Skin Care

Purify Your Pores: Charcoal Soap Magic

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal soap has become increasingly popular in recent years as a beauty product touted for its skin purifying properties. This unique soap is made using activated charcoal powder, derived from burning coconut shells, wood, or other natural materials. The charcoal is “activated” by processing it at very high temperatures, increasing its absorption capabilities. When added to soap, activated charcoal can draw out dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin and deep clean pores. Unlike regular soaps that can strip the skin, charcoal soap is often gentle enough for daily use. With purported benefits like clearing acne, minimizing pores, and leaving skin smooth and glowing, it’s no wonder charcoal soap has developed an almost cult-like following among natural beauty enthusiasts. This article will explore the origins, benefits, and proper use of activated charcoal soap for purified, healthy-looking skin.

History of Charcoal Soap

The use of charcoal in soap making dates back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece were among the first to discover the purifying properties of charcoal and incorporate it into soaps and cosmetics.

Archaeologists have found evidence of early charcoal-based soaps and cleansers in the ruins of ancient Egypt dating back to the time of Cleopatra. Ancient Egyptians would combine wood ash or charcoal with animal fats to create a soap-like material used for washing. The charcoal helped remove dirt and oil while also having anti-bacterial effects.

In ancient Greek civilization, early physicians like Hippocrates wrote about the medicinal uses of charcoal for purifying the skin and healing wounds. The Greeks would grind charcoal into a powder and mix it with olive oil to make a cleansing paste. Charcoal’s absorbent nature helped draw out impurities from the skin.

So the use of activated charcoal as a cleansing and purifying agent has its roots in the beauty routines of ancient cultures. Early civilizations recognized the unique properties of charcoal that make it effective for deep pore cleansing, and incorporated it into handmade soaps and remedies.

Benefits of Charcoal Soap

Charcoal soap has become popular in recent years for its ability to absorb excess oil and draw out impurities from the skin. The activated charcoal in these soaps works like a magnet, attracting and binding to dirt and oil. This helps pull toxins from deep within pores to the surface of the skin, where they can be washed away.

Some of the key benefits of using charcoal soap include:

  • Deep Cleansing: The porous charcoal has a sponge-like texture that penetrates deep into pores to absorb dirt, oil, and environmental pollutants. This gives skin a deeper cleanse than regular soap.

  • Detoxifying: Charcoal is very adsorbent, meaning it chemically binds to molecules on its extensive surface area. This makes it effective at trapping toxins and chemicals from the skin. Using charcoal soap can remove accumulated daily grime.

  • Exfoliating: Charcoal soap gently exfoliates away dead skin cells and smooths skin texture. The soap also often contains other exfoliating ingredients like sea salt to boost cell turnover.

  • Reducing Acne: By removing excess oil and bacteria, charcoal soap can help improve acne-prone skin. Its antibacterial properties may also assist in preventing future breakouts.

  • Minimizing Pores: The charcoal pulls out trapped dirt and oil from clogged pores and reduces their appearance. With continued use, pores look cleaner and smaller.

  • Brightening Complexion: Removing layers of dead cells and impurities rejuvenates dull looking skin and reveals a fresh, glowing complexion. Charcoal soap also improves circulation for a rosy radiance.

With its deep pore cleansing, detoxifying, and exfoliating properties, charcoal soap can thoroughly purify skin from the inside out.

How Charcoal Soap Works

Charcoal soap cleanses skin through a process called adsorption. Activated charcoal is very porous and contains countless tiny holes and tunnels. When mixed into soap, the charcoal binds to dirt, oil, and other impurities on the skin and pulls them into its pores. This helps lift grime from the skin’s surface and deeply cleanses pores.

The porous charcoal attracts and traps substances within its pores kind of like a magnet. Dirt and oil get stuck inside the charcoal rather than staying on the skin. As you rinse the soap off, the charcoal takes all the gunk with it, leaving skin cleaner.

Charcoal’s adsorptive powers come from its increased surface area. When activated, charcoal undergoes a process that expands its pores and exposes more binding sites. This gives it a huge surface area for trapping substances compared to its small size. More surface area means more adsorption and a deeper cleanse.

So in summary, activated charcoal soap works through adsorption, using charcoal’s porous surface to bind to and remove impurities from the skin. The cleansing powers come from the vast surface area inside charcoal’s microscopic pores.


Best Charcoal Soaps

Charcoal soap has become hugely popular in recent years for its ability to draw out impurities and cleanse pores. With so many options on the market, here are the top charcoal soaps to purify your pores:

O Naturals Activated Charcoal Soap

  • Features a rich lather and detoxifying activated charcoal to absorb oil and acne-causing bacteria
  • Contains nourishing ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, and shea butter
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and free of parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances
  • Reviewers say it leaves skin feeling fresh, soft, and brightened

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam

  • Uses Jeju volcanic ash and green tea to gently exfoliate and unclog pores
  • The foaming cleanser lifts away impurities without over-drying skin
  • K-beauty favorite that absorbs excess sebum well for clearer skin
  • Light botanical scent that isn’t overpowering

The Seaweed Bath Co. Detox Purifying Charcoal Soap

  • Detoxifying soap with activated charcoal and antioxidant-rich seaweed
  • Organic ingredients cleanse pores without stripping the skin
  • Leaves skin feeling smooth and soft after use
  • Has an earthy, mineral scent from the charcoal

Herbivore Botanicals Charcoal Soap

  • Uses bamboo charcoal and tea tree oil to combat acne
  • Hydrating, creamy lather that won’t dry out skin
  • Features essential oils like geranium and lavender for aromatherapy benefits
  • A calming facial cleanser that leaves skin balanced and refreshed

Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar Charcoal Black Soap

  • Deep cleansing soap bar made with mineral-rich dead sea mud
  • Activated charcoal draws out impurities from pores
  • Tea tree and peppermint oils soothe and condition skin
  • Reviewers rave about how soft their skin feels after use

Using Charcoal Soap

Charcoal soap is easy to incorporate into your regular skincare routine. Here are some tips for using it effectively:


  • Wet your face with warm water to open up your pores before applying the soap.

  • Work the soap into a lather between your hands first before applying to your skin.

  • Gently massage the lather over your face in circular motions, avoiding the eye area.

  • Let the soap sit on your skin for 1-2 minutes before rinsing to allow the charcoal to draw out impurities.

  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Pat skin dry with a clean towel.

  • You can use charcoal soap as part of your daily cleansing routine, or use it 2-3 times per week as a treatment.


  • Limit use to 1-2 times daily at most. Using it too frequently can dry out your skin.

  • Listen to your skin. If it feels dry or tight, cut back on usage.

  • Consider using a more gentle cleanser in the morning and charcoal soap at night.

  • Take a break from charcoal soap every few weeks if using it daily.

The key is to find the right balance for your unique skin type and concerns. Start slowly and adjust as needed. Be sure to moisturize after to replenish any lost hydration.

Charcoal Soap Precautions

Charcoal soap is generally safe to use, but there are a few precautions to keep in mind:

Not for daily use – While charcoal soap offers many benefits, it’s too drying for most skin types to use daily. Limit use to 1-2 times per week at most. Using it too often can cause dryness, irritation, and stripped natural oils.

Allergies – Those with sensitive skin or allergies should do a patch test before full use. Apply a small amount to your inner forearm and wait 24-48 hours to check for any reaction. Discontinue use if any redness, itching or irritation occurs.

Avoid eye area – Be careful not to get charcoal soap in your eyes, as it can cause stinging and irritation. Thoroughly rinse soap off hands before applying near eyes.

Sun sensitivity – Charcoal may increase photosensitivity. It’s best to apply sunscreen after using charcoal soap, particularly before sun exposure. The charcoal can enhance absorption of UV rays.

Pregnancy – Check with your doctor before using charcoal soap while pregnant or breastfeeding. There is limited research on safety for expecting mothers.

Exercising some caution with charcoal soap allows you to gain the perks like deep cleansing and detoxifying, without any unwanted side effects. Listen to your own skin’s needs and adjust frequency of use accordingly.

DIY Charcoal Soap

Making your own charcoal soap at home is a fun DIY project that allows you to customize the ingredients to your skin’s needs. Plus, it saves money compared to buying pre-made charcoal soap. Here is an easy recipe and instructions for making charcoal soap from scratch:


  • 4 ounces charcoal powder
  • 12 ounces coconut oil
  • 12 ounces olive oil
  • 6.4 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 16 ounces filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons essential oils or fragrance oils (optional)


  1. Add the lye to the water in a glass or stainless steel container and stir gently until dissolved. Allow to cool.
  2. Melt the coconut oil and olive oil together in a stainless steel pot on low heat until liquified. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. When both mixtures are around 100-110°F, slowly and carefully pour the lye water into the oils, stirring continuously.
  4. Add the charcoal powder and stir well until fully incorporated.
  5. Add essential oils for fragrance if desired and stir again.
  6. Pour the soap batter into silicone molds and allow to sit for 24-48 hours until hardened.
  7. Unmold the charcoal soap and slice into bars. Allow bars to cure for 4-6 weeks before use.

And that’s it! With just a few simple ingredients, you can make your own custom charcoal soap bars to purify pores and refresh your skin.

Charcoal Soap vs. Scrubs

Charcoal soap and charcoal scrubs are both beneficial for skin health, but serve different purposes. Here’s how they compare:

Benefits of Charcoal Soap

  • Deeply cleanses pores
  • Helps prevent acne
  • Gentle daily cleansing
  • Improves skin tone and texture

Benefits of Charcoal Scrubs

  • Exfoliates dead skin cells
  • Unclogs pores
  • Reduces appearance of blackheads
  • Brightens complexion
  • Stimulates circulation

Use Cases

Charcoal soap is meant for daily cleansing. Its gentle formula with activated charcoal can be used on all skin types. Charcoal scrubs are formulated for occasional, targeted use about 1-2 times per week. The coarse texture helps scrub away dead skin. Those with sensitive skin may find scrubs too harsh for daily use.

While charcoal soap cleanses pores, scrubs provide an extra exfoliating boost. Many people use both products as part of their skincare routine. The soap offers day-to-day deep cleaning, while the scrub tackles congestion and dullness a few times a week. Together, they promote fresh, glowing skin by purifying pores in complementary ways.


Charcoal soap is an effective yet gentle way to purify pores and improve skin health. The activated charcoal in the soap is highly porous and absorbs excess oil, dirt, toxins, and other impurities from the skin’s surface. By lifting these away, charcoal soap helps to reduce acne breakouts, blackheads, and inflammation. It also works to exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal fresher, smoother skin underneath.

Regular use of charcoal soap can regulate oil production, minimize the size of pores, and brighten dull skin. Its deep cleansing abilities also allow other skincare products to better absorb afterwards. While charcoal soap should not fully replace normal cleansers, integrating it 2-3 times per week can purify pores in a simple, natural manner. Just be sure to moisturize after use to avoid any dryness.

In summary, charcoal soap is a worthwhile addition to your skincare routine if you struggle with clogged pores, acne, oily skin, or dullness. When used properly, it harnesses the unique power of activated charcoal to clarify and refresh your complexion.