when i was tasked with trying out the latest trend in food + beauty, activated charcoal, i was pretty pumped. my only problem: where would i even begin?? charcoal is so hot (pun intended) right now, it’s everywhere - in face masks, cleansers, even baked goods. and why not? the detoxifying properties of activated charcoal make it a multi-tasking, modern-day not-so-white knight, binding to toxins + chemicals in the body and allowing them to be flushed out. it’s a fantastic, all-natural remedy for bloating, gas + hangovers (whether of the alcohol or food variety), and its varied beautifying capabilities are legendary.
as such, i decided to go all in + try it in various forms, from a satisfying sipper to the tastiest facial i’ve ever had. here’s what happened when i used activated charcoal...
as a whitening toothpaste…
because charcoal is known for binding to dirt + grime, it’s a tooth-cleaning superhero - wiping out set-in stains and cavity-causing bacteria in one fell swoop. bonus: coconut oil is antibacterial, so it’s great for gum health + eliminating plaque. want extra whitening benefits? let this paste hang out on your teeth for a few minutes before rinsing. i don’t know if it was simply the contrast between the dark charcoal + my teeth, but once i rinsed, i felt like my teeth were whiter after just the first brushing! i’d also be hard-pressed to think of a time outside the dentist’s office when my teeth felt this squeaky clean. (pro tip: i stashed mine in my snackstak, along with my vitamins + collagen protein to take on a business trip.)
makes about ¼ cup toothpaste
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp activated charcoal
2 drops peppermint essential oil
- mix + store in a jar with a lid.
as a pore-clearing facial treatment…
ironically enough, despite its inky appearance, charcoal is known for giving blackheads the boot, which makes it the perfect substance to slather all over your face. the addition of raw honey, matcha, turmeric + coconut oil to this sludge-like facial mask mean that when it inevitably drips down your face and into your mouth, you won’t mind a bit - i didn’t, at least. and when you scrub it off to reveal the baby soft skin underneath, you’ll wonder why it took you this long to smear charcoal all over your grill (no pun left unsaid). now, i do face masks pretty much every single week, and yes, they always make my skin super soft. but this one was different. not only did my skin feel soft, it didn’t feel tight + dry like it often does after such a treatment. also, i had one of those monster way-under-the-surface pimples that was completely un-poppable, and i kid you not, this mask made it come to more of a head.
[diy charcoal face mask]
makes 1 mask treatment
1 charcoal capsule
2 tsp raw honey
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp coconut oil
extra little bit of water (to make the mask spreadable)
- mix charcoal powder, honey, turmeric, matcha + coconut oil.
- if necessary, add a couple/few drops of warm water to make the mask more spreadable.
- paint onto your face + let it sit 20-30 minutes before scrubbing off with a washcloth. you’ll probably need a little face wash as well.
as a food-hangover tonic…
if you know you’ll be going out to eat or to a party where a plethora of rich foods and/or cocktails will be consumed, it’s a good idea to down a glass of this lemonade as a preventative potion before you go. didn’t have time to whip it up pre-party? sipping on a glass the next morning will still help you avoid some of those inevitable tummy troubles. i tried it out before my son’s birthday festivities began (pizza, cupcakes, candy, etc), and i had no bloating or general feelings of ickiness whatsoever after all the goodies had been consumed.
16 oz filtered water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
½ tsp activated charcoal
put water, lemon juice, maple syrup + charcoal in a jar (or our fitfuel mixer), screw on a lid + shake, shake, shake!
as a conversation-starter at brunch…
typically, we all try to steer clear of charred baked goods, but in this case, the black will have you comin’ back time + time again. whereas your average waffle might make you feel a little bloated afterward, this charcoal-enhanced version will help keep the bloating at bay without affecting the flavor. i often tend to make healthier waffles during the week, but for this little experiment, i went with the good ol’, butter-filled variety to really see what this charcoal can do. and it worked - no bloating. in fact, i jumped right in the pool, bikini + all, afterward.
makes 6 waffles
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp activated charcoal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, melted + slightly cooled
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
- in a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, charcoal, baking powder, sugar, salt + cinnamon.
- in a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, butter, milk + vanilla extract, then pour into dry ingredients + stir just enough to fully incorporate.
- cook in a waffle iron.
- top with your favorites!
so there ya have it - activated charcoal really is the wow-ing workhorse it claims to be! one word of caution: just don’t overdo it. activated charcoal is an indiscriminate binder, so it doesn’t stop at toxins. it will also bind to nutrients + flush them out, so if you’ve just eaten a big, healthy meal, there’s no need to chase it with charcoal, as the benefits will be erased. also, charcoal can dehydrate, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water when you’re ingesting it.
have you tried activated charcoal? what was your experience? let us know in the comments!