Trial and Error: Do charcoal blackhead masks work?

Follow NZH Lifestyle's Trial and Error series where we bust the myths on viral beauty hacks and test new products so you don't have to.

You may have seen them in your Instagram feed, or perhaps you're one of more than 28 million people who have watched this mesmerising video of YouTube beauty vlogger Josie K peeling a blackhead remover mask off her face.

Inspired by hundreds of videos of peel-off blackhead masks circulating on social media, Josie K says: "I have seen so many people do this and so I decided to try this out for myself and see if it works," as she paints a jet black goo all over her face. Once it dries, she carefully peels off the mask and examines her face in the mirror.

"Holy crap honey!" she says, thrusting the used mask towards the camera to show off the tiny bits of dirt and grime it has removed from her face. "My face is so smooth guys and look, like all of my blackheads are gone. It's amazing. Amazing!"

Amazing? The NZH Lifestyle team were dubious. So we decided to try the trend ourselves ...

with hilarious results.

How it works

• Step 1: Mix it up

Emma and Liana took a tube of Shills Purifying Peel-off Black Mask and applied it to half their faces. For the other halves they tested two different DIY mixtures:

Emma chose a gooey PVA glue and activated charcoal mixture.

Emma tried the PVA and activated charcoal mixture.
Emma tried the PVA and activated charcoal mixture.

Liana used a thick gelatine, warm milk and activated charcoal concoction.

Liana mixed activated charcoal, warm milk and gelatine for her facemask.
Liana mixed activated charcoal, warm milk and gelatine for her facemask.

• Step 2: Wait for it

Depending on how thickly you apply your mask, you'll need to wait for at least 5 minutes for it to dry. Ideally, 20-30 minutes will give you the best results.


Now comes the painful part: Peeling them off.

Liana and Emma start peeling off their facemasks.
Liana and Emma start peeling off their facemasks.

Step 3: Assessing the results

Unfortunately Liana and Emma didn't see any impurites pulled from their faces. But their skin was left incredibly shiny and smooth. Watch the full video to see how it all went down.

The buzz

Just like Kylie Jenner testing lipstick shades on her arm, or women transforming their thin eyebrows into Frida Kahlo-esque arches, videos of peel-off blackhead masks are now flooding our Instagram feeds.

Priceline Pharmacy's skincare buyer Emily McMahon says sales of products containing charcoal have increased by 280 per cent in the past 12 months. The top-selling item is the Biore Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips - around 40,000 units were sold in the past six months.

Charcoal is a popular skincare ingredient renowned for is purifying and detoxifying abilities. Japanese women have been using it for centuries in their skincare routines.

But combined with the juggernaut face mask trend, beauty brands have cottoned on to its marketable potential.

Ryan Channing is the owner of Blaq Mask, one of the most popular blackhead products marketed on Instagram. It launched two months ago and already the brand has 25,000 followers.

- Additional information news.com.au

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