Could Charcoal Be The Best-Kept Secret For Perfect Skin And Teeth?
By Zinhlezonke Zikalala
“This is the only thing that’s ever really worked for me”
The first thing that comes to your mind when we mention charcoal is ‘braai’, right? Yeah, us too – today, though, we’re about to skewer that thought and introduce you to the cool fact that charcoal is great for your body and teeth. In fact, it could revolutionise your beauty routine.
What’s this sudden buzz about charcoal?
Well, it’s not sudden. It’s been buzzing since forever – we’ve just been sleeping on it. Activated charcoal is carbon that’s been treated to increase its absorbency. The theory behind including activated charcoal in beauty products? So that it absorbs toxins. Basically, it acts like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil. But does it really work? Three women tested different charcoal-infused products and here’s what happened…
“I Tried Charcoal And I Liked It”
What: Curaprox White Is Black Tough Whitening Toothpaste (R260 for toothpaste, R300 for toothpaste and brush set)
What happened: “I’m the worst: A smoking, red wine drinking, coffee fiend. So my exasperated oral hygienist finally recommended White Is Black, a toothpaste that contains activated carbon, which absorbs the particles that cause discolouration. I love that this whitening paste doesn’t contain bleaching agents or emery particles, which grind away tooth enamel. The hydroxylapatite actually protects the enamel, and apparently even fills in tiny holes!
“Yes, it comes with a hefty price tag and, well, it’s black so don’t expect your basin to look cute post-brushing, but I only use it once a week (and before dates, obviously). I figure a tube can last the year if you use it sparingly. Plus: It’s the only thing that’s ever really worked for me. Worth it.”
Another tester said: “I had stains on my teeth that had been there for months and wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I brushed. After a week of using the toothpaste twice a day, I thought I noticed the stains were starting to fade, but I thought I might be imagining it.
“A couple of weeks after that they were almost gone and a month into using the toothpaste, the stains were gone and my teeth were noticeably whiter. After that I started using the toothpaste once a day for maintenance because a tube is really expensive. I managed to make the tube last for about three months.”
What: Olgani Detoxifying Charcoal Toothpaste (R110)
What happened: “I drink a lot of strong tea and coffee, and a lot of red wine, so naturally my teeth are going to discolour over time. I bought this toothpaste because it has all natural ingredients in it. It contains coconut-shell activated charcoal and bentonite clay, as well as essential oils of peppermint, spearmint and tea tree for freshness. It’s non-abrasive, bleach-free and cleans without any damaging tooth enamel.
“I use it at night, because I don’t find that it’s a fresh enough toothpaste for morning brushing. I’ve been using it a couple of times week, at night, for about two three weeks now, and I definitely see a difference in colour on my teeth.”
What: Longrich Bamboo Charcoal Soap (R30)
What happened: “I suffer from eczema and adult acne so my face is very sensitive and prone to breakouts and blotchiness. Once a year I go on a course of anti-inflammatory medication and I have to be very careful about what products I use. Two months ago I was at my GP – who is actually an integrative doctor who practices both homeopathy and regular allopathic medicine – with an unrelated illness and he said, “Your skin is not looking good, hey.” I felt a little hurt and irritated because I thought my skin was looking very good at the time comparably.
“He suggested I try some herbal soap thing that he had in his dispensary. I was sceptical because I see a dermatologist and my doc isn’t a specialist, but I also trust my GP – I’ve been going to him since I was three years old. So I bought the soap (R30 for one bar or cheaper if you buy in bulk).
“The first time I used it, my skin felt dry afterwards. (In fairness, he had cautioned me that it dries out your skin and you need to use a good moisturiser.) I worried that wouldn’t bode well for my eczema, but I use a pretty hardcore moisturising cream that the derm prescribed and that mitigated the dryness. I carried on using the soap. I didn’t get eczema. What I did start to notice, after just a few days of using it twice daily, was that my skin was clearer than I’d seen it in ages.
“After a couple weeks I stopped using foundation or even BB cream because I didn’t feel I needed it. And that, surely, only helped my skin even more. The soap lasts – after two months, the bar doesn’t seem any smaller. I still get the odd pimple, usually around my period, but no hectic breakouts and no eczema. I really hope it keeps working because I’m saving so much money in medication and make-up!”