It’s not just the sooty stuff in a fireplace. It’s actually a kick-ass beauty product.

When we think charcoal, we think a burned sausage on the barbie, or that lump of stuff naughty kids get at Christmas. But what if I told you it’s actually a fab product to use in your beauty routine?

Now, before you go rushing to the bottom of the oven to rub whatever sooty ancient remains you find on your face, there’s one caveat: the charcoal has to be “activated”. This is pretty much a fancy word that means it’s been oxygenated to increase its ability to absorb all the gross stuff in our skin.

Smart science-y people figured out that if you could use it inside the body to absorb nasties like alcohol and drugs after overdoses, then it might also remove bad stuff from our skin externally.

Thus, when we use it for skincare, the carbon soaks up the dirt and oil in our pores allowing us to handily wash all the toxins down the drain.

Here are the different ways you can use charcoal to assist in your beauty routine.

Mask your nasties

Charcoal masks give the carbon plenty of time to bond with the oil and dirt in your skin, before you wash it all away with a splash of water. They can feel clay-like in texture so they’re also pretty soothing and relaxing.

A favourite of mine is Dermalogica’s Charcoal Rescue Masque ($65). The activated Binchotan charcoal soaks up all your skin impurities like a magnet, with the added bonus of sulphur encouraging skin to turnover cells more quickly for a much brighter complexion.

Dermalogica

The tooth of the matter

Yeah, it sounds gross but brushing your teeth with charcoal powder has been known to banish stubborn stains. I’ve not been game to try this one myself, but I have watched a friend trial it. Her main feedback? It actually works, but it’s messy and not pretty at all; picture an open mouth frothing and dripping with black gunk. Delightful! She also warned to brush your teeth before putting on your outfit for the day.

The best part about this is that it’s all natural, no chemicals so your teeth aren’t at risk of being stripped of enamel. It’s said the charcoal works by soaking up surface stains so your teeth appear brighter. Try Warpaint ($55), available from their online store.

Soak it up

Not game to go the whole gamut when it comes to charcoal? Try washing your face with a charcoal-infused sponge. People are going crazy for these black sponges over in Asia, so what’s all the fuss about?

The sponges are made from the fibres of the Konnyaku tree and can be colourless or infused with the aforementioned charcoal. The infused sponge is said to soak up more face gunk than your ordinary facial cleansing device because of the presence of absorbent carbon. It’s easy to use: just dampen the sponge, put your cleanser directly onto the surface and scrub-a-dub-dub! I don’t know if it’s the charcoal or if it’s the sponge itself, but my skin feels amazing after I use it.

Sponge

You can pick these up for $12 from Sephora. It’s the perfect way to dip your toes into the trend.