▷ The Health Benefits of African Black Soap (2018 Update)

The Health Benefits of African Black Soap

Written by Regina Ward and updated on May 23, 2018
The Health Benefits of African Black Soap

Something that many don’t realize is that the skin is actually the largest organ in the human body. It is absolutely integral to the maintenance of optimal health and function, since it keeps everything inside the body safe and secure, while keeping everything outside the body just that – outside the body.

To delve into this a little further, the skin ensures that both the harmful toxins and chemicals found within the air around us and the nasty microorganisms found within the surrounding environment do not get into our body. As a result, the skin is one of the most important components of the immune system, offering us protection from a number of unique and different problems.

Unfortunately, all this protection also means that the skin tends to take an absolute beating on a day to day basis.

This constant exposure to bacteria, fungi, and viruses can lead to infection of the skin. Additionally, this constant exposure to toxins and chemicals can result in rapid declines in skin health and quality, even accelerating any normal age-related declines in skin function.

This is why we need to look after our skin in whatever way we can – because it does a hell of a job looking after us!

One such skin treatment option that has been making huge waves within the health industry of late is African black soap.

What is African Black Soap?

African black soap (also known as anago soap, alata simena, and Dudu Osun) is a specific type of soap that is thought to have first originated in West Africa – although it is now incredibly popular throughout most of the Western world.

This soap is made from the ash and charcoal of locally and ethically harvested African plants, which obviously explains why African black soap is so dark in color. Due to the plants that it is derived from, African black soap is also thought to contain potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, while also providing a method of thoroughly exfoliating the skin.

Taking all of this into consideration, black soap has been suggested to help treat and protect against various skin diseases (including acne, psoriasis, and eczema), while also improving skin health and quality.

But does it really live up to the hype?

What’s in it? How is it Made?

African black soap goes through a very unique production process – particularly when we compare it to our more modern-day soaps that are mass-produced in a factory! This amazing soap is made from the ash of the native African flora plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree, and shea tree. 

First, the leaves and barks of these plants are sun-dried, after which they are roasted in a kettle or pot at a constant and even temperature. This temperature is imperative because it ensures that the final product retains its desired texture, smell, and color.

Once the products have been roasted, water and key fats coming from palm oil, coconut oil, shea butter, or cocoa pod powder are added to the mix and stirred evenly for approximately 24 hours. Once it has been stirred completely and everything has thoroughly dissolved, it is left for around 2 weeks to ‘cure’ and set.

Local African Ghana women, using recipes that have been passed down through the generations, make high-quality African black soap via these traditional methods. Soap made in these settings are often fair trade, and thus offer the most authentic and effective types of African black soap on the planet.

Considering this, black soap made in the USA or in certain areas throughout Europe tends to contain additional preservatives and ingredients, making them slightly different (and arguably less pure) than their more traditional counterparts.

Benefits of Using African Black Soap

As we have already touched on briefly, African black has been shown to contain a number of potent antimicrobial properties. [1] As a result, it has the capacity to assist in the removal of harmful bacteria from the skin. This can aid in the treatment of various skin diseases, while also reducing the risk of developing acne, skin blemishes, and a number of other skin related afflictions.

Moreover, this unique soap also contains an abundance of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Iron – all of which have the potential to enhance skin health and function when applied directly.

Finally, in conjunction with the two key mechanisms mentioned above, African black soap also has exceptional exfoliating capacity. With this, it can assist in the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, while its ash content actually extracts harmful dirt, chemicals, and toxins from the pores, glands, and hair follicles on the skin.

The result? Much healthier skin.

How to Use and Apply It

When it comes to applying African black soap to the skin, there are a few tips and tricks that you need to be aware of to make sure that you get the most out of the experience.

First, before application, make sure you work the soap up thoroughly in your hands. Some high-quality soaps may contain whole particles of the plants from which they are derived, and this may actually cause damage to the skin in some capacity. As a result, we want to find and remove them when possible (we should note that this is not a common occurrence – but it is better to be safe).

Second, apply the lather to the desired area of skin with your fingertips and proceed to gently massage it into the skin. Once the face has been completely covered and you feel as if you have applied the lather thoroughly into the skin, gently wash off the soap with cold water.

That’s it! A simple and effective two-step process to getting the most out of your African black soap.

Where Can I Buy African Black Soap?

Like most things on this planet, African black soap can be purchased easily and effectively online – but there are a few considerations that I recommend you take before making a purchase.

First, make sure that your product genuinely originates from Africa and is derived from completely organic ingredients – this will ensure that your soap is made from traditional and authentic production methods, and therefore offers all of the desired health benefits.

Furthermore, I strongly recommend you look for products that have been certified as fair trade. This means you can be assured that those who have made the soap have been paid accordingly for both their product and their services.

Taking these factors into consideration, we have provided you with three great options. These tick all of the boxes for us, as they are what we believe to be the best African black soap products available on the market at the moment.

Wonderfully Natural Organic African Black Soap

This specific African black soap by Wonderfully Organic is one of the most popular products on the market. It has received rave reviews from thousands of people in regards to its quality, texture, and effectiveness.

Organic African Black Soap | Natural Acne Treatment | 16 OZ (1 lb)

Made and produced in Ghana, West Africa, you can be assured of its traditional production methods and completely organic ingredients. This is a fantastic option.

Sky Organics 100% Pure African Black Soap

Sky Organics have risen rapidly within the world of health supplements, building an excellent reputation for producing great quality products at very reasonable price points – something that is paramount to their African black soap.

Organic African Black Soap (16oz block) - Raw Organic Soap Ideal for Acne, Eczema, Dry Skin, Psoriasis, Scar Removal, Face & Body Wash, Authentic Black Soap From Ghana with Cocoa, Shea Butter & Aloe

Made in West Africa using traditional methods of production, you can be guaranteed of its quality. Moreover, being approved as fair trade, you can also use this product with the knowledge that everyone within the production process was paid his or her worth.

This is another great choice.

Our Earth’s Secrets Premium Raw African Black Soap

Very similar to the two options above, this great product has also been produced in Ghana, West Africa, which assures its excellence.

Our Earth's Secrets Raw African Black Soap, 1 lb.

Where this product differs slightly is in its no-frills approach. Using a very simple design and minimalistic presentation, this African black soap by Our Earth’s Secret sells itself on its great quality product, and that’s it.

As an added bonus this is one of the more affordable options on the market, making it ideal for those on a budget.

Which Brand of African Black Soap is Best?

Of the above three options, it is very hard to say which product is definitively ‘the best.’ Each is produced using traditional production methods in the home of African black soap, Ghana, West Africa. Moreover, each product has been fair trade approved and has received extremely positive reviews for its effectiveness.

For me personally, I am a big fan of the African Black Soap by Sky Organics. Not only is it well priced, but also in very simple terms, it is a great product – there is virtually no chance you will be disappointed with the results.

How to make your own DIY African Black Soap

Given the above information, it is also important to note that while African black soap has been traditionally made in certain areas of Africa (specifically Ghana, in West Africa), these same production methods can also be used at home, allowing you to make your own black soap.

For this, you are going to need the following ingredients to make your black soap base:

  • Shea butter or coconut oil
  • Plantain skins
  • Cocoa pods
  • Distilled water
  • The first step is to oven roast both your plantain skins and cocoa pods. This ensures that each of these ingredients has an even and consistent texture. Once they have been roasted it is time to burn them thoroughly in a pot or kettle, creating a nice fine ash.

    Proceed to gently mix the ash with approximately 2 cups of warm distilled water until it is completely dissolved. The final liquid should be dark and concentrated.

    Once it has been mixed thoroughly it is time to bring the liquid to boil, and then slowly lower the heat until it is just a simmer. Once the ash has dissolved even further, run the liquid through a fine strainer and set aside the remnants.

    From here, it is time to melt your base oils. When melting your oils, melt any solids first. Depending on what oils or waxes you choose, they would be melted one at a time in the following order: Bees wax, Jojoba oil (it is a wax), butters such as Shea, Coconut, Cocoa butter. Lastly, add liquid oils such as Olive, Sweet Almond or Apricot kernel (cp). In a double boiler or, if you do not have a double boiler, a large pot and large glass measuring cup, heat the oils on a very low setting until completely melted, and then proceed to slowly add the ash mixture into the oil while continuously stirring.

    This final mixture should be dark brown or black in color, and completely smooth.

    As you continue to stir the mixture, a frothy wax-like substance will begin to form on the surface. Scoop this liquid soap from the surface of the double boiler as it forms, continuing the process until all the water has boiled away, transferring the soap into molds as you go.

    At this point, you can add any essential oils prior to pouring into your molds.

    Once in the mold, the soap needs to be left for a minimum of two weeks to cure. This will allow the soap to solidify before its first use. The final product will be solid but malleable.

    It is important to note that this is the recipe for a simple black soap base. You can add certain ingredients to this recipe to create specific black soaps suitable for treating a variety of skin conditions – which have been outlined below in detail – so enjoy!

    African Black Soap Recipes

    Here's the wonderful thing about this soap. In addition to the nourishing benefits of the base soap you made above, you can add essential oils to get other desirable effects from the soap. To help you do this we've asked our favorite aromatherapist, Rehne Burge, for some essential oil recipes to add to the soap. 

    “When making your soap, I recommend 300 drops of essential oil per 24 ounces of soap. This is one percent. When making for the masses, I keep it at a gentle 1% to be versatile for the whole family. Some essential oils are topical irritants to sensitive skin such in children and the elderly. Many come with recommended maximum topical use. Maximum topical use is for healthy adult skin. For my soaps, I always use cicatrisant (skin healing) oils in my recipes along with other therapeutically effective oils. Learn what essential oils are safe to use by reading my article The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils.”

    – Rehne Burge

    African Black Soap for Acne Recipe
    • 6 ounces Black Soap
    • 50 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
    • 25 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
    African Black Soap for Acne Scars Recipe
    • 6 Ounces Black Soap
    • 25 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
    • 25 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum
    • 10 drops Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile
    • 15 Drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
    African Black Soap for Eczema Recipe
    • 6 ounces Black soap
    • 20 drops Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile
    • 10 drops Lemon Eucalyptus Citriodora
    • 20 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
    • 15 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum
    African Black Soap for Flexural Eczema Recipe
    • 6 ounces Black Soap
    • 10 drops Bergamot Citrus bergamia
    • 20 drops Patchouli Pogostemom cablin
    • 20 drops Carrot Seed Daucus carota
    • 15 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum
    African Black Soap for Psoriasis (or Dry Skin) Recipe
    • 6 ounces Black Soap
    • 10 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia
    • 20 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia
    • 20 drops Carrot Seed Daucus carota
    • 10 drops Bergamot Citrus bergamia
    Anti-bacterial African Black Soap Recipe

    Most essential oils have anti-bacterial properties. All of our soap recipes are antibacterial, so pick the one you like the best!

    African Black Soap vs. Traditional Options

    With all this information, you might find yourself wondering how African black soap actually differs from our more traditional skin care options. As a result, we have decided to compare African black soap to some of the more popular soap and skin treatment options on the market to give you an understanding of where their greatest differences lie.

    African Black Soap vs. Dove Soap

    When it comes to traditional soap, Dove is hands down one of the most popular on the planet. It is also important to note that due to its high popularity, it is highly mass-produced and subsequently uses an abundance of pharmaceutical grade ingredients in its formula.

    While this allows them to produce a huge amount of soap at a very low price point, it does mean that they lose out some of the benefits associated with completely organic African black soap. Taking all of this into consideration, dove soap certainly cleans the skin of dirt but offers very little benefit in terms of enhancing skin health and quality.

    African Black Soap vs. Dudu Osun

    Dudu Osun is actually a specific brand of black soap that uses slightly different ingredients than your more traditional African black soaps. These ingredients include honey, an abundance of shea butter, aloe vera, lime juice, and lemon juice. It is also important to note that Dudu Osun is produced in Nigeria rather than Ghana, which is likely to explain its slightly different production processes and ingredients.

    In short, as its production processes are very similar, Dudu Osun and African black soap are quite comparable in terms of the benefits that they provide to the skin.

    African Black Soap vs. Proactiv

    Proactiv is an extremely popular brand of skincare products that first began production in the mid-1990s. Advertised to act as a potent acne treatment, Proactiv contains key ingredients butenafine and benzoyl peroxide – both of which are known to exhibit potent antibacterial properties.

    Unfortunately, each of these compounds is also extremely harsh and can cause subsequent damage to the cells of the skin. As a result, Proactiv may offer an excellent way to treat acne, but it will come with an associated decline in more general skin health and quality.

    African Black Soap vs. Cetaphil

    Cetaphil is an extremely well known facial soap that is advertised to cleanse the skin while also assisting in the removal of acne. This unique soap only contains eight ingredients (water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben), all of which (minus the water) are chemically manufactured.

    Some of these ingredients have actually been described as potentially toxic, and can subsequently cause irritation to the skin if applied in too large amounts. As a result, while Cetaphil may cleanse the skin, it is highly likely to also damage the skin cells and cause a subsequent decline in skin quality.

    African Black Soap vs. Dr. Bronner’s

    Dr. Bronner’s is an Australian owned company that produces organic fair trade soaps using high-quality ingredients and natural production processes. In terms of skin cleansers and moisturizers, they are very good products, but they do not offer the same treatment capacity as African black soap.

    They do not contain any real antimicrobial properties, and may not be suitable to treat skin disease, nor to assist in the removal of acne.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Given the apparent health benefits and rapidly increasing popularity, we wanted to take an objective look at the research surrounding African black soap to answer some frequently asked questions about the product. This should give you some insight into where the product is best used, and where it isn’t.

    • Q: Can African Black Soap Be Used to Wash Hair?

      A: Washing the scalp and hair with African black soap has been suggested to have quite the positive effect, improving hair health and enhancing scalp quality. Interestingly, there appears to be some solid rationale behind this.

      By cleansing the hair follicles on the head, there is a genuine possibility that black soap may cause a subsequent increase in hair health and quality. Additionally, African black soap also contains the key vitamins Vitamin A and Vitamin E, both of which have been shown to have a positive impact on hair health. [2]

      As a result, it appears to offer a suitable means of washing hair and enhancing scalp health.
    • Q: Will African Black Soap Clear Acne?

      A: As previously mentioned, African black soap exhibits potent antimicrobial properties that are highly likely to help stop the spread of harmful bacterial infections, including acne. [1] Additionally, the ash within black soap has been shown to assist in the removal of dirt and grime from the skin cells, hair follicles, and oil glands on the skin. [3]

      As a result, it appears that African black soap is highly likely to have a positive effect on acne-plagued skin. Furthermore, as it contains no toxic compounds it is likely to do so without the nasty side effects associated with more traditional pharmaceutical grade treatments.
    • Q: Will African Black Soap Clear Acne Scars?

      A: There are a number of people within the health industry who suggest that African black soap may have the ability to treat acne scars. While black soap may have the capability of enhancing the health of acne-scarred skin and reducing the severity of their appearance, there is no evidence to suggest that it can assist in the physical healing of the acne scars.

      As a result, we cannot recommend African black soap for the healing of acne scars.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Help with Stretch Marks?

      A: Stretch marks occur during times of rapid growth, where the outer layer of connective tissue within skin physically splits, leaving the white thick connective tissue underneath exposed and visible.

      In a very similar fashion to the above point, while African black soap may have the potential to increase the health and quality of any skin that contains stretch marks, it will not have the capacity actually heal that damaged skin.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Irritate the Skin?

      A: In terms of safety and skin irritation, African black soap is actually incredibly mild. As it is derived from completely organic ingredients and contains an abundance of skin soothing compounds, it should actually reduce inflammation of the skin and therefore assist in the treatment of irritated skin.

      That said, there is a slim chance that some people will be allergic to some of the key ingredients found within black soap. These individuals may experience skin redness and itchiness after application.

      If you find that your skin does become irritated and inflamed after the use of African black soap, we strongly recommend you cease using it immediately.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Make Your Skin Purge?

      A: Skin purging is a term that describes the occurrence of an acne ‘breakout’ immediately after commencing the use of a new acne product. This is suggested to be the result of the skin ‘purging’ itself of all the toxins and chemicals within the skin, expressed as pimples and acne.

      While the antimicrobial properties of African black soap have the capacity to help treat acne [1], there is no evidence to suggest that it will result in a skin purge.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Expire or Go Bad?

      A: African black soap rarely comes with an expiration date – mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t really contain any ingredients that have the potential to expire or go bad. It can become a little dry and crumbly in response to prolonged air exposure, which can negatively affect the ease in which it’s normally applied to the skin.

      In this scenario, we recommend removing some of the dry parts of the soap and wetting them slightly. These small portions of the soap can then be molded into small soap bars that can be used effectively again.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Burn Skin?

      A: There is a very short answer to this one – no, African black soap does not burn the skin. It does not contain any chemical compounds that have the potential to cause burns.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Exfoliate Skin?

      A: The slightly rough nature of African black soap means that it does have the ability to exfoliate the skin, helping to remove dirt, grime, and dead skin cells from the skin's surface. This is highly likely to cause a subsequent increase in skin quality, reducing the risk of developing skin related diseases such as acne. [4]
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Help Eczema or Psoriasis?

      A: Eczema and psoriasis are both nasty skin conditions that ultimately result in highly inflamed and irritated sections of skin. This can lead to a rapid decline in general skin quality, in conjunction with an increase in age-related declines in skin health.

      Fortunately, a number of the compounds found within African black soap have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. [5] As a result, it is highly likely to have the ability to improve the signs and symptoms of both eczema and psoriasis, all while causing a subsequent increase in skin health. If you use coconut oil in creating the soap, this can also help as coconut oil is healing for eczema.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Cause Acne?

      A: We have already established at length that African black soap contains compounds that actually protect and fight against the onset of acne. As a result, it does not have the capacity to cause acne or any other skin issues of that manner.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Remove Dark Spots?

      A: It has been suggested that the application of African black soap may have the capacity to remove dark spots from the skin. Interestingly, there are certain antioxidants found in shea butter that have been shown to protect your skin from the UV light that comes from the sun. [6]

      Through this interaction, African black soap is highly likely to reduce the risk of developing sun spots and dark skin lesions by protecting the skin from this damage. It is important to note that it appears unlikely that black soap can actually improve upon the state of current dark spots found on the skin.
    • Q: Does African Black Soap Lighten Skin or Even Skin Tone?

      A: Alterations in skin tone can occur in response to the overexposure of chemicals and free radicals. These free radicals can come in many different forms, including UV light, airborne toxins, pathogens, and even viral infection.

      Interestingly, there is some evidence to suggest that the application of African black soap to pigmented sections of the skin may actually improve skin tone, while also protecting against any further skin discoloration. [6]
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Grow Mold?

      A: Given that African black soap is actually highly antibacterial, it is often thought that it cannot be interfered with by mold. It is important to specify that this thought process is actually incorrect. Mold spores can settle on the surface of African black soap when it becomes dry, where it then proceeds to populate the area.

      This often occurs when the soap is left uncovered and exposed to unclean sections of bathroom tile. This can mostly be avoided by storing your African black soap in a clean, airtight container and only taking it out when you intend to use it.

      It is also important to note that when black soap is exposed to the outside air for long periods of time it may develop a white film on its surface. This is not mold, it is merely the outside compounds of the soap becoming dry and oxidizing, which causes them to become white in color. The soap is still perfectly safe to use in this state.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Be Used on the Body?

      A: While African black soap is most well-known for its positive impact on acne and the skin of the face, it can also be used on the rest of the body. Its potent ability to boost skin health can be applied to any section of skin. Furthermore, its antibacterial action can reduce the risk of disease and infection across the skin of the entire body.

      We actually recommend you use African black soap as you would any other soap, as it can reduce the risk of disease while causing large improvement in skin health and quality.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Be Used on White Skin?

      A: African black soap is highly beneficial for use on skin of any color or any area. As it draws toxins, chemicals, dirt, and grime from the cells of the skin, it will not lead to any discoloration or declines in skin quality.
    • Q: What Does African Black Soap Smell Like?

      A: This question really doesn’t have a clear answer, as it is highly dependent on the compounds that are found within the African black soap – namely the essential oils included within its formula, which obviously differ depending on the primary health goal of that specific soap.

      The base of a good quality African black soap will have a nice earthy, ash-like smell, which comes from the cooking process used on the plantain leaves. This underpinning smell should be consistent and apparent no matter what essential oils it is combined with.
    • Q: Is African Black Soap Safe for Babies?

      A: While each of the ingredients included within the black soap formula should be perfectly safe for babies and children, we would still be inclined to avoid its use in these populations, as there is limited research in the area. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Help with Dandruff?

      A: There are many people within the health industry who swear by African black soap's capacity to remove dandruff. While there is currently no research in this area, both its capacity to exfoliate and hydrate the skin suggests some ability to improve skin health and reduce the risk of skin flaking.

      As a result, when applied to the scalp, these effects are highly likely to reduce the severity of dandruff while also aiding in its removal.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Help with Dry Skin?

      A: African black soap appears to have the capacity to cause huge improvements in skin hydration, mainly through the action of shea butter, thus offering an effective method of enhancing dry skin.

      It may also impact the health of the skin cells at a cellular level by aiding in the removal of harmful toxins and chemicals. This is likely to enhance their ability to retain fluid, further improving skin quality and hydration.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Help with Oily Skin?

      A: As previously discussed, African black soap has the ability to cleanse the pores of the skin, removing dirt, grime, and harmful toxins. It can also cleanse the sebaceous oil glands of the skin, improving their ability to function.

      Through both of these interactions, it appears that African black soap can improve upon oily skin while also reducing the overproduction of skin oil.
    • Q: Can African Black Soap Help with Sensitive Skin?

      A: The shea butter found within African black soap has been shown to offer an excellent compound when it comes to soothing sections of irritated skin. It also appears to offer an excellent method of cleansing sensitive skin without causing irritation. [7]

      As a result, African black soap offers an excellent method of cleaning sensitive skin, although it may not make that skin less sensitive in the long run.
    • Q: Is African Black Soap Antibacterial?

      A: As discussed already, African black soap contains potent antibacterial properties [1], making it an excellent option to reduce the risk of developing harmful skin infections while also limiting the influence of unwanted bacteria on general health and function.
    • Q: Is African Black Soap Vegan?

      A: The answer to our final point can be kept short and sweet – yes, African black soap is completely vegan as it contains zero animal-based products, nor does it use any animal based products during its production process.

    Conclusion

    African black soap is a completely organic, vegan, and natural skin treatment that has deservedly been taking the health industry by storm. Using highly traditional production processes passed down through generations, it is an antibacterial wonder product that has been shown to cause a huge improvement in skin health while also staving off acne and other skin related diseases.

    As an added bonus, African black soap can be combined with key essential oils to enhance its effectiveness and improve upon various other aspects of health in the process.

    The three products listed in this article offer what we believe to be the best three African black soaps currently on the market. If you have had any experience using them (or any other black soap for that matter) we would love to hear about it, so drop us a comment and we will get back to you ASAP.

    References

    About the author

      Regina Ward

      Regina Ward prides herself on her “hands-on” approach to life. She would rather figure out the way to do things on her own than hire someone else to do it for her. From car repairs to home improvement, Regina tackles it all with gusto. When she finds a subject she particularly likes, she shares it with Organic Daily Post through her well-informed writing.

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