Are Activated Charcoal Masks Safe While Pregnant?

by Cat Bowen

I am a freak for Korean beauty products. I have tons of moisturizers and cleansers from the shops that dot Koreatown. I love the facial spritzes, and the 10-step routine makes me feel like a princess. Masks, though? My weakness. But can I use an activated charcoal mask while pregnant?

Activated charcoal masks are all over the internet. A quick search will lead you to a ton of recipes, videos, and how-to articles shouting their love for the black powder from the rooftops of the interwebs. There's an especially funny series of videos on YouTube of people buying the super sticky activated charcoal masks, which stick to your face like horrible tar-like glue, and fully grown adults are reduced to a pile of toddler-esque tears as they pull the clinging black glue from the delicate skin of their face.

I have yet to take the plunge on that one, but I will admit, I am sorely tempted. Sure, it may feel like I am pulling the skin from my face like an issue of X-Men gone horribly, horribly wrong, but my skin will be as dewy as a spring leaf and smooth as a baby's bottom, right? Totally worth it.

But can I use an activated charcoal mask while pregnant? I asked Certified Nurse Midwife Hanna Hay for the facts and she jokes, "Activated charcoal masks are fine during pregnancy, so long as you're not eating the mask afterwards. Seriously, though — it hasn't been studied for ingestion in pregnancy, and I wouldn't recommend it to patients as a drink, or in pill form, or even as toothpaste, but not much will be absorbed into the skin during a 30 minute mask." She does note that it may dry out the skin, which is already sensitive during pregnancy, so you probably don't want to do it more than once a week.

Hay also says that women who are experiencing chloasma — dark spots on their skin during pregnancy — should probably avoid masks unless they've talked to their dermatologist. "You just never know what's going to make the pregnancy mask worse," she says, and that the charcoal mask might sensitize their skin in ways they can't predict.

So while activated charcoal masks are all the rage right now, and they might be safe for use while you're pregnant, they might also throw your skin into an angry rage. It's best to approach cautiously, and if you're already given to sensitive, reactive skin, it's even better to talk to your dermatologist.