11 Benefits Of African Black Soap, How To Use, & Side Effects

Nourish and pamper your skin with the natural goodness of this plant-based ingredient.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Zeel Gandhi, BAMS Dr. Zeel Gandhi Dr. Zeel GandhiBAMS
Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Edited by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years

The African black soap has redefined plant-based skin care. Why? It is because African black soap benefits the skin in numerous ways and is loaded with antioxidants and skin-nourishing ingredients.

The African black soap is usually made of plant-based ingredients. The ingredients often change depending on the soap makers and may provide additional benefits. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is extremely gentle on the skin. The traditional African black soap does not contain synthetic ingredients and artificial dyes and fragrances. Therefore, it is safe for all skin types unless you are allergic to any specific ingredient in it. Keep reading to learn more about this centuries-old beauty tradition.

What Is African Black Soap?

African black soap
Image: Shutterstock

African black soap is also known as Ose Dudu, Alata Samina, and Anago soap. It originated in West Africa (especially Ghana). The tribes of West Africa prepare this soap with locally harvested plant parts.

The traditional recipe is kept secret by the families who prepare the soap. However, they have a few common ingredients. The local tribes of West Africa use ingredients, such as palm oil, coconut oil, raw African shea butter or shea tree bark, cocoa pod ash, plantain skin, and honey for making this extraordinarily rich soap.

The Ingredients Of African Black Soap

The traditional recipe is kept secret by the families who prepare the soap. However, they have a few common ingredients. The local tribes of West Africa use ingredients like palm oil, coconut oil, raw African shea butter or shea tree bark, cocoa pods, plantain skin, and honey for making this extraordinarily rich soap.

The plant parts are collected, sun-dried, and roasted until they turn into ash. Then, different types of plant fats, such as coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and other fats are added to it and stirred on the heat for 24 hours. Once it solidifies, the soap is cured for two weeks before using it (1).

The ingredients found in this soap make it special and extremely beneficial for the skin. They are:

  • Plantain Skin: It contains antioxidants, such as riboflavin, vitamin C, thiamine, and folic acid (2).
  • Coconut Oil: It has anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, minerals and contains antioxidants that protect your skin from UV damage and prevent skin aging (3).
  • Palm Kernel Oil: It is an excellent moisturizer and emollient that keeps your skin hydrated and nourished (4).
  • Palm Oil: It is derived from the palm fruit (and not its kernel) and contains beta-carotene, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants (5).
  • Shea Butter: It has anti-inflammatory properties and keeps your skin moisturized and prevents fine lines and signs of aging (6), (7).

Remember, the ingredients of the African black soap may differ depending on the region where it is made. For instance, plantains are only found in West and Central Africa, so the African black soap made in the Eastern region does not contain plantain peel ash.

These natural ingredients make African black soap the holy grail of skin care. It is a step ahead of the commercially available synthetic soaps. If you are not yet convinced about its benefits, read on to know more about the magic it can create on your skin.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Celebrities such as Zendaya and Beyonce swear by the African black soap for their overall skin care needs.

Benefits Of African Black Soap

Woman using african black soap of her face for healthy skin
Image: Shutterstock

1. It Fights Acne

If you have oily and acne-prone skin, African black soap can prove helpful. It balances the natural oil of your skin and does not let excess sebum clog your skin pores. It is also effective in controlling the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes – the acne-causing bacteria (1).

2. It Helps In Soothing Irritated Skin

African black soap can calm down your skin, whether it is excessively dry, eczema-affected or with skin allergies (8). It helps in clearing and soothing rashes and itching.

3. It Has Antibacterial Properties

African black soap contains phytochemicalsi  Bioactive plant compounds found in fruits and veggies that act against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. and oils derived from plants. These components are rich in flavonoidsi  A group of natural substances found in almost all fruits and veggies with anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties. , alkaloidsi  A vast group of naturally occurring organic compounds with antibacterial and antiviral properties. , and bioactive compounds that can fight bacterial infections and prevent further infection (1).

4. It Is Safe For All Skin Types

Synthetic soaps contain a lot of chemicals and artificial fragrances that destroy the acid mantle of your skin. African black soap contains plant-based organic products and is fragrance-free. It is extremely gentle and helps in balancing your skin’s pH without stripping it of moisture.

Salkis Re, a blogger, shared how her oily skin felt clean and smooth after using the African black soap. It was even safe on her 7-month-old child. In her blog, she wrote, “Her skin stayed soft and she had that ‘baby smell’ after I used it on her (i).”

5. It Is A Great Natural Moisturizer For The Skin

As African black soap contains a concoction of oils, along with shea butter, it is incredibly moisturizing and beneficial for dry and combination skin types. The butter and oils enrich the skin, lock in moisture, and keep it plump and hydrated.

6. It Cleanses And Exfoliates The Skin Thoroughly

African black soap is rich in vitamin E and other emollients. It exfoliates your skin gently, gets rid of dirt and dead skin cells, and is also known to help with anti-aging. Moreover, it is hypoallergenic and does not irritate your skin. This soap has antiseptic properties that can also soothe an itchy scalp (1).

7. It Prevents Razor Bumps

After you have waxed or shaved, your skin needs proper exfoliation to prevent the dead skin cells from clogging the pores and causing razor bumps. Using African black soap can help in preventing the bumps and infections that result from shaving and waxing your skin (8).

8. It Helps In Reducing Hyperpigmentation

Sun damage caused by excessive exposure to UV rays can leave ugly, dark spots on your skin (called hyperpigmentation). African black soap contains shea butter that protects your skin from sun damage and minimizes dark spots and hyperpigmentation (1).

9. It Has Antifungal Properties

African black soap is a strong antifungal agent and very effective against several types of fungi, including Candida albicans (a type of yeast) that causes athlete’s foot, jock itch, and other skin infections  (9).

10. It May Help Reduce Fine Lines

A survey involving 100 subjects who used African black soap found that about 4% of them used it for fine lines, and all of them were satisfied with the results (8).

11. It Is Good For Overall Skin Care

The survey also found that 70% of the respondents used African black soap for overall skin care, and about 56% of them used it on both the face and the body. They used it to treat acne, dark spots, razor bumps, eczema, and fine lines. Around 51% of the subjects were very satisfied, and 40% of them were somewhat satisfied with the results (8).

Salkis also used the black soap to wash her locks. “I found that the black soap is excellent for getting build-up out of hair and scalp without any irritation or dryness. My hair felt squeaky clean and soft too.”

Unprocessed African black soap has a rough texture, which makes it good for exfoliating. But if you do not know how to use it, it might be abrasive for your skin. Read on to understand the exact process of using a pure African black soap.

How To Use African Black Soap

African black soap and other soaps kept with bathing materials, ready for use
Image: Shutterstock

Different skin types react differently to African black soap. Some manufacturers add aloe vera and oatmeal to it to maximize its effects. The soap may also vary from batch to batch as the proportion of the ingredients keep varying (depending on the recipe used). Here’s how you can cleanse with African black soap:

  • Using Raw African Black Soap

Knead the soap into small balls. Make sure there are not any rough edges. Rub it between your palms into a lather and apply it to your face gently.

  • Make Body Wash With African Black Soap

Soak the soap in purified water. Let it dissolve and liquefy. Use it as your body wash.

  • Use African Black Soap As A Body Scrub

Mix the African black soap with brown or white sugar and use it to scrub your body.

  • Use African Black Soap As A Face Mask

Dissolve tiny chunks of the soap in hot water. Mix 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 5 drops of tea tree essential oil. Apply to your face and neck and wait until it dries. Massage gently and wash it off with water.

African black soap contains a high amount of glycerin and tends to absorb moisture from the air. That is how it makes your skin soft and supple. However, this also affects the longevity of the soap. When it absorbs excess moisture, it softens gradually and disintegrates. Hence, always keep in mind to store the soap properly to make it last longer. Let’s look at a few ways on how to store it properly.

How To Store African Black Soap

African black soap stored in a wooden soap dish
Image: Shutterstock
  • Never let the soap sit in a puddle of water after using it.
  • Avoid keeping it in a wet place(like inside your bathroom or near the sink) where it can absorb moisture. Place the bar on a wooden soap dish to drain the water from the soap properly.

Also, when African black soap is exposed to air, it develops a thin white film on the surface. To avoid this, put the bar in an airtight ziplock bag. If you have bought it in bulk, cut a small piece for use and store the rest in a ziplock bag or wrap it in plastic. Keep in a cool and dry place.

African black soap is considered safe for all skin types. However, the skin might react differently to the soap. It can be hydrating for some people, while it can be drying for others. This happens mainly due to the difference in ingredients used (as per the difference in the recipes). Here are a few things you might observe when using African Black Soap for the first time.

Risks Of Using African Black Soap

  • Your skin might feel a bit dry. This happens because the soap draws out all the impurities and excess oil. However, your skin balances itself within a few days.
  • It may cause mild tingling or burning sensation and a bit of redness. However, this is just a temporary phase. The issue gets resolved eventually.

Keeping the risks in mind, here are a few tips you can follow while using African black soap.

Points To Keep In Mind While Using African Black Soap

Woman looking at the mirror, hydrating her skin after cleansing
Image: Shutterstock
  • If you have dry skin and are using the soap for the first time, follow it up with a hydrating serum or cream. Try to use only a little bit of black soap on your face in the beginning and increase the amount gradually as your skin gets used to it.
  • If you have oily skin, do not forget to apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer on your face after using African black soap. You may try virgin coconut oil or sweet almond oil.

African black soap is often available under the names Yoruba soap or Anago soap, depending on the region where it is manufactured. Due to its increasing popularity, a lot of synthetic products have also arrived in the market. However, most of them contain additives and synthetic ingredients. Try to buy authentic products to reap the maximum benefits.

Get your authentic raw African black soap today and enjoy its incredible skin benefits. In case you are allergic to the ingredients (like cocoa or plantain), it is better to discontinue its use. Always do a patch test before using it on your skin. Try this magical soap today and witness the transformation.

protip_icon Trivia
Authentic African black soap does not contain artificial fragrance. Its scent is described as being earthy at best. Some may faintly smell like chocolate due to the use of cocoa pods.

Infographic: How To Use African Black Soap

African black soap is a handmade soap that possesses several benefits for your skin. It is safe for all skin types and causes no serious side effects. However, if you do not use it the right way, you may not get the desired results.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about how to use African black soap on your face to reap its maximum benefits.

how to use african black soap (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

African black soap, also known as Anago soap, is a handmade soap used in West African countries to combat several skincare issues. Made of plant-based ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, honey, and plantain skin, the African black soap benefits are many. Its antibacterial properties reduce acne and fight bacterial infections. It also exfoliates the skin, moisturizes your skin, reduces inflammation, and overall provides a healthy skin. You can use African black soap as a face mask or a body scrub as per your needs. If you have dry skin, make sure you put on a moisturizer after using African black soap as it may dry your skin out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is African black soap good for acne?

Yes, it is. African black soap helps prevent acne-causing bacteria and keep the skin clean.

Is it ok to use African Black Soap every day?

If you have sensitive skin or are using African black soap for the first time, use it every 1-2 days. Once your skin gets used to the soap, you can use it every day.

Does African black soap help with eczema?

Yes, African black soap has skin-soothing and healing abilities. It helps to manage skin issues like eczema and psoriasis.

Does African black soap lighten skin?

African black soap clears dead skin cells from your skin and also reduces spots and pigmentation. With regular use, it brightens and clears your skin.

Can you use African black soap in your private area?

Yes, African black soap has soothing properties and can be used on your intimate area if your skin is not too sensitive.

Can I wash my hair with African black soap?

Yes. African black soap is an excellent natural cleanser for skin and hair. It can be used to wash your hair and thoroughly cleanse the scalp.

What pH is African black soap?

The pH value of African black soap, excluding additives, is 8.9 (10).

Does African black soap make hair thicker?

Yes, African black soap is known for improving hair and scalp quality while boosting hair growth and making it thicker (11).

Key Takeaways

  • The local tribes of West Africa make African black soaps using simple plant-based ingredients like coconut oil, raw African shea butter, honey, etc.
  • The soap has gentle cleansing properties and is beneficial for both dry and oily skin types.
  • African black soap contains natural oils that can nourish your skin, lock in moisture, and keep it plump.
  • The antiseptic properties of this soap can treat acne and reduce the risk of breakouts.

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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  7. Malachi, Oluwaseyi. “Effects of topical and dietary use of shea butter on animals.” Am J Life Sciences vol. 2. 303-307.
  8. Lin, Ann et al. “Discovering Black Soap: A Survey on the Attitudes and Practices of Black Soap Users.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 10,7 (2017): 18-22.
  9. Gbolagade, S J et al. “Antifungal potentials of indigenous black soap commonly used in Ibadan, Nigeria.” Academia Arena. 5. (2013).
  10. Ikotun, Adebomi A., et al. “Phytochemistry and antimicrobial studies of African black soap and its modified samples.” Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research 9.5 (2017): 354-359.
  11. Ogunbiyi, Adebola, and Nkechi A. Enechukwu. “African black soap: Physiochemical, phytochemical properties, and uses.” Dermatologic Therapy 34.3 (2021): e14870.
Dr. Zeel Gandhi is an Ayurvedic doctor with 7 years of experience and an expert at providing holistic solutions for health problems encompassing Internal medicine, Panchakarma, Yoga, Ayurvedic Nutrition, and formulations. She graduated as a top ranker from Dr. D.Y.Patil College of Ayurveda and Research Centre , Navi Mumbai, and is a specialist in Panchakarma therapies. She believes that Ayurveda...read full bio

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