Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

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It’s time for another DIY beauty post which should really be titled, “How to make a beauty product that resembles dirt and will scare away your family.” But who would actually click on a post with that title? Maybe a few of us would be tempted, particularly at 4pm when a mom desperately needs a quiet bathroom break. Alone.

Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

Once again, we’re going to play around with activated charcoal. Remember the black, scary-looking powder we used last month to make a skin-clarifying face mask? Well, it’s back, and this time we’re using it to exfoliate the skin. First, let’s recap the details about activated charcoal.

According to Dr. Axe (which many other sources confirm), “Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.” As described in my story, activated charcoal is sometimes used to help treat (food) poisoning. Dr. Axe goes onto to share that activated charcoal works through a process called adsorption, which he describes as “the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.”

Thanks to its detoxifying properties, I’ve found that activated charcoal has been a great addition to my natural skincare routine, particularly as someone who is prone to breakouts. I’ve also started experimenting with adding a bit of charcoal powder and coconut oil to my toothbrush at night to help whiten my teeth. I’ll report more on this experiment at a later time, if it works ;).

Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

Since I’ve been enjoying the activated charcoal face mask (posted last month), I wanted to experiment with a beauty product that I could mix together and let sit in my bathroom for a couple of weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a mask, but the act of having to get out the ingredients and mix it all up for a one-time use is a bit too much sometimes for a tired mom at 10pm. And since I don’t want to scare my family (well, most days), 10pm is the only time for such a scary-looking beauty product. My solution? A charcoal exfoliating facial scrub.

Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

I’ve been using my Honey and Sugar Body Scrub for quite some time, and absolutely love the way it makes my skin feel. Based on my research, I use a scrub twice a week to help exfoliate my face. Anything more than that seems to be over-kill for my skin, and usually results in dry skin and breakouts. I decided to initially try using the base of my honey scrub, oil and sugar, and then simply add a bit of charcoal powder to the mix. The result was an oily and “dirty” product that was hard to apply to my skin. My conclusion? Way too much oil for a charcoal scrub.

After playing around with the concept a few more times, I found that less oil was needed for this scrub. The final product was a black, sandy-looking scrub that left my skin feeling clean and refreshed.

Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

Before I share the recipe, let me just add one important note.

If you didn’t like playing in the dirt as a kid, you’re probably not going to like this exfoliating facial scrub. This scrub definitely reminds me of making mud pies as a child, but with a grainier feel. If dirt just wasn’t and still isn’t your thing, it’s okay, I’ve got you covered with a couple of other options. I recommend trying my Honey and Sugar Body Scrub or Green Tea Exfoliator.

Now, who is ready for a detoxifying mud pie spa experience?

Activated Charcoal Exfoliating Facial Scrub
5 from 3 votes

Activated Charcoal Exfoliating Facial Scrub

Who is ready for a detoxifying mud pie spa experience?
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course DIY
Cuisine Body
Servings 1 /3 cup


  • 1/3 cup organic cane sugar or white sugar
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil not an oil “blend.”
  • 2 activated charcoal capsules, about 1/2 tsp of powder
  • 3 drops skin-nourishing essential oil optional


  • Add the cane sugar and activated charcoal to a bowl or storage jar (pictured:
  • Shake the jar or whisk the ingredients together to combine the sugar and charcoal powder. Add the olive oil to the mixture, and stir to combine. The sugar and charcoal should look like wet, black sand. Seal the jar until use.

To Use:

  • Apply a small amount of the scrub to the palm of your hand, then massage it over a clean face for about 30 seconds. Rinse the scrub off with a warm washcloth. I personally use a scrub on my face twice a week. I've found that over-exfoliating my skin leads to break-outs and dry skin. Twice a week is the magic number for me.
  • After exfoliating, I use a rosewater toner and face oil for a moisturizer. When you introduce water into a product without a preservative you always run the risk of introducing bacteria, so I recommend using a spoon to scoop this scrub from the jar (water on hands = water in the jar).


I like to use frankincense essential oil for my skin-friendly essential oil. The smell is incredibly pleasant and uplifting for a facial scrub.
I think you could probably use another nourishing oil, like jojoba or sweet almond oil, in place of the olive oil.
It’s important that your sugar is soft, which is why I recommend using organic cane sugar or white sugar, versus something like coconut sugar or sucanat. I bet brown sugar would also work in this scrub, and it would probably pair nicely with the dirt look provided by the charcoal, lol.
From my experience, the black charcoal powder easily washes off cloth surfaces once they are washed in the washing machine with laundry soap. After rinsing your face, your washcloth will probably look like it visited your garden and played in the mud. That said, I don’t recommend using your favorite white Anthropologie washcloth to rinse off this mask.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
Super easy activated charcoal scrub for your face. Leaves my skin clean and refreshed. Love this! And who knew charcoal was so easy to find, and has so many uses?

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    1. Hey Clarence, This will be too harsh for broken-out skin. There may be a root cause to the pimples, depending on the type, so that’s where I would focus.

  1. I liked this scrub. I did read about the health benefits of activated charcoal and used the scrub. It absorbs the toxins and impurities, and I just used it once. I have oily skin, but I do not like to use anything which is not natural on my skin. I like natural remedies and activated charcoal is natural that leaves the skin clean and refreshed. I have blemishes also but I think using this scrub twice a week can help in removing the blemishes. After the first use, I just felt my skin to be more soft and supple.

  2. Cant wait to try this! Just wondering if i can add matcha powder and bentonite clay? If yes, how much do i need to add? What other natural toner and face oil can i use after this?

  3. Hi Kristen!

    Do you think that coconut oil would work with this mixture? It would harden so it might make for an interesting texture…

  4. Hello Kristin 🙂 I read yesterday on the Internet a facial scrub for pore minimizer. You need to exfoliate your face with plain baking soda. It is recommended to use twice a week. What do you think? Is it to harsh for the skin? I have oily skin. Would you give it a try? Thank you

  5. Hi Kristin.
    Do you have any recipe for facial scrub WITHOUT using charcoal? It’s pretty hard to find it here and if there’s one, the price is quite expensive. Besides I have this strange doubt using charcoal as part of my beauty routine eventhough there are dozens of reviews showing it’s good for face. Thank you!

  6. Hi Kristin,
    I made another version of this, omitting the sugar, and it forms a nice paste, which dries somewhat before you take it off. I leave it on for about 10 minutes and then use a hot wet cloth to remove it.

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Kristin,
    I just found your site and I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m totally into DIY, love this recipe, among others.
    I’m getting ready to make some Vitamin C serum.
    Thank you!!
    You look the absolute picture of good health 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Another amazing recipe, I’m in love with your site! 🙂 I use charcoal as a face mask, scrub and in other DIY skin care products and will make this version for sure. 🙂

  9. I have made this but I find that the charcoal stains my skin unless I use a face wash after. Simple rubbing with a cloth doesn’t remove it. I don’t understand why this happens to me? My husband tried the same scrub and it did not stain him!

    1. Hey Cady, Hmmm, If you have large pores, the charcoal may get stuck in your pores (I have this issue with some of my larger pores), but it will come out. If you use wet washcloth afterward that should help, or use a toner/astringent. The scrub alone needs to be wiped away, or the black residue may remain, so you may need to wet, wipe, and rinse the washcloth a couple of times.

      Another idea is to reduce the amount of charcoal to just a few pinches.

    2. If you want to add essential oils how much would you want to add of each? Can you add coffee for tighten effect or will it counteract with charcoal?

      1. Hey Mayra, I would add 6 drops of essential oil (1 % dilution), or reduce this amount in half. You could add some coffee grinds, and reduce the sugar to compensate for this addition. I don’t think the coffee and charcoal would counteract.