Charcoal Detox Cleansing Stick
Charcoal Detox Cleansing Stick not only feels rough on skin, it also isn't all that great at cleansing—a double whammy that keeps us from recommending it to anyone.
One of our main concerns is that this cleansing stick contains SAND, which Physicians Formula touts as "natural exfoliating minerals." When applied as directed onto dry skin, the sand particles feel somewhat abrasive (hardly surprising, right?), which is never good news for skin.
Adding insult to injury, the highly fragrant formula compounds the gritty sand's potential to irritate skin (learn about the full repercussions in the More Info section).
As if that weren't bad enough, this stick doesn't cleanse all that well to begin with. It's especially tricky to cleanse with if you're wearing foundation or other makeup, because it drags and tugs at skin.
Wondering about the detox part? This cleansing stick can't "detox" skin—see More Info to learn why that's impossible. Charcoal can expunge toxins (as in poisons) from the body, but it doesn't work that way when applied to skin; it's just a very good absorbent material.
All things considered, you're better off with cleansers that earn our top rating here.
- Contains abrasive particles that can tear at skin.
- Fragranced formula adds to irritancy factor.
- Not the most effective way to cleanse skin, especially if wearing makeup.
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don't get lulled into thinking that if you don't see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it's best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there's no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
Why Beauty Products Cannot Detoxify Your Skin: Despite the claims of many cosmetics companies, you cannot "detox" your skin. Brands that make this claim never really specify exactly what substances or toxins their products are supposed to eliminate, which makes sense, because your skin does not store toxins.
Toxins are classified according to whether they are produced by the body or are introduced into the body, usually through eating or inhaling. Toxins are produced by plants, animals, insects, reptiles (think snake venom and bee stings), and so on. Toxins also can be inorganic, such as heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and others.
When it comes to your skin, toxins cannot leave your body through your skin or sebaceous (oil) glands—it's physiologically impossible. Other parts of your body, mainly your kidneys and liver, handle the process of "detoxifying" just fine, as long as you have a healthy diet.
There are a handful of studies indicating that sweat acts as a carrier in "detoxifying" by removing trace heavy metals from the body; however, the methodology of those studies is considered questionable when reviewed by third-party experts.
Nonetheless, if you choose to sauna, steam, or exercise to increase sweating, that's a lifestyle option to discuss with your physician, but it does absolutely nothing as a purifying skincare activity.
Skincare products are not going to "detox" your body or skin. As we always say: Stick to what the research says really works, and ignore the fantasy claims because they aren't going to help your skin or your budget!
References for this information:
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, December 2015, pages 675–686
Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, pages 1–10
Draws out dirt, oil, and impurities delivering a deep clean while leaving skin silky-smooth, ultra-soft, and visibly clear.
Physicians Formula At-A-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive; almost all products fragrance-free; outstanding cleansers; pressed powder with broad-spectrum sunscreen; several bronzing powder options (primarily for fair to light skin tones); one of the only lines at the drugstore selling matte finish eyeshadows; the loose powder; most of the blushes; good liquid liner; excellent automatic brow pencil.
Weaknesses: Dated moisturizer formulas; several sunscreens lack sufficient UVA protection; jar packaging; several of the makeup products epitomize wasteful packaging; the shade selection for almost all the foundations and concealers is awful; tons of gimmicky products that dont perform as well as you'd think but are eye-catching in their compacts; the lip color and lip plumper; mostly average to disappointing mascaras;the Organic Wear products either have undesirable textures or contain irritating ingredients.
There aren't really any doctors at Physicians Formula (the founder of the company was an allergist, Dr. Frank Crandell, but that was back in 1937), and no physicians currently sell or endorse it either. The company asserts that "The term hypoallergenic is more than just a cosmetic claim for Physicians Formula. It is the basis for every product that is created. Physicians Formula honors this claim through stringent product testing and quality control. In fact, Physicians Formula products are formulated without 132 known irritating ingredients still found in many cosmetics on the market today." While the line doesn't list the "132 known irritating ingredients" that they claim not to use, one of their newer products contains menthol, which serves no purpose for skin other than to cause irritation, and other products contain alcohol and witch hazel, which won't make any cosmetic chemist's or dermatologist's list of anti-irritants.
It's good that the skin-care products have been streamlined. There are some excellent makeup removers and a couple of gentle sunscreens whose sole active ingredient is titanium dioxide. Surveying this line in its entirety reveals that makeup is its major focus. However, as you'll see from the Physicians Formula makeup reviews below, things aren't exactly rosy there, either.
For more information about Physicians Formula, call (800) 227-0333 or visit www.physiciansformula.com.
Physicians Formula Makeup
Does this assortment of makeup products have what the doctor ordered? The enormous selection of makeup (no other line at the drugstore sells more individual pressed powders, concealers, or powder bronzers) has seen some noteworthy improvements in recent years, but far too much of it is still built on gimmicky premises or eye-catching graphics while performance and texture are given short shrift. And for a line where just about every product carries on about its goodness for sensitive skin and the non-comedogenic nature of its ingredients, they're not using anything that other companies aren't also using, not to mention that many of the ingredients that show up in these products (such as waxes and occlusive thickening agents) can absolutely clog pores.
Still, for a line with increased retail presence in major drugstores, you may be wondering just what to pay attention to, and the good news is that there are indeed some finds among all the mosaic powders and oddly packaged concealers. Physicians Formula has never done foundations and concealers well, and for the most part that still holds true today. Only one of their concealers is recommended, while the others are best described as dismal. The expansive powder category has several attractive options, including a pressed powder with sun protection and many worthwhile bronzing powders. You'll also find best beauty buys among the blushes and other key products, including the matte eyeshadows, felt-tip eyeliner, brow pencil, and a few of the mascaras. There isn't anything medical or extra-pure about Physicians Formula makeup, but if you know what to look for and are on a budget there are some products that any doctor concerned with the subject of beauty would appreciate!
Note: The shade range of this line does not cater to darker skin tones. In fact, for some products, only those with fair to light skin will find options.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.