Activated charcoal’s inky black hue and detoxification properties have made it the hot new health and beauty trend of 2018.
By Sara Smola
Gone are the trends of cupcakes, cronuts and bacon covered/infused everything, LA is undergoing a massive cleanse, replacing gluten and carbs with kale chips, poke, bone broth, green juice and now charcoal. That’s right. Activated charcoal to be exact. Not to be confused with the same charcoal you use to fire up the BBQ, activated charcoal is a man-made substance created by applying intense heat to organic materials such as bamboo and coconut husk, resulting in a porous ashy substance that is known for its detoxification properties.
No longer exclusively known for its medicinal ability to aid in ER overdoses or food poisoning, the potent black powder is becoming a popular household remedy and beauty aid—for teeth whitening to unclogging and minimizing pores. Beauty bloggers have taken to YouTube en masse showing off their jet black caked teeth and skin, promising that you too could experience a whiter, brighter smile or clear skin.
Meanwhile, in the culinary world, activated charcoal is having a hot moment as well—appearing in everything from fresh pressed juices to waffles to ice cream, leaving a telltale signature inky hue all over the Los Angeles region. Everyone seems fascinated by the gothic hue. And the taste isn’t bad either. In fact, in Pressed Juicery’s activated charcoal lemonade, with complementary additional ingredients of lavender oil and honey for sweetness, the drink is pretty delicious.
Many are quenching their thirst with these types of detox drinks as activated charcoal’s absorbent properties are said to help bind unwanted toxins (such as chemicals and heavy metals), then flush them out of the body. Some health professionals even claim activated charcoal’s powerful purifying abilities can help rid the body of viral infections and even lower cholesterol.
But, like most things in life, there can be too much of a good thing in terms of activated charcoal’s binding abilities. Some doctors recommend that anyone taking medication do so at least two hours apart from ingesting charcoal as it could inhibit absorption.
Though the health benefits have yet to be fully proven, cleanse-obsessed Angelinos and Pasadenans seem intent on testing the theory out for themselves, reaching for a detox drink in between yoga classes or after a night of drinking to soothe a hangover. But before you get too excited, regardless of its questionable cure-all reputation, don’t expect an overnight miracle one charcoal lemonade certainly isn’t going to help you recover from a weekend bender.
Where to Try the Trend
Again Café x Chibiscus Ramen serves up tasty activated charcoal breakfast waffles with both sweet (mixed berries, hand-whipped cream and maple syrup) and savory (poached egg and thick cut bacon) topping options. 132 W. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91105
Indiana Colony’s Pressed Juicery quenches shoppers’ thirst along Colorado Boulevard with its refreshing activated charcoal lavender lemonade, sweetened with honey. 59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105
Little Damage offers a “gothfriendly” alternative to vanilla ice cream and rainbow sprinkles with its rotating list of unusual flavors, such as their almond-charcoal flavored soft serve ice cream that you can order in an Instagra-approved charcoal cone. 700 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
Over on the Westside, grill house Charcoal Venice offers up a Charcoal Benedict featuring grilled ham, tomato compote, poached egg, topped off with a creamy charcoal infused jet black hollandaise. 425 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Origins charcoal mask helps control oil and acne with bamboo charcoal which “acts like a magnet to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers.” 15 Douglas Alley, Pasadena, CA 91103
Lush’s “Dark Angels” scrubby black sugar and charcoal soothing cleanser exfoliates skin, leaving it soft, smooth and bright. For a full on charcoal beauty regime, check out “Coalface,” a charcoal facial soap (with a subtle licorice scent) that gets rid of excess oil to keep acne at bay. 24 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105