Esthetician's Guide to Charcoal

Learn more about charcoal in the ASCP SkinPro app

What is Charcoal?

The carbon residue left from burning or incinerating a carbon-based substance such as wood or plants. It is used in skin care to absorb oils; it has drawing properties to help with clogged pores.

What Should I Know About Charcoal?

  • Has abrasive, exfoliating, and oil-absorbing properties.
  • Is often mixed with clays and other ingredients in cleansing masks and cleansers for oily and congested skin.
  • Activated charcoal is produced in a way that causes the material to be more porous, with much more absorption potential.

Charcoal Treatment Considerations

  • Use for treating oily or congested skin with clogged pores and comedones.
  • Exfoliates the skin; removes surface cells, making the skin look fresh.
  • Use as a general cleansing and exfoliating treatment.
  • Removes dead surface cells and is a good mechanical exfoliant. 

Charcoal Contraindications

  • May be too abrasive for sensitive skin, and too drying for dry skin.
  • Should not be used on inflamed or broken skin.
  • Use intake forms to screen for potential allergies that may affect the individual client.

ASCP members can access SkinPro to continue reading about charcoal

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SkinPro App

ASCP SkinPro

Introducing our newest resource for estheticians, ASCP SkinPro—a web app that can easily be saved to your mobile device!

Included with ASCP membership, ASCP SkinPro is designed to aid in skin analysis by putting the essential knowledge of contraindications for common skin-related conditions and ingredients at your fingertips. Members can log in for access or go directly to the app.

Picture this: You’re in the treatment room and a client tells you they have atopic dermatitis and several allergies. You’re pretty confident you know how to proceed with treatment, but you want to be absolutely sure. Simply open the app, search for the condition, and you’ve got expert information at your fingertips. You can also use ASCP SkinPro to look up ingredients quickly and easily, identifying important contraindications and best practices so you can adjust your treatment plan on the spot.

Consult with ASCP SkinPro with confidence and elevate your treatment plans. The ASCP team sourced information from a variety of clinical journals and worked with Dr. Mark Lees, author of Skin Care: Beyond the Basics and a longtime contributor to ASCP Skin Deep magazine, to bring it all together.


  • During consultation: Your client mentions a condition or ingredient allergy during the intake process and want to contraindications.
  • During skin analysis: You observe a skin condition and want to make a quick decision about the best treatment.
  • While retailing: You’re about to recommend a product for your client, but you want to confirm the contraindications and ensure the product will perform as needed. 


ASCP SkinPro uses progressive web app technology so you can save it to your phone, mobile device, or computer like an app, but it won't take up too much space. The app can recognize the device that you're using, and the instructions provided will match that device. For example, if you want to save ASCP SkinPro to your phone, log in with your phone and follow the instructions provided. Click here for instructions.

Already an ASCP member? Take a few minutes to try ASCP SkinPro here and discover your new go-to consultant!

Not yet an ASCP member? Join ASCP and get ASCP SkinPro, ASCP Career Toolkits, ASCP Skin Deep magazine, and the best professional liability insurance in the profession!

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