Charcoal Face Masks: Do They Work?

Charcoal Face Masks: Do They Work?

Charcoal Face Masks: Do They Work?

Viral videos show tar-black masks slowly being pulled back to reveal hundreds of visibly expelled blackheads and blackheads. But do they really work?

Like most beauty fans, I can’t resist trying it out when I get wind of a new skincare trend. From coating my face in unorthodox masks and scrubs to brushing with bamboo bristles, there’s really nothing I wouldn’t try at least once. Most recently, I have my sights set on these blackhead suction masks that are taking the internet by storm.

If you think you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, trust me, you have. The pore-cleansing videos are simultaneously repulsive and addictive, with tar-black masks slowly being pulled back to reveal hundreds of visibly expelled blackheads and blackheads. I’ve made it my mission to find out if these masks actually work.

Tube Pilaten Suction Black Mask for blackheads.

Courtesy of Aubrey Almanza

The blackhead removal product I chose

The first step was ordering the mask. After doing some research and comparing options, I settled on the Pilaten Suction Black Mask, which has received 1,000+ reviews on Amazon and tons of YouTube product ratings. It arrived a few days later. I was dying to jump right into testing, but be warned: the box and tube labels are only printed in Chinese!

The Pilaten website promises that the mask unclogs pores; absorb dirt, remove blackheads, acne and other impurities; and treat the skin with the help of natural extracts. (Don’t miss these reasons you’re having an acne breakout.) The site also offers English instructions – Jackpot.

Following the directions, I washed my face with warm water and my favorite cleanser (La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser). After patting my face dry with a heated, clean towel, I applied a layer of the mask to my T-zone (forehead, nose, inner cheeks, and chin). Even though the mask is as black as night and as thick as tar, I was surprised that it didn’t actually turn opaque. In fact, the “amount of gel needed” listed in the instructions turned out to be three dense layers to completely cover my skin.

The website recommends leaving the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes, but it was so thick it took 35 minutes to fully dry and cure. Of course, don’t try to use this if you plan on leaving your house in a hurry.

After a long wait, the mask was finally dry and it was time to peel it off and check the result. (Drum roll please!) The website says to “gently and slowly peel off the Pilaten Black Mask from the bottom up,” so that’s exactly what I did. But let me tell you, the process has been anything but smooth.


How I applied the mask

Pulling off the suction mask was so excruciating (especially on my cheeks) that I really couldn’t keep my eyes from watering. It was akin to what I imagine peeling dried CA off your eyelids, or maybe duct tape off your inner thighs. Call me dramatic, but I felt like I was being skinned alive (and turns out I’m not the only one).

“Pain is beauty,” I muttered to myself over and over, “and this can not all for naught.” But alas, when I turned the peeled off mask and expected to see thousands of expelled blackheads, I didn’t see (wait for it) a single one. Zero, zilch, nada – this so-called suction mask had absolutely nothing to show for all my efforts.

Convinced I must have done something wrong, I’ve repeated this grueling process twice more since then. And in problem areas where I know my pores need to be cleaned, the mask continues to show no results. I hate to tell you, but this supposedly purifying black suction mask didn’t live up to the hype one bit.

My friends, save your money, save your time and save your skin a world of pain and avoid this trend. My advice is to stick with the tried and tested. I’ve had better results with Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, an acne product that really works. Or try one of these 11 dermatologist-approved face masks for acne.

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