Black soap: Hit or miss?

Have you ever heard of black soap? No, it’s not just another trendy skincare product. This age-old beauty secret, known as African black soap or anago soap, hails from West Africa and has been turning heads in the beauty world from the beginning of time. Is it truly a miracle worker, or just another fleeting fad? Let’s break it down together.

Image via Barberry Coast

So, what exactly is black soap?

A soap packed with natural goodness? That’s black soap for you! Made from ingredients like plantain skin ashes, cocoa pod ashes, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and shea butter, it’s a soap with a rich heritage. These components are loaded with vitamins A and E, iron, and natural oils, making it a powerhouse for your skin. The soap’s unique dark hue? That comes from the plant ashes used in its making. Pretty cool, right?

Image via Poshmark

Why people swear by it

  1. Gentle exfoliation: Some soaps may leave your skin feeling rough but not black soap! The ash content provides a gentle scrub, sloughing away dead skin cells and leaving your skin feeling fresh. This natural exfoliation helps unclog pores, reduces the occurrence of blackheads and whiteheads, and gives your skin a smoother texture.
  2. Hydration heaven: Thanks to shea butter and palm oils, this soap deeply moisturises, making it perfect for dry skin days. Shea butter, in particular, is renowned for its ability to penetrate the skin and deliver lasting moisture without leaving a greasy residue. This can help keep your skin supple and hydrated, even in harsh weather conditions.
  3. Bacteria buster: Do you have acne woes? Black soap’s natural antibacterial properties can help fight those pesky breakouts and keep your skin clear. The combination of natural oils and ash works to cleanse the skin thoroughly, removing bacteria and excess oil that causes acne. Plus, its gentle exfoliating action helps to prevent clogged pores, often the root cause of breakouts.
  4. Calm and soothe: If your skin is prone to inflammation or conditions like eczema and psoriasis, the anti-inflammatory benefits are a real lifesaver. The rich blend of vitamins and antioxidants found in black soap helps reduce redness, swelling, and irritation, providing relief from these chronic skin conditions. Regular use can lead to calmer, healthier-looking skin.
  5. Bye-bye, blemishes: Regular use might just help you even out your skin tone and fade dark spots. Who doesn’t love a more even complexion? The high content of vitamin E and other antioxidants in black soap will help to repair damaged skin, reduce hyperpigmentation, and promote a more even skin tone. Whether you’re dealing with acne scars, sunspots, or age spots, black soap might help lighten them over time.

But, here’s the catch

Image via Arganier
  1. Too much of a good thing?: The exfoliating magic might be a bit much for sensitive skin, potentially causing dryness or irritation. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to start with a small amount and see how your skin reacts. You can also try using it less frequently or diluting it with water to reduce its potency.
  2. Quality concerns: Not all black soaps are created equal. Some commercial brands sneak in additives that might not be great for your skin. Always check the label! Look for products that list natural ingredients and avoid those with added fragrances, dyes, or chemicals. Authentic black soap usually has a rough texture and a dark brown colour, rather than being jet black or smooth.
  3. Allergy alert: Natural doesn’t always mean allergen-free. It’s wise to do a patch test first to make sure your skin loves black soap as much as you want to. Apply a small amount to a discreet area, like the inside of your wrist, and wait 24 hours to see if there’s any reaction. If you experience redness, itching, or swelling, it’s best to avoid using the soap on your face or body.

Hit or miss?

Image folder via Etsy

Hit: Many people rave about black soap because it’s natural and versatile. Its ability to tackle acne, moisturise, and gently exfoliate makes it a staple in many skincare routines. For those with oily or acne-prone skin, black soap can be particularly beneficial, helping to balance oil production and keep the skin clear.

Miss: For others, especially those with sensitive skin, it might be too harsh. Plus, the inconsistency in product quality can be a bit of a gamble. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you might find that black soap strips away too much moisture, leaving your skin feeling tight and uncomfortable. Always consider your skin type and any specific concerns you have before making it a regular part of your routine.

Image via

Black soap has been more than just hype for many. It’s a blend of traditional and natural skincare that works wonders for a lot of people. If you’re curious, why not give it a try? Start with a high-quality, pure version and see how your skin responds. As always, when in doubt, a quick chat with your dermatologist can help you make the best choice for your skin. Happy cleansing!


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