temperature, it is immediately introduced to another chamber full of heated oxygen to get rid of any nitrogen or argon that might be left behind. This final heated oxygen chamber will leave the manufacturer with what the consumer will eventually run all over his her, or their face, and for good reason.

Activated charcoal is a tremendous remedy for blackheads and the reason for its effectiveness is fascinating.

How Activated Charcoal Works


Now that you know how activated charcoal is made, it’s time to look into the how of this trendy blemish remover. By activating the carbon is either of the two processes will yield a stripped down blackened substance with carbon all over its surface.

This carbon has now been chemically or physically woken up and would like nothing more than to be able to bind to things that are less than ideal.

The goal of activated charcoal is to remove something from the body that you don’t want there anymore. Whether it be removing plaque buildup from teeth, removing impurities from inside the body, or taking care of blockages within the digestive tract—activated charcoal uses its carbon to link up with the stuff that you want to get rid of. Activated charcoal in terms of skincare is no different.

Impurities tend to carry with them a positive charge, while the carbon in activated charcoal is negative in nature. You may have heard that opposites attract, and that is exactly why blackhead removal using activated charcoal works so well. The porous structure of the activated charcoal allows for impurities to pass through all the nooks and crannies.

To the naked eye, the charcoal will look similar to a sponge. Check it out on a microscopic level, and you’ll see a mesh-like structure allowing you to see all the spots where dirt, bacteria, and other debris can become trapped.

The outer carbon coating makes the impurities stick, and all of the reservoirs and divots keep them in the charcoal and out of your face. You could choose to rub a solid chunk of activated charcoal on your face, and it will work to an extent, but the most effective way to use the special carbon for skincare is in its ground down powdered form.

How to Create a Perfect Activated Charcoal Mask


The powdered form of activated charcoal has an increased surface area that will not only allow for a uniform layer to be spread out over the skin, but the finer the carbon is ground down—the better it will be at entering deep into the pours of the skin and latching onto those pesky blackheads that no one wants.

To create a mask to place on your T-Zone, the area including your nose and brows where blackheads like to reside, simply mix one tablespoon of activated charcoal with enough water to make a paste of sorts. Adding the water little by little will allow the charcoal to dampen uniformly and change to a spreadable form. 

Once the activated charcoal is of the perfect consistency, spread it on your T-Zone, cheek bones, and any of place on your face where you tend to get blackheads. Actually, to be on the safe side, you might as well cover up everything and make a full mask out of it. No matter what though, you should avoid your eyes and mouth.

Activated charcoal is sworn on by many to help with a wide range of internal issues, but just what was already stated, there are possible complications and side effects. Avoid all chances of potential issues by keeping this a true external mask.

After the charcoal and water blend is sitting exactly where you’d like it to, allow it to rest there for approximately 10 minutes. 

At the end of the 10-minute wait, the mask will become solid enough to peel off. Remove the mask in less time and the charcoal will not have adequate time to bind to the blackheads and you will have a big, slushy mess on your hands.

Leave it on longer than 10 minutes and the carbon will harden too much and may even become trapped in your pours. This can lead to blocked pores and more blemishes. You definitely don’t want that either. 10 minutes is the true sweet spot here to remove by peeling. 

Make sure you get rid of any leftover activated charcoal with a warm water watch. Pat dry instead of running dry to avoid any physical irritation that could make your pores inflamed and very unhappy.

To maximize results, perform three activated charcoal masks a week, leaving at least 24-hours between treatments to prevent creating an imbalance in the chemical composition—which can create a perfect environment for an acne outbreak.  

Key Takeaways on Using Activated Charcoal for Blackheads


Activated charcoal is everywhere right now and for good reason. The science and chemical procedures behind its creation are very effective in creating a magnet for blackheads.

Using the set it and absolutely don’t forget it approach, you can incrementally rid yourself of those pesky black dots that are so tremendously hard to separate from yourself.

See the effectiveness of activated charcoal firsthand by finding time for it in your skincare routine. Your pores will surely thank you.