I really need to share my latest skincare product discovery with you all. African black soap. You may have heard of african black soap benefits but if you aren’t using it yet, you obviously haven’t tried it.
I’m super fussy when it comes to what I put on my face. And for good reason, wrinkles and laugh lines are unavoidable as we age but tired, dull, dry or blemished skin is. I was gifted a bar of African black soap in January and, as I do with all new goodies, tried it straight away because that is how I roll.
With African Black soap you need to wet and lather it before using. (see how to use further down)
The results were instant. Immediately after I had rinsed and dried, my skin had that soft, supple feel.
You know that feeling?
That feeling that only a gentle, natural product leaves behind. I have since discovered, after researching the individual ingredients, why I can also wash my hair with it too!
I, therefore, went online to find out what exactly African black soap is, where it originates from, how it gets made, and most importantly, what beauty benefits it has to offer.
And this is what I learnt..
Firstly, I realized the 8 main benefits of African Black Soap are due to the synergy of the combined ingredients. I cannot emphasize this point enough. To truly comprehend why this soap is so amazing you need to understand what each individual component brings to the mix. It is also why variations on the original will never really bring the exact same benefits.
I was quite pleased to learn that variations on these ingredients are available from different African black soap manufacturers. This was a huge bonus for me because I am trying not to use palm oil at all unless it is a verified sustainable source. But palm oil is a very beneficial component of authentic black soap so it is worth finding a soap with the authentic recipe from sustainable sources.
Secondly, I came to understand how this one product can take the place of over three individual products. It is a cleanser, toner, moisturizer all in one and you can use it to wash your hair! And shave!
What Is In African Black Soap That Makes It So Amazing?
- Palm oil, which is rich in beta carotene and vitamin E. It is, therefore, an excellent anti-aging antioxidant. High in toctrienols, it is able to penetrate the skin and provide deep moisture to dehydrated skin cells, as well as neutralizing free radicals that cause wrinkles.
Tocotrienols are a class of vitamin E, much like tocopherols.
- Palm kernel oil is rich in lauric and myristic fatty acids. This means it has antibiotic properties as well as being opacifying, lubricating, emulsifying and cleansing. It also acts as a surfactant. All this means is that it makes a little go a long way, lengthens shelf life, as well as enhancing and increasing the rate and efficiency of absorption through the skin.
- Unrefined shea butter from the African Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) is what provides the soothing and moisturizing benefits. Shea butter will soothe inflamed skin that is irritated due to acne, rosacea, and psoriasis as well as providing essential nutrients that reduce excessive oil production, without drying out the skin.
- Cocoa pod ash provides the potash (the natural form of potassium hydroxide). Potash is the “lye” component. Lye is essential for soap making, combined with fats it forms the base of a soap and provides the alkalinity. Cocoa husks are discarded after the beans (for making chocolate) are removed. The husks are then slow roasted, to form potash while still retaining some nutritional value.
- Plantain peel ash acts the same way as cocoa ash, providing the “lye” factor as well as adding nutrient value.
- Coconut oil is high in lauric acid and stearic acid, two beneficial fatty acids that also get easily absorbed, moisturize and heal scar tissue.
- Purified water
- Sea Salt or natural sodium
Please note that sometimes color and ingredients change from region to region or from country to country. For example, Ethiopian Black soap may appear lighter in color because bamboo ash has been used as opposed to cocoa husk ash. Sometimes the color will appear more brown than black because a different palm oil has been used, depending on what species grow locally.
Plantain peel ash is also no longer a sustainable source if making large batches of the soap but is still fine when making small batches. As long as the source being used contains saponins the desired result will be achieved. Saponins are what give soaps its “soapiness”.
8 Top Skin Care Benefits of raw African Black Soap
- Cleanses, tones and moisturizes
- Balances, smooths, reduces blemishes and evens out pigmentation
- Heals soothes and disinfects
- Is antioxidant, antibacterial and collagen boosting
African Black Soap works so well because it:
Contains ingredients that boost the body’s collagen production:
Collagen is a network of protein fibers, produced by our bodies to form one of the most vital types of connective tissue. Connective tissue, particularly collagen, keeps the skin supple, plays a role in wound healing and repairs scar tissue.
As we age collagen production decreases so we need to supply our skin with the vital minerals and vitamins that boost this process.
Black soap contains antioxidants as well as vitamin E, which neutralize free radicals, this, in turn, ensures collagen can work efficiently. Skin with healthy collagen will also have good circulation and this results in skin that feels and looks revitalized and smoother.
Reduces appearance of fine lines (moisturizes) Renews elasticity of skin (tones) Revitalizes dull, dry skin as well as reducing excess oil secretion. Antibacterial (cleanses and disinfects)
The moisturizing effects of Shea butter and palm and coconut oils in African black soap do 3 things.
By hydrating the skin cells plump up and reduce the appearance of fine lines. The oils moisturize and “feed” your skin by penetrating below the surface layers. Vitamin E reduces scarring but also helps regain a natural balance. Oily skin becomes less oily and dry skin shines.
This means it works for all skin types and all ages.
In cases of hyper-pigmentation and other skin discolorations, regular use will produce a pleasing result. An even skin tone is restored and there are no side effects, like drying out, which happens sometimes when chemical products are used.
Treats skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties disinfect blemishes and sores, the cleansing and toning power help to get the dirt out of pores and prevents unsightly blackheads. Inflamed, painful skin conditions are soothed and treated simultaneously. Excessive oil production is reduced which in turn lessens the appearance of acne.
Reverses damage from the sun (photo-aging) and environmental pollutants.
It is an antioxidant. The way this antioxidant property benefits us is that it is absorbed through the skin and transported via the serum lipoproteins in our blood.
Sun damage occurs when oxidation on a cellular level takes place, either from too little collagen or bad diet as well as deterioration caused by harsh UV rays penetrating the skin and causing free radicals to destroy healthy cells. Proteins are carried in serum in the blood and we also have something called lipoproteins which bind to the fatty acids. The synergy of these compounds all work towards restoring cellular health and skin regains its youthful glow.
Evens out skin discoloration and patchy pigmentation.
There are many reasons people develop patchy skin, often using contraceptives can cause this effect. Sometimes hormonal imbalances do this too.
The oils and fatty acids along with the gentle alkaline effect of African black soap will, over time, restore even skin tone, by boosting collagen production, moisturizing the skin and improving the health of skin cells below the surface. These factors will lead to healing the skin to its former glory.
Cleanses, tones and moisturizes! Saving you Time and Money
As I mentioned before, this soap not only cleanses but tightens pores, which stop the skin from getting dirty and full of spots and blackheads. And then it has the added benefit of leaving your skin feeling soft and supple without that awful greasy feeling.
I avoided moisturizing for years because of the oily after effects. I couldn’t stand that oily feeling! This soap suits all skin types. Pretty amazing if you ask me.
I never used to clean my face diligently because I am always rushing about and don’t have time to waste on the whole ritual of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. Now I have found my one stop shop, so to speak.
I can spend minimal time on my “beauty regime” and I don’t have loads of product (all bought with good intentions) gathering dust on my shelf.
7 Fun Facts About African Black Soap (You Never Knew About)
Genuine Authentic African Black Soap is:
- Made from natural ingredients
- Processed by sun-drying and then slow roasting the ingredients, after which it gets cured for about two weeks
- Naturally fragrance free and free of harsh chemicals although the butters used to come with their own unique subtle fragrance and taste. You can’t eat it though!!
- Versatile, suited to dry, oily and combination skin types!
- A natural, antibacterial cleanser with many healing properties
- African Black Soap has to be cooked and so essentially should not be labeled “raw”. It can not really be called organic as sometimes the true source of ingredients cannot be traced. But it may often contain mainly organic ingredients.
- It is handmade. As it gains popularity and as more commercial, larger operations develop, this may change but true authentic African soap will be handmade. Slightly more commercial brands will possibly incorporate less labor intensive methods.
- Originally, African Black Soap came from Ghana, so if you really want the authentic version look for soaps from Ghana.(like this one) Not only will they have been made in the traditional way (sun-dried and slow roasted) but the ingredients will be the same as that which has given the soap its reputation for being a “wonder bar” of sorts, packed with beneficial healing properties. However, many African, and even Mediterranean, countries have their own local versions.
Different Types of African Black Soap and How To Use Them
Most bars have labels telling you how to use but just in case yours doesn’t let me explain. You should not apply soap directly onto your skin as it contains particles that may cause irritation, these are from the natural husks and peels of the ashes.
Wet the bar and, using a cloth, lather the soap. Then carry on as per usual and clean your body and face. When washing my hair with the soap, I first wet my hair and use my hands to lather up the bar and then just wash like that. The soap foams and spreads the more you work it into your scalp.
Alternatively, you could separate sections of your hair and comb through the lathered emulsion.
Men can use it as a shaving soap too! Just remember to lather first and then apply.
My household is a busy one and so to make my life easier, we have 5 areas where we can wash off after our activities like gardening, coming back from the beach or messing around with engines and other DIY projects. The kitchen always has a bar of soap nearby as do the bathrooms and outside shower.
African black soap is so versatile it has now replaced all my other soaps.
Soap bars, especially natural, glycerin free ones do tend to get “mushy” and so I was stoked to find that it is also available as a liquid body wash. I prefer bars, whereas my kids and better half prefer liquid soaps. So everyone is happy, including my garden.
This is another reason why we use natural products, we recycle and reuse as much water as we can and don’t want a product that will kill the beneficial microbes in our organic veggie garden.
Of course, the ingredients in the liquid African soap will differ to those which are in the bars. But the health properties and end results still remain the same. And traditionally, even though the soap always delivers the same benefits, the ingredients can change, depending on where it was made and what was available locally.
Where to Get African Black Soap
My Top 3 African Black Soaps which I have tried and tested are:
African Black Soap by Raw Apothecary – it is not raw but it is authentic
Sky Organics African Black Soap – good for shaving
Dr Wood’s Liquid Black Soap – Very versatile, less messy
The Bottom Line
It is the synergy between the different beneficial ingredients that give this soap its unique healing abilities.
It is suited to all skin types and to people of all ages. It has antibacterial, anti-aging, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It moisturizes, cleanses, tones, soothes, heals, balances and boosts collagen production.
It can be used to wash your hands, body, face, and hair. Men can use it as a shaving lotion. It is affordable and can replace a number of products. This soap helps anyone whose motto is to reduce, reuse, recycle.
Image : https://www.flickr.com/photos/143164668@N06/