West Africa is captivating the globe with a product African women have known about for centuries: African Black Soap (or ‘the Black Soap’). I learned an important fact in biology class when I was in school – my skin is my body’s largest organ. It’s that fact that made me realize I should be treating my skin as kindly as I do every other organ in my body. Every day, I try to eat nutrient-rich foods, exercise, keep well hydrated, and get enough sleep. But I realized I wasn’t paying my skin the attention it deserved. So I set out on a quest to find the ultimate skincare product. My findings? Black Soap is one of the world’s most effective skin care treatments.
And the benefits I’ve discovered from using it myself are so significant that I decided to pass this information on to other women (and men!) who are on the same quest.
What is Black Soap?
Though its color is more brown-ish than black, black soap got its name because its dark brown color tends to be much darker than other soaps. With origins out of West Africa and a rich history that dates back centuries, black soap has become known for its organic ingredients and its many benefits for nearly all skin types. Black Soap is also referred to by the local areas that produce it as ‘ose dudu,’ among other names.
In Yoruba (language of Nigeria), ‘ose’ means ‘soap,’ and ‘dudu’ means ‘black.’ It is from West African tribes that this exquisite, dark-in-color and somewhat rough-in-texture soap first originated. The tribes of pre-colonial West Africa discovered that nearby plants contained ingredients that, when combined, made for an ultimate skin-care product. Though the ingredients used in various black-soap products can vary, most include a combination of plantain skins, cocoa pods, shea tree bark, palm tree leaves, coconut oil, and/or palm oil.
Black Soap is made by harvesting plants local to West African areas. These include cocoa pods and plantain peels, as well as the bark of plantain trees and shea trees. Producers of Black Soap then roast the resultant material in large kettles that must be kept at just the right temperature constantly, which is then mixed with palm and other oils and cured for several weeks before it’s molded into bars that are ready for use.
What are the benefits of Black Soap?
Black Soap has so many benefits that it wasn’t easy for me to decide which to include in this article, considering the limited amount of time and space I have to write. Since I’ve seen the benefits firsthand, and I’ve heard of so many more, I have decided to list those that I have experienced as well as those that consensus renders as Black Soap’s most significant advantages.
Naturally, cleansing your skin is the most important thing soap should do. And Black Soap does this so very effectively. Its deep cleansing powers come from organic ingredients that are noted for their antioxidants. Plantain peels and cocoa pods are two examples of the fundamentals of this amazing soap that contain antioxidant properties beneficial to skin.
I have been a proponent of exfoliation for most of my life because I’ve seen how effectively it can smooth the feel and appearance of skin. And I’ve never seen a soap that exfoliates better than African black soap. First, the semi-rough yet surprisingly gentle texture of this skincare product makes it a natural exfoliator. Second, many of its organic elements contain rich antioxidants whose properties aid in sloughing skin of excess cells. Vitamin A and vitamin E are both very effective at exfoliating skin, which means that as we age, we should all be using soaps that contain these beneficial nutrients.
Someone once said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” With each year I age, I find myself embracing this concept with more and more gusto. This is perhaps one of the best reasons I’ve found for using Black Soap. And each year I find myself more thankful for the wonderful women of West African tribes that first discovered the rich anti-aging properties in their surrounding plant life.
First, exfoliating is a necessity when it comes to skin; if you don’t do it, your skin can’t stay young-looking. Second, the antioxidants contained within such ingredients as plantain peels and cocoa pods are vital to youthful skin. Flavonoids such as quercetin help reduce inflammation that leads to puffiness and uneven skin tone. They also aid in preventing the free radicals that can trap in dirt and damage skin, and give it an older appearance.
You likely won’t find a bar soap that moisturizes as well as Black Soap. Its natural ingredients such as shea butter, palm oil, and coconut oil are all well-known for their abilities to moisturize skin and keep it healthy, smooth, and glowing. These components help to lock in moisture and keep skin properly hydrated, protecting against harsh elements such as UV rays and free radicals that can damage and dry skin.
Sure, acne is not something that’s generally associated with aging, but we can all get a blemish or two every now and again. And if you’re someone who is still fighting a little acne even as an adult, you’ve probably been searching for an effective treatment of it for a long time.
But many of those harsh chemicals that are on the market to treat acne can sometimes do more damage to your skin than good. Consider giving Black Soap a try; its natural ingredients contain the nutrients your skin needs to heal acne, not make it worse or cause some other problem that’s almost worse than the acne. Skin that has acne needs essential fatty acids and antioxidants to combat free radicals. It also needs nutrients that reduce inflammation.
Organic ingredients found in Black Soap such as coconut oil and palm oil contain those ingredients that help to reduce inflammation and redness, cleanse away dirt that can lead to acne, and make skin clear and smooth.
Balances skin tone
Nothing can make your skin look old or unhealthy like uneven skin tone. Sun damage, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise or proper sleep – these can all take a toll on your skin’s pH balance and pigmentation. Additionally, an unhealthy lifestyle that includes poor diet can cause problems with your liver that can lead to dark circles under and around the eyes and other skin discolorations. Black Soap helps to balance skin tones with such ingredients as cocoa pods, which contain properties that inhibit tyrosinase in your body’s largest organ. Tyrosinase is an enzyme within the basal layer of the epidermis. I’ll spare you the long, scientific explanation of this enzyme in favor of a more brief and effective explanation: too much tyrosinase in your skin can lead to overproduction of pigmentation, and it’s that overproduction that can cause uneven skin tones.
Minimizes scars and stretch marks
Black Soap long has been known for its ability to minimize the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Shea butter contains moisturizing and mending properties that help to increase collagen production within the skin. Palm oil is a rich source of vitamin E that aids in creating healthy pores. These ingredients help to regenerate skin cells, which aids in fading unsightly scars and stretch marks.
Reduces redness and inflammation
There are quite a few ingredients contained within Black Soap that combat the free radicals that can cause puffiness and redness. Shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil, and plantain peels all contain vitamins that can even minimize severe redness in skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
Treats numerous strains of fungi
Many of the antioxidant nutrients contained in the healthy and organic ingredients of Black Soap are powerful combatants of fungi that lead to redness and itchiness, such as athlete’s foot. If you suffer from chronic rash or itchiness, consider using a Black Soap with added oatmeal.
Is Black Soap good for my skin type?
Black Soap can be an effective cleanser and moisturizer for all skin types. Whether your skin is dry, oily, or a combination of these, the rich nutrients contained in it can help your skin find its proper balance, health, and smoothness, and it can help you find a more youthful glow.
Are there any disadvantages to using Black Soap?
Yes, there can be disadvantages to using Black Soap, including:
Since I’m discussing here the truth about Black Soap, it is incumbent upon me to let you know that, if you use it too much, Black Soap can lead to dry skin. Because it is a deep cleanser, you may want to start off using it just two to three times a week. If your skin is oily, then you likely won’t have this problem. But for those of us with more mature, and sometimes more dry skin, start off slow and find your best regimen.
Additionally, because of its use of cocoa pods, those with a caffeine sensitivity may want to seek counsel from a dermatologist before using. It’s also important to note that plantains contain latex. Those with latex allergies should be mindful of not using Black Soaps that contain plantains.
How do I use Black Soap?
First, it’s important for me to inform you that Black Soap must be stored properly. Because of its high glycerin content that pulls in moisture from the air, you’ll find that Black Soap can disintegrate. For this reason, never let your Black Soap sit in water after you use it. Be sure to keep it lying on a soap dish that has slats to allow for it to drain and keep dry so it won’t dissolve.
There are a number of ways you can use Black Soap. You can remove a small amount from the bar and mold it into a tiny ball that can be massaged into a lather. You can also make your own body or face scrub by allowing a small amount of it to sit in water purposefully in order to allow it to liquefy.
What are some of the most popular Black Soaps?
Wonderfully Natural African Black Soap
This soap is called ‘wonderfully natural’ because that’s what it is – it’s a wonderfully natural blend of organic palm oil, organic coconut oil, unrefined shea butter, plantain skin ash, and purified water. It’s a soothing, healing handcrafted soap that contains rich vitamins such as A and E that repair and strengthen skin and rejuvenate skin cells deep inside skin's layers.
Shea Moisture African Black Soap, by Shea
This soap helps your skin feel refreshingly clean. It leaves your face and body feeling invigorated, and its dependence on the moisturizing bark of the shea tree means it can be used daily. It also contains organic extracts of oats and aloe, and that means it’s safe because it gently cleanses and keeps skin naturally hydrated.
Raw African Black Soap, by Earth’s Secrets
Earth’s Secrets has long been a trusted name in the skincare industry, and this 100% natural raw African soap is no exception. It originates from Ghana, which is well known for producing beautifully handcrafted soaps that produce beautiful, young-looking skin. Its ingredients include palm kennel oil, coconut oil, cocoa pod husk, unrefined shea butter, plantain skin ash, natural sodium, natural vitamin E, water, and stearin oil (a product obtained by nutrient-rich cod liver oil).
African Black Soap Raw Organic Natural Pure, by Natural Cosmetics
From Natural Cosmetics comes this deep-cleansing yet mild and soothing Black Soap that is rich in shea butter, kernel oil, glycerin, plantain skins, and palm oil. This one is packed with iron, as well as vitamins A and E, and it’s known for reducing skin irritations, evening skin tone and fading skin discolorations, and preventing premature aging.
African Black Soap, by Incredible By Nature
Touted as Incredible By Nature’s ‘perfect skin secret,’ this Black Soap is 100% pure and free of fragrances. It cleanses deep within the pores and fights free radicals that can make skin look old before its time. It helps to repair and strengthen skin cells, keeping skin blemish-free and smooth. Additionally, Incredible By Nature reports that it’s vegan friendly and hypoallergenic, and it’s never tested on animals.
The world is captivated by ‘the Black Soap,’ and so am I. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my skin from the use of Black Soap, and I’m confident it can help others. This is why I’ve chosen to write about it because I wanted to get the word out. The unprocessed, hand-crafted production of each bar; it's granular, uniquely exfoliating texture; its rich, nutrient-abundant ingredients; and its delicate moisturizing power all make African Black Soap one of the most compelling and impressive skincare products available.