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Guiltess Skin Shares the Dirt on Activated Charcoal

Why You Should Use Activated Charcoal

Charcoal has become the latest buzzword in the beauty world - the black beauty wonder lends itself to many uses and is beneficial for detoxing the skin, clearing pores and even whitening your teeth! Charcoal is a key component in Guiltless Skin’s certified organic Charcoal Orange Cleansing Gel. We asked the company’s founder, Rupa Wincell, to break down the benefits of charcoal and why this cleanser is proving so popular.

Activated Charcoal

What is Activated Charcoal?

There are very few ingredients that have the ability to draw out toxins and absorb unwanted chemicals from the body - activated charcoal is one of those select few ingredients. It has been used for decades as a powerful detox therapy and that’s why it’s proven to be so popular in the health and beauty industry in recent times.

Also called 'activated carbon', activated charcoal can come from various sources, but is commonly made from coconut shell, wood or petroleum pitch. The charcoal we use is from coconut shell. To transform the raw material into activated charcoal, it is heated using a special process that results in increased porosity and adsorption capabilities.

It may come as a surprise to some that there are different grades of activated charcoal. A gram of activated charcoal can have a specific surface area (SSA) ranging from 500 m2 to 3,000 m2 - the higher the number, the better the adsorption. For cosmetics use, the SSA is generally 1,600 - 1,800 m2 per gram. This allows for maximum effect with even a very small dose.

Guiltless Skin Charcoal Cleansing Gel

A winning – clean – combination

Although cleansing is a critical part of a daily skincare routine for healthy, glowing skin, it shouldn’t leave your face feeling dry or tight, which is so often the experience with water-based foaming face washes. I’m a fan of oil cleansing – which is much kinder to skin - and the anti-toxin benefits of activated charcoal. I wanted to combine the best of both worlds. However, charcoal and oil alone don’t make for a pleasant experience (please don’t try it at home!), so we set about creating a gentle, biodegradable product that deeply cleanses while maintaining balance, leaving skin feeling comfortable.

The key to our formulating principles is to never use cheap synthetic fillers, focusing instead on good quality plant-based (organic, where possible) raw materials that benefit skin, so it was only natural that we sought out these hard-working ingredients to combine with activated charcoal:

Organic Glycerin

Glycerin is one of the most widely used cosmetic ingredients. The fact that it is also popular in the food industry is an indication of how safe it is for skin. Although glycerin can come from animal, vegetable or even synthetic sources, the glycerin we use in our products is sourced from coconuts and is certified organic.

Not only is glycerin non-toxic and categorized GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), it is multi-functional and suitable for all skin types. It’s a humectant, which means it retains and preserves moisture. It is also a skin protectant and leaves the skin silky smooth after cleansing. These qualities are the reason glycerin is a key component in all our cleansers. 

Organic Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is rich in an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. This not only makes it great for skincare, but for a healthy salad dressing! Safflower oil has the advantage of being suitable for all skin types. A test of cosmetics products with safflower oil showed that it produces no irritation, sensitization or even photosensitization. It acts as a lubricant and helps condition the skin – a perfect addition to a gentle cleanser.

Organic Jojoba Oil

Although it is sold in bottles and generally placed in the ‘oil section’, it’s a little-known fact that jojoba is technically not really an oil. It falls into a very special category because, even though it looks and acts just like an oil, it is a liquid wax. This is due to jojoba’s special chemical composition, which is relatively comparable to human sebum.

This makes jojoba oil well-tolerated by sensitive skin and it’s a popular ingredient in many baby products. If you check the label, you’ll find many baby oils are in fact 100% jojoba oil.


As many people are aware, surfactants are popular ingredients for cleansing, but may also risk drying and irritating the skin. In keeping with the other ingredients in our cleanser, we chose to use only the gentlest and most skin-friendly surfactants we could source.

Although the names may be difficult to pronounce, both caprylyl/capryl glucoside and coco glucoside are gentle surfactants that are produced from plants (such as coconut) and cleanse without irritating the skin. They’re also 100% natural origin, biodegradable and Ecocert approved.  

Organic Orange Essential Oil

And finally, we added a little ‘kick’ of citrus to our cleanser, but don’t think this natural ingredient is just there for its bright and happy scent. Orange essential oil is a powerful active ingredient and aids in freshening and cleansing the skin.

A truly winning combination!