Black Soap: Why, How & When To Use It

Q: What is black soap? What is it best used for? – S.K.

A: Black soap, also called African Black Soap (ABS), is soap made from the ash of locally harvested plants and barks such a plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. Black soap is traditionally made in West Africa, typically Ghana, from secret recipes. Varieties of black soap actually made in Africa tend to be pure, while soaps made in Europe or the U.S. tend to have added artificial ingredients. Not sure if you have the “real deal”? One rule of thumb to look for: authentic ABS should look brown and not black.

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Black soap cleanses gently, so it’s ideal for people with rosacea, rashes, dryness and other skin conditions. Some African black soap contain a plantain extract, which has antibacterial properties that may help treat acne breakouts. Some people use the soap as a shampoo or mild makeup remover.

If you’re trying to cut back on the amount of toxins you put on your skin, Black soap gently cleanses impurities without the harmful chemicals. Few studies have been done on raw black soap, but available research has shown that black soap does have bacteria-fighting properties that help treat a number of skin conditions.

Some of the uses for black soap are: shampoo (be sure to follow it with your regular conditioner), makeup remover, acne breakouts, fade skin discoloration, dark spots and acne scars, reduce discomfort for psoriasis and eczema, and helps relieve skin rashes.

Black soap is best stored in a container or sealed plastic bag for ideal use. Black soap has a high content of glycerin, so it may be best to speak to your dermatologist before trying ABS if you  have a known glycerin allergy.

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3 Steps On How To Use Black Soap:
1. To combat irritation (burning, stinging, redness) associated with use, take off a small amount of soap (liquid or solid), knead it into a ball and work it into a lather by rubbing it between your fingers. Be gentle if applying directly to the skin, because there may still be particles that can scratch and damage the skin.