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The Best Charcoal Face Masks to Use When Your Skin Needs a Detox

Photo by Milos Dimic/Getty Images

Charcoal has been a rising star in the skincare world for years now, mainly thanks to its detoxing benefits. It is believed that activated charcoal can draw bacteria and impurities out of the skin. For those with acne-prone skin types, it can help clear up blackheads and other types of blemishes. But it's not just for those dealing with acne. Anyone looking for a skin reset will benefit from incorporating this ingredient into their skincare routine.

It should be noted though that activated charcoal–the kind you're likely to find as a featured ingredient in skincare products–like face masks, cleansers, and scrubs–is different from the charcoal used for something like grilling. Activated charcoal is produced when that kind of charcoal is exposed to high heat. The heat exposure makes the powder super fine, quite porous, and extremely absorbent, all of which give it the ability to soak up toxins.

If you're ready to give this buzzy skincare ingredient a try, the best way to start is to use a face mask that features activated charcoal. This way you can get a concentrated dose of the benefits without overdoing it. To get you started in your search for the perfect product, we've highlighted 10 of the top charcoal masks available on IPSY–six of which have already been reviewed by Ipsters who received these masks in past Glam Bags.

PURLISSE BEAUTY Matcha Green Tea + Lemon Detoxifying Charcoal Mask

PURLISSE BEAUTY Matcha Green Tea + Lemon Detoxifying Charcoal Mask

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This mask combines charcoal powder with ginger, lemon, and green tea for a full detox sesh in just 15 minutes. Lemon helps to brighten up the skin while ginger boasts around 40 antioxidant compounds. Its anti-inflammatory benefits also team up with the activated charcoal to tame acne. Finally, green tea helps to perk up the skin and leave it feeling super soft.

"At first I was concerned because there was an overwhelming tingly feeling when I first applied the mask and I have mildly sensitive skin," writes Ipster amholloway1692. "But after a few minutes, the tingling subsided and the mask made my skin feel light and refreshed. It also smells AMAZING! I love how it firmed my skin without that dried feeling. I would highly recommend this mask."

FEEL Brilliant Bamboo Charcoal Facial Sheet Mask Set

FEEL BEAUTY Brilliant Bamboo Charcoal Facial Sheet Mask Set

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There's no denying the appeal of a quick and easy sheet mask. This jet black mask pairs our hero ingredient with hydrating hyaluronic acid to provide all the detoxing benefits without the risk of overdrying the skin. Pop one of these on once a week to keep skin glowing and balanced.

"I thought my days of having pores this invisible were behind me," writes Ipster momsrednax. "But I am absolutely amazed by these masks. I am usually kind of unenthusiastic about sheet masks, but... wow."

GLOBAL BEAUTY CARE Charcoal Wash Off Mask

GLOBAL BEAUTY CARE Charcoal Wash Off Mask

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This 15-minute mini facial treatment uses a deep cleansing mud mask to clear out pores and lift away any impurities. This formula is also packed with hydrating ingredients like squalane and hyaluronic acid as well as nourishing vitamin E.

"This leaves your face feeling cool, tingly, and fresh," says Ipster justpeachyxd. "I have acne-prone skin and this mask seemed to help with blemishes."

PUREHEALS Charcoal Mask

PUREHEALS Charcoal Mask

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Here is a super satisfying peel-off mask that's especially great for oily skin types. Charcoal powder is combined with acne-fighting grape extract, skin-firming coffee seed extract, and chestnut shell and mushroom extract, both of which are astringent and feature pore tightening abilities–a key feature for oil control.

"This pulled so much gunk out of my pores all across my face, including the parts you can't get to with Biore strips," says Ipster epoeppelmeier. "Super satisfying to peel too!"

As always with peel-off masks, be sure to avoid applying the product to your brows so as to avoid accidentally lifting and hairs away when removing the mask.

SOO AE Charcoal Clay Bubble Mask

SOO'AE Charcoal Clay Bubble Mask

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If you're looking for a face mask that's just as fun as it is effective, try this charcoal and clay mask that bubbles up while you wear it. While activated charcoal powder lifts debris from your pores, oxygen bubbles help to further loosen up impurities trapped in the skin. 

"This mask is so fun," says Ipster le_vampiraa. "It’s really cool to watch it go from flat to bubbly. You can also feel it working on your skin."

SUR.MEDIC Pore-less Carbonic Peel Mask

SUR.MEDIC+ Pore-less Carbonic Peel Mask

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Carbonated water makes this easy-to-apply mask feel incredibly refreshing while it goes to work to revamp your skin. It comes packed with AHAs and BHAs to gently exfoliate and unclog pores. This formula also includes top hydrating ingredients glycerin and hyaluronic acid, blemish-taming niacinamide, and glow-boosting diamond powder.

"I am a fan of this mask," writes one Ipster. "It left my skin noticeably glowy and brighter than any other skin product I've ever used."

ORIGINS Clear Improvement™: Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

ORIGINS Clear Improvement™: Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

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If you love to keep your skincare as natural as possible, ORIGINS is probably already a favorite brand of yours. Their take on the charcoal mask trend offers a super clean formula made without parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, or pore-clogging mineral oil. It pairs bamboo charcoal with kaolin clay, which gently exfoliates away dead skin and does wonders to control oiliness. It also uses lecithin, which dissolves impurities while hydrating the skin.

This purifying clay mask tackles impurities and breakouts using (you guessed it) activated charcoal combined with salicylic acid, as well as apple, olive, and ginger extracts. It's hypoallergenic and has been clinically tested, making it an ideal choice for sensitive skin types. Expect a delicate detox that will refine the skin and leave it feeling fresh and congestion-free.

This black charcoal mask offers a chance to weave some creativity into your weekly mask ritual. The dry, powdered formula contains detoxing activated charcoal, anti-aging cardamom, and absorbent bentonite clay. To make it into a mask, you'll mix a few teaspoons of liquid with the powder until a clay texture forms. The liquid you choose is up to you and can be customized based on your skin type or skin concern. If your skin is feeling dry, try using yogurt, milk, or honey. If you have acne-prone skin you may want to increase the mask's ability to treat breakouts by using something like tea tree water or witch hazel toner.

CLARISEA Deep Pore Detox Activated Charcoal Exfoliating Mask

CLARISEA Deep Pore Detox Activated Charcoal Exfoliating Mask

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In this 100 percent natural formula, activated bamboo charcoal is mixed with kaolin clay and organic calendula. Kaolin clay tones the skin, helps to control oil production, and gently exfoliates away dead skin cells. Meanwhile, calendula's anti-inflammatory properties soothe the skin. These three-star ingredients are diluted in a clarifying sea salt brew for more gentle exfoliation.

If you don't have time for a full mask treatment, you can mix this product in with your favorite cleanser. Simply mix equal parts mask and cleanser then wash and rinse your face as you normally would. It'll add a little extra detoxing power to your routine without taking up any extra time.

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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated June 3, 2020 12:00 AM