The It List: 14 charcoal products to add to your beauty routine

Charcoal in skincare? It’s actually more common than you think! Activated charcoal is a fine black powder processed at very high temperatures, making it more porous than regular charcoal. Because of this feature, activated charcoal has many different uses, including as an oral treatment for poison because it binds with different toxins.

When used in skincare, it is believed that the sponge-like structure of activated charcoal makes it effective at absorbing dirt and oil. As an oily skinned gal, I often see activated charcoal as a featured ingredient in products prescribed for my skin type, but it can also be used in small amounts by those with dry and sensitive skin. Charcoal works well for providing physical exfoliation and unclogging pores. If your skin feels like it could benefit from a deep cleanse, consider adding some charcoal-powered products into your routine!

RA&Gowoori Real Kill 9.9 Charcoal Foam Cleanser (P390 for 120ml)

Despite having foam in its name, this is actually a low-lather cleanser with a very mild, almost unnoticeable scent. In my experience, this cleanser helped to lessen the formation of pimples during my monthly period.

Human Heart Nature Pollution Defense Face Cleanser (P245 for 100ml)

This SLS-free cleanser contains bentonite clay to clean out the pores and moringa seed oil to help protect from pollutants. It feels runnier than most cleansers, and has a strong but pleasant citrus scent.

Pond’s Pure White Pollution Out + Purity Facial Foam (P19 for 10g sachet)

Cheap and easily available, this facial wash promises to absorb dirt and grime with activated charcoal and to brighten the skin with niacinamide. The scent is mild, too.


Mediheal W.H.P White Hydrating Black Mask Ex (P149 at Watsons)

This mask helps unclog pores while still being hydrating, thanks to the inclusion of ceramides. It also has niacinamide and arbutin to help whiten skin tone. Of the Mediheal masks that we’ve tried, this was our top pick for creating an instantly brighter complexion and smoother skin surface!

Bench Clearpore Charcoal Cleansing Strip (P22 at Bench)

One of the hardest-working nose strips available locally, the adhesive is very effective and takes out a good amount of blackheads and sebaceous filaments on and around the sides of my nose. While it’s very satisfying to clearly see them stuck on the black strip, do note that there are gentler and more efficient ways of keeping your pores clean.

Purederm Deep Cleansing Charcoal Peel Off Mask (P59 at Watsons)

If you find pore strips too painful or need extraction in a hard-to-reach area, peel-off masks may better suit your needs. This mask also a lot of fruit extracts to hydrate the skin at the same time, and you can get about 2 to 3 uses from a single packet.

Pretty Secret Black Facial Charcoal Mask (P79 at Watsons)

Niacinamide is high up the ingredients list of this mask, to help even out the skin tone. It’s just a bit surprising that the price has risen considerably since we first featured this mask, at just P45 two years ago.

Purederm Deep Purifying Charcoal Bubble Mask (P99 at Watsons)

This bubble mask is so much fun! It started to bubble up immediately after I put it on. The bubbles are supposed to help remove dirt and dead skin cells, and they produced tingling sensation that felt like a mild facial massage. My face also felt more hydrated after rinsing it off.

Daiso Japan Natural Pack Charcoal Peel Off Pack (P88 at Daiso Japan)

I consider this to be the OG charcoal mask, as it was the first charcoal mask to become popular locally. This peel-off mask does have a strong alcohol smell to it, but it applies smoothly. Once it dries, just carefully peel it off and it takes away a good amount of blackheads and whiteheads with it. Apply only to congested parts of your face - meaning, it doesn’t have to be a full face application - and make sure not to get it on any active pimples.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask (P1,500 at Origins)

Charcoal is the active ingredient in this mask but this clay mask really packs a punch with by combining three types of clay: kaolin, bentonite, and montmorillonite. Despite being a clay mask, the texture is so creamy that it glides on easily on the face. Liz has raved over the original variant but it’s also worth checking out the new Honey variant, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.

Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask (P3,100 at Freyja)

This mask combines black moor mud, hijiki seaweed, volcanic ash, and activated charcoal to decongest the skin without being drying. The moor mud is completely odorless, applies smoothly, and is easy to rinse off.

Pretty Secret Oil Blotting Paper Bamboo Charcoal (P59 for 60 sheets at Watsons)

The larger-than-usual size of these sheets means you can cover more area in one go. The combination of charcoal and calcium carbonate also seem to make these sheets more absorbent than the average oil blotting sheet, so we’d definitely pick this over the other Pretty Secret variants.

Fresh Skin Lab Oil Blotting Paper Bamboo Charcoal (P129 with dispenser, P49 for refill at Watsons)

If pulling out sheets from a pack seems like a hassle, then this roll-type dispenser might be just the thing you need! I find it very handy to use this instead of having to carefully pull out from a paper sleeve, and you can just refill as needed.

Happy Skin #Skipthefilter Skin Perfecting Super Absorbent Charcoal Blotting Sheets (P149 at Happy Skin)

Happy Skin amped up their blotting sheets by combining charcoal, calcium carbonite, and kaolin to maximize oil absorption. Apart from wicking away oil, these large sheets also have a very fine powder to help keep the face stay matte longer. It seems to work the same way as the Sanrio version but has a slightly cheaper price tag.

Whether for deep cleaning pores or keeping oil under control, charcoal can definitely benefit any skincare routine. Have you tried any charcoal products yet? What products have worked well for you?