Useful for so much more than barbecuing, charcoal has been highly prized as a skin care ingredient for decades. Beloved for its ability to absorb toxins and bacteria, its use can be traced as far back as the 1500s – relied upon by the Egyptians, as well as Chinese healers who dubbed it the ‘black diamond’ (charcoal and Tiffany sparklers are made of the very same stuff).

When ingested, charcoal removed toxins before the can be digested (it also works as a filter for water – which is why you’ll have seen all those posh see-through bottles with black sticks in them), and works similar wonders when used topically. So here are five key reasons to add charcoal to your daily skin care ritual.

It helps prevent breakouts

If you’re regularly plagued with acne or aggravated blemishes, using charcoal can help prevent future eruptions. In soap form - such as SkinOwl’s {Peppermint and Charcoal Beauty Bar} - the natural grit offers gentle exfoliation to get rid of pore-clogging dead surface cells (perfect if you’re prone to a dry, flaky complexion), while it acts like a magnet for dirt and impurities, to leave your skin supremely clean and less susceptible to spots.

It absorbs excess oil

As well as toxins and bacteria, charcoal is great for absorbing excess oil and sebum, so you’re less likely to suffer from the dreaded 'midday shine'. The {Pure Konjac Puff Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal} works as an exfoliating sponge and oil-absorbing cleanser - perfect for all those with oily, congested or combination complexions. Just follow up with a {mattifying primer} to keep grease at arm's-length all day long.

This also works wonders for oily or congested scalps. Too-often neglected, your scalp is the key to hair health and charcoal-infused products are a perfect way to equalise and help prolong the time between washes. Briogeo's bestselling {Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo} is brilliantly balancing - eliminating build-up while soothing unsettled, irritated skin.

It tightens pores

Due to its pore-blitzing prowess, charcoal helps to 'tighten' pores and make them look much smaller. So if you’re plagued with a pitted complexion, try Peter Thomas Roth’s {Irish Moor Mud Mask}; as well as hydrating and detoxifying the skin, it contains activated charcoal (a special type of charcoal, which has been painstakingly processed to maximise its surface area - meaning it can attract even more dirt and debris), to deep cleanse and help reduce pore visibility.

It brightens a dull complexion

Many of us have to suffer with dreary complexions – especially those of us living in polluted urban environments. But 'lacklustre' need not be our skin's default setting - by drawing out embedded impurities, your visage can recapture its lost radiance. If this description is resonating, opt for Odacité’s {Synergie[4] Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque} – a powdered mask which you mix with a teaspoon of water (or honey, or coconut oil - it comes with its own 'recipes'). Boasting a brightening 'dream team' of ingredients -including activated charcoal, enzymes, fruit acids and probiotics - it rapidly resuscitates depleted 'city skin'.

Your brushes will love it too

Not only does charcoal work wonders for cleansing your skin, but it’s also amazing for keeping your kit squeaky clean. Case in point is Beautyblender’s {Blendercleanser Solid Pro}, which is infused with charcoal to eradicate every last trace of make up and grime from brush bristles and sponge surfaces. And if your brushes are immaculate, they won’t transfer any residual grime or bacteria onto your skin – so everyone’s a winner.

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by Viola Levy