I’ve always had this curious fascination with African Black soap. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve always looked at it’s unique color, texture, and shape with such wonder. More recently, what caught my interested is the number of people that rave about the stuff – claiming it can remedy anything from eczema to blemishes to scalp issues. I decided to do a little research to see what all the fuss is about – What is African Black soap and what makes it so great for you?
African Black soap (also known as Anago Soap, Alata Simena, or Ose Dudu) is created from the ash of organic materials such as plantain skin, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, and Shea tree bark. First the leaves and bark are sun-dried and then roasted in a kettle or pot at an even, constant temperature, which is important to ensure color, texture and smell. Then water and various oils – palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil (including Shea butter and cocoa pod powder) – are added to the mixture and stirred for at least a day. After that, the “soap” is left to set for two weeks to cure.
Black soap is traditionally made in West Africa (typically Ghana) from secret recipes that have been passed down for generations. Different tribes and communities have their own secret blend of oils and techniques which result in the different color variations among black soap. The ash itself was often used for its healing properties. Varieties of black soap that are actually made in Africa tend to be pure, while soaps made in Europe or the US tend to have added artificial ingredients.
Traditional African black soap is brownish-black in color but is never fully black. It has an organic soft shape with an earthy unscented smell. This soap is completely pure and chemical-free. Plantain skin- it’s main ingredient- is a natural source of vitamin A, vitamin E, and iron, which explains why this soap is so nourishing to skin and hair.
People love this soap because it can be used anywhere on the body from head to toe and is often said to have a healing effect. It is commonly used to relieve acne, clear blemishes, bumps, and many other skin issues. African black soap also gives skin a deep clean, leaving it radiant and healthy. Many women even use it to remove their makeup.
For centuries it has been used as a shampoo because it eliminates stubborn oil and dirt from hair, scalp, and skin, while leaving your hair soft. Although this soap cleans very well, it is safe to use on even the most sensitive skin. Natives would use this soap on newborn babies right after birth.
Sounds good right? If you’re interested in enjoying the benefits of African black soap, you MUST be sure you are buying the real deal. There are many imitations out there and people don’t even realize it. Luckily, spotting the fakes are pretty easy. Fake black soap is hard, dyed black, does not contain the traditional ingredients mentioned above. Instead, it has cheap vegetable oil, is chemically processed, and stains your wash cloth. Also, the newly marketed products known as “Liquid black soap” should not be confused with traditional black soap. Liquid black soap is an extension of traditional black soap, but is totally different. It’s imperative to check the ingredients in the liquid by asking the maker/vendor.
Do you use African black soap? If so, how do you use it and what are your experiences with it?
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