Cleansing Clay Detoxifying Charcoal Face Mask, $25 at Amazon
Vegan beauty stalwart Alicia Silverstone swears by this natural, chemical-free mask. The activated charcoal and clay base gets all up in your pores to draw out oil and gunk; essential oil and Himalayan salt add-ins help to moisturize skin. You're left feeling refreshed and glowy, not stripped or dry.
Coconut Charcoal Face Mask, $38 at Nordstrom
Mix with water, honey or yogurt to transform the dusty gray powder into a thick, satisfying paste. Slather it all over your face, then wait five minutes for the charcoal-, tumeric-, ginseng- and coconut-enhanced formula to do its thing, i.e. diminish signs of aging, exfoliate, deep clean and stimulate cell regeneration.
Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask, $4.29 at Ulta Beauty
You know what they say: don't judge a mask by its asphalt-like appearance. This thick, gritty black paste heats up on contact, allowing the activated charcoal to penetrate deeper into the skin to loosen and lift out grime. Meanwhile sugar, charcoal's co-star, sloughs away dead skin cells and gives the mask a faintly sweet — and not at all unpleasant — scent.
Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment, $38 at Sephora
Like all of Boscia's products, this (almost too pretty to use) swirled pudding is laced with jojoba leaf (a powerful antioxidant) and willowherb (which works to calm inflammation and redness). Black charcoal removes impurities; white charcoal serves as a balancing agent. Leave the formula on for 15 to 20 minutes, say hello to radiant, supple skin.
SuperMud Clearing Treatment, $69 at Sephora
GlamGlow’s cult-favorite SuperMud Clearing Treatment makes ridding your skin of zits and blackheads fun. Seriously. First paint on the slate-colored kaolin clay-based goo (using a soft-bristled brush, naturally), then watch as it dries. As the activated charcoal sucks the gunk out of your skin, tiny dots of oil will appear above your newly-cleansed pores. Trust us, there's no sight more satisfying. (Caution: the mask is a bit drying, so use it no more than twice a week.)
Yes to Tomatoes
Clear Skin Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask, $2.80 at Ulta Beauty
A truly effective charcoal sheet mask is a beautiful thing. This one sweeps away dirt from pores and curbs future breakouts, no annoying clean-up required.
Detoxifying Hydrogel Mask, $60 for 4 at Nordstrom
These hydrogel masks fit your face like a glove and work like sponges to absorb impurities and oils. They also help detox, boost collagen production and impart radiance by way of kiwi extract and glutathione (a natural antioxidant found in the body as well as plants). Apologies re: the price tag, but they're worth it.
Peter Thomas Roth
Irish Moor Mud Mask, $58 at Ulta Beauty
This mud mask is basically a tiny vacuum cleaner, but for your face. Apply (to your T-zone) at night for 10 minutes and come morning you'll see a significant reduction in oil production. (Say that three times fast.) Plus, unlike most skin-clearing masks, it's totally odorless and it won't dry you out, thanks to the generous amount of glycerin and seaweed within.
Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask, $27 at Sephora
Oily skin-havers: this mattifying kaolin clay and charcoal mask will leave you with a thoroughly cleansed, noticeably smooth complexion. (It, too, is an Allure Best of Beauty alum.) Note: it's pretty potent, so limit usage to once or twice a week and target your problem areas.
Blackhead 02 Bubble Pore Pack, $26.80 at Amazon
Apply a grape-sized dollop of this charcoal mask to your dry, freshly-cleansed face. Spread it evenly over your skin, massaging as you go. Soon, the formula will start to bubble. The foaming action is said to infuse the skin with oxygen, which helps the star ingredient (active charcoal) penetrate deeper. Also, it looks (and feels) really cool.
Self Heating One Minute Mask, $6.49 at Target
Unlike most of its peers, this charcoal face mask from Bioré only takes 60 seconds to work its de-gunking magic. (The fact that it's self-heating certainly helps.) The zeolite-infused formula heats up on contact with water, coaxing pores open, which, again, allows the charcoal to make its way deeper into the skin. For added convenience, the two-time Allure Best of Beauty winner comes in tidy single-serve packets.
The Problem Solver Correcting Masque, $100 at Net-a-Porter
Why the hefty price tag? “Each luxurious ingredient [in May Lindstrom’s masque — k’s are for plebes] is harvested at the height of potency to ensure exceptional results,” explains Net-a-Porter. The aforementioned luxe ingredients (raw cacao, bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients and spices) begin as a powder, transforming into a rich mousse upon contact with water. The resulting whip works to reduce the appearance of blemishes, inflammation and pores, all pretty much instantly. It doesn’t get much more extravagant than this.
Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores, $27 at Sephora
Meet the OG. Beloved by Khloé Kardashian and beauty editors the world over, this bamboo charcoal and white China clay deep-cleansing mask visibly tightens pores without aggravating the skin, and all for the low, low price of $27.
To some (read: the very old-school), coal in your stocking means it’s time to adjust your moral compass. Not to beauty addicts. This time of year — scratch that, year-round — those who like their skin pure and pore-free consider charcoal a precious object, akin to gold. Per Rachel Winard of Soapwalla, “Charcoal is a miracle ingredient. Skin care charcoal specifically has 200 times better ability to absorb oil, dirt and bacteria than other ingredients I have come in contact with. Its ability to bind and then wash away oil and/or dirt enables charcoal to fully cleanse the skin without overdrying; it’s unparalleled in this arena.” Plus, it’s totally natural.
Like gold, activated charcoal can take on many forms — shampoos, cleansers, toothbrushes, soap, even sleep masks. But we’re most accustomed to finding it in face masks, and during this time of debauchery, with pumpkin pie and eggnog and all sorts of sugar- and dairy-heavy, bad-for-the-complexion treats tempting us at every turn, that’s where we need it most. Charcoal masks help draw out the makeup and gunk that accumulate in pores without making skin feel extra dry or irritated.
So, whether you’re looking to side-step those holiday skin issues, dealing with run-of-the-mill oiliness and blackheads, or are in search of a tongue-in-cheek gift for the “naughty” beauty addict in your life, click through the slideshow above for 13 A-plus charcoal face masks.
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