5 Magically Easy Uses for Activated Charcoal

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Like any red-blooded mascara-wearing American woman who longs for simpler times and a real Chanel bag, I'm full-on obsessed with weird beauty remedies. Why buy a mask full of strange additives when you can get better skin with a face covered in raw honey? Why fall for beauty buzzwords like "anti-inflammatory" and "glowing" when you can do just that with a simple shake of turmeric? My latest find in the world of strange, do-I-eat-that-or-wear-it? beauty is gritty and black and awfully similar to something your dad grills with: activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is very different than burned hunks of wood — it's charcoal that's been purified and made extra-porous, so it sucks toxins and impurities from the environment around it. This is why activated charcoal is used in hospitals to treat poisoning and overdosing. But it's also available for non-life-or-death matters, like coffee-stained teeth and PMS. You can snag it loose or in capsule form; here's how to make it work for you:

Try: VivaDoria Activated Charcoal, $8, Amazon Nature's Way Activated Charcoal Capsules, $7, Amazon

1. Whiten your teeth

Make yourself a grill (HA! anyone?) of charcoal and you'll be amazed at the results. Seriously, search #activatedcharcoal on Instagram to see some intense before-and-after photos. The porous nature of charcoal sucks stain-causing tannins off your teeth gently. Make a little slurry with an opened capsule of activated charcoal and water, and use it to brush your teeth, then leave on for a few extra minutes.

2. Mix up a detoxifying mask

Charcoal draws out impurities from your skin and leaves it feeling extra clean. Mix a teaspoon with water to form a paste, and add a squeeze of honey. Leave on for 5-10 minutes.

3. Reduce bloating

So it's that time of the month again, and everything's terrible. Here's an incredibly simple fix: Activated charcoal absorbs gas and toxins from your digestive system, so take a capsule (check the bottle for the appropriate serving size) with a massive glass of water two hours before or after eating. Don't take with any medications, because the charcoal will absorb the medications, too.

4. Make a quick clarifying shampoo

Open a capsule of activated charcoal and mix in with a dollop of shampoo to deep-clean and clarify your scalp.

5. Stir activated charcoal into a body scrub

Your body could use a little detox, too, so stir a few healthy spoonfuls of the gritty stuff into one of those homemade sugar/olive oil scrubs we all love to make.

Image: @kellalovesapples/Instagram