Black Soap - Miracle cure or myth?

Yesterday it was still an insider tip for skin care and fighting skin problems and today it is already one of the most popular natural care products - the traditional African black soap.

It is said that black soap is a little bit of magic for many people: exfoliating, moisturizing cream, care soap and anti-pimple solution all rolled into one. The skin becomes clear and glowing for just a few cents a day.

Image by Sandie Clarke

Origin of Black Soap


For centuries, especially in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin, something called

ose dudu (ose = "soap" and dudu = "black") has been used for general hand and body care, but on the other hand also for the appearance of skin - or used tackle hair problems. Whether oily skin, dry skin, itching or skin changes such as acne and eczema, black soap is used to help prevent stretch marks and hormone-related skin problems even during pregnancy. Because of its purity, even babies are often washed with it. The exact recipes for making the soap are still often well-kept family secrets today, but over the years the African black soap has also been brought to Europe and America and has enjoyed increasing popularity ever since.

How and from what is it made?


The initial production and use of black soap took place in parallel in many different regions of Africa. There is therefore no such thing as one original recipe, as the ingredients can differ from region to region. Usually the basic core of traditional black soap consists of a mixture of water, ashes from the plantain peel and palm oil. Other recipes use the ashes of palm leaves, coconut oil or shea butter, for example. Shea butter in particular is an interesting ingredient because it is used in traditional African medicine and its use can be traced back to ancient Egypt over several thousand years due to its skin-caring and healing properties.

The production of black soap is a complex process. At the beginning, the plantain peels (and / or palm leaves / cocoa pods) are dried in the hot sun until they reach a special texture and then roasted in a clay oven. Water is added to the resulting ash and the whole thing is filtered.
Other ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil or palm oil are heated and also added. The mixture is then stirred for at least 24 hours until the soap sets, rises to the surface and can be skimmed off. The soap dries for two weeks until it is finally ready.
There are purely natural processes that turn ash and oil into solid soap and, in contrast to most industrially produced soaps, no chemical substances are added.

Effects and impact


Black soap is said to have many healing properties and the meanwhile numerous users report the most varied of effects. However, you should keep in mind that our skin in particular can react very individually and sensitively. Do not infer yourself from the positive or negative experiences of other people! These experiences (as well as my own) can serve as a guide, but ultimately you have to try out for yourself whether black soap is right for your body.

Image by Andrea Davis
Image by Micheile Henderson

Here are some of the positive effects that many people and / or scientific studies report after using black soap regularly:

  • Can help to protects against aging of the skin caused by UV light

  • Antioxidants in the soap protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals, which are a cause of premature aging of the skin and wrinkles.

  • Improves skin tone

  • Black soap can strengthen the skin and gives it a healthier and more radiant tone.

  • The soap will help fade brown spots and discoloration.

  • Black soap soothes the skin and thereby reduces inflammation and skin irritation, in addition to preventing them from occurring again.

  • Helps to heal problem skin

  • Indirectly, the soap helps against skin problems such as acne by preventing the main causes bacteria and excessive oil production by the skin.

Black soap penetrates the upper layers of the skin to remove impurities. However, this does not directly eliminate acne and other skin problems, rather the soap prevents the skin from producing excess oil and bacterial growth on the skin, two of the main causes of skin problems such as acne, and thus prevents the problems.
This process cleanses and rinses the skin from the ground up, so to speak, which is why it can appear in the first 1-2 weeks after the start of the application as if the complexion is deteriorating until finally any bacteria and impurities have been "rinsed out" Skin looks clear and vibrant.

Any negative effects only occur very rarely when using black soap and are then an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients. In the worst case, they manifest themselves as reddened skin or a slight rash, which usually disappears after a few hours.

The right application makes the difference


One would like to think that there is actually not much that can be done wrong with soap and that this may also be correct for normal soap - but it is different with black soap.

Most experiences with black soap are either very positive or very negative. Although it may not be a miracle cure for everyone, most of the negative experiences can be traced back to incorrect application, or better said to excessive use. The soap contains vegetable glycerine which, if used too often, can dry out the skin and cause flaking.

Our facial skin in particular is very sensitive and so for some people it may be the case that daily use of black soap on their faces has undesirable consequences

Miracle cure vs. myth


Is black soap the miracle cure in natural skin care? The many remarkable experiences that are told in connection with the soap are definitely not lies. Nevertheless, it must always be noted that the body of each person reacts differently and therefore it is not guaranteed that the black soap always works.

As already mentioned, the correct application also plays a fundamental role and can make the difference between clean, beautiful skin and dry, flaky skin.

Ultimately, you should simply give it a try yourself and try the black soap. In the worst case scenario, you will not see any improvement or you will quickly discover that the soap is not getting on well with your skin. In the best case, however, you have found a natural and inexpensive care product that gives your skin a new, healthy glow.

Image by Andrea Davis