With 2017 almost wrapping up, we thought we’d address one of the most hyped active ingredients of the year: Activated Charcoal, and look at how it affects men’s skin.

But first, it’s important that we actually explain what activated charcoal in cosmetic products actually is: Carbon (mostly, it is then “activated” with an agent such as carbon dioxide, but its mostly just carbon). Activated Charcoal is just a fancy name some marketing guy found to sell more units.

On to the second question- Does carbon actually improve men’s skin? Well, it’s debatable. The theory is that this ingredient has a large surface area and is thus very adsorband, supposedly helping you clear all those bad toxins from your skin. This latter argument is what really grinds our gears. As a rule of thumb, any time you hear about a product that removes toxins, stay away from that product. Most of the bad stuff in your skin can be cleared out with a good skin wash, and the stuff that doesn’t certainly won’t come out with activated charcoal or any similar invention.

It’s true that activated charcoal might help remove some oil and organic waste from your skin, but so can a piece of paper. It certainly doesn’t justify some of the prices we’ve seen

On a final note, we will say that although we have our doubts about the efficacy of this ingredient, it must be praised for its eco-efficiency. If you’re using leftover charcoal to create your organic skincare products, we salute you.