Black Soap, also known as African Black Soap (Anago Soap, Alata Simena,or Ose Dudu), has long been used to heal problem skin. Its good for thinning fine lines, eczema, razor bumps , evening out dark spots, and eliminating blemishes. It is also used to lightly exfoliate and give you healthier looking skin, body or hair or for oily skin, dry skin, skin rashes, scalp irritations, body odors and is good for sensitive skin.
Black soap is made from the ash of locally harvested plants and barks such a plantain, shea tree bark, palm tree leaves, and cocoa pods. 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 - coconut oil, palm 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. Oftentimes the soap is made by women and is fair-traded, though not always.
Black soap is traditionally made in west Africa, typically Ghana, from secret recipes. Different tribes and communities have adopted their own specific (secret) blend of oils and cooking techniques, which can be seen in the different color variations among black soap. The ash itself was often used to heal cuts. Varieties of black soap actually made in Africa tend to be pure, while soaps made in Europe or the US tend to have added artificial ingredients.
The plantain skins give the soap Vitamin A & E, and iron. Because the soap has the highest shea butter content of any soap, it also offers UV protection. The soap is also good for sensitive skin, meaning its a good option for babies or the elderly. Some people with caffeine sensitivities may need to test out soap that contains cocoa pods as there is some evidence that the caffeine can be transmitted through contact with the skin.
Shea Terra Organics offers an African Lemongrass and a Rose Hip facial soap made with 10% shea butter and pure black soap. When it comes out of the bottle it oozes like the something out of a sci-fi movie, but it doesn't have much of a smell so it's pretty easy to get past the horror movie resemblance.
I've used the Shea Terra black soap and have noticed that my skin feels clean but doesn't feel like its been scrubbed. Its hard to tell if my skin is improving due to the soap or from other causes, but either way it does look clearer. Some sites have said that black soap can be crumbly or have an "odd" smell, but the Shea Terra soap comes out smooth with very little smell at all.
African Black Soap Benefits
1. Pure African Black Soap is free of preservatives (it is pure afterall) however this means it needs to be kept in an airtight container, or well wrapped. With consideration to this, it is often best to peel a chunk off, of the black stuff. Although this may feel difficult at first, continue exerting pressure on your African black soap and a chunk will come off.
2. For use on your body, you can either use your chunk of black soap like any other bar of soap. If you prefer to use a body glove or washcloth, simply lather the chunk of black soap onto your washcloth as you would any other bar of soap.
3. If you’d like to use it for your face and hair, it is much better to make a lather with your chunk of black soap between your hands and then rub the resulting lather on your face or through your hair.
4. Once you have lathered your skin (leaving it in for 30 seconds or so), hair or face with your black soap, simply wash off as you would normally after a shower.
Black soap is considered an effective treatment for acne. The powerful cleansing properties of black soap are also effective in fighting and preventing acne. Acne is caused by overactive oil glands and the build-up of bacteria on the skin, says MayoClinic.com. Therefore, black soap's ability to remove excess oil and provide a deep cleansing of the skin is effective in relieving acne for many individuals. The LovetoKnow website also reports that black soap help decrease the appearance of acne scars.
African Black Soap Recipes
Solid Black Soap
Remove the cocoa beans from the pods and burn over low flame until they turn to ash. Burn the plantain skins to ash. Add water to the cocoa bean and plantain skin ashes. Place the coconut palm oil in a double boiler. Add the ashes and shea butter to mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture becomes smooth. If you want, add an essential oil like lavender or rose geranium while liquid is cooking to add a scent. Soap should start to solidify and float to the top of liquid. Use a spoon to scoop out the soap mixture as it settles on top of the liquid. Place the soap mixture in a mold. The soap will conform to the mold once it has completely cooled. Allow two weeks for soap to cure before using.
Liquid Black Soap
Liquid black soap can be made by following the same directions for making solid form and adding distilled water to prevent hardening. Use one part water to four parts of soap mixture.