Shelf Life: Battle of the Basics Activated Charcoal, Coconut Oil and Baking Soda

It wouldn’t be a natural beauty post, if it did not include at least one of these 3 ingredients. The real question is, which ingredient is worth the most hype, and which one is not as necessary on your shelf?

Here’s the low-down on these ingredients and how we choose to use them. They are all useful, but if you have to choose, there is a very clear winner in terms of versatility, overall benefits and ease of use.

baking soda, virgin coconut oil, and activated charcoal for beauty and teeth whitening

Baking Soda

Health Benefits: Proven to reduce inflammation and contribute to the reduction of rheumatoid arthritis, provide antacid properties. (5) Also effective as part of an oral care routine.

Internal: Half a teaspoon used for heartburn and acid reflux. Teeth whitener. (5) Safe for daily oral hygiene in the reduction of gingivitis, stain reduction, whitening, and neutralization of plaque acids. (6)

Hair/Body/Face: Not recommended for use in hair due to it's high pH and abrasivity.

Accessibility: Readily available online and in stores across the world.

Risk Factors: Can strip natural oil from the hair and make hair more fragile. (7) If a person chooses to use baking soda as an acne treatment, they should limit both the quantity and frequency of use, and moisturize their skin after each application. (7)

Ease of Use: Can be simply applied on it's own and mixed into existing products

Coconut Oil

Health Benefits: When ingested, coconut oil has proven to improve HDL (good cholesterol) levels in healthy individuals. (2) "Research shows that coconut oil can support cardiovascular health, immune health, skin health, hair health, weight management and performance enhancement." (3) Can help to reduce abdominal obesity, minimize fat accumulation, with the MCTs in coconut oil an effective source for energy production.

Internal: Consumption: MCTs help to improve HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in healthy individuals. Lauric Acid's antibacterial properties helps ro promote immune health and reduce inflammation

Hair: Used as a pre and post poo, it helps to reduce protein loss. Penetrates hair fibers to help prevent hair damage and breakage.

Body: Effective skin moisturizer, skin soother to treat dry and itchy skin, helps to improve healing time of skin wounds (4)

Face: Helps reduce and prevent acne both topical and injected.

Accessibility: Readily available online and in stores across the world.

Risk Factors: Not recommended for use by those with high cholesterol or those with a family history of high cholesterol. Do not exceed USDA recommended allowance of 10% of total calorie intake. (1)

Ease of Use: Can be simply applied on it's own, mixed into existing products, and purchased in ready-made products

Activated Charcoal

Health Benefits: Proven effectiveness for internal use in emergency cases of overdoes and poisoning.

Activated charcoal draws its effectiveness from its porous structure, which enables it to draw out chemicals from a substance.

Internal: Used as a medical treatment of overdoses or poisonings. Not recommended for daily consumption because it can impact the absorption of nutrients of foods (yes, this means skip the healthy charcoal smoothies and juices!).

No medical data to support use for teeth whitening. (8) Dentists recommend seeing a professional for whitening options and using at-home whitening kits and protective measures instead.

Hair: No publicly available scientific data to support it’s use in haircare.

Body: Can help to control body odor, but no extensive research done yet to support this. It works by essentially spreading out the surface area allowing odor to dissipate into the air. (9)

Face: No scientific data to support it’s use skincare. However, there is anecdotal evidence to support the use of activate charcoal in skincare; particularly for treating oily acne-prone skin. It is believed to draw bacteria and other micro-particles to the surface of the skin.

Accessibility: Can have limited access to clean options

Risk Factors: Not significant. Erosion of teeth enamel.

Ease of Use: Can be simply applied on it's own and mixed into existing products



Ingredient
comparison

Health Benefits

where we try it

  • Internal
  • Hair
  • Body
  • Face
  • Accessibility
  • Risk Factors
  • Ease of Use

Baking
Soda

yes, internal

try it!

  • yes
  • no
  • no
  • no
  • high
  • not for external use
  • easy

Coconut
Oil

yes internal & external

try it!

  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • high
  • use w/ caution internally
  • easy
WINNER

Activated Charcoal

yes, internal

try it!

  • yes
  • no
  • possibly
  • no
  • medium
  • enamel erosion
  • easy
 

Sources:
(1) Curr Netr Rep. 2018 Sep;7(3):107-115. doi: 10.1007/s13668-018-0230-5.
(2) Chinwong S, Chinwong D, Mangklabruks A. Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2017;2017:7251562. doi:10.1155/2017/7251562.
(3) The Science Behind Coconut Oil
(4) Lin T-K, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070.
(4) Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease
(5) Baking soda: A safe, easy treatment for arthritis? Medical News Today.
(6) Baking soda dentifrices and oral health.Ciancio, Sebastian G.The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 148, Issue 11, S1 - S3
(7) Is it safe to use baking soda on hair? Medical news Today. Last reviewed Fri 16 March 2018
(8) Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifricesBrooks, John K. et al.The Journal of the American Dental Association , Volume 148 , Issue 9 , 661 - 670
(9) Here’s What You Need to Know About All of Those Trendy Activated Charcoal Productsast reviewed Fri 16 March 2018