#Skinconfessions feat. Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash. Ep. 1

Hanla Lee, Brand Manager

For this blog post, we decided to do something different and talk a little bit about our team members’ skincare struggles and what they do to keep their skin balanced and healthy in the heat and humidity of Korean summer. Our interviewee today is Hanla Lee, our brand manager who makes sure that everything runs smoothly here, at MOTHER MADE HQ. 

Q:How would you describe your skin? 

Hanla: It’s oily all year round, but even more so now that it’s so hot and humid.   

Q: Do you have any particular skincare concerns? 

Hanla: Excessive sebum seems to be the bane of my existence. I almost stopped wearing make-up in summer because it slides off my face after a few hours and primers/setting powders break me out. Blackheads and clogged pores are another significant areas of concern for me. Of course, having oily skin has its upsides. For instance, wrinkles and fine lines are not something I need to worry about. But I do feel that my skin can get pretty dull and lifeless if I’m not diligent with the skincare regimen. 

Q: How would you describe your lifestyle? 

Hanla: I’m in the office behind a computer most of the time, so I’d say sedentary. Regular exercise is something I’d like to start doing more of, but I’m yet to find an activity that doesn’t bore me to death.  So for now, whenever the weather allows, I try to commute by bike, eat a healthy diet, and take long walks on the weekends. I feel a massive difference in how my skin looks and feels when I spend at least 2-3 hours walking on the mountain trails surrounded by greenery. 

Q: Walk us through your typical summer morning and evening skincare routine 

Hanla: It’s really simple. I mean REALLY. I love skincare, but I don’t have the patience for a complicated regimen. One thing I never skip, though, is a morning cleanse. I don’t like to sleep with an AC on, so I wake up already feeling sweaty and oily. Washing the face with some type of a low pH cleanser makes me feel so refreshed and awake. After cleansing, I go on with a toner, then apply lightweight moisturizer and finish off with sunscreen. If I have a meeting or an audit, I’ll put a thin layer of cc or bb cream, And that’s it, really. In the evening, as soon as I come back from work, I shower, do a double cleanse, apply toner and lightweight moisturizer. We’re currently working on developing several masks, so these days use sheet masks more than I’d typically do. On the weekend, I might do a clay mask, and I also use a sleeping mask a couple of times a week. 

Q: How does the Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash fit in your skincare routine? 

Hanla: I use it every day, morning and evening, as my mild, low pH cleanser. My oily skin LOVES charcoal, and it made a massive difference in the way my skin looks and feels. I don’t normally say “holy grail” (I hate that expression), but for the lack of a better word, let’s say this is what Charcoal Powder Wash is for me.

In the mornings, I like to use a foaming net to make a very soft, weightless foam. Since it’s a morning and I only need to remove the excess oil and leftover skincare from the night, I find that using the Powder Wash this way gives me just the right amount of cleansing.  

At night, I use it in a shower as a second cleanser/in-shower mask pack. What I like to do is to lather it up into a dense, cream-like foam, apply it all over the face as I’d do with a regular wash-off mask. I then leave it on for about 10-15 minutes while finishing my shower. Not only it saves me a little time and effort each evening (which I’m all for), but my pores look extra clean afterward. 

Q: What do you like about Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash the most? 

Hanla: I like that it’s mild. Most charcoal products I’ve tried before dried me out, so I almost gave up until we decided to make one. Plus, as I said before, I’m not the one who enjoys complicated double-digit step routines. As someone with oily skin, I need to take care of my pores daily, and I appreciate that our Charcoal Powder Wash keeps my pores clean without extra efforts (or added steps) on my end.


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.   

Why we made Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash?

If you have enlarged pores that get clogged quickly, then you know that managing them is a never-ending battle. It becomes especially frustrating in the heat of summer when your sebaceous glands go into overdrive, and none of the usual blackhead remedies seem to be bringing the desired results. 

Desperate to find a solution for these pesky blackheads, you start washing your face excessively, double on the acid-containing products and break into a stash of pore-strips that was collecting dust on your vanity. Surely, you see some results, but this extreme regimen damages the skin’s natural protective barrier, leaving the skin weak, dehydrated and sensitized. Skin’s response? You guessed it – start making even more oil. And the circle goes on. 

How do we know? Well, because we’ve been there and made these mistakes. We learned the hard way that solving a particular skincare problem starts with letting go of “instant fix” mentality, putting to terms with the fact that good skin doesn’t happen overnight, and adopting skincare habits that will put skin health first. 

We knew we wanted to make a product that will provide a gentle, non-sensitizing solution to people suffering from congested skin and ever-clogged pores. But for a long time, we weren’t sure what kind of product would fit in with MOTHER MADE philosophy – skincare that is gentle, natural, multifunctional and innovative. 

We knew what kind of products we didn’t want to make, though: 

  • Any gimmicky products that promise to clear your pores instantly. It’s likely impossible, and if a product really does that, there are probably a myriad of adverse side effects that come along with it. (Pore strips, we’re looking at you). We talk about why pore strips are bad for your skin here.  
  • Clay masks or any type of wash-off masks. Don’t get us wrong, we love ourselves a good clay mask, and they are essential in your pore care regimen. But because there are already so many great products available on the market, we didn’t feel the need to make a product just for the sake of making it. Besides, consistent pore care routine is critical and let’s be honest, when life gets too busy doing a wash-off mask on regular basis sinks down on your priority list. 
  • Acid Exfoliants. Again, we love them, and there is for sure a time and place for a chemical exfoliant in your pore care routine. Salicylic Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acids are especially effective for treating blackheads. But the truth is, not all skin types can handle these acids well, making such products not suitable for sensitive skin. 

Then, what is it that we did want to make? We’ve said that before and will repeat it again and again. Consistency is key when it comes to developing an effective pore care routine.

So, here’s what we had in mind:

  • We wanted to make a basic skincare product that you can effortlessly incorporate into your existing regimen. 
  • We wanted to make a very gentle product that can be used daily, morning and evening. It also had to be sensitive skin-friendly. 
  •  Making a multifunctional product was high on our priority list. The product must not only treat congested pores but also work holistically – normalize sebum production and prevent pores from clogging in the first place.  Bonus points if we could come up with a product that can be used in several different ways.

And that is how Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash came to be! 

The result is a gentle skin barrier respecting cleanser with non-drying Amino Acid surfactants, natural Bamboo Charcoal Powder and Papaya Enzymes that can be used daily worry-free. Use it in the morning to wash off the sweat and oils accumulated over night and in the evening as your second cleanser after removing make-up. It comes out as powder that transforms into foam once you add a little water, making it for a very relaxing cleansing experience. The fact that it’s a powder also comes in super handy for when you go traveling – decant it into a small container and take as much as you need with you. 

Oh, and that bonus point! Active Charcoal Enzyme Powder Wash can also be used as a mask pack for your T-zone! Combine the powder with water in a separate bowl and apply the mixture with a mask brush. Leave it on for several minutes letting bamboo charcoal to work its magic and remove with water or steamed towel.  

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll go in-depth discussing the ingredients and what makes this powder wash so special.