Every #MaskMonday we treat our faces with the best mud, clay, gel, sheet, creme, and lotion masks we can get our hands on. Needless to say, we have our favorites. This week we’re reporting on the much loved Origins charcoal mask. Why all the worship for this weird-looking treatment?

When were planning our feature on the activated charcoal beauty trend, the first product that came to mind was the Origins Clear Improvement charcoal mask. It seemed like every time we stumbled across this product on a beauty blog or shopping website, the reviews and comments sections were loaded with praise. And since I’m personally obsessed with both face masks and charcoal, it was only a matter of time before I slapped this creamy black mask on my face.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask


What does it do? 

The Origins charcoal mask promises a kind of detox for your face. The formula is designed to rid your pores of environmental toxins, dirt and debris, leaving you with a super clean, super clear complexion.

What’s in it? 

There are three heavy hitters in the Origins charcoal mask. First, what’s labeled as “active charcoal.” It’s well established that activated charcoal is one of the most powerful cleansing and filtration ingredients around, which is why it’s found in water filters, gas masks, and poison treatments. This mask uses activated charcoal “like a magnet” to draw toxins and other gunk out of your pores.

The second active ingredient is White China clay, which has similar toxin-absorbing effects. Finally there’s lecithin, a natural fatty tissue usually extracted from soybeans. Lecithin is good for breaking down sticky substances, which is why the Origins charcoal mask explains that it’s there to “dissolve impurities.” It’s just loosening up the junk in your pores so it can be cleared away.


The Origins charcoal mask: Finger painting for goths.

What’s it like to use? 

The Origins charcoal mask is a really fun one. The texture is thick enough not to slide everywhere, but liquid enough that it feels like you’re finger-painting your face black. The mask dries after 10-15 minutes — long enough for you to recreate the “Step In Time” sequence from Mary Poppins twice — which is when you can really feel the quality of the product. Even when it’s dry and crackly, the mask flexes with your face and doesn’t give you that awful stinging, pinching feeling you sometimes get with thick face masks. The mask softens into a rich, soothing cream when mixed with water, so you don’t have to scrub and rub your skin to death to rinse it off.

Is it worth the hype?

The Origins charcoal mask is one of those products that catches you by surprise with its immediate effects, which is probably why people love it so very much. Part of it may be the drama of watching your face change from charcoal black back into its normal skin tone, but every time we take off this mask, we’re caught off guard by how clear and bright our skin looks. It never fails to satisfy.

The Origins Clear Improvement charcoal mask comes with a $25 price tag, but it goes a long way. We’ve been passing our 3.4 fl. oz. tube around the office for several weeks now and it’s still going strong. And since it somehow seems to sneak into almost all of our #MaskMonday photos on Instagram, we have to conclude this once-a-week mask is worth every penny. Check it out on the Origins website or wherever Origins products are sold.

For more product reviews and beauty tips, check out our Beauty section!

Are you an Origins charcoal mask devotee? Tell us about your face mask faves in the comments!


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