Gear Shed

Real Men Groom with Charcoal

Cooks the tastiest steak, cleans the grimiest skin

No, charcoal isn't just for grilling.     Photo: Getty Images/Keith Levit

If you’ve relegated charcoal to the backyard or the water filter, you’re missing out. The activated form, typically made from bamboo, is ultra-porous so it’s highly absorbent and makes quick work of oil, sweat, bacteria, and airborne funk—all fixtures of warm-weather workouts. Here are five products to keep you clean this summer.

Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal

  Photo: boscia

The antithesis of clean: a musty-smelling washcloth, sponge, or pouf. Konjac sponges are an addictively scrubby, traditional Asian grooming tool made from their namesake plant’s starchy roots. This one from Boscia gets a skin-cleansing boost from bamboo charcoal that also helps it resist shower-dwelling microbes. Bonus: It gets skin clean without soap, too. $18, boscia.com

Craftsman Soap Company Rough Stuff Exfoliating Bar

  Photo: Evan Worthington

This soap looks tough—and it is, with ground pumice, walnut shells, and coffee beans that slough off every last trace of that five-mile trail run. Some charcoal cleansers leave skin overly stripped, but Craftsman Soap’s blend includes olive, coconut, and avocado oils to keep things smooth. $6.50, craftsmansoap.com

Morihata Binchotan Pumice Stone

  Photo: Morihata

Pumice stones are great for keeping calluses in check, which tend to harbor bacteria and fungus—the last things you want grinding against your feet. Morihata’s Binchotan Pumice Stone is actually made of polyurethane foam that’s been blended with ultrafine charcoal powder, so it fights irritating, odor-causing microbes while you scrub. $16, bigelowchemists.com

Origins Clear Improvement Mask

  Photo: Origins

Slim-cut, move-with-you athletic wear has huge performance advantages. The price, however, can be an unfortunate flare-up of backne—or its even more unsightly colleague, buttne—anywhere that seams or panels trap moisture long enough to clog pores. Origins Clear Improvement mask pairs charcoal with white clay to absorb oil and debris. Masks are usually a chore to use, but this one isn’t: when you jump in the shower, just soap up and rinse off the affected area, smear on a thin layer, and let it work while you tend to other matters. By the time you’re ready for the final rinse, you’ll be in the clear. From $17, origins.com

Mini Moso Charcoal Deodorizers

  Photo: The Container Store

If you’re like us, you’re occasionally guilty of leaving sweat-soaked workout clothes to moulder for days in your gym bag, maybe excavating them for a spur-of-the-moment lunchtime run or yoga class. Believe us, then, that these tiny sachets work wonders. Toss a couple in your bag or stuff them in your sneakers and they’ll absorb the brunt of BO and bacteria after even the most brutal CrossFit session. Just give them a few hours of direct sunlight once or twice a month and they’ll be good to go for up to two years. $9.99 for two, containerstore.com

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