L'Oreal Pure Clay Charcoal Detoxifying Gel Wash - review


Last year my local supermarket had these L'Oreal 'pure clay' products at 40% off, so I bought two cleansers and two masks.

While I'm yet to get stuck into the masks, I've been using both cleansers since the beginning of the year and I've enjoyed both of them. That is, until I read the product claims and ingredients list for this one. Now I'm annoyed. I mean for starters, the words 'visible' and 'visibly' appeared ten times in the short list of product claims - and while I edited out five of them, that's still too many!

Let's hope the other one looks better on paper because it's my favourite of the two.

L'Oreal claims/product details:

  • With a foaming gel formula that deeply cleanses and visibly detoxifies the skin 
  • Enriched with black charcoal, which acts like a magnet to draw out impurities and excess oil
  • Works deep into the pores, leaving the skin visibly brightened
  • Contains three pure clays and charcoal kaolin
  • Montmorillonite purifies and re-balances the skin, reducing imperfections
  • Ghassoul absorbs impurities and oil without causing irritation, leaving skin smooth, fresh and radiant
  • Charcoal detoxifies and brightens 
  • Instant and visible results: your skin is deeply cleansed and visibly detoxified; it is refreshed, brighter and visibly transformed with radiance (anyone else sick of all this 'visible' stuff?!)
  • RRP $14.95 AUD for 150ml, but do shop around

I just wanted to flag now that I tried testing the pH of this product twice but couldn't get a reading because the cleanser itself is charcoal in colour and when it lathers up it becomes a pale grey, so all I'm seeing on my pH strips is black and pale grey - rather than any colour that would give me a reading.

This hasn't happened before and it's annoying because I do like to include pH readings in my reviews of cleansers. So I went back a third time after posting this review and it looks like the pH may be somewhere between an eight and a nine, but I can't be sure of that because it also looks like it could be between a seven and an eight or even a nine and a ten! 

I'm going with the first one: eight and nine. That's because both myself and my 3.4yo daughter agreed that was the closest in terms of colour.


This is one of those situations where the product claims have annoyed me because I personally think they go too far, based on my experience of the product, so I'll try not to let that pollute my review.

What will be polluting my review, however, is the fact that this product contains both Sodium Laurel Sulphate (12th listed ingredient) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (4th listed ingredient) and also fragrance (last listed ingredient) - all of which can be irritating to skin. 

Honestly, it's high time brands realised that we're all educated skincare users these days due to the internet, so you can't just go including potential irritants in your products and expect no one to notice them, because they will.

Moving on.

It's a black gel product with a medium and not overpowering, slightly odd scent (it smells like those charcoal and collagen products I used to receive from the Korean Memebox: the pig fat kind of products). It does lather a little, although you'll need to add water and work at the product to achieve that, and when it does lather it turns into a pale grey colour and feels very lightweight on the skin.

Indeed, I was surprised to see SLS and also an SLS derivative in the ingredients because it doesn't lather that much so I wasn't expecting to see those because when I do, the product normally foams like crazy so it's obvious those ingredients are present. 

This tells me once again that looks can be deceiving. 

What I like about this product is that it's always felt gentle on my skin (although I'm not so sure about that now!) while still being effective enough that it gets my skin clean. 

Indeed, I'm trying to finish off a Sukin oil cleanser at the moment that doesn't wash off well on its own, and I always use this product afterwards because it cuts through the oily residue (which isn't easy, believe me - it's super viscous and sticky) while still managing to clean my skin underneath. Not all cleansers could achieve that, so it gets points on that front.

Also worth noting is that I use this every day in the morning as my second cleanse, and it hasn't stripped or dried out my already dry skin over time - at least not as far as I can see or feel. While that's of course a good thing, I think it says something about how well this product draws out the oil from your skin as claimed. That is, it doesn't, in my experience.

On those claims: yes it deeply cleanses but no it doesn't visibly detoxify the skin to reveal a brighter complexion; no it doesn't 'act like a magnet to draw out impurities and excess oil', although it does do a good job of removing makeup and residue from my skin; no I haven't noticed that it has reduced imperfections; and yes I agree that it leaves my skin feeling smooth, fresh, soft and clean.

Overall I think this is a good, basic, everyday cleanser and I bought mine for eight dollars so I don't regret the purchase. It hasn't performed the miracles noted in the product claims, and while that's not enough for me to say 'avoid this', reading the list of ingredients has changed my mind about this product and I don't think it's good enough to worth putting potential irritants on your face - and of course, some would say that no product is ever good enough to risk that!

Stick to the well-formulated stuff.

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