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‘Painful’ skincare trend comes with risks

A popular skincare trend comes with a doctor’s warning.

Charcoal peel-off face masks may actually be peeling off layers of your skin and, if used too much, could cause permanent damage, according to a dermatologist.

They say “pretty hurts,” and in the case of these charcoal masks, testers agree.

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“This is really painful,” said Destiny Smith, who tried the mask for our sister station Action News Jax. “Can you see it pulling my skin?”

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To use the mask, you spread the dark charcoal paste over your skin, wait for it to set, and then peel it off.

“It’s very thick and tarry. It’s sticky, so I would imagine it would get all kinds of gook off my face,” said tester Kathy Merrill, “I feel like a layer of my skin has been ripped off.”

Dermatologist Dr. Jonathan Kantor says that’s exactly what’s happening.

“You are removing that protective layer, so you are increasing your risk of infection. You’re increasing your risk of developing inflammation,” said Kantor.

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Some of the ingredients could also cause an allergic reaction, Kantor said.

Both Smith and Merrill said they experienced minor irritation but their skin was noticeably softer.

“It was painful taking it off, but my skin feels great. I would do it again,” said Smith.

Merrill also says the beauty is worth the pain.

“Women will go to great lengths to get good skin, and it’s shocking what we will do,” said Merrill.

Kantor doesn’t recommend these masks because they could cause chronic irritation.

“The risk is not worth the potential benefits,” said Kantor.

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He said the charcoal masks are especially dangerous in the summer sun and could cause pigmentation issues.

Kantor suggests if you do try one, use a product made in the U.S. and avoid D.I.Y. masks.

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