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Charcoal Facial Scrubs: Is It Something You Should Be Using?

I don’t know if you can tell from my titles but this post is not going to be one in support of searching for the best charcoal facial scrub.

It will be a mix of why I don’t think that charcoal is a desired ingredient when it comes to taking care of our skin, when it comes to removing dead skin cells, dirt or impurities or for unclogging pores.

And it will be post about finding alternatives to charcoal facial scrubs in the forms of the best facial scrubs. Maybe once you read my reviews for the best scrubs for face, you will understand why charcoal doesn’t have a place in the world of scrubs for our facial skin.


There are no well-know skincare products manufacturers that make charcoal facial scrubs so, that’s another reason for focusing our attention on other types of facial scrubs, like maybe sugar scrubs and we’ll see what else.

You can also read this interesting article that I found when I was researching charcoal in the beauty industry. It will clear up a lot of things.

Charcoal Facial Scrub: Why You Should Look for Alternatives

charcoal facial scrub alternative

Let me tell you why I think that there are far better facial scrubs for us than a charcoal facial scrub:

  • first: I don’t actually think that the are any actual charcoal benefits for skin
  • second: charcoal is used in masks and I can accept that there are a couple of good charcoal masks for certain skin types but I actually don’t see why it would be used for making charcoal facial scrubs
  • third: as far as I’m aware, there no actual studies done to support the claims that charcoal is beneficial for skin
  • fourth: personally, I don’t like harsh ingredients that can strip the skin of its essential oils and charcoal definitely does that
  • last but not least, I’m not a big supporter of facial scrubs because they can be harsh on the skin and there are actually not a lot of facial scrubs that are actually amazing – personally, I prefer chemical exfoliators for face


I will reserve my right to prefer chemical exfoliators to help me remove dead skin cells and to help me prevent clogged pores. If you want to read more about them, check out my post on the best face exfoliators.

I do like a mask from time to time and I will talk about that quite soon because it’s related to my reluctance to recommend you a charcoal facial scrub.

Since this is a post on facial scrubs, even if I’m not going to review the best charcoal facial scrubs, I will review the best alternatives in the form of the best facial scrubs.

If you don’t agree with my opinion, that’s perfectly normal. I’m still glad that you ended up reading a bit of my words.

My Opinion on Charcoal in Skin Care

Due to the fact that I have sensitive skin that can easily get dry and turn to peeling if I’m not careful and because I also suffer from acne, I’m not a big supporter of questionable ingredients.

I’m also not a big supporter of harsh ingredients unless they are overwhelmingly balanced by soothing nourishing ingredients.

Plus, I don’t go for skincare products that contain things that might strip off the skin of its essential oils. Our skin barrier deserves our attention and the acknowledgment that a healthy skin barrier should be anyone’s objective, no matter their skin type or what skin problems they face.

Getting back:

Charcoal in skin care is exactly that. It’s one of those ingredients that was totally hyped without actual studies to demonstrate that it’s actually good for skin. Or that it doesn’t harm the skin in the long term.

Charcoal in Masks for Clogged Pores

To give you an example on where I stand when it comes to charcoal in skin care:

When I wrote a post on the best masks for clogged pores, I mentioned that charcoal is an ingredient that can be found in masks for removing excess sebum and oil and impurities from deep within the pores.

I talked about charcoal in conjunction with clay masks because sometimes they are used together.


In the end, only two of my recommended masks ended up containing charcoal alongside clay.

One is a pretty affordable option that contains charcoal powder but the focus is actually on salicylic acid and mostly on removing dead skin cells.

The other is a pretty expensive mask that contains Japanese white charcoal. The fact that it works for sensitive skin and the reviews from users demonstrated that the use of Japanese white charcoal was quite good for clogged pores is what made me recommend it.

Those where the exceptions that included charcoal.

The other masks where focused on clays that are definitely amazing for clearing up clogged pores. Since clogged pores go hand in hand with acne, I recommended a few masks with zinc and sulfur because these are two ingredients that have proven their worth in the fight against acne. My personal experience has also convinced me of that.

The surprise was offered by the probiotics purifying masks. Probiotics are definitely becoming a focus of the beauty industry.

Overall, even when it comes to masks for clogged pores, charcoal is not a popular ingredient. Clay masks are so much better.

The Alternative to Charcoal Facial Scrub: 5 Best Facial Scrubs

Those are my reasons for not recommending a charcoal facial scrub. Let’s talk about which are actually the best facial scrubs.

They’re not going to be that many but those that I review are really good. I will also specify which skin type will benefit more for each best facial scrub.

The best facial scrubs remove dead skin cells with the help of tiny grains, like:

  • sugar
  • salt
  • coffee
  • micro-beads
  • jojoba beads, etc.

These are some of the most popular ingredients found in the best facial scrubs to slough off dead skin cells. As you can see, charcoal is not on the list.

1. Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Facial Scrub, 5 oz – Best Daily Facial Scrub

This Aveeno Brightening Facial Scrub is one of the cheapest facial scrubs. It’s also pretty amazing.

When I’m talking about scrubs that can be used on sensitive skin, this is what I’m talking about.

And it’s one of those rare scrubs that can be used daily and it actually works for all skin types. It’s a great scrub for acne-prone skin, too.

It promises to improve skin tone, texture, and clarity. You can get a softer brighter skin and that’s the whole point of exfoliating our skin.

The whole basis of this scrub is represented by naturally derived granules and moisture-rich soy extract, it’s a simple product but one that works the way it promises to.

2. Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub, 6 oz – Great for All Skin Types

Let’s continue our journey through scrubs that are so gentle that can be used daily and are meant for all skin types by also talking about this one from Cetaphil.

The price is really cheap and the ingredients that are meant for nourishing and soothing the skin are great: glycerin, vitamin E, and vitamin B5 (panthenol).

The exfoliation is done by micro fine granules. It will remove dead skin cells in a gentle manner and it will give you the opportunity to enjoy healthy glowing skin.

If you are interested in knowing more about the skincare products that this manufacturer offers, check out my post on CeraVe vs Cetaphil.

3. Pharmagel Gentle Papaya Face Exfoliator Scrub, 6 oz – Chemical Exfoliator, too

Why did I call this one a chemical facial scrub? I’m pretty sure that’s not actually a term but I called it that because this scrub also contains chemical exfoliators.

When I say chemical exfoliators I refer to the fact that it contains papaya enzymes (enzymes are amazing, they deeply penetrate the skin and remove dead skin cells in a gentle manner) and salicylic acid (this is a BHA used by people suffering from acne in order to keep pores clean).

The physical exfoliation (the granules) is done by walnut shell powder. I must admit that I’m pretty skeptical when walnut shell powder is mentioned as the scrub because it can irritate sensitive dry skin.

But this scrub mentions that it works for all skin types and the reviews are positive and they describe this one as a thick cornmeal texture scrub, nothing harmful. Just gently massage it into the skin.

This best facial scrub with chemical exfoliation can also be used daily so, it’s completely clear that it also belongs to the best gentle facial scrubs category that won’t strip the skin of its essential oils.

But you can also use it 2-3 times a week, however often you feel the need. The price is not that high but if you use it 3 times a week it will last a lot longer.


Men can use it as a pre-shave treatment to exfoliate before shaving for a smoother closer shave.

4. Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Facial Scrub, 4.23 oz – Natural Ingredients

Before going into the wonderful natural ingredients that this affordable best facial scrub contains, I just want to let you know that it’s best used by those with normal to dry skin.

I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive skin, the above gentle ones should be considered first.

I can see why it would work for dry skin because it contains aloe vera plus a bunch of oils: sesame seed oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil and lime peel oil.

It also contains pineapple fruit extract, meaning that it also contains an enzyme for a gentle chemical exfoliation.

The granules for removing dead skin cells are jojoba beads and bamboo polish, which are both gentle options.

To this, is added kale and spirulina for a successful exfoliation experience or, as Sukin calls it, a detoxifying facial scrub.

5. Replenix Clarifying Brightening Polish, 6.7 oz – Best Anti-Aging Facial Scrub

With this best facial scrub from Replenix, we’re venturing into the territory of expensive scrubs.

This one uses micro-beads that are formulated to gently cleanse and exfoliate, removing dry, dead skin cells, excess oil and residues.

The micro-beads actually mean micro, you won’t be feeling a gritty texture at all.

You don’t need to cause micro-tears into the skin in order for a scrub to remove dirt, excess sebum, and dead skin cells. That’s the whole point of this article and why I chose not to recommend a charcoal facial scrub but focus on other much better alternatives.

The Replenix Clarifying Brightening Polish is without a doubt a best facial scrub, as long as you’re not scared by the price.

The ingredients are fantastic, definitely focused on the anti-aging aspect of a beauty routine:

  • glycolic acid – powerful chemical exfoliator for fighting hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and for brightening the skin
  • salicylic acid – another chemical exfoliator, especially good for fighting blackheads
  • soothing ingredients: chamomile, comfrey leaf extract, bisabolol
  • arbutin – famous for fighting hyperpigmentation
  • powerful antioxidants: vitamin E, vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), green tea extract and polyophenols, CoQ10

It’s recommended for dry, normal, oily and sensitive skin types. Basically, all skin types.

We are given precise directions for this scrub: use it on dry skin and massage gently into skin. Then, wet your hands and massage for 1-2 minutes. You can use it 2-3 times a week.

How to Use a Facial Scrub

  • it’s best to use a scrub in the evening
  • before doing anything with your face, wash your hands
  • cleanse your skin – you should use a scrub on a clean face always
  • gently massage the scrub on wet skin, you can use the scrub on the lips, too – gentle massages are the key words to take away when it comes to knowing how to use a facial scrub
  • completely avoid the eye area – the skin there is really thin
  • read the instruction and follow them precisely
  • if it says that you should massage the scrub for 30 seconds, stick to that – also 30 seconds up to 1 min is more than enough for a facial scrub
  • don’t use it more often than it’s recommended – usually, using a facial scrub once or twice a week is the norm but there are also gentle scrubs that can be used daily
  • cleanse with lukewarm water
  • gently pat dry the skin with a clean towel
  • continue with your night-time routine, focus on nourishing and hydrating the skin, using products with antioxidants, instead of using more powerful products, like retinol serums

I hope that you’re not disappointed that you came here looking for the best charcoal facial scrub but ended up discovering the best facial scrubs that have nothing to do with charcoal, but maybe one of them will be what you’re looking for.