There are ‘n’ number all-natural wellness products on the market (hello, Matcha Green Tea!) these days—and African black soap (a.k.a Black Soap, Ose Dudu or Alata Samina) is the rising star. Originating from Yoruba region in Nigeria, black soap has accumulated larger fan following, primarily for the skin friendliness.
Traditionally, the black soap is hand-made using centuries-old recipes and methods. However, the core ingredients remain the same: shea tree bark, palm tree leaves, plantain skins or cocoa pods, and fats like palm oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and palm kernel oil.
Essential nutrients in Black Soap
Black soap’ health benefits come from:
- Plantain Peels – They are the potent source of Vitamins B1 and B2, antioxidants – anthocyanins, phenolic compounds, and catecholamines, protein, folic acid, potassium, and vitamin C.
- Cocoa Pods – Majority of black soap’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits come from cocoa pods as they are rich in polyphenols and methylxanthines.
- Coconut Oil – Nutrients, vitamins, and emollients present in coconut oil are responsible for cleansing and moisturizing properties. Coconut oil is also said to promote collagen production
- Palm Kernel Oil – Extracted from the seed of Elaeis guineensis, palm kernel oil is full of Vitamins A, E, and K, palmitic acid, sodium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and phosphorous.
- Palm Oil – Obtained from the palm fruit, unrefined palm oil (a.k.a red palm oil) is full of vitamin E, alpha and beta-carotene and other antioxidants, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals etc.
- Shea Butter – Also rich in fatty acids, shea butter is great for well-hydrated soft and supple skin. It helps repair damaged skin tissues and promote collagen production.
Benefits of African Black Soap
Here are 15 reasons why black soap is being used by people all over the world.
1. Natural Cleanser
Lauric acid present in palm kernel oil and coconut oil is the hero ingredient that creates a great lather. With regular use of African black soap, not only will your skin be free of dirt, oil, and grime after regular use, but also keeps the skin dewy and radiant.
In addition, lauric acid offers antimicrobial benefits to the skin as well. The topical cleanser also contains shea butter and other natural moisturizing agents to soothe the thoroughly cleansed skin.
2. Great Exfoliator
As you’re aware, African black soap is an all-natural product. It is raw and unrefined, hence, it is not surprising to find grains or fine particles of the plant and tree barks used in making it. These fine grains make African soap a fantastic exfoliant and turn your skin into a smooth canvas for makeup. It is also found that vitamins C and E present in cocoa pods may stimulate the removal of dead skin cells.
3. It’s anti-inflammatory
Black soap is rich in anti-inflammatory, immune boosting Vitamins E and A. Cinnamic acid present in shea butter can reduce inflammation and calms the irritated skin. Other antioxidant compounds present in plantain peel, coconut oil, and palm tree derivatives fight inflammation causing microbes and prevent damage to skin tissues.
4. Ideal for all skin types
Whether your skin type is normal, dry, oily, sensitive, or a combination of these, black soap could be the first choice for cleansing. It’s no surprise African black soap is one of the biggest hits of all time (seriously, the West African tribes still remain faithful to it, and for good reason).
It contains absolutely no chemicals and artificial fragrances that strip the natural barrier of the skin and cause irritations. At the same time, it contains moisture-locking natural ingredients like coconut oil.
5. It is anti-acne
Got hyperactive sebaceous glands and acne-prone skin? Try out the ultimate all-natural acne-fighter – the African black soap. The lauric acid content (from coconut oil and palm kernel oil) of the black soap is found to be effective in combating the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.
Coconut oil also contains other fatty acids such as caprylic, oleic, linoleic, capric acids, and vitamins E, which balance the skin’s pH, calm the redness and irritation, moisturizes, and heals the skin.
6. Soothes and Treats Eczema
It’s a fact: eczema is painful, irritating, and many a time, embarrassing. In fact, Dermatologists suggest eczema patients choose soaps that lack artificial ingredients and chemicals that cause or worsen the irritation. The soothing and hydrating agents in African black soap, for example, coconut oil, shea butter, and red palm oil help lessen the itchiness and irritation characteristic to eczema flare-up. Subsequently, the skin is clearly more hydrated and less irritated.
7. Reduces Blemishes and dark spots
Wounds, blemishes, dark spots, and stretch marks are no match for African black soap. It has ingredients, for example, shea butter, the ground-breaking ingredient that repairs skin by boosting collagen production.
Another important ingredient in the black soap, the red palm oil, is also effective in warding off the dull and dark skin by nourishing it with vitamin E. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and red palm oil may completely cover the blemishes by fastening the cell regeneration. Regularly use black soap as a cleanser or body wash to reap more benefits.
8. It is anti-fungal
A 2013 study proved that African black soap is effective against seven fungal species – including the common Candida albicans that causes Candidiasis. This makes the black soap a natural remedy to treat athlete’s foot, ‘jock itch’, ringworm, nail fungus and yeast infections. It is also said to be great against household mold as well.
9. Reduces oily skin
Overactive oil glands mean clogged pores, trapped debris and bacteria, and acne. The regular cleansing and exfoliation with African black soap may help balance skin’s pH and reduce sebum levels.
10. Reduces Fine line and wrinkles
We can’t stop wrinkles from kissing our forehead and smile lines; but we can prevent them (well, to a certain extent!). The two key ingredients in African black soap cocoa pods and plantain peels contain famous free-radical-fighting compounds. Gallic acid, tannins, and catechins in the cocoa pod and rutin, protocatechuic acid, and quercetin in plantain peels act synergistically to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
11. Scalp treatment
African black soap can be a great addition to the scalp/hair care regimen. It helps remove dandruff caused by chemical-rich shampoos and other styling products, scalp infection or dry, irritated scalp. Not only does it removes dandruff, but nourishes the follicles, softens the hair and promotes hair growth.
Scalp care tip: For oily hair, apply the soap-water solution to the scalp and rinse well after 10 minutes. Use coconut oil, shea butter or extra virgin olive oil to dilute the black soap, if you have normal or dry hair.
12. Evens out skin tone
Hyperpigmentation often caused by inflammation, scars, acne, sun exposure etc. will eventually become a thing of the past if you use African black soap regularly. Cocoa pod in it seems to inhibit tyrosinase activity, thus making the skin lighter and even (Tyrosinase is an enzyme in melanin production; melanin level spikes up and results in discoloration or hyperpigmentation if the enzyme becomes dysfunctional).
It also absorbs harmful UV light that causes dark spots or skin tan. Allatonin in plantain leaves and shea butter may also help lighten the dark spots and marks on the skin.
13. Soothes razor bumps
Using the black soap after waxing and shaving are great for the skin in terms of exfoliation and moisturization. The exfoliation is an important step to remove the dead cells before they clog the pore and cause razor bumps. Men often use African black soap during shaving because of its protective and moisturizing shea butter content.
14. Soothes psoriasis
Though more studies are needed to link African black soap and its potential in reducing psoriasis, doctors say it may soothe and calm the itchiness and dryness of the disease. The moisturizing cocoa butter and shea butter in the black soap might help give a little comfort by shortening the dryness, irritation, and flare-ups. Since the soap has anti-inflammatory ingredients, using it can be helpful in preventing further inflammation.
15. Fade acne scars
Shea butter is loaded with Vitamins A and E to naturally repair the damage and fade out the ugly acne scars. Not to forget, dryness makes the scars more evident on the skin; moisturizing properties of palm kernel oil and cocoa butter not only reduces the appearance but speeds up scar healing. Being an excellent exfoliating agent, black soap also helps remove dead skin cells that deposit above the scars and marks.
Black soap is smooth and extremely soft; it may start melting when left in the puddle after use. It should always be kept dry in an airtight soap dish.
Word of warning
- If you are allergic to caffeine or latex, consult your doctor before you toss the black soap.
- If your skin type is super dry, use the black soap carefully as it may create adverse effects on your skin.
- When using the store-bought black soaps, have a look at the exfoliating ingredients as they may worsen the flaking and peeling.