Charcoal is a heavy hitting beauty trend that helps keep your skin clear and balanced. We spoke to Lizz Starr, executive director of Origins global product development to get details on the popular ingredient.
If you’ve been paying attention to the beauty biz, charcoal is trending. With all the environmental irritants and pollutants that we expose our skin to every day, it’s great to come home and make sure you can get rid of all those skin stressors. Here’s what you need to know about this powerhouse ingredient.
What is charcoal?
This natural ingredient is derived from carbon and has been used for many things other than beauty. Because of its powerful absorption properties it’s been used to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses by absorbing toxins in the stomach before they can be absorbed into the blood stream. It also can be used as a filter in gases and liquids.
In beauty, charcoal is used because it has large internal pores that trap toxins and prevent their absorption in the skin. “When environmental toxins, dirt and debris get under your skin, skin’s waste-filtering system (pores) becomes congested and pores get clogged, leading skin to look cloudy,” says Starr, “Charcoal is able to absorb many times its own weight in toxins and pollution and it can easily be rinsed away.”
Who should use charcoal?
“Charcoal is particularly good for blemish-prone or congested skin,” says Starr. Because we’re all in need of regular skin clearing (we have pollution to thank for that), everyone can benefit from a bit of charcoal in their beauty regimen.
Charcoal beginner? Try a mask.
If you’re new to the ingredient, Starr recommends introducing a charcoal mask to your beauty routine once a week. It’s best to not overdo it with charcoal however. “Charcoal should be primarily used when pores are clogged,” says Starr, “overuse can lead to stripping and drying your skin so we recommend once-a-week use.”
Here are the charcoal masks you should add to your routine, stat!
Bamboo charcoal and white clay absorbs toxins to reveal a radiant and refreshed complexion.
This sheet mask features activated Korean charcoal absorb impurities and spearmint extract for a pore-tightening effect.
This cleanser can also be used as a mark, helping to draw out impurities and balance oily skin.
This hydrogel mask includes bamboo charcoal for a deep clean that targets blackheads and whiteheads.
This mattifying mask soaks up excess oil and draws out debris to leave your skin feeling fresh and your pores noticeable refined.
Photography by Arash Moallemi Credits: Photography by Arash Moallemi
Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
If giving up burgers and cheese forever just doesn't seem possible, take heart: going mostly plant-based means you get serious health benefits and the flexibility to indulge now and then. Here's how, with tips from Dana Shulz of the Minimalist Baker.
There’s lots (and lots, and lots) of evidence on the benefits of eating vegan—but we don’t think it’s overstating things to say that making such a drastic dietary shift can be overwhelming. And we’re not the only ones, if the popularity of “vegan-ish” eating is anything to go by. A mostly plant-based approach that’s flexible enough to accommodate the occasional burger, chicken wing or slice of cheesecake, this diet plan has found fans in Jamie Oliver, whose Meat-Free Monday posts always look delicious, New York Times food guru Mark Bittman, who wrote a whole book about it, and Dana Shulz, the culinary mind behind the popular food blog Minimalist Baker.
According to Dana, whose new cookbook, Everyday Eating, features 101 easy-to-make vegan dishes (like her Thai quinoa meatballs, pictured above), a mostly plant-based diet doesn’t have to be hard work. “It’s really just about making sure you get plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and other plant-based protein sources. I think when you break it down like that, it isn’t as intimidating,” she says.
It definitely doesn’t mean subsisting on a few lettuce leaves. “I am a quantity eater and was raised by two very enthusiastic eaters. Feeling satisfied by my meals is very important to me, so salads for dinner just won't cut it. My recipe inspiration comes from having a big appetite,” she says.
Want to give vegan eating a try? Here’s her best advice:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
“Meal prep ahead of time (like on Sundays), so you aren’t stuck without options during the week, when you come home starving and need something to eat,” Dana says. “Also, make sure you do research when traveling so you have some idea of where you can get vegan options.”
2. Try anything once.
She recommends doing a deep dive into vegan food blogs, flagging any dish that looks interesting. “Try a lot of recipes and narrow down your favorites, so you have an arsenal of easy, go-to meals that you love and enjoy,” she says.
3. Know your swaps.
Use flax or chia in place of an egg. (Check out Dana’s how-to.) Instead of using ground beef for tacos, season and cook quinoa, then bake until crispy. And just because you’re eating less dairy doesn’t mean Parmesan-free pasta. Make your own vegan Parmesan by combining cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and sea salt. (Here’s the Minimalist Baker recipe.)
4. Stock your pantry.
You’ll have to re-think your grocery shopping plan, but don’t get intimidated—Dana says you can’t go wrong by stocking up on a few staples: “My top 5 vegan essentials are flax seed meal, nut milks, nut and seed butters, a variety of legumes, and dates,” she says. “I don't go for things like vegan junk food or other things in the processed realm. Eating plant-based is not about fake meats, $9 organic soy milk, and sprouting your own beans. It’s about eating a variety of plant foods to feel whole and well.”
5. Choose the right tools.
“For prep, having a food processor is a must because it makes sauces and date caramel so easily, and if you have the grater attachment it can shred up carrots, potatoes and vegetables in no time,” Dana says.