Activated charcoal face masks are all the rage right now. The claims about them are pretty exciting – they’re supposed to drag up impurities from your pores, remove dead cells, imbue your skin with soft radiance and more. So, I decided to try a few out for you.
I tried one mask a fortnight (yes, this has been a long experiment!) after consulting with a dermatologist friend [LINK TO EXPLAINER ARTICLE] about what charcoal face masks actually do (spoiler: use them sparingly, as they can be bad for your skin if used too often). My skin is pale and quite average for a 32 year old woman – not too dry, not too oily - so please bear this in mind while reading the reviews.
I actually tried out about ten masks, but I realise you’re mainly interested in the ones which actually work, so I’ve cut to the chase and written up my top three. Here they are!
In an effort to reduce my use of plastics and planet-harming cosmetics, I’ve been braving Lush and their over-eager shop assistants more often.
‘Prince of Darkness’ gets automatic points for coming in a reusable pot. It smells lovely, with a hint of lavender which blends nicely with the earthier charcoal scents. It feels pleasant, too – cool, smooth, and not too grainy. So far, so good.
When washing it off, I found that it had sunk deeply into the pores around my nose and I had to scrub hard to get rid of the last vestiges. It definitely cleaned my skin beautifully, but it did leave my face a bit dried out and raw-feeling (my skin thirstily drank up the moisturiser I applied after washing off the mask). Maybe not my favourite, but probably a good choice for those with oilier skin.
Confession – before doing this research, I watched loads of videos of people pasting on peel-off masks and then shrieking in pain as they tried to remove them. So I wimped out a bit with this one. I didn’t apply it to my entire face – just to my T-zone.
This mask was probably my favourite for consistency (but I find a childish glee in goo, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea). The mask slides beautifully onto the skin. It dried relatively quickly and peeled off my T-zone with no pain.
I was pretty impressed with the results. I’m a sucker for marvelling at the tiny landscapes of horrors which pore strips pull from my face, and this mask certainly did not disappoint on that score. Forget those Biore strips – this is the real deal for all you gunk-gawpers out there.
My skin definitely felt softer and fresher after using the mask, but I couldn’t say it was noticeably more radiant. Remember, though, that I only applied it to my T-zone (noses are not usually noted for their radiance anyway) so this may not be an entirely fair comment.
I mostly chose this one because of the ‘cruelty free’ tag, and wasn’t expecting anything out of the norm from it. So I was pleasantly surprised with the results. ‘Radiance’ is a term you read a lot when researching charcoal face masks. After using this mask I realised what ‘radiance’ really means. My skin was left not just feeling clean, fresh, soft, and smooth, but looking it too.
The mask itself dried quickly, and I didn’t have to use masses to get e decent effect. It also washed off easily with a splash of warm water and a soft flannel – no hard scrubbing required! My pores looked a lot more refined for a good few days after using this mask, and I really do feel like my skin was refreshed.
Of the three reviewed here, this one is definitely my favourite and the one I’ll be returning to (apart from when I feel the morbid need to stare at my pore-gunk again, in which case it’ll be back to the Nyk1 peel-off).