From skincare to supplements, the beauty world is obsessed with charcoal at the moment – it’s a multi-tasking ingredient with a variety of internal and external benefits that mean it’s cropping up in everything from green juices to face masks and making waves thanks to its speedy and visible results. It’s been trending in DIY beauty recipes for the past year, but charcoal is actually an age-old beauty treatment that has been used for centuries to cleanse and detoxify, and is also used in hospitals to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdose – it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-odour. Never one to let a new beauty fad pass me by, I resolved to try out some charcoal beauty products for myself. I’m currently using a bi-weekly charcoal face mask (its purgative properties help to pull dirt from pores and remove excess oil) and last night I tested a charcoal shampoo (which claims to remove oil and nourish the scalp with nourishing minerals), but by far the most interesting product I’ve tried so far (and perhaps in my entire beauty writing tenure) is Mr Blanc’s Bamboo Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish.
Formulated to target the staining particles found in foods such as coffee, wine, fruit, and tea, this toothpaste uses charcoal to lift the stains from teeth without damaging enamel. What’s more, it also helps to strengthen teeth and gums by releasing beneficial minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and works to remove toxins and absorb bacteria – resulting in a clean sensation and fresher breath. Initially alarming upon first use (it’s pitch black), Mr Blanc’s actually tastes just like regular toothpaste, but rather than being smooth, has a gritty texture (the abrasion helps to buff away the stains).
As for the science, well, this is no ordinary barbecue charcoal (so don’t be tempted to DIY); activated charcoal is charcoal that’s been treated with oxygen to increase its absorptive properties and make it more receptive to withdrawing impurities. Essentially, it’s about as holistic as toothpaste can get – a more virtuous alternative to fluoride – which is commonly used in most teeth whitening products but can have a harmful effect on the body. As a toothpaste, it has the same effect it does when ingested – it binds to impurities and pulls toxins from the mouth, removing stains, tartar, viruses, and bacteria by triggering separation. As it removes the tartar and stains from your teeth, it makes them whiter, and with continued use leaves them noticeably brighter and more uniform in colour. That’s no exaggeration either – I’ve been using Mr Blanc for a month now and am already regretting the amount of money I’ve previously sunk into the ‘latest breakthrough teeth whitening technologies’. I’m all for innovation and progress, but sometimes, the old stuff really is the good stuff – and charcoal toothpaste 100% proves that point.