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Activated Charcoal: Everything You Need To Know

by Toni Olukiran

2min read

Activated charcoal is an ingredient that continues to crop up in everything from skincare products to toothpaste to dietary supplements. So what exactly is it, what are its benefits, and should you incorporate it into your lifestyle? Read on for all things activated charcoal.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal consists of natural products and raw materials that are high in carbon (such as nut shells, wood and coconut shells) that are heated at high temperatures. This creates charcoal that has been activated due to being oxidised. It’s definitely not the same as the charcoal bricks you throw on your barbecue every summer though — these aren’t activated and they also contain toxic chemicals (definitely not one to add to your skincare routine or diet). 

What is activated charcoal used for?

Activated charcoal is actually an incredibly versatile ingredient, used in a range of different scenarios for its properties. It has historically been used to treat drug overdose as it can reduce the absorption of drugs in your system. However, it is also used in dietary supplements as a detoxifier, as well as in skincare for it’s brightening and smoothening properties, and with teeth whitening products. 

Is it safe to eat activated charcoal?

There have been no indicators of problems from ingesting activated charcoal in the long term, as supplements contain low levels of the stuff. It is typically advised that you consult your GP before ingesting it if you take other medications, because it may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the drug (hence its use for overdoses). 

Is it worth it?

There isn’t much evidence that shows eating activated charcoal can really affect your overall health or detoxify, and it can be used as a marketing tool rather than a legitimate product, so that’s definitely something to be wary of. As for cosmetic products, some people swear by it, though there isn’t much evidence to show how effective it is in skincare, so it’s up to you to decide how you feel about it!

Got any more questions about activated charcoal? Let us know below. 

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Toni Olukiran
by Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni


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