This DIY charcoal + clay face mask is a homemade remedy for acne and blackhead removal. Made with Bentonite clay, activated charcoal, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar, this recipe is detoxifying and purifying, and super easy to make!
UPDATE: This was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated to reflect new information and helpful content.
We’re back with another DIY homemade beauty recipe! I’m so excited to share one of my all-time favorite beauty products: a 4-ingredient DIY Face Mask for Acne and Blackheads!
The Truth About Toxic Store-Bought Face Masks
Like most store-bought skincare products, face masks are often riddled with toxic chemicals and harsh ingredients that can cause allergies, disrupt our hormones and irritate our skin.
In fact, many of the acne-clearing face masks on the market contain super harsh ingredients, like Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid, which are not only super expensive, but also break down and thin our skin, weakening it over time and causing dehydration, excessive oiliness, severe redness and irritation (source).
And other face masks, like Borghese Fango Delicato Active Mud, often contain parabens, which have been proven to mess with our hormones and cause reproductive and fertility issues.
Some face masks even contain toxic chemicals like triclosan, which was recently banned by the FDA in soaps (it's still allowed in other products!) because it has been linked to skin irritation, endocrine disruption, breast cancer, allergies in children, and weakened muscle function. You can find triclosan in Dead Sea Essentials by AHAVA Mud Mask.
Benzyl Benzoate is another toxin found in many face masks, including the super popular GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD™ Clearing Treatment Mask. This ingredient is on the EU's Banned and Restricted Fragrances List because it's a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen, causes wildlife and environmental toxicity AND is associated with endocrine disruption.
What’s more? Almost all skincare products, including face masks like Freeman Feeling Beautiful Facial Polishing Mask with Charcoal & Black Sugar, contain fragrance, which (as we’ve talked about many times here before) are actually made up of hundreds of untested chemicals, including toxic ingredients like phthalates, parabens and synthetic musks, which are suspected hormone disruptors and are among the world’s top five allergens.
All this toxin talk isn't meant to scare you. Rather, I hope this sheds some light on why it’s so important to read your labels and lower your toxic chemical load.
To evoke real change, the best thing we can all do is to vote with our dollars and stop buying products from companies who knowingly include harmful ingredients. I recommend looking at EWG’s Skin Deep to learn more about what’s really in our products.
And the good news–there is a solution: this DIY Charcoal + Clay Face Mask!
Why You Should Make Your Own Face Mask
If those toxic chemicals found in store-bought face masks weren't enough to convince you to make your own, consider the RIDICULOUS SAVINGS you'll find when you DIY! Take a look at how cheap this homemade acne and blackhead mask is to make:
- bentonite clay (I paid $14.72 for 32 ounces, but I only used 0.17 ounces = $0.08)
- activated charcoal (I paid $9.89 for 100 capsules, but I only used 1 capsule = $0.10)
- apple cider vinegar (I paid $3.99 for 16 oz at Whole Foods, but I only used 0.17 ounces = $0.04)
- tea tree oil (I paid $12.50 for 4 ounces, but I only used 0.01 ounces = $0.03)
TOTAL COST: $0.25 per use!!!
That is insane!! Even if you made this mask 50 times, you'd only be out $12.50.
If you've ever shopped for store-bought face masks, I think you know that you'd be hard pressed to find anything for $12.50, let alone a face mask that's as safe, natural AND effective as this one!
For essential oils, I love Plant Therapy, whose oils are 100% pure, free from any additives, adulterants, or dilutions. Their facility is USDA Certified Organic, and their prices are also SUPER reasonable! Get 10% off your order of $50 or more sitewide with the coupon code ROOT10!
I also have to get on my soapbox to talk once more about how easy it is to make your own skincare products. This recipe is literally as simple as pouring four natural ingredients into a bowl, stirring and… THAT'S IT! You're done. It's been less than 30 seconds and you've made an awesome face mask!
By the way, if you're going to buy from Beautycounter, I highly recommend their loyalty program, Band of Beauty. It includes some awesome benefits like:
- Every time you shop, you get a 10% off product credit that you can use on your next order, essentially saving you 10% on all future orders.
- Get a FREE full-sized product as a complimentary gift for signing up when you spend $50.
- Free shipping, always, when you spend over $100.
It’s only $29 to join, which you’ll make back with the free gift and future savings. If you’re going to spend more than $100 with Beautycounter each year, this is seriously a no-brainer!
What is Activated Charcoal and Bentonite Clay?
Notice that haunting color of this face mask? It gets its super dark and beautiful hue from the activated charcoal capsule we add to the mixture.
But what is activated charcoal? Unlike the charcoal you'd use on the BBQ, activated charcoal is made especially for use as a medicine, and is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them (source).
In fact, one of the most popular uses for activated charcoal is in emergency trauma centers to treat poisoning and drug overdoses.
People also take the charcoal orally to reduce bloating and gas, lower cholesterol, treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy, and even prevent hangovers.
And it's amazing at treating acne–the activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. Just make sure to choose activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.
Couple the charcoal with bentonite clay (a “healing clay” that cleanses and heals the body) and you've got a super purifying and detoxifying face mask. This DIY Blackhead mask will pull dirt away from your skin, while feeding it with nutrients and antioxidants.
And unlike those harsh acids we mentioned before, this homemade face mask won't rip your skin of moisture and cause irritation.
Instead, we rely on organic apple cider vinegar's powerful healing compounds (think acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics and enzymes) to kill “bad” bacteria, and tea tree oil for its powerful antiseptic properties and ability to treat skin issues.
In fact, one study found tea tree oil to be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide, but without the red, dried and peeling skin (source).
Tips About Applying This DIY Charcoal + Clay Face Mask
While this DIY Acne Mask is clearly safe, natural, healing, detoxifying and just freaking amazing for your skin, I do have a quick word of caution and some application tips.
First, I always recommend doing a test patch first, before you apply to your face, so you can see how it feels on your skin.
Also, be careful not to leave this mask on for too long, as the charcoal can actually temporarily stain your skin black.
If you do run into this problem, simply apply this DIY Makeup Remover to a cotton pad and swipe it over your skin until all residue of the mask is removed. It may take a few cotton pads, but rest assured, it will all come off.
And if you leave it on for only the recommended amount of time (10 minutes) you shouldn't have any issues. Definitely check out the comments below for helpful tips from other readers so you can adjust the mask as needed to suit your skin type and sensitivity.
How often can you use this mask? I'd say not more than once per week as a deep exfoliator.
Can you make a big batch of this at once? No! You need to make it one batch at a time as needed. The products interact and create a paste, which will dry out if made in advance.
If you try this face mask, let us know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag the recipe #rootandrevel/@rootandrevel on Instagram.
DIY Activated Charcoal + Clay Mask for Blackheads
- 1 teaspoon bentonite clay
- 1 capsule activated charcoal , powder removed
- 1 teaspoon organic raw apple cider vinegar
- 3 drops tea tree oil
- In a small glass bowl, combine clay, charcoal powder, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Stir to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add a few drops of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- Apply mask to clean face, spreading in an even layer. Wash hands and rinse out glass bowl.
- Leave mask on for 10 minutes. Rinse mask off with warm water and a washcloth. If you have trouble getting rid of the color, apply this DIY Makeup Remover with a cotton pad to stained spots.
- Moisturize as normal.