Charcoal-Infused Makeup Brushes Are A Thing, But Do They Work?

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It’s safe to say that the charcoal beauty boom is still staying strong, as we’ve all seen those activated charcoal sheet masks, pore strips and cleansers become more mainstream in the last few years. However, expect charcoal-infused makeup products to become even more prevalent this year, especially now that charcoal-infused makeup brushes are being introduced into the product lines of many big name brands. 

But now, smaller makeup retailers are getting in on the charcoal action, as clean-beauty brands like dome BEAUTY, for example, are also churning out blush, eyeshadow and liner brushes made with synthetic charcoal fibers. And unlike traditional synthetic brushes, Mar Cavalone, founder of dome BEAUTY, tells us charcoal-infused makeup brushes have a surprising added benefit that may help keep those breakouts and blemishes at bay. 

“Unlike traditional synthetic makeup brushes, brushes that are infused with charcoal have the added benefit of providing extra defense to fight against bacteria build up,” Cavalone says. “As charcoal boasts natural detoxifying properties, it acts as a self-cleaner for the brushes.” 

Yes, bacteria-busting makeup brushes definitely seem like a dream come true for any beauty enthusiast. However, it’s important to note that product claims and proven results are two different things. To determine if charcoal-infused makeup brushes actually keep your brushes cleaner, we tapped a board-certified dermatologist and a celebrity makeup artist to weigh in on the efficacy of these brushes in question. 

Why Use Charcoal in Makeup Brushes?

While activated charcoal has been used as an active ingredient inside many skin-care product formulas, Cavalone explains that charcoal-infused makeup brushes are made a bit differently. “Brush fibers are infused with charcoal prior to the brush production,” she says. “These same fibers are then used in our custom designed brushes.” 

Cavalone suggests that approximately five grams of charcoal are added to produce 1,000 grams of the synthetic charcoal fibers. However, she says the balance of both charcoal-infused and synthetic bristles is important, as too much charcoal can compromise the effectiveness of your brush. 

Charcoal aside, Cavalone says you still will have to clean these kinds of makeup brushes regularly, as it’s still important to maintain good hygiene practices when using beauty products of any kind. “Brushes infused with charcoal provide an added benefit to assist in fighting bacteria buildup, but you still need to regularly wash your brushes to keep them truly sanitary,” she states. 

What the Dermatologist Says 

Charcoal has definitely proven to be a factor in helping to maintain the cleanliness of makeup brushes, according to Birmingham, AL dermatologist Corey Hartman, MD.

However, he also suggests that charcoal’s effectiveness only lasts 60 to 90 days, making it important to replace these brushes every three months. “Even though you may not have to clean the brushes as frequently when you have them, it is imperative that you replace the brushes every three months when the charcoal loses its efficacy.” 

What the Makeup Artist Says 

From a makeup-artist perspective, Garnier celebrity hair and makeup artist Millie Morales says charcoal-infused makeup brushes can be particularly helpful for those with oily and acne-prone skin, as the bristles are less porous, meaning they won’t hold onto breakout-causing bacteria. 

“I like using synthetic or preservative-free brushes like these because they have less porous bristles, so they do not hold on to bacteria,” Morales tells NewBeauty. “This makes these brushes more than suitable for acne-prone skin, as they are also much easier to clean and dry faster.” 

Should You Use Charcoal-Infused Makeup Brushes? 

From eye patches to pore strips, there is no real surprise why charcoal-infused makeup brushes are becoming more popular, as they boast built-in protection against blemish-inducing bacteria. However, be advised that while products containing activated charcoal are typically considered safe for use, a 2019 study published in Clinics in Dermatology suggested there is a lack of clinical evidence to support the ingredient’s acne-busting claims. 

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