Are charcoal masks doing more harm than good?

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Why charcoal masks have become the Internet's biggest beauty obsession that is aggressively damaging the skin.

Remember those gross pimple popping videos the Internet was obsessed with? Well now, DIY charcoal masks are trending like the plague. We've watched the countless videos and everyone seems to be mesmerised by the pulling and tugging action. But this obsession appears to be more of a gimmick than a true beauty product. Many are unaware that the DIY solution is causing trauma to their complexions.

Though charcoal is the hot topic, it is not the actual issue. As an ingredient, it can do wonders detoxifying the skin when used correctly. The problem is when charcoal is combined with a base that dries, clings to the skin and then needs to be peeled off.

Australian Skin Clinics Skin Therapist and formulator for Balense Skin Care, Wendy Reiner says it's a very brutal form of exfoliation.

“The skin isn't meant to be pulled that way … when you're peeling something like [a charcoal mask] off your face, you can be tearing small capillaries, small blood vessels, elastin fibres and collagen fibres. A lot of those things can take a long time to heal, if they heal at all. That's where the danger is,” she said.

Supposedly, charcoal masks extract blackheads and impurities. Though it appears to be more like an aggressive face wax complemented by excruciating pain.

Wendy explains that while its novel nature has made it extremely fashionable, if it were to be used repeatedly there could be long-term damage.

“I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who is considering an anti-aging program if they want to retain the youthfulness and the resilience of their skin.”

She goes on to say, “A gentle approach should be taken to the skin because it's with you for your entire life. There are plenty of other products on the market that can do just as good of a job without the comprise.”