I've Tried Dozens of Charcoal Masks—These Are the Ones That Calm My Skin

Back in the day, charcoal was the go-to ingredient for oily skin. I remember growing up seeing adverts of smiling women with their T-zones coated in a rich black paste promising to halt breakouts and minimise pores. Since then, skincare has moved on leaps and bounds, and there are dozens of newer ingredients, such as salicylic acid and niacinamide, that help calm oiliness and improve skin texture. And while nothing can actually make your pores smaller, these wonder ingredients do help to de-clog pores and even out texture.

Saying that, I really do believe that a good charcoal mask is a quick-fire way to pull oil and grime from pores and prep the skin pre-makeup if you have oily/combination skin like I do. I’ve tried loads that have dried out my skin, as I have a combo skin type, but the below clear oiliness without leaving skin feeling tight. However, I must add a caveat that I always follow with a hyaluronic acid serum and a nourishing, light cream for happy, plump skin.

Photo:

@emmahoareau

Best Charcoal Masks

This sheet mask has a funny bubbling effect as it begins working, which really amps up the cleansing aspect. It contains collagen, ceramides, vitamins A and E, peptides and, of course, charcoal. The combination of these ingredients cleanses away excess oil, and once rinsed, it leaves the skin feeling plump and smooth.

The salicylic acid and charcoal in this mask are double trouble for oily skin. Salicylic acid is an exfoliant, so it gently sloughs away dead skin, while the charcoal takes care of clearing pores. A truly dynamic duo for your skin.

The combo of charcoal, chamomile and honey work to calm skin and clear pores simultaneously. It needs just 15 minutes to work, so I apply and then hop into the shower then rinse with warm water.

This mask is almost like meditative skincare. It feels like a real treat to apply, containing a healthy dose of manuka honey for hydration to balance out the potency of charcoal, which can be drying at times.

This was one of the first charcoal masks I tried that I fell in love with. It was the first one that helped my excess-oil problem without just drying it out. I would use weekly and concentrate on my T-zone and allow it to dry.

This is an excellent pre-night-out mask. It’s very mattifying and smooths out pores without drying out the skin. When you remove the sheet mask after 15 minutes (which you can pop into your compost bin) you just rub in the rest of the serum and allow to dry.

If your oily skin is resulting in under-the-skin bumps or pimples, this scrub has tea tree in it along with charcoal, which is a great natural antiseptic. The reason I’m including this scrub in a mask round-up is that I genuinely use it as a hybrid. I’ll rub it in and then let it sit while I shower to let the ingredients work for a bit longer and then rinse before I hop out of the shower.

If I were going to describe this mask in just one word, I’d say hardcore. With charcoal and mandelic acid, it’s kind of like an old-school mud mask without the immediate dry feeling. However, I would say use this one sparingly if you only have moderate oiliness, as it thoroughly clears pores.

I use this one just on my T-zone before an evening out if I’m doing more makeup than usual that I want to last, and it really does reset the skin. If you have combination skin like I do, only apply it to the areas that are oily, as it’ll be too drying for your whole face.

You only need 10 minutes for this mask to do the work. It contains clay and charcoal to detox and cucumber, kiwi and aloe extracts to soothe inflamed skin. It’s like a light reset for your skin.

This mask has a high concentration of kaolin clay to mattify and activated charcoal to draw out blackheads and congestion from pores. It also benefits from having Bentonite for absorbing excess oils. I follow with a hydrating toner, and my skin feels balanced and looks dewier and less shiny.

Next, the five products we should all be using this summer.

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