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Charcoal Masks: The Dangerous Viral Trend That Could Ruin Your Skin

There’s a huge amount of buzz circulating around a fancy new face peel involving charcoal, chemicals, and adhesives. These black masks peel blackheads away and leave your skin smooth and soft…or so they claim.

If you watch any video where someone uses a charcoal face peel, you will notice the user suffers from a lot of pain. This is because the peels don’t just take off blackheads. The reason that they leave your face feeling soft and smooth is because they take off an entire layer of skin. This includes all of your skin’s natural oils, any hair that you might have, and sebaceous filaments (which are little strands of goop that your skin uses to fight off bacteria).

Charcoal peels remove blackheads the same way that adhesive strips do, which is not good for the health of your skin. Ripping out blackheads damages and enlarges your pores, making them more susceptible to further irritation, thereby causing more congestion. 

Imagine you buried a car in your lawn so that only the roof was showing. If you hooked the car up to a crane and pulled it out, you would tear up lots of grass and dirt and make a giant hole. This is more less what happens when you tear out a blackhead. They are much larger beneath the surface, so they will damage your face as you rip them out.

Your skin’s outer layer is a potent defender against bacteria and other foreign invaders. The fresh, soft new layers underneath are not as tough, especially without any of your skin’s natural oils to protect and lubricate them. Charcoal peels strip your skin of both its oils and its outer layer. Not only is this incredibly painful, it also means you are more likely to get inflamed skin, peeling or breakouts after performing a charcoal peel.

If you are one of the millions of people who watch these crazy videos on YouTube, you have probably witnessed the funny ones where people are crying, screaming, laughing and ripping off skin! As an esthetician, it always boggles my mind the types of trends that come out and how many people jump on the bang-wagon. If you ever have questions about a new trend taking over social media, please contact or find a professional esthetician to get advice before you try it for yourself- we are only a phone call away.

Luckily, it’s not the end of the world. Your skin will fully heal from one of these ordeals in about thirty days. Using a moisturizing cleanser and plenty of sunscreen will help keep your skin hydrated and protected while it repairs itself. If you are one of the unfortunate ones who tear skin off, use a gentle, fragrance free cleanser and apply a topical 1% hydrocortisone cream to speed up the healing process.

Or, better yet, don’t use a charcoal mask at all.

Written by: Leah LaVanway