The second installment of my natural beauty series will focus on black soap. This product was introduced to me at a young age but, I never paid much attention to it. I was recently browsing an African boutique and ran across a few blocks of African black soap. That inspired me to start using this product again and to cover its features in this series. Black soap is much simpler to understand compared to Shea butter which was previously discussed.
Black soap is made from the ash of locally harvested plants and barks. These include plantain leaves, cocoa pads, palm tree leaves, and Shea tree bark. The plantain leaves provide the soap with its Vitamin A & E benefits. The natural ingredients make the soap perfect for sensitive skin and is even safe for use on babies. The steps to making black soap are as follows:
- The leaves and bark are dried in the sun followed by a roast in a kettle. It’s important that the temperature is kept constant because this ensures the color and texture are maintained.
- Water and various oils are added. The mixture is stirred for at least a day.
- The soap is left for 2 weeks to cure
As you can see the process is quite simple for such an effective product. Black soap as you may already know is made in Africa. These are usually the purest forms of soap. Those made in Europe or the United States tend to have artificial ingredients. There has been a lot of debate on the actual color of black soap. The color can vary from light brown to deep brown. Personally I’ve never seen a black soap that was truly black without having some sort of dyes added to it. When shopping for your soap, it’s important to look at the ingredients to check for things like this and others that don’t add up. Your basic and most common ingredients include but aren’t limited to: plantain skins and leaves, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, shea butter, palm oil and coconut oil.
A lot of the benefits found in black soap are found in some of your favorite skin care products you use today. It protects against the main signs of premature aging, which includes your wrinkles and loss of firmness. It helps improve your skin texture which is a claim I can vouch for. My skin is much smoother since I’ve started using this product again. It is also known to fade brown spots and discoloration of the skin. Although I have oily skin, I do suffer from dry patches in the winter months. Black soap helps to soothe dry and irritated skin. I also suffer from eczema and this helps a great deal with my occasional breakouts. It’s great for any of you that shave, even men. It soothes razor bumps and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
This has replaced any cleanser that I was using for my day and night routine. I also have a bar that I use in the shower. When purchasing this from an African boutique, I noticed that it came in a very large block and they just cut however much of the product I wanted. Going into your beauty supply stores you’re more likely to find actual bars that you are more familiar with when it comes to soap. As I stated earlier, be sure to check the ingredients of these different brands of soaps. After washing my face, this doesn’t leave my skin dry like most cleansers I’ve used before. I follow-up with shea butter as my moisturizer and I’ve already noticed a tremendous difference in my skin. Give this cheaper (and in my opinion healthier) option a try next time when you replace your usual cleanser. Compare results and you just might have your new favorite beauty secret.