F. Victor Rueckl, MD - Lakes Dermatology & The Spa at Lakes Dermatology
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Dr. F. Victor Rueckl Discusses the Pitfalls of the Charcoal Face Mask Trend

The recent popular trend of charcoal face masks can actually be detrimental

IMG 0738There are many ways that a person can look younger and project a healthy appearance, such as working out or dying the gray out of their hair. One of the most striking ways to project a healthy, more youthful appearance is to do something with one's skin. This is understandable as the skin is the body's largest organ, with a total area of roughly twenty square feet in total. (1) One of the most important areas of the skin is the face as a person's face is how the world sees them, and many individuals want the world to see a face that is boasting smoother skin with less imperfections. In fact, people are willing to pay quite handsomely to improve their skin's appearance. This is shown by the fact that Americans spent over $43 billion in 2011 alone on topical creams, spa treatments, and cosmetic procedures, such as Botox, in order to look better. (2) In 2016, 15.66 million individuals in the United States used facials four times or more within a six month period. (3) A recent development of trying to improve one's facial looks is the trend of using charcoal face masks, which has been taking off in popularity, but professional dermatologists, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, are raising warnings about this practice.

Individuals of all ages are looking to improve their appearance by enhancing the condition of their skin. While older people may worry about lines and wrinkles, young people are worried about pimples and blackheads. Using face masks to improve the skin's appearance has surged in popularity in recent years, and social media is one reason for this burgeoning trend. Many young people regularly watch vloggers on YouTube discuss beauty tips and skin care advice. This can definitely lead to possible issues as licensed doctors, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology, point out that internet personalities are not medical professionals. However, the reach of online videos about skin care is staggering. The top ten mask-related skin care videos for the United States, Japan, and France have a combined ninety-eight million views between them. (4) One of the most popular skin care treatments touted on social media is the DIY charcoal face mask.

Many individuals posting on sites such as YouTube tout the benefits of the charcoal face mask. They upload videos showing them mixing the ingredients, usually Elmer's glue and charcoal powder, and then applying and removing the mask. They say that their skin glows after the charcoal face mask is removed, but they do admit that removing the face mask can be painful. Experienced dermatologists, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, say that such videos actually do a disservice to those viewing them. They state that the charcoal face mask is actually ripping off the surface layer of skin, which can lead to skin issues in the future for those who are using them. While the immediate effect can look promising, the reality is that those using such DIY charcoal face masks are actually harming themselves.

Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology notes, "It's quite understandable that people want to enhance their face by giving it a glowing, more youthful appearance. Young people, especially, want to look their best and remove unsightly acne and blackheads. However, taking dermatological advice from someone posting health and beauty tips on sites like YouTube is a recipe for disaster. Many videos have been uploaded about the supposed benefits of charcoal face masks, and a lot of impressionable viewers believe that they can mix together an inexpensive mixture comprised of charcoal powder and Elmer's glue. While the aftermath of removing such a charcoal face mask looks beneficial, what is actually happening is that the surface layer of the skin is being removed. The use of such masks means that many of the essential oils and protective cells that help guard against bacteria and keep the skin healthy are being stripped away when the mask is peeled off. The result is that the skin will become damaged and dry as well as leaving the skin more open to harmful pollutants. While charcoal face masks are used to remove blackheads, the mixture of glue and charcoal can actually clog a person's pores, which then leads to more blemishes. This rather defeats the purpose of the face mask to begin with. Another problem with using DIY charcoal face masks mixtures is that they can lead to irritant or allergic reactions as the components used are not designed to be used in a topical manner." (5)

Licensed medical professionals, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, stress that following the advice of internet personalities for proper skin care techniques is not a wise course of action. They stress that popular trends, such as the DIY charcoal face mask, can often do more harm than good. If one wishes to learn the best means to rejuvenate their face and freshen up their appearance, they should consult with an accredited dermatologist and not a YouTube video.


1) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-skin#1

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3266803/

3) https://www.statista.com/statistics/276868/us-households-professional-personal-care-services-used--facials/

4) https://globalcosmeticsnews.com/blog/4091/the-mask-has-dropped-google-s-skin-care-trends-to-watch

5) Quote from Dr. F. Victor Rueckl, dermatologist at Lakes Dermatology

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