About California Charcoal
If you suffer from facial blackheads, dirty pores, or excessively oily skin, California Charcoal claims to provide a solution to remove these impurities–and rehydrate the skin to boot.
Customer service tells us that using the peel is easy; simply apply it to the skin anywhere where blackheads and impurities are prevalent, allow the solution to sit for 10-15 minutes or until dry, and remove the peel to reveal smooth, shiny skin.
The product’s ingredients are said to allow it to reveal your deepest clean skin, but what’s actually going on here to facilitate this? Let’s take a look in the section below.
How Facial Peels Like California Charcoal Claim to Work
You might have seen facial peels like California Charcoal on social media or in stores before, but how exactly are these supposed to remove blackheads and other impurities from the skin?
The answer to this question centers around the concept of exfoliation. Put simply, exfoliation is the process of removing old dead cells on the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis). According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this stripping of the outer layer leaves your skin looking brighter, and may also help to counter the formation blackheads and whiteheads.
Not everyone agrees that these sorts of masks can actually remove existing blackheads, however: in an article from Bustle, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky says she’s yet to see hard evidence that peel-off charcoal face masks are effective for blackheads, specifically.
"However, they do give the illusion that they work. This is because a blackhead is much more than just the tiny black dot poking out of your pore. There is a buildup of oil, dead skin, and bacteria underneath that blackhead that you can’t see. When that mixture of oil, skin cells, and bacteria is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black. These face masks may pull off that oxidized layer without clearing out the root problem underneath it."
So, although California Charcoal claims that “the proof is in the peel,” removing the visible symptoms of blackheads may not actually rid yourself of the underlying issue.
Dr. Prystowsky also warns about potentially negative effects that can stem from using these facial peels too frequently (IE more than once a month, but we’ll cover this in a moment):
"If you use these face masks too often, you will get what dermatologists call the tape-stripping effect. Essentially, you will be continuously pulling off the top layer of your skin, as well as that oxidized mix of skin, oil, and bacteria. This can cause your skin to dry out quickly, and feel irritated over time."
This is because much of this oil acts as a natural barrier of sorts, protecting your skin from harmful pollutants. When this barrier is stripped away, you can leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to rashes and irritation.
Customer service let us know that they had no officially recommended usage frequency, stating instead that it depended highly upon what type of skin you have and how it reacts to the product.
Of course, one of California Charcoal’s central claims revolves around its ability to not only remove impurities, but also hydrate the skin, thanks to a combination of ingredients included in the product’s formula.
In the following section, let’s take a deeper look at these ingredients to decide if they truly can deliver meaningful hydration to the skin.
Can California Charcoal’s Ingredients Hydrate the Skin?
In the product’s commercial, we’re shown that California Charcoal includes the following ingredients in its formulation:
- Vitamin C
Based on information taken from WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and the American Academy of Dermatology, Vitamin C may play a role in retaining moisture when applied to the skin via a topical solution. It also may help ward off the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as an added bonus.
That said, these sources did not report any direct evidence of hydrating effects for any of these ingredients when applied topically, but it’s important to note that the deluxe version of California Charcoal comes with a moisturizer product as well.
We reached out to customer support to inquire about the ingredients in this bonus product, as well as whether they meant that this is what can hydrate the skin specifically. They told us that while the California Charcoal “may provide some hydration,” this claim does indeed mainly refer to the optional branded moisturizer product included in the deluxe package (see details below in the pricing section). We were unable to obtain information about this product’s ingredients when we called.
Potential Facial Side Effects
The sources listed in the above section did not report any major side effects associated with the topical application of any of the ingredients included in California Charcoal, but as we mentioned earlier on, experts like Dr. Prystowsky warn that these types of peels can indeed cause your skin to dry out rapidly and become irritated if used too often.
According to facialist, aesthetician, and member of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology Andy Millward, it can take the skin near your face up to 30 days to recover and restore its natural top layer of cells and oils after each charcoal peel-off treatment. He recommends that you don’t repeat the treatment during this time, instead using a gentle, hydrating, antioxidant-rich cleanser and plenty of sunscreen to protect the more vulnerable fresh layer of skin this is now exposed.
How to Buy a Charcoal Peel Solution
By this point, you’ve likely realized that there are a multitude of different charcoal-based peel treatments available both online and in retail stores today. Finding a few of these is as easy as typing something similar to “charcoal peel mask” into Google, which brought up dozens of results for us during our research.
Many of these were found to contain similar common ingredients, such as activated charcoal, vitamin c, and rosemary extracts. The majority of the products that we encountered on Google and Amazon ranged from $5 to $20, placing California Charcoal in the upper end of that spectrum (though, to be fair, the product in question also includes a cleanser, as well as moisturizer should you opt for the deluxe option).
In addition, we found numerous options available in local retail stores across the US that were not only cheaper, but might also save you on shipping and handling fees as well. This might be ideal if you prefer to purchase products like this in person, or if you aren’t looking for anything other than the charcoal peel itself.
Outside of pricing and availability, however, here are some other things to consider about charcoal peel masks:
- As usual for facial care solutions, take care to ensure that you do not have any allergies to any of the ingredients included in the product’s formula. If you suspect you might, talk with your doctor about the product beforehand.
- Always use charcoal masks sparingly; as we learned above, it’s not ideal to remove the top layer of your skin more than once every 30 days due to the potential for drying and irritation.
- For best results, Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City states in an article by Health.com that you should wash your face with warm water prior to using the mask to pre-exfoliate it as much as possible. She also mentions that removing any facial hair beforehand may make the removal process more tolerable.
California Charcoal Pricing & Return Policy
California Charcoal comes in two main packages:
- Main Offer: $19.99 + $6.99 S&H – Includes a California Charcoal Charcoal Mask, California Charcoal Cleanser
- Deluxe Offer: $29.98 + $6.99 S&H – Includes a California Charcoal Charcoal Mask, California Charcoal Cleanser, California Charcoal Moisturizer
Note: There is also a double offer available for each package that is priced at $9.99 and $19.98, respectively. This offer gets you two of each product included in the respective package.
There is a 30-day money back guarantee on all orders, less shipping and handling fees. To initiate a return, call customer service at 1-800-893-1152.
The Bottom Line: Is California Charcoal Effective?
Will California Charcoal truly remove blackheads, unclog your pores, and rehydrate your skin?
As we learned above, authority sources like the American Academy of Dermatology and Health.com state that stripping the top layer of skin away using exfoliation (the process that California Charcoal relies upon) may indeed provide protection against the formation of blackheads, though they did not report that it can directly & reliably remove them alone.
We also learned that these products may give the appearance of removal, while the root issue remains further underneath the skin, according to experts like Dr. Prystowsky. In addition, we encountered no direct evidence from WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and the American Academy of Dermatology that the ingredients included in the product’s formula could hydrate the skin, save for the role Vitamin C may play in retaining moisture in its outermost layer.
Despite this, if all you’re looking for is that smooth and shiny appearance, California Charcoal seems to have a lot going for it. Stripping away that top layer of skin might just be what you need to feel content with your purchase, even if it only amounts to a temporary solution in the end.
Still, as consumers ourselves, we’d find it difficult to justify paying more of our hard-earned dollars for California Charcoal knowing that functionality similar products exist both locally and online that include similar ingredients, and for cheaper prices to boot.
Should you decide that you would like to give the product a shot, however, you’ll have the 30-day guarantee to fall back on should you decide it’s not for you.
As usual, if you’d like professional medical advice tailored to your specific situation, a smart first step might be to speak with your local dermatologist directly.
Have you used California Charcoal before? Leave a review below and share your experience with other HighYa readers!