Have you heard about the African Black Soap hype? This old African secret has gained popularity in the natural hair community, drawing the attention of cosmetic and hair companies. Many have tried to recreate the goodness of black soap but continually fail. These companies add harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, aluminum, and silicones to their “black soap”, ingredients that have been known to dry and irritate the skin. So, how can you spot a fake?
Black soap is not smooth in texture, the natural ingredients sourced in Ghana produce a chunky, crumbly, non-uniform shape. Black soap is also very soft and malleable and dissolves in warm water very easily. Additionally, black soap is not solid in color and ranges from a dark brown to a creamy tan color depending on the pot and length of time in which it was boiled.
What is African Black Soap?
African black soap was originally harvested in Ghana and now can be found in other parts of Africa. The soap is made from the ash of banana skins or plantain bark, shea nut kernels, or cocoa pods. These ashes are known as Potash. Potash is also a mineral found in the earth as potassium oxide, which is an alkaline salt, used as the all-natural “lye” in the soap making process. (FYI: All soap is made with lye) Water and oils such a palm kernel oil and coconut oil are then added for moisture. Shea butter and cocoa butter can also be added to increase the moisturizing properties.
Black soap has phenomenal medicinal properties to heal scalp issues and stimulate hair growth. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal properties, which are great for treating dandruff and an itchy scalp. It’s rich in vitamins A and E which both fight free radicals in the environment. It also contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc and is an all-natural humectant.
Though African black soap has many moisturizing ingredients, some have noted that their feels dry and tangled after using. This may be a result of the minerals in the potash that can clarify the scalp. It is recommended that you dilute the soap into water to lessen some of these effects. Additionally, test a patch of your skin before use. If you find the soap to be drying, you can add some of the ingredients below that I use in the tutorial below.
Raw honey- is a natural humectant and emollient, drawing moisture into your hair. It contains antioxidants, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can be used to heal wounds.
Herbal Hair Loss Oil- Infused herbal oil containing Brahmi, Amla, Henna, Horsetail, Fenugreek, and Ashwagandha. Learn about the benefits of these herbs, by clicking their hyperlinks.
Glycerin- a natural humectant and emollient which draws moisture into your hair making it soft and supple.
Argan oil- rich in antioxidants (such as vitamin E), contains essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid which reducing signs of aging.
Deidre’s Hair Oil- herbal infused oil that can be found here along with its benefits.
Lemon essential oil- contains antioxidants and antibacterial properties that can reduce skin inflammation, and is packed with vitamin C.
Babassu oil- an all-natural emollient that can penetrate deep into the hair strands enriching the strands with vitamin E. It contains rich fatty acids primarily lauric and myristic acids. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits as well.