The Wonders of Black Soap

Black soap has been around for centuries.  Have you heard of it?  I’ve only been aware of it in the past ten years.  Black soap is becoming mainstream and there are many good reasons for this.  But once something becomes “mainstream” demand goes up and all too often quality goes down.  Imitation pops up.  We need to educate ourselves on what we are buying.  I don’t know about you, but I work too hard to waste my money on crap that doesn’t work.  I need to support a good company, introduce healthy ingredients into my body and that of my family and see results.

The history of black soap

Black SoapBlack soap is so amazing it is worth knowing the history.   History of a skin care product is not just for dermal nerds like me!  Knowing where something comes from enriches your experience and makes you appreciate it fully.  Understanding origins puts you closer to the earth and makes you less likely to abuse it.  This is my belief anyway.

Nigerians and Ghanaians have used black soap for centuries for bathing and as a shampoo for hair.   Women used black soap for skin care during and after pregnancy to keep from getting dry skin, stretch marks and other skin conditions caused by hormonal changes.   The soap was also used on babies because of its purity and it was gentle on sensitive skin.

According to multiculturalbeauty.com “African black soap or ose dudu originated with the Yoruba people in Nigeria.   The Yoruba words ose (“soap”) and dudu(“black”) literally translates to “the black soap.”   It is also called anago samina in Ghana.  Another name for the soap, alata samina, is now used throughout Ghana.  Alata means “spicy” in Yoruba.   According to an article on the Shea Radiance site, it is believed that Yoruba traders, specifically women traders, who sold tomatoes and peppers, introduced black soap to Ghana.  These women were called “Alatas” (pepper traders) and alata samina was a term coined by the Ghanaians that meant “the pepper traders soap.  Yoruba women had an important and unique role in agriculture in pre-colonial Yorubaland. They were responsible for processing raw farm produce into finished goods for trading.  This included harvesting produce from trees and they also tended to the gardens where vegetables and fruits, such as peppers, were grown.  They were also responsible for selling the produce, including black soap.”

Black soap recipes have been passed down in families from mother to daughter.  Ingredients can differ by region and each batch can be unique.   Age-old formulations and production methods make a big difference in the final outcome of the soap.

How black soap is made

Making black soapBlack soap is made from dried plantain peels, palm leaves (palm oil) and coco-pod ash.   A plantain is similar to a banana but it is firmer and less sweet.  A banana is usually eaten raw whereas plantains are often cooked.  Plantain skins are largely what make this black soap so effective. They are a natural source of vitamins A & E and iron.

Dried plantain, Palm leaves and coco-pods are then roasted in a clay oven to produce ash.  Water is added to the ashes and filtered.   Cocoa pod is the shell of the cocoa fruit and also has natural healing properties.  Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil or cocoa butter are heated and added, and hand stirred by local women for at least 24 hours. The soap solidifies and moves to the top, is scooped out and the mixture is set out to cure for two weeks.

Watch out for Fakes

Sadly, when something becomes “the next big thing” many Cosmetic companies want to cash in.  Sometimes they will purchase black soap and add their own ingredients.  Some of these ingredients can be natural like lavender oil or aloe vera gel, but others also add fragrance (which can be irritating to some individuals) and artificial ingredients.   Other times they even go so far as to use regular soap and dye it black.  Honestly.  Who are these people?  Buyer beware.

The pure and raw traditional African black doesn’t look like regular bar soap.  It is light brown to dark brown in colour.  It is rarely smooth or uniform in shape.  The texture of the soap should be soft and can be a bit crumbly.  Natural raw black soap doesn’t have artificial fragrance. It is described as having an earthy, ashy, scent.

So now you know what it is.  Why should you use it?

African Black soap achieves a beautiful skin by reducing acne, oily skin, clear blemishes, eczema, body odor and soothe skin irritations and diseases from simple rashes to contact dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Black soap alleviates scalp itchiness and irritation, so it is perfect for use in the hair this time of year.  Personally, I have found my skin much softer and healthier looking since using black soap on my body.  I used to have keratosis pilaris (tiny white bumps) on my upper arms and thighs and that has since disappeared.

As an acne treatment, you cannot beat black soap.  It treats pustules and black heads but also minimizes scarring and redness.

Authentic black soap is truly an amazing product and can be used on the whole family.  You want to use it daily, just as you would a regular soap, for maximum results.

Shea Terra Organics, the company, where I buy my soap, suggests using the soap like this:

Body: Lather bar on skin. For best results leave on a few minutes before rinsing off.

Face: Lather bar in hand. Apply lather to face. Leave on as mask for approximately five minutes. Repeat for best results.

If you are using the soap on your face make sure you apply an appropriate toner and moisturizer afterwards.  Even if you are an acneic skin you need to add essential hydration and nutrients to the skin.  This is also true to the body.  Make sure your lotion is free of fragrance and other chemicals.

As you can see, black soap has a rich history and even richer properties for your skin.  Make the switch today and pick up some black soap.

You’re worth it!

Resources:

www.sheaterraorganics.com http://multiculturalbeauty.about.com/od/Global/fl/African-Black-Soap.htm http://africaimports.com/black_soap_article.asp

Kabuki Beautyalexis