The 7 Best Authentic Raw African Black Soaps (and Their Benefits)
PUBLISHED: 07/02/2019 | LAST UPDATED: 01/17/2020
African black soap has been regarded for hundreds of years as a wonder treatment for acne, dry skin, wrinkles, inflammation, and fungus. Originating in the Yorùbá tribes in Benin, Togo, and Nigeria, the secret of the African black soap and its benefits quickly spread through Africa and other regions across the world. Today, you won’t have to search too long on the internet to find anecdotal stories of miraculous skin cures from using this time-honored skin treatment. So, is African black soap really a panacea for your skin? You may be surprised to learn that there is scientific evidence behind many of the African black soap claims.
What is Raw African Black Soap?
Authentic raw African black soap is made from locally harvested ingredients like plant cocoa pod ash, oils, and shea butter. Traditionally, the plant materials (husks, shells, or barks of plantains, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, and Shea trees) are burned until they form a dark ash and then the ash is combined with the oils and Shea butter to form the “black” soap. The result is either a chunky bar or a thick black liquid depending on the desired outcome. The color variations of raw African black soap can be attributed to the varying blends of oils and cooking methods used by the different skin care formulators.
What Are the Benefits of African Black Soap?
No matter what your skin type, you can benefit from adding organic African black soap into your beauty routine. In fact, a study published by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology showed that multi-generational use of African black soap was effective in treating multiple dermatological conditions thanks to its deep-cleansing properties (1). While this multicultural beauty soap has many benefits, here our three benefits with solid scientific evidence:
- African Black Soap is Antibacterial: African black soap has natural antibacterial properties. Those with acne prone skin may find that African black soap helps to balance oil levels by reducing excess sebum (which can clog the pores) while controlling Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria which causes acne breakouts (1).
- African Black Soap Soothes Inflammation: African black soap is rich in vitamin E and contains shea butter which helps to hydrate, protect, and calm irritated skin. Because of this, African black soap makes a great natural after-shave product. It’s also mildly exfoliating and can help to remove the dead skin cells responsible for razor bumps and infections (2).
- African Black Soap Protects Against Sun Damage: African black soap is also protective against UV sun damage which can often lead to hyperpigmentation (dark spots) caused by sun damage (1).
How to Use Raw African Black Soap for Your Skin Type?
Natural African black soap is an extremely versatile beauty tool that can be used on the face and body as often as necessary. Here are our favorite ways to use organic African black soap:
- Raw African Black Soap Face Wash: If you have raw African black soap, you can simply grab a chunk of it and shape it into small balls. Add a little water and gently apply directly to your face and neck.
- Raw African Black Soap Face Mask: Did you know that raw African black soap makes a fantastic detox face mask? To use, simply dissolve a few small pieces of black soap in hot water and then mix in 1 teaspoon of honey + 2 teaspoons baking soda + and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (hint: tea tree oil for acne, chamomile for inflammation, or lavender for overall glow). Apply, let it sit on your skin until almost dry, and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Raw African Black Soap Body Wash: If you have raw African black soap, then you can easily make a cleansing organic body wash by soaking a chunk of it in purified water until it dissolves. Alternatively, you can buy pure liquid African black soap and use it directly as a natural body wash.
- Raw African Black Soap Body Scub: Need to exfoliate? Simply mix a small chunk of soap with a little brown sugar or dead sea salt for a DIY natural body scrub.
Depending on your skin type, you can incorporate African black soap into your beauty routine in varying ways.
- African Black Soap for Normal + Dry Skin: Dry skin types can try using African black soap as a weekly moisturizing cleanser. Many facial cleansers contain harsh detergents which can cause dryness by stripping away your skin’s vital natural oils. Using African black soap can help to rebalance your skin’s sebum.
- African Black Soap for Oily + Combo + Acne Skin: Oily and acne skin types may want to incorporate African black soap as their main natural anti-acne cleanser. The combination of gentle exfoliation, deep pore cleansing, and antibacterial properties make this soap ideal for overactive skin. Simply replace your existing cleanser with African black soap! Got combination skin? Then use raw African black soap as a spot treatment on your oilier zones (like your forehead, cheeks, or nose) that are in need of deep cleansing.
- African Black Soap for Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin types should look for a completely pure African black soap with no fillers or preservatives. As always, spot test before use.
Note: Those with latex or chocolate allergies should consult a dermatologist before using African black soap because of potential latex-fruit syndrome or caffeine sensitivity.
Why Use Organic & Raw African Black Soaps?
Truly organic and raw African black soaps are closer to the original African recipes than their heavily produced counterparts. Authentic black soaps are plant-based, naturally vegan, fragrance-free, and gentle on the skin. To help you choose the best natural and organic African black soap, we went out and did all of the research for you. All soaps below are free from common additives such as sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals + mineral oils, synthetic fragrances + dyes, and PEG compounds. Enjoy!
Price : $11.99
This is the bar version of Sky Organic's highly rated liquid organic African black soap. It is made with the same great fragrance-free formula as the liquid soap (palm oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, plantain ash, vitamin E, and aloe) but comes in a convenient soap bar. The bar is quite large and can be cut into smaller soap bars. African black soap is highly antibacterial and works great for acne breakouts on the face or body.
Shop *SKY ORGANICS – ORGANIC AFRICAN BLACK SOAP BAR
Price : $11.95
This is the liquid version of Alaffia's organic, raw African Black Soap bar. It's unscented and made with the same two ingredients as the bar soap: ethically-traded unrefined shea butter and palm kernel oil, plus water. This rich formula works as the ultimate multi-tasker: it's great for all skin types and can be used as a face and body cleanser, shampoo, hand-wash, and shaving soap. Its most popular uses however are as as a moisturizing shampoo, or effective acne-fighting face and body wash.
Shop *ALAFFIA – NATURAL AFRICAN BLACK SOAP LIQUID
Price : $6.39
Alaffia's organic, raw African Black Soap is unscented and simply made with just two ingredients: ethically-traded unrefined shea butter, and palm kernel oil. These natural ingredients work together to cleanse, purify and moisturize for silky smooth, happy skin. Plus, it's a true all-in-one multi-tasking product: it's ideal for all skin types and can be used as a face and body cleanser, shampoo, hand-wash, and shaving soap. This is a great African black soap for acne and hormonal breakouts.
Shop *ALAFFIA – NATURAL AFRICAN BLACK SOAP BAR
Price : $11.95
African black soap is a unique formula that has been used by West African women for hundreds of years. It traditionally contains the ash of locally harvested plants (such as plantain, cocoa pods, shea bark, etc.) which gives the soap its dark color. This take on African black soap by Sky Organics contains plantain ash, aloe, shea butter, and various organic oils (no essential oils). Highly effective for body acne and great for both men and women.
Shop *SKY ORGANICS – LIQUID ORGANIC AFRICAN BLACK SOAP
Price : $11.23
A natural, raw African Black Soap bar made in Nigeria with pure, clean ingredients. Shea Terra Organics uses an ancient formula that helps naturally break down dead skin and fight breakouts to reveal firm, clean, glowing skin. This pure African black soap is made with USDA certified organic, virgin coconut cream oil, African black soap (cocoa pod ash, plantain peel ash, palm oil, camwood), 24% USDA certified organic shea butter, and certified organic extra virgin olive oil.
Shop *SHEA TERRA ORGANICS – ORGANIC AFRICAN BLACK SOAP BAR
Price : $11.50
This raw African Black Soap is made in Ghana from traditional African recipe and techniques. It's crafted with natural ingredients like palm kernel oil, coconut oil, stearin oil, cocoa pod husks, unrefined shea butter, plantain ash, and vitamin E. It's great for most skin types, especially dry and sensitive, and helps clear acne, balance oil production, and smooth the skin's surface. Lather this soap on a washcloth or in your hands before applying to your face to avoid scratching and irritation.
Shop *OUR EARTH’S SECRETS – ORGANIC AFRICAN BLACK SOAP BAR
Q: What are the benefits of African Black Soap?
A: Gentle enough for all skin types, African Black Soap can be used for various skin conditions including acne breakouts, dryness, hyperpigmentation and more (2). This soap is also great as a body care and hair care product.
Q: What does African Black Soap do to your face?
A: African Black Soap gently cleanses and exfoliates your face by removing dead skin cells and clearing clogged pores. You can also use it on your face as a mask and your whole body as a body wash to maintain healthy skin.
Q: Is Raw African Black Soap good for acne?
A: Yes, with it’s antibacterial properties that work to control propionibacterium (the bacteria that causes acne), African Black Soap is great for acne. It also gently cleanses, removing dead skin that can clog pores and lead to acne (1).
Q: Is Raw African Black Soap good for skin?
A: Yes, African Black Soap is great for many skin conditions including (but not limited to) acne, hyperpigmentation, and UV damage. A survey published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology showed the effectiveness of the soap for minimizing acne, dark spots, and razor bumps thanks to its deep-cleansing properties (1).
Q: Does African Black Soap actually work?
A: Yes, many human studies exist that show African Black Soap as a very effective product for varying skin conditions. Acne and UV damage (2), and razor bumps and infections (2) are just a few of the proven examples of African Black Soap being an effective skincare product.
Q: Can you bathe with African Black Soap?
A: Yes, simply soak a chunk of African black soap in purified water, allowing it to dissolve and turn into a liquid. You can then use this liquid as a body wash.
Q: Can African Black Soap cause acne?
A: As with all natural products, when you first switch your regular acne face was to black soap, your skin may go through a detox period. This shouldn’t deter you however, as black soap is very effective as an antibacterial and cleansing product for getting rid of and preventing acne breakouts (2). Also, inauthentic and impure formulations of African Black Soap may contain ingredients which can cause skin irritation.