Beauty Reviews

African Black Soap : Benefits, Ingredients and Side effects

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The first time I used the African Black Soap, I was in the University. I must tell you, I tried the African Black Soap only to feel among. Unlike everyone else, I switched to African black soap then just because. There’s something about being a naturalist I guess. It eventually turned out really good. I have had people use African black soap for various reasons that were more intentional than what I used it for. Most often than not, it is to arrest a skin problem they are tired of.

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When I was in 300L, my friend, whose father has a natural care soap and beauty company gifted me with another black soap. This one was in a very big jar and it was nothing like the raw African black soap. It was already processed, scented and made softer. I liked this especially because it foamed so quickly and well.

Yes, the smell too. The smell of this one was particularly refreshing. The raw African black soap doesn’t smell too good. So, I have this colleague of mine who even though likes African Black soap constantly trolls it for its smell. She once said it smells like Yoruba charm. I have no idea how she knows the smell of Yoruba charm.

Generally, using African Black Soap in school was a signal to everyone that you are particular, in fact, very particular about your skin and skin care as a whole. People would normally go for different kinds of the sweet smelling toilet and other special types of soap. Black soap was like going the extra mile to care for your skin regardless of the smell and look of the soap.

I remember how vividly this soap was recommended to a friend who had spoilt her skin with all forms of chemicals and overuse of different inorganic products. They asked her to let her skin heal and use the raw black soap in the process. You will later read of the benefits of the African Black Soap as you continue reading.

There are so many black soap recipes and I am very sure many of them have been prepared to reduce the naturally offensive properties of the soap. So I suggest that if you want to really harness the benefits of Black soap or are using it for a particular purpose, it is advised that you go for the raw, unadulterated African Black Soap.

What is African Black Soap?

African Black soap is a type of soap that originates from the Western region, West Africa. In Yoruba language, it is popularly known as ose dudu. It is most common in Ghana where they have different recipes of the black soap handed down to them from generation to generation.

making of black soap
Black soap making, source: thehealthpilot

It seems to be like the African black soap in itself is a culture as there are different recipes. This soap is made from the ash of African plants that are harvested locally.

Dudu Osun is a popular trademark of the African Black soap (ose dudu) in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. This is derived by combining the original, raw, African black soap with camwood tree leaves.

Ingredients of African Black Soap

1. Plantain skin ashes
2. Palm tree leaves
3. Cocoa powder
4. Palm oil
5. Shea butter
6. Shea tree bark
7. Cocoa butter (optional)
8. Tropical camwood tree (Pterocarpus osun) (optional, as in dudu osun)

How to make the raw African black soap

Remember that I mentioned that there are various recipes of the African Black Soap. In fact, different families and communities have their own secret recipes of this soap for achieving their own special kind of beauty.

Nevertheless, there is a general and most common way of preparing the African black soap. First, they harvest the plant materials they are interested in using to make the soap. Some of these plant materials include skins of peeled plantain, leaves of palm tree, the bark of shea trea, cocoa pods, and any other plant that is peculiar to the recipe. These harvested materials are made to dry thoroughly under the sun. After they are dried completely, they burn them up and turn into ash.

After this, water is added with different types of oils and fats. Oils and fats such as shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil and any other oil that is included in a unique recipe. These three mentioned are basically what’s added to the ash mixed with water.

After these different oils and fat are added to the ash and water mixture, it is cooked until it solidifies. Then, it is hand-stirred for at least 24 hours. The soap is then scooped out and made to “cure”.

Watch this interesting documentary on the making of the African black soap by Spice TV Africa

Benefits of African Black Soap

Many of the benefits of black soap are derived from the individual healing, beneficial attributes of its components. With the ingredients of African black soap mentioned earlier in the process of making the soap, it is evident that a lot of naturally beneficial items have been mixed together to produce a natural cure to many skin problems.

1. It heals skin scars and blemishes

Black soap is capable of reducing the sight of blemishes and even the appearance of stretch marks. Remember that the African black soap contains shea butter. What shea butter does is to boost the production of collagen. It also helps to repair the tissues of the skin.

Other ingredients of the black soap work hand in hand to help regenerate new skin cells that will cause a fade off of the scars, blemishes, marks, acne spots on the old skin.

2. It is a natural anti-dandruff soap

Black soap can also be used for your hair because using it to wash your hair assists in removing dandruff that is caused by dry skin and other scalp problems. What you can do to is to dissolve a portion of the soap in water and let it stay on your scalp for a while before rinsing off. This is to help harness the effectiveness of the black soap on your scalp. It might strip your hair and cause it to dry and detangle, so be careful to soften with a good wash off conditioner.

3. It helps to fight acne

The African black soap contains oils that have a lot of nutritionally important fatty acids e.g lauric, caprylic, oleic, linoleic, capric acids, beta carotene, vitamins A and vitamin E. This helps to balance the pH level of the skin and reduce acne breakouts. It also helps to heal the skin of former acne scars by triggering a new skin regeneration.

4. African black soap treats eczema

Eczema can be safely treated with black soap. It is also very safe because unlike other eczema treatment it doesn’t contain artificial ingredients that can cause skin inflammation. Black soap helps to get rid of eczema and heal the eczema scars completely.

5. The African Black soap exfoliates

This soap contains a lot of ingredients that are capable of causing the final product to be slightly coarse thereby aiding gentle exfoliation. With the African Black soap, you can gently exfoliate your skin as you work it on your skin. Gently exfoliating your skin has a lot of benefits. It will help to quickly remove dead skin cells to reveal fresh new ones. So if you have been looking to naturally exfoliate your skin while you reap other skin benefits, you might try the African black soap.

6. It helps to even your skin tone

The different skin patches and dark areas as a result of sun scaring and other skin problems will eventually fade away with the constant use of the black soap. Cocoa pod is an ingredient of the African black soap and it can regulate the activity of tyrosinase (an enzyme) that helps regulate the production of melanin in the body thus making you lighter. Another way to help you to even out your skin tone is the absorbing of the UV light from the sun that can cause skin damage.

7. It is a good makeup remover

If you are a heavy makeup user, the African black soap should be your friend. It has a very good deep cleansing property. In time, your makeup is completely gone after washing off with the black soap. It is so cleansing that you may not have to use other cleansers after bath except it’s necessary. It is very effective for deep pore cleansing.

How to use the African black soap

The African black soap can be used in various ways for different purposes. You can use it for your skin and for your hair. You can use it to treat as many blemishes and skin scarring problems that you have. Understanding the ingredients of the black soap is the first step to harnessing all of its potentials and that is why that was treated earlier on in this post.

African black soap

Beautifully, anyone can use the black soap no matter the skin type, colour and tone. Just like for so many other products, people react to black soap in different ways. Some people have found it to be deeply moisturizing while some others say it has stripped off oils from their skin causing them to dry up.

The key is to know what to mix up with your black soap to cushion the different reactions on your skin. If you have an oily skin, you might experience skin dryness and tightness during the first few days of using the black soap. A possible reason why this happens is that the soap helps to draw out excess oil and impurities. In a few more days, there will be a balance of the skin Ph.

To use the raw African black soap, take some part out of the large chunk and soften with water. You can do this by dissolving it or simply kneading with water. If you are planning to harness the gentle exfoliating property of the soap, you can directly rub into your skin but you have to be very careful.

Inspect the surface of the African black soap you are about to turn into your skin and be sure that there is no harsh residue popping out that can hurt your skin.

Wash and rinse with cool water. Be careful not to leave the soap on your skin for too long as it can cause some serious drying out. This will be exceptionally pronounced if you have sensitive skin.

If you experience over-dryness, especially when you feel your skin is too tight after having your bath, try to reduce the amount of black soap you use.

Because black soap has ingredients that when exposed to air might cause it to reduce, try to store it in a soap case. You might also see films on the soap after exposure. They would appear white and look like mold. It is in reality, not mold. You can scrape that off if it irritates you but to avoid seeing that every time, store it properly by folding in nylon, small plastic bag, Ziploc bag or an airtight soap case.

African Black Soap For Children

African Black soap is one of the best kinds of soaps you can use for your children. I was speaking with my hair stylist the other day and she mentioned how right from her child’s birth she has used African black soap but she made sure she went specifically for African Black soap for children.

She says that it is so soft and fragile and gentle on the skin. In fact, she noticed that her baby kept her eyes open all through bathing and for instances where the soap has entered her eyes, she didn’t flinch. She had to test the African black soap for children on her own eyes to be sure her baby was safe.

She said there was no reaction or irritation whatsoever on her eyes and that made her feel safe. Apparently, the ingredients and processing of African black soap for kids are different to accommodate gentle cleansing and safe bathing.

So, can African black soap be used on babies? Yes, they just have to be the ones that are specifically made for them and not the regular African black soap. This one could be too harsh on your baby’s skin.

Side effects of the African black soap

The African black soap is a very good cleansing soap and it is generally safe for a lot of people. The side effects are not really as alarming as it may seem. Caution, however, when any of the adverse side effects surface, it is very advisable to stop the usage immediately.

I mentioned earlier in this article that different people react to different things. Our body chemistry is different from the next person and inasmuch as the African black soap is full of natural ingredients, it may interest you to know that some of it do not fall on the good side of some people. This is why it is tad important to know the ingredients of what you use on your skin and body. It can help you pinpoint where the problem is coming from and how to either address it or stop immediate usage.

1. Allergic reaction

This is one of the very rare and unlikely side effects of African Black soap but as I said earlier, it contains ingredients that some humans may be naturally allergic to. People allergic to cocoa, plantain and maybe physical melon may become allergic to using African black soap. Symptoms and signs that you are allergic to what’s inside black soap include breathing difficulty, itchiness, tightening of the chest and rash.

2. Overdrying of the skin

If you naturally have dry skin, using African black soap may pose a bit of a problem. It might cause serious flaking and overdrying of your skin. I have combination skin and one thing it helped me out was with moderation of the oil production on my T zones. My cheeks were exceptionally dry but it was fine overall. For people with completely dry skin, it may adversely affect you.

There’s a very slim chance that you might have hard water in your area. If you do, I strongly recommend against using Black soap. If you have been a reader of my blog, you are used to my constant trolling of the water type in my area. This has caused me to be selective about what I use on my skin and my hair. It is one of the reasons I have stuck with Dove beauty bar as it is very moisturizing.

3. Flaking and peeling

There are different ways the African black soap is produced so depending on the way it is produced and the quantity of exfoliating ingredients used, it may cause excessive flaking and hurt your skin. The way to avoid this is to physically inspect the soap and be sure that you are not going to cause a peeling by using it.

4. Skin irritation

The raw, unprocessed form of the black soap is usually not molded into large blocks. It’s usually in pieces. This form is not supposed to be used directly on the skin as its effects might be adverse. You may mix it with honey to soothe its acidity.

Nevertheless, even with the dilution of other things, you might experience skin irritation. Most likely, your skin is not compatible with African Black soap. You might also have scars or cuts that are causing that. In this case, it is advisable to stop using.

Popular brands of African Black Soap

Dudu Osun African Black Soap – Click on the link to read my full and comprehensive review of Dudu Osun

Ambi Black Soap with shea butter

Shea moisture African Black Soap

Nubian Heritage African Black Soap

Incredible by Nature’s Black Soap

Frequently asked questions about African Black Soap

Does African Black Soap Work?

It works, it definitely works. However, there are different things to consider. What do you want to use the black soap for and how receptive is your skin to it. One very beautiful thing about using black soap is how it evens out your skin tone. A lot of people have also claimed to have it work for their pimples. Black soap is also very effective in the clearing out of acne and black spots, blemishes and facial scars.

If you do not react to black soap, have allergies to it and use it for what it works for, it will eventually work for you.

How can I use black soap to clear my acne?

There is no particular way to use black soap for acne. All you have to do is have your bath with black soap regularly. Some people have claimed to have the African black soap not work for their acne. This is understandable because different people have different reactions to African black soap.

What brand of African black soap is the best?

I cannot give a clear answer to this as I have not tried a lot of brands. I can only recommend based on what I have used. I have tried Dudu Osun and I really loved it on my skin. I loved the scent and the feel on my skin afterwards.

Dudu Osun black soap

My mum just came home with loads of it and everyone at home caught the bug. Since it was readily available, we all jumped at it as soon as our soap cases were empty. Some people swear by Shea moisture black soap. I hear that it is also a very good brand. You can try these brands out until you find your sweet spot.

Another alternative is to buy the raw black African soap and mix it to your taste. Additives you should mix it with should be natural in their forms. Here are suggestions: aloe vera, vitamin E oil, tea tree oil, honey (please try and get the original honey).

What ingredients are in African black soap?

If you are referring to the raw black soap, you can find the ingredients in the early part of this post. For African black soap brands, I will list the ingredients of the common and popular ones


Pure honey, Shea butter, Osun (Camwood), Palm kernel Oil, Cocoa pod ash, palm bunch ash, Aloe Vera, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Water and Fragrance.


African Black Soap Base, African Shea Butter*, Oats, Aloe, Plantain Extract, Vitamin E, Essential Blend Oil Blend, Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Ash, Rosemary Extract, Iron Oxides *Certified Organic Ingredient.


Ocimum canum (African Mint) Aqueous Extract, Lauryl Glucoside, Saponified Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter and Elaeis guineensis (Palm Kernel) Oil.


Palm Kennel Oil, Coconut Oil, Stearin Oil, Cocoa Pod Husk, Unrefined Shea Butter, Plantain Skin Ash, Natural Vitamin E, Natural Sodium, Water.


Palm Oil, Cocoa Pod, Palm Kernel Oil, Coconut Oil, Unrefined Shea Butter, Plantain Skin Ash, Purified Water, Natural Vitamin E, Natural Sodium.

Have you ever used the African black soap before? I would be really glad to have your reviews in the comments section. Please share with us.

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