Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Every now and then a sensational new product hits the market with all sorts of amazing benefits and no apparent down sides. One such product that has received quite a bit of attention in the recent past, is African black soap. It has been attributed with a variety of wonderful benefits such as smoothening skin, evening out skin tone, being gentle enough for sensitive skin and having the power to deal with stretch marks. Join us as we dig into the science behind it and maybe help you see how this amazing product of natural origin can fit into your skin care routine. We put the "Black African organics, African soap to the test along with a few other products so we could give you the best details. Read on to see what we found when we looked into the ingredients to find out at what is actually in black soap. What we found will surprise you.
While it is generally know as African Black soap, it actual originates from West Africa with the most widely recognized name being Dudu-Osun which comes from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana. Black soap has been used in West Africa Africa for centuries where women still make it the traditional way from camwood, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves and shea tree bark. these items are sundried and burned to produce ash. Water and several oils and and fats are then added to the ash, in varying proportions depending on the local traditional recipes. It is this idea of all natural, organic ingredients that gives black soap its super power and gives it an edge over conventional medicated, and chemical laden soaps. As the different local variations of black soap have different proportions of ingredients, their strengths will vary.
The main ingredient for Dudu-Osun is Camwood, with the name Dudu Osun being derived from two Yoruba words “osun” (camwood) and “dudu” (black) . Camwood contributes to the exfoliating effect and antiseptic properties of black soap. Camwood powder is used in traditional West African societies as a treatment for skin conditions like Acne. A comparative study done in Nigeria in 2012 actually showed traditional black soap and Dudu Osun performing just as well or better than medicated soap in its action against bacteria on the skin surface. this gives black soap excellent natural skin cleansing abilities.
Camwood, sheabutter, coconut oil and palm oil are some of the main ingredients in black soap
Coconut oil and palm oil are other common ingredients of black soap. Coconut oil has skin moisturizing abilities as it contains natural fatty acids such as linoleic acid that helps skin retain moisture. If you have dry, flaky skin, using coconut oil may soften and hydrate your skin, leaving it looking refreshed and soft upon waking. Coconut oil also has anti microbial properties from the lauric acid making it useful for treating acne. Palm oil is also a moisturizer that is often used to treat or prevent dry, rough and itchy skin. it is an Emollient that forms a layer on the top of your skin that traps water in the skin.
Most black soap also has shear butter as a main ingredient. It is a fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. It has high concentrations of vitamins and fatty acids which when applied to skin, are easily absorbed restoring your skin's lipids without leaving your skin oily. Shea butter also has anti inflammatory properties. This could help minimize irritation caused by environmental factors like dry weather and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. The Vitamin A and E content of this butter also means that it is a great anti oxidant protecting your skin from free radicals that lead to wrinkles, premature ageing and dull skin.
Given the many health benefits of its ingredients, it is no wonder then that African black soap is attributed with many stories of changing people's skin care to the the all natural, all African product. There was a time when imported products where seen as being better than the home grown solutions. Thanks to those pioneering entrepreneurs who saw the benefits that these products had in their own communities and pushed to keep them relevant in modern times, now we all have access to a wonderful, ecologically sustainable, chemical free organic soap that can be part of all our skin care routines. Let us know what your experience with black soap has been like in the comments section.