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I’m always on the hunt for better cleansers and exfoliators, and having used masks with charcoal before, I was keen to try it in cleanser form. Charcoal is known for its purifying qualities and purports to detox your skin, removing pollutants as well as dirt and grime. Here are my reviews:

Lush Dark Angels Fresh Facial Cleanser – 100g at £6.40 / 250g at £16 available at Lush Cosmetics

Formulated for those with oily skins in mind as an alternative to Angels on Bare Skin for dry skins, Dark Angels is a solid cleanser you mix with water to form a paste. it contains Rhassoul Mud, Charcoal, Avocado Oil and Black Sugar. Rhassoul mud is known for its deep cleansing properties; Charcoal, a purifier -in fact, activated charcoal is used by some to purify tap water, known as Binchotan Charcoal; the Black sugar provides for the exfoliating element, and the Avocado oil, the nourishment.

On paper this looks like a great combination of ingredients, however I have some reservations about its use. Dark Angels is sold as a cleanser/exfoliator you can use daily, however I find its texture, akin to wet sand, much too coarse for daily use, and thus too harsh for the skin if used too frequently. Personally I’d recommend this as an exfoliator to complement your skincare regimen, rather than as a daily cleanser. In terms of its scent, unlike the reviews i’ve read on it, I actually find it quite pleasant – it definitely smells charcoaly but with hints of liquorice and malt, but then again, i’m someone who enjoys the taste of charcoal biscuits. When used occasionally, I do find that it leaves my skin soft, but this is accompanied by a slight greasy feeling, and some staining on the skin which I suspect is due to the oleic-rich avocado oil which makes the charcoal cling to the skin. One MAJOR downside of this product, is the mess it makes. In the same way that sand from the beach manages to get everywhere, you can guarantee that this black sand will get all over your bathroom, and it’s completely unavoidable – even when used in the shower. Not only do you have to get this product off your face, you also have to have a regimen for your bathroom after using this. Even if this exfoliator was gentle enough for every day use, the mess wouldn’t be worth the hassle. It’s a shame considering the ingredients are so promising, though i’d only try it again if it were re-formulated with a drier oil such as almond, which would be more suitable for oiler skins. However, this is just my experience with this cleanser, and there is a fairly big following behind it – for a good review in favour of it by Brooks, Beauty And Shiny Things, see here.

L’Oréal Men Pure Power Black Charcoal Wash Multi-Action Purifier – 150ml at £5.99 available from Boots

Men Expert Pure Power Black Charcoal Wash

Generally, I maintain a sceptical position on men’s products, as I find that they’re usually just regular products with a healthy dose of menthol and marketing. To my surprise -unnecessarily long pseudo-scientific-ultra-machismo name aside, this face wash is amazing.

Although the product comes out a black foam, as soon as you massage it onto your face, it begins to turn into a white foam – no mess! However, I’d hesitate to call this a truly charcoal based product like Dark Angels, although it is present in the list of the ingredients in the form of charcoal powder. There’s no denying that in comparison this wash contains more chemicals, so i’d question whether you’re actually getting any benefits from the charcoal itself. However, this doesn’t detract from the point that this face wash delivers in removing dirt, grime, and oil effectively – It leaves you with a squeaky clean feeling – you’re skin literally squeaks when you’re using this, and after – but you get none of the uncomfortable tightness that normally accompanies it. Like a lot of men’s products, depending on how you feel about it, this does contain a large dosage of menthol which i’m not keen on. I’d recommend this product to those with really oily skins, as it is quite a strong product, though I don’t find it harsh. It’s a great cleanser by a drug store for when you want easy, quick, clean and cost effective cleansing.


What charcoal products do you recommend?