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Is charcoal good for acne?

Joolia’s just asking:

There’s a product called Dr. Ci:Labo Basic Black Blemish Control Gel that uses charcoal to treat acne. Does it really help?

The Right Brain simply says:

It’s tough to find much information on this product, but according Dr. Ci:Labo’s website: “Charcoal and gentle botanical extracts in Blemish Control Gel help to prevent the problem of oily skin by removing excess sebum.” The company doesn’t seem to be making any direct claims about acne, but by calling the product “Blemish Control” they’re certainly implying it’s good for pimples!

What causes acne?

As you know if you read our post on the causes of acne, there are three different factors that cause your face to populated with pimples. Excess skin oil (sebum) production is one of the causes, but if just getting rid of oil could cure acne, all you’d have to do is wash your face. You also need to beat back the bacteria and regulate the speed at which your skin cells are sloughing off.

Can charcoal really help?

But back to Dr. Ci:Labo. Does charcoal really regulate skin oil? Highly unlikely. The idea that tiny charcoal sponges could soak up oil off your face and make it magically disappear is a bit hard to swallow. Besides, the oil level of your skin is self-regulating. Drying up the surface just triggers the layers beneath to produce more oil. And finally, we searched the technical literature and couldn’t find ANY mention of charcoal having any beneficial skin properties. But if anyone in the Beauty Brains’ community has any seen any references to this, let us know and we’ll look into them.

The Beauty Brains Bottom Line

Even if charcoal does have oil absorbing properties, that alone will not stop acne. This product may be a perfectly fine facial lotion but unless it contains a proven anti-acne ingredient, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, it won’t have any effect on zits.