Effectively cleans without harshness
Gentle, natural scent from essential oils
Contains many effective natural ingredients
Accessible price point
Not Byrdie Clean
Lumin Charcoal Cleanser
We put the Lumin Charcoal Cleanser to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
Step aside, retinol; move over vitamin C; nudge over bakuchiol and squalane—make some room on the shelf for another buzzy skincare ingredient that’s been making waves in the world of skincare: activated charcoal. Sure, it’s older than water, but charcoal has been credited to a long list of benefits, including detoxing, oil absorption, and skin balancing, so it’s no wonder we see it in so many products, from cleansers and toners to face masks and even makeup remover wipes.
However, while activated charcoal’s popularity has certainly gotten our attention, it’s worth noting that there isn’t any scientific evidence to back up these claims. Even so, many of today's charcoal-infused products have reached cult-favorite status. It’s also led to an overabundance of inspired products, and that’s where editors love to—quite literally—get our hands dirty, sorting through the alleged best and brightest products containing activated charcoal to find those that truly shine.
One brand that has gotten our attention is Lumin, as this brand quickly earned itself a top spot in the fan favorites category with thousands of glowing reviews, especially for its Charcoal Cleanser. And while it’s still too young to earn the title of cult favorite, it didn’t take me long to see why this cleanser has garnered such a following. So yes, I liked it, but did Lumin's Charcoal Cleanser live up to the hype of the reviews? Keep reading for my full thoughts.
Best for: Normal to oily skin.
Uses: A daily face wash that thoroughly cleanses skin by removing excess oil, dead skin, and pollution while respecting your skin’s natural pH balance.
Potential allergens: Not likely, although it contains several essential oils including bergamot, lavender and lemon.
Active ingredients: Charcoal, rose flower oil, and centella asiatica.
Byrdie Clean? No; contains BHT.
About the brand: Lumin is a men's-focused skincare brand that uses potent natural ingredients to effectively address signs of aging and promote overall optimum skin health.
About My Skin: Oily, moody, and somewhat sensitive
To combat the signs of aging in my late-30s skin, I’m a regular retinol user, which my skin has taken nicely to over the years. However I have to be careful when introducing new products as they can easily interrupt the balance, resulting in a few days of red, irritated, generally unhappy skin. I’m also quite oily, especially in the summer, so when the humidity comes out, so does my arsenal of heavy-duty cleansers, and this is why I’m such a fan of activated charcoal. I like the way it gives my skin a deeper cleanse without stripping it, which is why I was so interested in trying Lumin's product.
The Feel: Creamy charcoal pudding that turns into a rich foam
Yes, it is a bit odd to scoop a foaming cleanser out of a jar rather than from a pump, but hey—it’s part of the charm (not to mention travel-friendly). The instructions recommend using a dime-sized amount, which was more than enough to yield tons of rich foam. The dark charcoal appearance quickly subsides, giving way to a lush lather—great news for those who are put off by the stained towel situation commonly associated with charcoal-based skincare products.
The Ingredients: A balance of cleansers and skin-soothers
To give credit where it’s due, the full name of this product (which often doesn’t make it into the glowing reviews) is Lumin No-Nonsense Charcoal Cleanser, which sums it up perfectly. However, the ingredients list does contain a hefty dose of tried-and true favorites, including:
- Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is toted as a sort of sponge for problematic stuff like excess oil, pollutants, and everyday grime that builds up on the surface of the skin. However, it's important to note that there is a lack of scientific evidence or data supporting these claims.
- Glycerin: Seeing glycerin high up on the ingredients list is a good sign, especially for a cleanser that claims to respect skin’s pH balance. As a humectant, glycerin helps bind water to the skin while acting as a buffer for more potent ingredients.
- Rose Flower Oil: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent rose flower oil provides effective anti-breakout measures without the drying side effects of harsher ingredients.
- Centella Asiatica: Another skincare savior ingredient of the moment, centella (for short) is known for soothing skin and promoting healing and repair.
- Essential oils: A blend of lavender, lemon, bergamot, and sandalwood double the pleasure of this cleanser by adding a subtle, natural scent while boosting the formula's skin-respecting qualities.
The Results: Clean, clear, and balanced
The Lumin reviews don’t lie, and neither do the product claims. I got the deep cleanse I was after, but my face didn’t feel the least bit tight afterwards. I even used it in the morning in place of my normal gentle foaming cleanser and was pleasantly surprised to feel how comfortable my face was afterwards.
The Value: Definitely worth it
At first glance, a 1.7-oz. jar of Lumin's Charcoal Cleanser doesn’t seem like a lot, especially for a face wash (which we all can tend to use in excess), but a dime-sized amount (I got away with even smaller) once or twice daily could see this concentrated cleanser lasting a while. Also, at just $16, it’s still way economical.
Similar Products: You’ve got options
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Clay Wash: Available at a similar price point, the Body Shop’s Charcoal Purifying Clay Wash ($16) ups the ante on cleansing with the inclusion of clay and anti-bacterial tea tree oil, leaning more towards the acne-afflicted.
Formula 10.0.6 One Deep Attraction Detoxifying Face Wash: Formula 10.0.6’s Detoxifying Face Wash ($8) has a long name, a decent price, and an ingredients list spiked with willow bark, a natural form of salicylic acid. It provides gentle exfoliation on top of a deep cleanse.
Herbivore Bamboo Charcoal Detoxifying Soap Bar: For those who are more bar-inclined but still want something gentle enough for the face, Herbivore’s Charcoal Detoxifying Soap Bar ($12) contains just eight ingredients to cleanse and balance.
The moral of the story is: Still remain wary of reviews that all seem to emphatically lean in one direction, but trust Lumin reviews, because when it comes to the soon-to-be iconic Lumin Charcoal Cleanser, it delivers on both its promises and the hype. The product gives a deep cleanse without irritation, showing why charcoal has such a following.
- Product Name Charcoal Cleanser
- Product Brand Lumin
- Price $16
- Weight 1.7 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Water, Myristic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Stearic acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cocamide MEA, Charcoal Powder, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate, Potassium Cocoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sorbitan Olivate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Centella Asiatica Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract.