Ingredient series: Bamboo Charcoal

Recently, activated charcoal-based skincare and beauty products have been having a moment. Praised for its sponge-like abilities to draw out toxins, charcoal, a.k.a. “blackhead buster,” is meant to bring a much-needed balance and clarity to overheated oily skin.

But did you know that not all charcoal products are created equal? From hardwood to peat to coconut shells – there are different types to choose from. But it’s the bamboo charcoal that increasingly gets the spotlight.

Curious to know why? Then keep on reading.

So, why bamboo?

Among other types, charcoal made from bamboo stalks is believed to have the best purifying properties thanks to its naturally super-porous structure. As the bamboo plant grows and matures, millions of tiny holes form on its surface, which ultimately gives bamboo charcoal the ability to attract and store more impurities.

While bamboo charcoal might sound very novel, it isn’t new. Back in ancient Egypt and then China, people relied on the detoxifying power of bamboo charcoal to treat poison, eliminate wound odor and purify water. Even in the present day, it has been extensively used in a hospital setting to treat food and alcohol poisoning.

Eventually, bamboo charcoal found a way into skincare in its more potent, activated form. The “activation” process further reduces the size of the holes on the bamboo surface, making it even more porous and absorbent. And while it sounds complicated, it’s actually a very straightforward technique – the charcoal powder is simply injected with steam, and no other chemicals are added. The results are amazing – the powder becomes four times more porous and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in pollutants and dirt. Sounds quite powerful, doesn’t it?

Bamboo is one of the world’s best sustainable resources.

Bamboo is also one the world’s best sustainable resources. And that’s another reason why bamboo charcoal is gaining a king status, especially among environmentally conscious brands and consumers. When a regular tree is chopped, it can take nearly a century for it to grow back to its original state. Bamboo, on the other hand, grows quickly (almost two feet or more in a single day!) and reaches maturity in under 5 years. If harvested responsibly, it will renew itself easily without needing any irrigation, complex maintenance or synthetic fertilizers. Bonus points – it also keeps the soil stronger and the air cleaner.

Last, but not least, bamboo charcoal products are a safer choice for people with extremely sensitive and allergy-prone skin. Regular hardwood charcoal is often a mix of woods and the truth is, it’s hard to know the exact types that went into the mix (unless the company openly discloses this info), how they were grown and harvested and whether they were sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides in the process. So you always have to consider a possibility of an allergic reaction and be extra careful when choosing a charcoal product that wasn’t made from bamboo.

How will it help the skin?

Now, we’ve established that bamboo charcoal is great at removing impurities from your congested, dull skin. But how exactly does it work? In short, the process is very similar to that of a magnet. The tiny holes on the charcoal surface have a negative electrical charge, while toxins, impurities and dirt molecules – positive. Whenever they come into close proximity, i.e., when you are washing your face or applying a mask, negatively charged charcoal holes attract positively charged impurities and trap them inside before being washed away. The finer the powder particle, the deeper into the pores it will go, allowing more dirt and sebum to be washed away.

Charcoal is one of the few ingredients that deliver both short- and long-term results.

The best part, however, is that charcoal is one of the few ingredients that deliver both immediate and sustainable long-term results. Since it literally draws out excess oils, dead skin cells, sweat, and toxins, after cleansing your skin will feel instantly cleaner, brighter and decongested. Best experience ever! And if you use charcoal-based cleansers daily, dead skin and sebum won’t stand a chance to accumulate and clog your pores in the long run.

Interested in trying a bamboo charcoal cleanser? Check out our Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash that contains ecologically clean bamboo charcoal from pristine Damyang region in Korea. It also boasts an extra fine particle size that will travel deeper into the pores and suck out even more sebum and dirt, making way for fresh, bright and radiant skin.   

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