Thursday, April 11, 2013
Activated charcoal. Its good for so many things, but the basic idea is that it draws out toxins and traps them. Its used in hospitals to treat some poisonings, can be taken internally (with caution) to clean up the colon, and applied to wounds to draw out and prevent infection. My first experience with it was when I was little and got ear infections. My mom would make a poultice, strap it to my head with some cloth, and make me lay on it until the infection had been drawn out. It always worked (the things you learn growing up without health insurance!) and now its one of the few natural remedy ingredients that I keep on hand. There's not a lot of information on whether or not it treats acne. I would guess not, since many things cause acne, and especially hormones can't be treated this way. There is a lot of stuff coming into contact with our skin on a daily basis though. Makeup, pollution, chemicals, things we touch with our hands and then touch our face, bacteria from our phones and other things that must be there that I don't want to even think about. This is why I think charcoal can be helpful. While it can't treat the underlying cause of acne, it can certainly get rid of the extra stuff that will definitely be irritating my already sensitive inflamed skin. Also, it helps wounds keep out infection so why can't it help my skin heal faster after a breakout?
I actually have tried the charcoal mask before, and liked it, but it gets very messy. Things that make me have to clean more tend to not get done very often. Since I've decided to add it to my current experimental new treatment, however, I'm going to have to just deal with the mess and see if its truly worth it.
Activated charcoal is special. I didn't just scrape some off the bottom of my toaster oven and grill and call it good! This charcoal is made in a special way, usually using coconut shells or vegetable fiber, that creates tons of tiny pores all over it for the toxins to get trapped in. It's very small particles and I always find it all over the place after I'm done because it just gets everywhere. Its not easy to wash off and if you apply it to an open would it could actually have a tattooing affect that takes awhile to come out. It only works while its wet so leaving it on for a really long time doesn't really work unless you plan to moisten it with a warm cloth every so often.
I added some aloe vera gel, water, tea tree oil, rose hip oil, jojoba oil, and mixed it into a paste. The recipe's I found online usually used rose water, and initially I had some but I don't know what happened to it, and I think regular water (maybe filtered so the charcoal isn't also removing things from that) works just as well. I mixed it up (carefully because, seriously, have I mentioned it gets everywhere?) and applied the paste to my face and neck and then took a hot bath while it did its job. A black sink, cloth and hands later, and my face feels very clean. Maybe its my imagination but charcoal is something I have lots of confidence in, so I do think my face is healthier after the mask. Inflammation seems less red, white heads seem smaller and fewer, even black heads seem to have been reduced which I'm not really getting with the oil cleansing. I sprayed a witch hazel toner on it afterwards and used a little moisturizer, and called it good. Now I just have to be consistent and see if using this once a week or so is helpful.