March 17, 2014

Fab or flub: LUSH Coal Face and Dark Angels cleansers

Both contain charcoal, which has been shown to reduce oiliness and detoxify skin.

Rants, raves, reviews and resources for Dallas-Fort Worth parents

Google the question “what is charcoal used for?” and the results you receive might range from cooking burgers to treating certain types of poisoning. But one use that might surprise you is charcoal’s inclusion in beauty products such as lip balms and body washes.

Just like the oil-infused beauty products that have dominated the market for the past year or so, charcoal-based products are fast becoming the hot new beauty trend of 2014.

But, why charcoal, you ask? How could something that helps to char our steaks and burgers be good for our skin?

Described as being ideal for oily or acne-prone skin, charcoal helps draw out toxins, oil and bacteria, research has shown. Most charcoal-based beauty products use activated charcoal powder as their secret weapon to help achieve a beautiful, healthy-looking complexion.

Having had my own struggles with an oily T-zone, I was intrigued by the idea of a product that could possibly rid me of my oily skin woes for good.

I came across two charcoal facial cleansers by LUSH Cosmetics called Coal Face and Dark Angels. Unlike most cleansers, which have a gel consistency, Coal Face and Dark Angels come in more solid form (one resembles a soap bar; the other is reminiscent of a sugar scrub).

Both include charcoal powder in the ingredients, are vegan and claim to help with exfoliation and absorbing oil.

Coal Face costs $13.95 for a bar that is about 3.5 ounces. Dark Angels comes in a tub that’s 8.8 ounces and costs $12.95. (Available through or at LUSH’s stores in NorthPark Center and the Dallas Galleria.)

I currently use (and have been pretty satisfied with) Origins’ Zero Oil cleanser, so I was excited to see how these products stacked up. With products in hand, I trudged forth in my fight against facial oil.

First impression

It was nighttime when I decided to start my charcoal beauty experiment. Since I typically cleanse my face in the morning and again at night, I decided to try the cleansers at separate times of day.

Using Coal Face was pretty simple. You wet your face with water, then wet the bar and rub it all over your face. There is a distinct smell — it reminded me of the way that the inside of a toolbox smells. Luckily, it’s not overwhelming and it really isn’t bad.

After applying the product and rinsing, I noticed that my skin looked really clean and taut — like I had just had a great facial. All of my facial oil was gone. There was, however, one drawback. With no oil to hydrate my face, my skin (especially around my cheeks) felt really dry.

The first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was check out my face to see what my skin looked like. Surprisingly, my T-zone wasn’t oily. Normally I will wake up with at least a little bit of oil, even if I have washed my face the night before. I specifically saved Dark Angels for morning so that I could use it with my Clarisonic Mia. Boy, should I have thought differently.

On first inspection, Dark Angels looks like a black sugar scrub (not surprising since it does includes black sugar to help with exfoliation). The instructions say you should take about a pea-size amount of the product, mix it with water to create a paste, then rub it all over your wet face. Instead of rubbing the paste on my face, I applied it to my Clarisonic. I shouldn’t have used the product on my Clarisonic, as it ended up making more of a mess and requiring extra time to clean it off of the brush head.

If a product is good and does its job, I don’t mind a little mess. After I rinsed the cleanser from my face, I was happy to see that my skin looked radiant and smooth. It seemed to do a great job of minimizing the appearance of my blackheads and the redness around my nose. I also didn’t have any problems with the product drying out my skin.

For a first day of experimentation, the products seemed to work well. But I decided to hold off on judgment until an entire week of use.

Fab or flub?

Fab! After trying out both products for a week, I was very pleased with the results. Both helped to minimize the oil on my face and helped my skin look brighter and smoother.

If I had to pick which I liked best, I would probably give Coal Face the slight edge since I felt like it did the best job at getting rid of facial oil. After cleansing with Dark Angels, I still had a tiny bit of oil, which required blotting during the day.

However, I would probably recommend only Dark Angels as a daily cleanser, since I didn’t have problems with it drying my skin.

Because it works so strongly, I would recommend Coal Face as more of a two- or three-times-a-week cleanser. Either way, I’d say both products definitely are worth trying.

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