There is something incredibly off-putting about black 'soap'. I don't know whether my concern stems from my less than pleasant experience with Dark Angels, or whether there's an element of fear that black is a rather 'permanent' colour - what would happen if my face was stained after using it? What would happen if I stained my bath/walls etc... after using this? What would happen if I stained....?
Despite my worries, I knew I would have to face it sometime. So after using up the last of my Buche De Noel (*sniff*), I decided to take the plunge and try a piece of Coalface.
My Initial thoughts were that it smelt exactly like Dark angels - that slightly sweet and earthy liquorice scent that I wasn't too keen on the first time around. Although you can smell the charcoal as well, it's a very subtle part of the fragrance, hiding behind the prominent hint of rosewood and sandalwood, which stop the soap smelling too potently of aniseed.
In all fairness, I don't think Lush compiled this collection of ingredients for the smell, so I was keen to establish whether, together, these key ingredients could pull off something marvellous for my face. At the forefront is liquorice root, which dominates the smell and is apparently detoxifying for the skin; the powdered charcoal supposedly removes oil while the rosewood and sandalwood oils are in there to make it that little bit softer.
During my first use, a few problems arose. Firstly, the shape of the piece of coalface (which is the generic shape for anyone ordering online), doesn't make it easy for you to apply on your face. I found that there were certain contours that couldn't be reached without a bit of clever manoeuvring on my part. Secondly, the surface is rather gritty, which actually caused me to cut myself. I don't know whether you are supposed to build your face up to using that part but with regular use, I can really see the harshness causing sensitive skin to flare up; I know my face would become very sore and overly exfoliated if I used this every day. Finally, once I'd applied Coalface on my skin and washed it off, my face felt really taut and dry; it was if someone had just sucked the moisture right out of my pores.
Despite all of this, my skin didn't feel too bad once I'd dried myself down and it seemed to work effectively with my facial cleanser (Almond Kisses), even reducing my spot count and keeping them at bay.
Although I had slightly different reactions to this, as opposed to Dark Angels, I don't really notice a difference in what they do to my skin. Both make my complexion feel dry, just like a bad soap would, and both made my skin feel really oily seconds before ridding my skin of moisture altogether! On the positive side, Coalface is definitely not as messy as Dark Angels, which might be why consumers would opt for this over the crumblier alternative.
Despite it not specifically claiming to be for greasy skin, I think this is another product for those who want to reduce the oil in the pores. For someone like me, who doesn't have a lot of moisture to give, this might be too strong. It's not the worst product in the world, and I will continue to use my block until it's diminished. However, it won't be one I use again.
Quantitative Ingredients: Liquorice Root Decoction, Propylene Glycol, Rapeseed Oil and Coconut Oil, Water, Perfume, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Powdered Charcoal, Sandalwood Oil, Rosewood Oil, Glycerine, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, *Geraniol, *Linalool, Silver Edible Lustre.