Product Comparison: Charcoal Cleansers [Biore vs. Michael Todd]

Hello, everyone! This week I wanted to bring you my first official review, and not just any other review either. In fact, this review is a comparison between two similar products, one name brand and one from the drugstore. My goal is to be informative and let you know if I think it is better to make an investment and splurge on such a product or rather save some money and go with the alternative. In addition, I hope to bring you an in depth breakdown on some of the key points of the products, provide my opinions, weigh the pros and cons of each, and ultimately announce a winner. With that all said, as you can tell by the title, I am reviewing charcoal cleansers today.

Charcoal is well known for its filtration capabilities used in everything from water filters to gas masks to remove impurities and toxins. Its super-ability to absorb 100-200 times its own weight makes it excellent for removing oil and dirt from skin. Charcoal is especially effective in combating acne and oily-prone skin, which is my own skin type. If you have dry skin, charcoal is probably not the best cleanser type for you, so keep that in mind.


The first time I had heard of charcoal being put into beauty products was two years ago when everyone had jumped onto the Michael Todd True Organics bandwagon. I decided to go out on a limb and pick up the first product, this Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser.


  1. Formula: Like the title suggests, it is a gel formula. The charcoal is finely milled and incorporated into a liquid similar to the texture of hand soap, but is much runnier. The color is natural looCharcoal5king, and what you would expect charcoal to look like in a clear solution. 4.5/5 
  2. Application: When I wash my face, I apply my cleanser and let it sit while I brush my teeth. It lathers into a white foam when it makes contact with the water and eventually absorbs by the time I am finished brushing my teeth. When I rinse it off my face, however, it lathers back up. 4/5 
  3. Scent: This product smells botanical, with primary citrus and lavender notes. The fragrance has a soothing effect to me. It is a poignant scent, but I do not find it overbearing; in fact, it is quite pleasant. 5/5
  4. Packaging: The cleanser comes in a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. The pump is a lifesaver since it dispenses the product easily and eliminates cross-contamination since you do not have to dip your fingers in the product. A little goes a long way, however, and a full pump is often too much, whereas half a pump is the perfect amount. 3/5
  5. Ingredients: Most of the ingredients are organic and natural. Looking at the ingredient list, I can recognize a majority of them, including aloe, sugar cane and maple extracts, tea tree oil, vitamin E, and obviously, charcoal. It specifies activated charcoal which means that oxygen has been added to it to increase porosity of the charcoal. 5/5
  6. Effectiveness: The cleanser is gentle and non-irritating, but very effective, perfect for a daily cleanser. It removes leftover makeup easily and helps speed up the process of healing blemishes as well as aiding in preventing them. It is not fast-acting, however, and does not work miracles overnight; the process is much more gradual. 4/5


  • The bottle claims that 70% of the ingredients are organic and is certified vegan.
  • The website claims the product is sulfate free.
  • The product lasts a long time. I have been using mine consistently for over a year now as a daily cleanser and still have a quarter of a bottle left. There are also 7.1 fl oz (210 ml) of product, compared to the standard average of 6 fl oz.
  • This cleanser is made in the USA, therefore it is not imported for those of you who live in America.


  • The product is quite pricey for a face wash at $23, however it is nothing audacious such as Estée Lauder and the like.
  • The bottle is not clear so it is difficult to see how much product is left, although the darker plastic allows for a longer shelf life.
  • The product is not readily available in stores, to my knowledge, and must be ordered online.

Just this past year, I finally noticed charcoal trickling down to the drugstore products. This Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser seemed like competition for the Michael Todd, and these are my thoughts on it.


  1. Formula: Also a gel formula, this cleanser is a jelly-like liquid. However, it is more gelatinous than the Michael Todd and does not run like the other does. The color appears to be more artificial and dyed. The particles of charcoal are more coarse. 2.5/5 Charcoal4
  2. Application: Similarly, the product applies black-clear and works into a frothy foam when lathered. I noticed it did not dry as fast as the Michael Todd while brushing my teeth, but it was still dry by the time I finished brushing my teeth and rinsed it off. 2.5/5
  3. Scent: The fragrance is strongly artificially fruity and not too jeering, initially. However, once I worked it into the skin, an off-putting, almost rancid chemical smell surfaced. 1/5
  4. Packaging: The format is also a pump dispensing in a plastic bottle, but this pump releases a reasonable amount for a single use. 3/5
  5. Ingredients: There are very few ingredients I recognize, most with long chemical names save for “water”, as I suspected from a drugstore product. Upon further investigation, however, I spotted a few red flag chemicals including Sodium Laureth Sulfate (known as an eye & skin irritant, cause of diarrhea & labored breathing, etc.), Methylparaben & Propylparaben (preservatives linked to hormone imbalances), and fragrance (often hides phthalates which affect kidney function and cause headaches). Charcoal is also listed as natural charcoal, and not activated charcoal which has more benefits. 0/5
  6. Effectiveness: The face wash had a tingly sensation when applied, probably from the menthol, and was not that bad while it sat on the skin. After rinsing, however, I found my pores to be unpleasantly tight and skin left more dry and stripped in comparison to the Michael Todd. I also did not notice a difference in blemish healing or prevention. It did remove leftover makeup fairly well, though. 3/5


  • Cost effective at around $6.50 a unit.
  • Average amount of product in bottle at 6.77 fl oz (200 ml).
  • The bottle claims the product is oil free.
  • Easily available in drugstores.


  • Nothing about this product is natural ingredients wise, despite the bottle claiming to “naturally purify skin”.
  • The smell is not easily agreeable.
  • It is stripping to the skin and a good moisturizer should be used in conjunction with this product and it is too harsh for everyday use.

General consensus: The Michael Todd True Organics is the winner!


Skincare is vital to a healthy complexion and in this case, the benefits of organic and natural ingredients far outweigh the cons of saving a handful of dollars. In the long run, using nourishing ingredients will preserve your skin’s health.

I hope you found this review helpful and informative! Let me know if there are any other dupe products that you would like me to do a similar review on in the comments below. Until then, I’ll catch you later!

All my love,


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