African Black Soap: Benefits, Side Effects, for Acne and More

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African Black Soap: Benefits, Side Effects, for Acne and More
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African black soap benefits your skin and helps to keep it healthy and eliminate germs. The benefits of using black soap on your skin also extend to helping treat acne, soothing eczema rashes, reducing oily skin, and helping to unclog pores. Raw African black soap can also be used on various types of skin including sensitive skin and skin that has oily complexion.

African black soap can cause side effects such as dry skin or allergic reaction so it’s best to do a skin patch test first.

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African black soap is also called Dudu-Osun, anago soap, and alata simena. African black soap is made from the ash of ingredients like plantain skins, cocoa pods, or palm tree leaves. This gives the soap its traditional black or dark gray color. Usually, ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or palm oil are added to authentic African black soap. The addition of these raw ingredients helps to boost the skin-healing properties of black soap.

The best kind of black soap to buy is organic African black soap. This ensures that the black soap contains no artificial ingredients and won’t strip your skin of its natural protective oils. You can use raw African black soap to benefit your skin as you would with any other kind of soap. However, your skin will look better and healthier after using black soap rather than ordinary soap.

In this article, you will learn about the benefits and side effects of African black soap and how to use it. You will also discover how to use it for acne and other specific skin conditions.

What is African Black Soap?

Raw African black soap is made from drying and roasting in a pot the peels or barks of plants such as palm tree leaves, plantains, shea tree, or cocoa pods. Various oils like coconut oil, palm oil, or shea butter are then added to the ash to make African soap.

Traditional African black soap is usually made in Ghana, and different tribes will use different ingredients to produce their soap. For example, shea African black soap is very popular as it provides extra moisture to the skin.

When looking to buy high-quality African soap, it is best to buy black soap that has been produced in Africa. This usually ensures that the black soap is pure and doesn’t contain added artificial ingredients.

What is African Black Soap Made Of?

Let’s look in more detail at the ingredients of African soap to see what science says about the potential benefits of raw African soap.

Plantain peels. Plantains are part of the banana family and the peels are a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. The journal Contemporary Clinical Dentistry reported that extracts of plantain peels also contain many antimicrobial and antibacterial agents.1

Shea butter. Many types of African black soap contain moisturizing shea butter. Studies into the beneficial effects of shea butter on your skin have found that shea butter also reduces skin inflammation. The fatty acid content helps shea add moisture to African black soap.2

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Cocoa pods. African black soap has benefits to the skin because it often contains cocoa pods. The journal Nutrients reported that cocoa pods contain active compounds that help to reduce inflammation on the skin and also add a protective layer. Researchers found that products containing cocoa butter help to improve overall skin health and help manage various skin diseases.3

Coconut oil. One of the ingredients often added to black soap for the face is coconut oil. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences reported in 2018 that coconut oil helps to boost collagen production in the skin. Coconut oil can also help to reduce the symptoms of dermatitis and dry skin disorders. Coconut oil also helps to protect the skin from environmental damage.2

Palm oil. African black soap benefits from having palm oil added to the ingredients. According to the Ghana Medical Journal, palm oils contain fatty acids similar to coconut oil.4 Palm oil also contains palmitic acid which has a skin-protective effect and helps to moisturize the skin naturally. Other studies have reported that palm oil helps to boost collagen synthesis in the skin.5

Palm tree leaves. Extracts from palm tree leave also add to the amazing benefits of African black soap. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences reported that palm oil leaf extracts have wound healing potential. The journal reported that soaps from Africa using the ash from palm tree leaves are used to treat skin infections.5

African Black Soap Side Effects

The main side effect of African black soap may be that it can dry out your skin too much. This side effect is more noticeable in the first week of use; however, your skin should adjust and any signs of skin flaking or peeling should resolve themselves after a couple of weeks. In any case, make sure to apply a natural moisturizer after using African soap.

Another side effect could be allergic reaction to the soap. You could be allergic to some of the ingredients in African black soap. Therefore, you are always advised to do a skin patch test first to observe any adverse reaction.

The Benefits of African Black Soap for Face and Skin

The combination of ingredients in natural organic African black soap helps to make this type of soap beneficial for your face and skin. There has also been some research carried out into these benefits of black soap.

Black soap has antibacterial properties

One of the biggest benefits of African black soap is that it helps to kill off germs and bacteria from your skin.

A report published in 2013 found that African soaps made from plantain, cocoa husks, or palm extracts have antimicrobial properties that destroy bacterial skin infections. Scientists found that the antibacterial potential of African black herbal soaps is as effective as commercially produced antiseptic soaps. The researchers concluded that many African black soaps can help to treat bacterial skin infections.6

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A study published in The Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology Research found that African black soap also benefits your skin because it helps to eliminate various Staphylococcus skin infections. In fact, the antimicrobial activities of black soap were greater than many medicated soaps (for example, Dettol). The study concluded that raw African black soap can help treat and manage various skin diseases.8

African black soap is antifungal

Another reason to use pure African black soap is that it can help to eliminate fungal infections from the skin.

According to the Special Fungal Pathogens Journal, traditional black soap is effective against the Candida albicans fungal strain. After looking at its antimicrobial properties, researchers found that black soap can be used to treat skin infections caused by fungi or bacteria.9

Raw African black soap is anti-inflammatory

African black soap also benefits your skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Shea African black soap also helps to reduce signs of skin inflammation and redness.

The Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine reported that shea butter is commonly used in Africa as an anti-inflammatory topical treatment. The addition of shea butter adds moisture in African black soap and helps to reduce inflammatory responses. Properties in shea butter inhibit various enzymes that cause inflammation.10

African Black Soap Benefits for Skin

African black soap is good for keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy and youthful. Let’s look in more detail at some of the uses of African black soap as part of your daily skin cleansing regime.

Natural skin cleanser

Using African black soap cleanses your skin naturally and helps to remove dirt and grime without stripping protective oils from your skin. The palm oil or coconut oil content in black soap has both antimicrobial properties as well as a moisturizing effect. Shea moisture black soap both helps to cleanse your skin and keep it well-hydrated.

The Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research published a study showing the deep cleansing ability of African black soap. The study also found that black soap with shea butter helped to moisturize the skin and protect against the effects of pollution and signs of premature aging.7

Unclogs pores and exfoliates the skin

One of the many beneficial uses of African black soap is to naturally exfoliate your skin and unblock pores. Raw African black soap usually has a grainy texture which will remove dead skin cells and bacteria.

This means that African black soap is also good for acne-prone skin because it helps to prevent bacterial infections causing pimples and infected pustules. You should also notice that black soap benefits your complexion because you have fewer blackheads and clogged pores.

Improves oily skin

Another reason to use African black soap regularly is that it can help to improve your complexion and reduce oily skin. Excess sebum and excess oil on your skin can lead to the appearance of red bumps, blackheads, acne pimples, or excessive shine from your skin.

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Treats eczema

Because African black soap has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, it can be useful as a natural remedy to manage eczema symptoms. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchy rashes on various areas of your body. Using black soap to wash your skin can help to soothe dry, sensitive skin that eczema causes.

Many people who use black soap for their skin find that it tends to dry out the skin at the start. Therefore, if using black soap for eczema, be sure to apply a thin layer of coconut oil as a natural moisturizer after cleansing your skin.

May help to improve fine lines

African black soap may also be useful for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles if used regularly. A survey of people who started using black soap regularly found that some reported a reduction in fine lines.11

Also, research into the uses of black soap on the face has mentioned that black soap has anti-aging properties and can reduce fine lines.8

Relieves insect bites

You may find that cleansing your skin with black soap after an insect bite helps to reduce inflammation, itching, and help to prevent an infection in the affected area. For example, many types of Ghana black soaps contain plantain. The Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand reported that plantain peel extracts have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.12

Evens skin tone

One of the benefits of black soap for your face is that it may help to improve your skin tone and lighten dark patches of skin.

The journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that extracts of cocoa pods can inhibit tyrosinase activity. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that produces melanin in the skin. Skin products that include cocoa pod extracts can help to lighten skin and boost collagen, thus reducing the appearance of wrinkles.13

Minimizes scars and blemishes

The collagen-boosting properties of ingredients in African black soap can also help to heal scars naturally. For example, shea butter helps to speed up skin healing and provides extra moisture to the skin. Regularly cleansing your face with black soap can help to reduce acne scars.

Also, many of the ingredients in traditional African black soap from Ghana contain large amounts of vitamin E which are essential for healthy skin and destroying free radicals.14

African Black Soap for Acne

The antibacterial and deep cleansing properties of raw African black soap mean that you can use black soap for acne. According to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, natural black soap has excellent skin cleansing and lathering abilities. There have been no specific studies into the effects of black soap for acne.15

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However, a scientific survey reported that nearly one-quarter of people using black soap do so for its acne-fighting potential. From these, the majority of users reported that they were very satisfied with the effects of black soap on treating the symptoms of acne.11

The benefits of using black soap on your face for acne come from the fact that it helps to dry out excess oil excreted by the sebaceous glands. Also, as this article has shown, black soap is antibacterial and can help to destroy acne-causing bacteria. Ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil are great for soothing acne-inflamed skin.

How to use black soap for acne

It is very easy to use African black soap for acne as it is malleable and easy to work with. However, because African black soap is grainy, you should use it with care when exfoliating acne-prone skin.

To use black soap for acne, this is what you should do:

  1. Get the African black soap into a lather by running your hands under warm water. Make sure to remove any jaggy bits.
  2. Gently apply the lather to your face using circular motions to cleanse and remove dead skin cells and bacteria from pores.
  3. Rinse with water.
  4. Apply your favorite natural moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and protected.

You can also use African black soap for acne scars as it contains properties that help your skin heal quicker and improves collagen synthesis.

African Black Soap for Hair

The amazing thing about African black soap is that you can effectively use it to keep your hair looking healthy and shiny. Many people say that they use black soap as a shampoo and they report that their hair feels extremely clean yet moisturized.

I’ve already mentioned many of the benefits of African black soap for your skin. These benefits can also boost the health of your scalp and hair because black soap has the following:

  • Antifungal properties that can help to eliminate dandruff and an itchy scalp
  • A high level of vitamin E, D, and C to help boost the health of your scalp
  • Fatty acid content in black soap helps to moisturize and condition your hair
  • Antimicrobial properties provide deep cleansing to your scalp and prevent infections

How to Use African Black Soap

Anyone can use African black soap to improve the appearance and health of their skin. You can apply a little amount of black soap directly to your skin to exfoliate it, or you can work the black soap into a lather first before using. You can also use it as a shampoo to wash your hair and scalp.

If you have dry skin or sensitive skin, you should only use African black soap a maximum of once a day. If you find that your skin is “squeaky clean,” you may need to use less to prevent drying out your skin too much. Always apply a moisturizer after cleansing your skin with black soap.

For normal to oily skin, African black soap is perfect to reduce the look of oily skin. Some people report that their skin is tight and dry when they first start using black soap. After about a week or so, that feeling should go away. Like with dry skin, always apply a natural moisturizer after using black soap.

You can also use African black soap for healthy skin by rolling a little amount into a ball in the palm of your hands. Create a lather and then apply to your skin as you would do with any skin cleanser.

Where to Buy Black Soap

When looking to buy African black soap, you should always look for organic black soap. Very often commercial types of black soap contain added chemicals that can be harsh on your skin. This also reduces the chances that your skin will show some side effects after using African black soap.

The best type of black soap to buy is organic African black soap made in Ghana (like this one or this one). This is usually sold as a whole block that you can make into smaller bars of natural soap. Buying authentic African black soap for acne, eczema, or other inflammatory skin conditions will ensure the best results for your skin.

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. Contemp Clin Dent. 2015 Oct-Dec; 6(4): 496–499.
  2. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan; 19(1): 70.
  3. Nutrients. 2014 Aug; 6(8): 3202–3213.
  4. Ghana Med J. 2016 Sep; 50(3): 189–196.
  5. J Korean Med Sci. 2010 Jun; 25(6): 980–983.
  6. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013; 10(6): 513–518.
  7. J Chem Pharmaceut Res. 2017;9(5): 354-359.
  8. J Microbio Biotech Res. 2017 March;2(4): 533-537.
  9. SFPJ. 2016;1(1): 0014-0018.
  10. J Complement Integr Med.2012 Jan 12;9:Article 4.
  11. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017 Jul; 10(7): 18–22.
  12. J Med Assoc Thai.2012 Jan;95 Suppl 1:S142-6.
  13. BMC Complement Altern Med.2014 Oct 7;14:381
  14. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016 Jul-Aug; 7(4): 311–315.
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