GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Activated charcoal is the new buzzy item

Will activated charcoal work for you? Read our guide to find out. (Photo by Danielle Occhiogrosso)

The buzzy in-everything ingredient is not the same stuff you grill with: Activated charcoal is carbon that has been treated to make the surfaces of its particles more porous so it can trap smaller molecules. That’s why it’s effective at absorbing anything from home odors to water impurities to excess skin oil.


Activated charcoal is being marketed as a “detox” agent in supplements and beverages. You’ll also find it in wellness products like water filters.

Lab lowdown: Carbon (aka activated charcoal) water filters can help get rid of unpleasant odors or tastes, but supplements have not been proven to help your body’s detoxification process. “Charcoal can interfere with nutrient absorption and induce constipation, so it may even work against you,” said Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., GH’s nutrition director.


You’ll see activated charcoal in toothpaste, soap, shampoos and conditioners, exfoliating sponges, masks and nose strips.

Lab lowdown: The charcoal acts as a magnet to draw out dirt and oil, which can cause breakouts. The GH Beauty Lab found that the ingredient was most effective in forms like nose strips, which contain less water. This allows the charcoal’s absorption power to pull in skin oils, not water.


The ingredient is found in appliance filters — like those in vacuums, dehumidifiers and trash deodorizers — to absorb moisture and scents.

Lab lowdown: The filters work, said Carolyn Forte, director of the GH Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab, but “it’s important to replace or refresh them every six to 12 months or as recommended by the manufacturer. A clogged filter will not perform as it should.”


You love your kitty. Your litter box? Not so much. Our friends at Tidy Cats have you covered. New Tidy Cats Free & Clean Unscented Litter is made with activated charcoal, which is extremely effective at sucking up smells.

Litter lowdown: The activated charcoal in this Tidy Cats litter is made from coconut shells and treated with heat and steam to create the surface pores that absorb odor molecules.


Make Your Color Last … and Last!

Save your haircolor — and your cash — with these GH Beauty Lab and pro tricks.

Avoid the water: Use dry shampoo to extend time between washes; attach a filter to your showerhead to remove damaging elements; and avoid wetting hair when swimming, or coat it with leave-in conditioner first or throw on a cap.

Apply gloss like a boss: Like lip gloss but for strands, haircolor gloss can boost shine and deposit a sheer tint to revive your shade between dye jobs, GH Beauty Lab testing has found. Visit the salon for one, or apply an at-home version similar to your shade every few weeks.

Shun the sun: UV protection is just as important for your hair as for your skin: Cover up with a hat or a scarf when your hair is exposed to sunlight for a long period of time.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Kidde dual-sensor (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms, sold at Menards, The Home Depot, Walmart and other department, home and hardware stores nationwide and online at, and other websites from September 2016 through January 2018 for between $20 and $40.

A yellow cap left on during the manufacturing process can cover one of the two smoke sensors and compromise the smoke alarm’s ability to detect smoke, posing a risk of consumers not being alerted to a fire in their home. Consumers should remove the alarm from the wall or ceiling and visually inspect it through the opening on the side of the alarm for the presence of a yellow cap. Consumers should not attempt to take apart the alarm, open the casing or otherwise remove the yellow cap themselves. If a yellow cap is present, the consumer should immediately contact Kidde to receive instructions and request a free replacement smoke alarm. They should remove and discard the recalled smoke alarm only after they receive and install the replacement alarm. If no yellow cap is present, consumers should reinstall the smoke alarm and no further action is needed. Consumers can contact Kidde toll-free at 833-551-7739 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, or online at Click on “Product Safety Recall” for more information.

Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (Land Rover) is recalling certain 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar and Land Rover Discover Sport vehicles equipped with a 2.0L gasoline engine.

The fuel rail end caps may leak, possibly resulting in fuel vapor or liquid fuel leaking into the engine bay. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source such as hot engine or exhaust components can increase the risk of a fire. Land Rover will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel rail, for free. Owners may contact Land Rover customer service at 800-637-6837. Land Rover’s number for this recall is N138.

© Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Activated charcoal is the new buzzy item