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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Eva Simmons-O’Brien

Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien received her MD from Yale University and is a board-certified dermatologist. With over 30 years of experience, she has worked for hospitals, established her own private practice, and consulted for organizations such as the FDA. Today, Dr. Eva runs her own practice in addition to serving as our Chief Science Officer.

The Ingredient Series 01: Charcoal

The Ingredient Series 01: Charcoal

The Ingredient Series 01: Charcoal



Charcoal is not just for naughty boys and girls, or your outdoor grill. We’re kicking off this ingredient series with charcoal because it’s one of the best ingredients for men’s skin care out there. 

One of the most common skin problems that men deal with is oily skin and enlarged/clogged pores. Men’s skin, as opposed to women, tends to be oilier because we have more sebaceous glands and more pores than women. Sebum production is double than that of females, and men additionally have a lower pH level of their skin. So the question is, how do we combat oily skin and large pores? 

Charcoal skincare products have entered the limelight in the past decade because of their absorbent and detoxifying properties. The substance is also inert, meaning it does not cause allergic reactions or irritation, making it a very harmless ingredient and easy to test and use in skincare. 

We’re going to debunk a few myths about this ingredient, as well as give you a 360 view of the fruitful effects it can have for your skin. 

A little bit of science comin' atcha...

Charcoal is the result of burning carbon-based materials. 

On a molecular level, every substance has an intermolecular force. Charcoal has a high dispersion force, which allows it to stick to other substances very well. However, it’s all about surface contact and absorption; charcoal will not act as a magnet by pulling toxins from far away, but rather it sucks toxins away once it has direct surface contact. 

It’s all about charcoal’s uniquely large surface area. Under a microscope, charcoal has a naturally jagged texture with big pores. All of these little pores contribute to its high surface area. 1 gram of activated charcoal has a surface area of 3000 square meters. 

Historically, it has been used since the 1800s for treating poisoned patients for its absorption properties. The charcoal absorbs and sticks to the poison and toxins, and then can be expelled from the body easier.

The Man, The Myths, and The Charcoal. 

So charcoal may be great at detoxification when it comes into direct contact with the stuff you want out of your body, sure. But  – it’s important to note that the efficacy of charcoal is contingent on the length of time of surface contact, which is why it works best in skincare products that are left on the skin for a period of time. 

It is not recommended to take charcoal orally in a supplement form because the charcoal may absorb other medications or good bacteria, and expel all of it from the body. Furthermore, those trendy charcoal peel-off nose strips and face masks are definitely hurting your skin rather than helping. 

The How To:  

So what is the best way to use charcoal to reap the benefits for your skin?

It works best when left on the skin for a little bit of time to soak up the toxins and clogged pores effectively. Which is why we added it to our Purifying Face Mask. The charcoal in it has those naturally absorbent properties and detoxifying benefits; drawing the gunk and impurities out of the pores and absorbing excess oil. This makes it a great product for those with acne or oily skin. And as men who are prone to oily skin, you need some detoxifying charcoal in your life, homie. 

Remember charcoal’s naturally jagged texture? This makes it a gentle exfoliant too. Which is why we added it to our Charcoal Face Cleanser Stick. Swipe the stick over your whole face before cleansing, and the charcoal draws out impurities while also gently exfoliating and rebalancing skin texture while you lather and wash off. 

Bottom Line

Charcoal is one of our favorite ingredients here at Disco because it was seemingly designed for men by the skincare gods. It helps you soak up those pesky blackheads, impurities, and excess oil, so you can put your best face forward. 

The best part? It’s a completely inert ingredient. Use as much or as little as you want and Disco away.


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