(Trial Run)

What Happened When I Tried Pai's New Inky Black Carbon Star Facial Oil

The intense color isn't the only thing that’s noteworthy.

Isabella Sarlija
Pai Carbon Star Oil bottle

In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews.

Industry-favorite clean beauty brand Pai recently released its Carbon Star facial oil, an overnight oil formulated for acne-prone and sensitive skin — and yes, it is an inky black shade that would make your inner emo kid proud. Of course, facial oil might seem like a counterintuitive product type to slather onto your acne-prone skin; however, oils can actually go a long way when it comes to treating your blemishes (depending on the type of oil, of course).

Acne is typically borne from an overproduction of sebum, which mingles inside of your pores with dirt, debris, and dead skin cells. When you apply oil, it tells your skin that there is a proper amount of moisture sitting on your lipid barrier, meaning that it doesn’t have to do the heavy work of producing as much sebum. As it produces less oil, your lipid barrier will return to normal, there will be less oil to get trapped in and clog your pores, and you should theoretically experience fewer breakouts.

Facial oil disclaimer aside, here’s why I decided to test this product out for myself. It claims to cover balance in the skin, diminish the appearance of scarring, and most importantly of all, reduce your number of breakouts. Well, I’ve tested this buzzy jet black oil for a month, and here are my honest thoughts about it.

My Skin Before Carbon Star

Ah, where do I begin? My skin, in its natural state, is quite particular. I have sensitive skin that reacts poorly (and by reacts poorly, I mean breaks out in hives) to most harsh ingredients, and I have combination skin, meaning my T-zone (the forehead and nose) is typically oily while everywhere else is more dry. Aside from this, I struggle with hormonal acne along my jaw and cheeks that seldom ever goes away, despite my best efforts to keep angry cysts at bay.

Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with a host of new blemish woes — I blame it on the fact that I’ve been under a great deal of stress from a recent move, and my skin is still trying to get used to my new environment. As a result, I now experience clogged pores and blackheads along my nose and regularly battle a combination of blemishes and cystic acne along my forehead.

Isabella Sarlija

Of course, as I age, I’ve been dealing with dark spots that I regularly mask with concealer when I’m not using brightening ingredients and at-home laser devices to diminish their appearance. Thanks to these newfound acne bumps, I’m also battling post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (AKA acne scars) all over my face, which is something I thought I had for sure left behind in my teen years. Essentially, my skin has a lot of needs at the moment, which I hoped this new oil could address all in one potent formula.

So What’s Inside This Oil?

If you struggle with acne, you might be thinking to yourself, OK, Isabella. The last thing I want to do right now is put oil on my skin. That’s a fair concern, but using the *right* oil is crucial in order for everything to work out in favor of clear, happy, healthy skin.

Isabella Sarlija

First and foremost, Pai’s Carbon Star face oil is non-comedogenic, meaning that all of the ingredients inside will not clog your pores. It contains organic black cumin seed oil, which will moisturize the skin while also minimizing acne with its antibacterial properties. Additionally, it contains copaiba balsam, an ingredient that works to calm inflammation and redness around active acne. Along with these stellar ingredients, this formula also contains vitamin E and acai fruit oil, two ingredients that provide antioxidant protection and moisturize the skin. And last, but surely not least, this product contains charcoal powder to soak up any excess sebum that may accumulate throughout the night. (It’s also the ingredient that gives this product its unique black color.)

In addition to these good-for-your-acne-prone-skin ingredients, this product is also clean, fragrance-free, and safe to use on sensitive skin.

What I’ve Noticed After A Month Of Use

I began incorporating this product into my routine every night (it’s suggested use is as an overnight oil after all). It’s important to note that I used it in conjunction with my mainstay skin care routine, which includes a PHA exfoliator, a hydrating serum, and a moisturizer. After completing my entire routine every night, I slather half a dropper of this oil all over my face, neck, and decolletage.

Since this product is so dark in its color, I assumed that it would create a grey tint on my complexion before finishing up my routine and going to sleep. Sure, after I first apply a few drops of the oil it initially looks like I have mascara tears streaming down my face, or like I’m doing my best Billie Eilish impression, but after blending it in with my fingers, the black shade disappears entirely. Be careful not to drip it onto your clothing, however, as that will definitely leave a stain.

Without sounding too dramatique, I was shocked at my complexion after the first night of using this oil. Like I said, I recently moved to a new apartment, and almost every single morning after I’ve woken up with either new blemishes or skin that looks as if it hasn’t seen an ounce of water in days (despite my best efforts to moisturize the night before). So, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up with little to no redness that first morning after and saw an unexpected burst of dewiness.

Isabella Sarlija

I continued using the oil every night for a few weeks. During that time, I noticed that my breakouts have all but diminished, and thanks to the moisturizing properties in this oil, my acne didn’t leave any scars (a dry, flakey complexion is much more prone to developing dark marks since it’s already irritated) this month, which is a plus. I’ve also noticed a balance in my skin’s oil production throughout the day — I’m no longer struggling with a complexion that is oily to the point of looking slick in my t-zone, nor am I desperately spritzing my overly dry cheeks as often. My skin is, simply put, balanced and clear.

Is The Carbon Star Worth Your Money?

Now, all the benefits that Pai’s Carbon Star facial oil provides are great, but do they merit the $59 price tag? I’d say so, and here’s why: If you have ever struggled with acne in the past, then you know that certain overnight acne-fighting products can enter the three-digit realm in terms of price.

This facial oil works to balance the lipid barrier, clear active acne, and even provide antioxidant protection to the skin at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. Plus, since this formulation relies on oils to improve your complexion (instead of depending on harsh chemical exfoliators), it doesn’t cause skin sensitivity or irritation. All it *does* cause is clear, balanced skin.

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