TRIED AND TESTED: I tried the hectic 'carbon facial' that promises brighter, clearer skin.


Mamamia’s Tried and Tested series is your weekly review of the latest to hit our desks in beauty, health and wellness. You won’t find any #sponsored content here, just honest, relatable and independent advice. This week, Senior Lifestyle Writer Amy Clark had a carbon facial to find out what it’s actually like.

As we speak, there are approximately 3,456,739 different kinds of facials you really ought to be having.

Hydrating facials. Laser. LED light. Omnilux. Fairy dust facials. Microneedling. Extraction facials. Chemical peels. HydraFacials. Lymphatic drainage. Resurfacing… the list goes on.

But forget about those because I want to tell you about one more: the ‘carbon facial’.

Aside from making for hectic Instagram content (more on that below), this non-invasive laser treatment promises to reduce pore size, minimise oil production and brighten the skin for a smoother, glowier complexion.

Sounds great, but what is it actually like to have a carbon facial and should you get one? I put my face on the line to find out.

WATCH: You can see what a carbon facial looks and sounds like in the video below, post continues after video.

Video by Amy Clark

What is a carbon facial?

A carbon facial is a laser facial that uses a Q-switch laser, combined with a carbon cream, to penetrate the skin, break down dirt and oil, and improve overall skin texture.

According to Cyndy Higgins, a cosmetic physician at One Cosmetic, the facial is also known as a ‘China Doll Laser Facial’ for its ability to make the skin look like smooth porcelain.

“The carbon facial enhances the skin’s radiance and promotes a smooth, glowing complexion. The treatment helps to lessen skin imperfections and reduce the appearance of enlarged pores with a superior cleaning effect to ensure smooth porcelain-like results are achieved,” she told Mamamia.

“It’s especially effective for anyone with active acne, post-acne hyperpigmentation (coloured dots left behind where a pimple used to be), and loose or drooping skin.”

How does a carbon laser facial work?

OK cool, but what makes this facial a carbon facial? Great question, here’s the answer.

Different to other laser facials, the carbon facial works by having a thin layer of medical-grade carbon applied to the face. The carbon looks and smells like a black moisturiser made from charcoal and soot, and once heated by a laser, it kills acne-causing bacteria in the skin.

Next, Higgins says your carbon-covered face is treated with a Q-switch laser that uses short, rapid, high-intensity pulses of light to heat up the carbon on the skin. Once the energy from the laser has been absorbed by the carbon, the carbon is shattered, sizzled and blasted from the skin, taking dirt, oil and dead skin cells from the epidermal layer of the skin with it.


This is followed by another pass of the laser in ‘genesis mode’, which stimulates collagen production to plump and improve the structure of the skin, a HydraFacial to suck up any remaining carbon buildup in the skin (you can learn more about the HydraFacial here), and Omnilux LED Light Therapy to reduce inflammation and help the skin heal.

The result is clear, tight, smooth skin that glows. Here’s a look at all the steps of the carbon facial.

carbon facial
This is what the laser looks like when applied on clean skin. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
Next, the carbon cream is rubbed into the skin. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
I call this look: carbon cute. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
You can also see what the HydraFacial portion of the treatment looks like. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
And then, the LED light therapy finale. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

Other carbon facial FAQs.

Before we get into my carbon facial review, here are some other facts worth knowing:

  • The treatment takes between 30 minutes to an hour.
  • There's no down-time, which means you can go back to living your life straight after the facial as if nothing happened.
  • You should avoid having any other skin treatments, especially any chemical peels, in the week leading up to your carbon facial.
  • Always wear an SPF 50+ sunscreen on your face, but especially after having a carbon facial because the treatment can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage (which really defeats the entire point of having the facial).
  • Be warned - the laser can lighten facial hair. My technician covered my eyebrows in tape to avoid this.
  • How many treatments you need to see results varies depending on who you ask, but an average number is between one and three. Most places agree you should wait around two to four weeks between facials to give your skin time to do its thing.
  • A standard carbon facial costs $250. This price becomes cheaper when you purchase a package.

My carbon facial before and after.

It's worth noting: Because I'm not currently experiencing any of the skin concerns this facial is particularly great at treating (acne and acne hyperpigmentation), I can't speak to those benefits firsthand. What I can do is talk about what the facial feels like and how my skin felt afterwards.

The first thing I can tell you is - it hurts. Sure, only a little bit, but it still hurts.

I'd describe the feeling of the laser passing over the skin as like having hot sand flicked on your face. On a scale of zero to 10, it's about a three or four for me. I found it slightly more uncomfortable around the edge of my lips, nose and the side of my eye area. You're also wearing eye goggles, which can make the experience feel scarier if you haven't had a laser facial before.


The carbon portion of the facial is where things get interesting. The laser is much louder, and you can hear and smell the carbon being blasted off your face. This part is noisy and smells a bit like leftover charcoal on a barbecue sizzling away.

The rest of the facial is very relaxing, and afterwards, my skin felt squeaky clean. Aside from looking a touch pink for about an hour after the treatment, I didn't experience any out of the ordinary side effects.

carbon facial
BEFORE - wearing tinted moisturiser, lip balm and eyebrow gel. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
This is my face immediately after the carbon was zapped off. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
carbon facial
AFTER - plump, hydrated and glowing. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

My verdict on the carbon facial...

So, should you get a carbon facial?

If you have acne or acne hyperpigmentation that bothers you AND the money to dedicate towards skin treatments, the carbon facial is a great, non-invasive, no-downtime option to try.

Everyone else? You don't need a carbon facial, but if you're into skincare treatments, it's a fun one to add to your wish list.

For more information on One Cosmetic's carbon facial, visit their website. Feature image: Supplied/@theamyclark.

Have you had a carbon facial before? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Mamamia's Tried and Tested series drops every week. Want us to trial and review a product or treatment you've seen everywhere? Easy, just send an email to 

You can catch up on more from our Tried and Tested series here: