By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Charcoal has been replaced by gas as the darling of the backyard barbecue, but it may have a future as the newest and hottest beauty trend.

In the do-it-yourself beauty world, it’s what they call “black magic,” and videos on YouTube show people brushing their teeth with black goo.

That black goo is activated charcoal, which can be found in health stores in capsule form.  It supposedly whitens teeth, but medical professionals say people should be cautious.

“If there’s a very special event and somebody wants to try it once or twice, that’s probably not going to be that big of a deal.  But, if someone is doing it routinely, my concern is they’re going to break down the enamel,” Dr. Ashley Smith of Southern Marin Dermatology said.

Dr. Smith says charcoal is commonly used in the emergency room to treat poison, or stomach problems because of its cleansing and detoxifying powers.  Lately, charcoal can be found in the big name beauty products.

Clinique just launched a charcoal facial wash for men, and the sonic brush that goes with it comes with charcoal-infused bristles.

“Charcoal is so interesting because it really is like a magnet for dirt, and it just draws out any of the dirt, oil, the impurities,” Clinique Spokeswoman Natalie Glassman said.

Even bartenders are getting in on the charcoal trend.

Clinique recently threw a charcoal-inspired party in San Francisco, where it was mixed into cocktails.

“I was a little hesitant, but I tried it, and I took the plunge, and I’m glad I did it,” Kate Steward said after trying the cocktail.

But, Dr. Smith says people should investigate the products they buy.

“These products with charcoal, I don’t think they’re all bad.  I do think that charcoal has a very large capacity to absorb, but of course it’s so hard to know what you’re getting with any product from the internet that’s not standardized, so I would prefer to see this product used in a medical arena.”

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