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DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal

Woman with an activated charcoal face mask on, holding a makeup brush and smiling.
Recipe At-A-Glance
DIY Beauty12 minutes
This DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal uses skin-nourishing ingredients (and no glue!) to leave your face happy and smooth.

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I love a good spa day as much as the next girl or guy. Even when I can’t devote a whole day to pampering, I try to infuse a few pampering-lite moments into my day. One of my favorite ways to interject a little bit of self-care in my day-to-day is by whipping up a DIY peel-off face mask.

While I still love my classic Cucumber, Honey, and Oatmeal Face Mask, this DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal is my newest obsession. It sprouted up because I was purchasing a well-known natural brand’s charcoal mask to use regularly. I loved it, but every time I had to plop down $15 for a tiny tube, I cringed. It finally occurred to me that I can do what I do with everything else in my life—DIY it!

Ingredients for an activated charcoal face mask.

This Activated Charcoal Peel-Off Face Mask is Glue-Free

Promise me you won’t slather school glue on your face, friends! After an intense Googling session, I realized that Pinterest is filled with people making their own Activated Charcoal Peel-Off Face Masks using school glue as the base of the mask.

And while I’m sure those masks yank out every last bit of grime from your pores (it is, ahem, GLUE, after all), I’m also 100% sure that school glue is not meant to be slathered on your skin regularly. Yes, I know we all did it as kids. Yes, I know it is “non-toxic.” But I know I want better for my skin than putting school glue on it. Don’t you?

Brunette woman looking in a mirror and applying a DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal

An All-Natural Version of the DIY Peel-Off Face Mask

This glue-free version uses a trio of skin-nourishing ingredients to get that nice peel-away texture—bentonite clay, activated charcoal, and unflavored gelatin. When mixed together with hot water and then lovingly painted in a thick layer on your skin, the mask dries solid and then peels off in large, flaky chunks. This isn’t the Mission Impossible-style face mask peel off, but it still does come off in satisfying, pore-cleansing chunks.

Activated charcoal and bentonite clay both have drawing properties—meaning they pull out impurities in your skin. They both can also help reduce an overabundance of oils in the skin. The gelatin nourishes the skin while solidifying so you get that satisfying, blackhead-pulling, peel-off action.

Woman holding up a sheet from a DIY Peel-Off Face Mask

Tips for DIY Charcoal Mask Success

  • Paint the mask on nice and thick with a makeup brush. The thicker the mask goes on, the easier it is to peel off in large chunks later.
  • This mask does get quite hard and solid—some folks might find it uncomfortable. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, either during the drying or peeling process, just rinse the mask away with warm water. The mask is 100% water soluble. You still get a lot of wonderful skin benefits by using this as a wash-away mask.
  • The mask is ready to peel away when it feels completely dry and solid. If it feels damp or cool at all, give it a few more minutes.
  • The best way to start peeling is to move your facial muscles to break up the mask—then peel off the chunks. You look silly, but that’s part of the fun!
  • A tip I learned from the queen Jonathan Van Ness: charcoal masks tend to bring blemishes to the surface, so avoid using them the day of or even day before a big event.
  • Bentonite clay reacts with metal, making it less effective—use wooden, glass, or plastic utensils and bowls here. I use a small low-ball glass and a large popsicle stick to mix.
  • If your final mask has a few lumps and bumps when you paint it on, it’s just fine! No need to be perfect here.
  • Hesitant to invest in bentonite clay, activated charcoal, or gelatin? For about $30, you can make hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of homemade face masks. Plus, you can use all the ingredients for the other uses like Poison Ivy Salve, Antimicrobial Black Drawing Salve, and Elderberry Gummies. These three ingredients are must-haves for a home herbalism or DIY beauty product hobby—your investment will not go to waste!

Jar of activated charcoal face mask next to yellow flowers.

As with all homemade beauty products (or honestly, any beauty product!), if you have sensitive skin, it’s important to do a patch test before applying this mask to your entire face. Enjoy your pampering!

 
DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal

DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal

Yield: 1 mask
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

This DIY Peel-Off Face Mask with Activated Charcoal uses skin-nourishing ingredients (and no glue!) to leave your face happy and smooth.

Instructions

    1. In a low-ball glass or very small glass mixing bowl, mix together the gelatin, activated charcoal, and bentonite clay.
    2. Pour over the boiling water, and stir vigorously until most of the lumps are out of the mixture and it begins to thicken, about two minutes.
    3. Allow the mixture to cool enough to feel comfortably warm on your skin, and then apply liberally using the makeup brush. The thicker the mask, the easier it is to peel off when it’s dry.
    4. Allow the mask to dry completely, which will take 30-60 minutes depending on the thickness you apply it. It should feel very hard to the touch when ready. If at any point the mask feels too uncomfortable while it’s drying, wash it away with warm water. 
    5. When you’re ready to peel it off, move your facial muscles to break the mask into pieces, and then peel those pieces off and discard. Any small pieces left can be washed off using warm water. 

Notes

  • Bentonite clay reacts with metal, making it less effective—use wooden, glass, or plastic utensils and bowls here. I use a small low-ball glass and a large popsicle stick to mix.
  • Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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