You’ve seen the African black soap buzz words in the news and in stores. But what is it, and why should you use it?
African black soap has traditionally been hand-crafted by women in the villages of West Africa with indigenous plant ingredients.
How It’s Made
Though there are many methods and varieties of ingredients used in African black soap, nearly all black soap contains some combination of shea butter, palm kernel oil, cacao and plantain leaves. The dark color that gives the soap its name comes from ash (from cooked plantain skin and cocoa pods). The dark depth of color varies by region, batch and variance of ingredients. Ash is then added to water to filter, followed by adding the mixture to plant oils and moisturizers (variants include shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter and honey). Traditionally, local village women stir the brew, as it cooks in small batches up to a day, and then it’s cured for weeks in the sun before use. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation.
Who Should Use It
All skin types can benefit from the soothing and detoxifying properties of authentic African black soap. People with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis use black soap for its irritation-relieving benefits. Those with oily and acneic skin will appreciate its ability to balance and draw impurities out of the skin. Additionally, its been used for anything from stretch mark prevention to calming diaper rash.
News to vegans ears! Due to the saponification of plant oils, animal fats are not needed in this unique soap to create its soft lather.
If you’re sensitive to scent and artificial ingredients, you’ll love the natural earth aroma of black soap without the added perfumes and drying chemicals found on many soap ingredient labels.
How to Use It
Use African black soap from head to toe for hand wash, body wash, shampoo and shaving gel. Use an authentic African black soap, like Alaffia’s unscented bar soap ($3.95), as it’s gentle enough for baby’s skin with no artificial ingredients or fragrance added.
See six different ways to try African black soap.
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Tangerine Citrus African Black Soap (All-In-One)
Authentic African Black Soap ($8.39) from Alaffia is Fair Trade sourced from Togo, West Africa and made from a centuries old recipe of adding ashes to indigenous plant oils. Use from head to nose to toes for anything from hand and body soap, shampoo, shaving soap and facial soap. Read more about how Alaffia’s programs in West Africa for gender equality and community empowerment.
Dudu-Osun Black Soap
Dudu-Osun ($2) soap bars come from the traditional African black soap-making method of combining palm kernel and cocoa pod ash with honey, shea butter and other natural moisturizing ingredients. Perfect for cleansing the whole body.
Black Liquid Hand Soap
Soapbox Soaps came out with Black Liquid Hand Soap ($6.99) with the same skin detoxifying benefits as its popular bar counterpart. Activated charcoal and sea salt smooth, cleanse and exfoliate. And, when you buy Soapbox Soap products, they donate soap, vitamins or clean water funding to developing countries.
African Black Soap Hand Cream
If you have eczema-prone skin, a soap might not be enough to alleviate inflammation and redness. Enter African Black Soap Hand Cream ($7.37) from Nubian Heritage. From their African Black Soap line, this 4 ounce hand cream is made with African black soap ash extract, plus shea, mango and cacao butters that richly soothe irritated skin.
African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Calm scalp itching and irritation with Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo ($10.99). If you battle eczema, psoriasis or dandruff, try soothing it with this combination of African black soap, willowbark extract, tea tree oil.
African Black Soap
Use this skin softening beauty secret product from Ghana on your whole body. Naturally containing Vitamins A and E, Bee All Natural’s African Black Soap ($5.99) is used for anti-aging as well as troubled skin. The bar is soft and crumbled, and it comes in a refillable exfoliating burlap soap bag.