One skin care ingredient I cannot live without is…activated charcoal. It was a serendipitous moment when I discovered a bottle of activated charcoal tablets lying around the house, probably left over from an earlier run-in with food poisoning. It was the beginning of summer humidity, my pores were crying for relief, and there was no denying the presence of little bumps preparing for a mutiny on my pimple-prone skin.
I picked up the bottle of charcoal and my mind immediately reminded me that my aloe vera plant was flourishing and that I’d just picked up a new bottle of tea tree oil…and bam! I was mixing like a madwoman. I’ve been addicted ever since.
And not just me…I usually only do the charcoal mask once a week (okay, 2-3x when my skin is in the pits), but I ended up mixing some for my sister and brother and well, they’re addicted too.
And it’s no wonder – an activated charcoal mask is the easiest route to zap oil, toxins, and other nastiness from your skin. It feels like a *very black* whiff of fresh air come to clear out your pores.
tea tree oil (optional)
rose water (optional)
coconut, jojoba, or extra virgin olive oil (optional)
The main basis of this charcoal face mask is activated charcoal and aloe vera, as I find that the soothing element of aloe vera nicely balances out the detoxifying charcoal. Everything else is optional and of course, you can blend and mix to suit your needs.
The charcoal must be activated charcoal. You can get them in tablets for convenience or in capsules and then go the extra step of grinding away at them with your mortar and pestle or with a cookie sheet and rolling pin (great for those with pent-up anger issues). As for my lazy self, I get activated charcoal in powder form.
For this particular mask, I’ll be using:
For this mask, I got a huge aloe vera leaf for a few dollars – you can pick one up from certain grocery stores (it will last you a looooong time) or you can simply grow your own aloe vera plant. Otherwise, opt for 100%, preferably organic aloe vera gel. Yes, I know – there’s no such thing as 100% aloe vera gel that’s store-bought but some things are closer than others. I recommend Lily of the Desert.
As for the rose water, you can make it or buy it. It takes awhile to make, so it’s easier to buy – if you do, make sure you get something that is 100% pure rose water with nothing else added. I recommend Shea Terra Organic’s Pure Moroccan Rose Water. When I don’t have rose water, I just make rose tea and use that instead. It’s just simpler this way.
A note about the tea tree oil: it can irritate some skin types, especially used in conjunction with the charcoal. If you don’t suffer from acne and/or have sensitive skin – skip the tea tree oil.
As for measurements, as you may already know…I eyeball most things. In this mask, I’m using ample amounts of everything since I’m making enough to last my brother, sister, and me for a week. If you’re just making enough for one usage, I recommend:
2 tsp of activated charcoal
1 tsp of aloe vera gel (just squeeze it to extract the slimy stuff)
1 tsp of rose water
1 drop of tea tree oil (if you have sensitive skin, you can skip this or substitute it with coconut, jojoba, or extra virgin olive oil)
Step #1. Prepare the aloe vera
If you have aloe vera gel already, you can totally skip this step. For the rest of you using fresh aloe vera…
It’s easiest to cut off a small snippet of the aloe plant (an inch or so) and then cut the sharp edges off…
And then cut off one side of the leaf to reveal the aloe vera gel. Scrape off the gel with a knife and set it aside for now.
Step #2. Toss in the rose water
If you already have rose water, just toss it in with the aloe vera gel. For me, I steeped the roses in hot water for a few minutes and then strained it into a big-ish bowl for my next step.
Step #3. Blend the rose water and aloe vera
If you have aloe vera gel or your aloe vera is not so chunky, feel free to skip this step. I usually do this because I make charcoal masks in batches – using a lot of aloe vera gel which tends to be chunky – and because I want a better consistency in my masks.
It’s not too much trouble, just blend the gel and rose water with a handheld blender.
Step #4. Mix everything together
Pour the aloe vera and rose water mixture into the charcoal powder…
Step #5. And finally, the tea tree oil
Add a drop of tea tree oil into the mix…
…And we’re done! Just smear the gloopy black stuff on your face and experience why I go through such trouble to make the mask 🙂