I stumbled upon African black soap (also known as Alata Simena, Anago or Ose Dudu) over six years ago when I started on my natural journey. Back then, I was not subscribing to natural hair; my subscription was limited to topical natural skin care options, namely oils and cleansers for my face and body care routines. I lucked out with unpasteurised honey as my facial cleanser (and haven’t looked back since!), so when I was seeking a body cleanser and a friend of mine placed what looked and felt like hardened dirt in my hand and suggested with a smile – “try it” – who was I to be skeptical?
Never one to avoid trying new things – within reason of course – especially if it were to aid in my skin issues, I quickly reconciled any doubts I had of what would become a staple in my beauty care routine. From the first use of African black soap, I was genuinely struck by how a body cleanser so simple in ingredients (i.e. plantain skins, cocoa pods, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and palm oil) could be so effective. Many years later, and more informed of the different usage of African black soap, I leave you with some facts of this amazing cleanser. (Personally, I’ve used it as a body cleanser and shampoo; absolutely no complaints in either department).
How is African Black Soap made?
The production of African black soap varies from region-to-region – with different techniques and ingredients used. Regardless of how it is produced (which evidently is a highly guarded secret), the end result, seems to bring a highly effective product with natural simple ingredients (usually no more than 5 – give or take!).
How does African Black Soap work?
African black soap works like any other soap – namely, by lathering the suds onto damp skin and gently exfoliating with a cloth or sponge. Specifically, however, it is the ash – made of the plantain skin and palm – that is the driving force of the soap. Plantains are known to have vitamin A – vital to the natural rejuvenation of skin cells – which in turn gives skin its healthy glow. Vitamin E is another nutrient found in the soap – giving rise to the antioxidant properties of the soap (hence protecting the skin from premature aging and subsequent damage).
Different Indications to Use African Black Soap
Skin Care -Body and Face
- razor bumps
- marks/ dark Spots
- baby skin care
Hair Care -Shampoo
- Curly Hair – hair gently cleansed, curls are soft and pop
- Straight Hair – hair gently cleansed, with no residue
- Fine Baby Hair – hair gently cleansed, without stripping
What to look for when buying authentic African Black Soap
Authentic African black soap is often produced in Western African countries – for example Ghana. (Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but usually a good indicator of authenticity)
Though exact ingredients may vary, ingredient list is very simple – no more than five (5) ingredients on average. The main ingredients consistently seen are plantain skins and palm. Other ingredients often used are cocoa pod, palm kernel oil, coconut oil or shea butter.
No Artificial Additives
- No perfume
- No colour or dyes
- No artificial preservatives
Where to purchase African Black Soap
African black soap is usually found in natural grocers, beauty supply stores and African stores. (Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, it is just a start) One 100 gram block is approximately $5.00 (Cd) plus applicable taxes.
Note when using African Black Soap:
- Keep bar dry – away from water – when not in use (i.e. best to keep away from the bathroom since usually moist); bar will literally dissolve in front of your face if in moist environment
- A small lather goes a long way
- Soap can be directly lathered onto hands or onto wash cloth or sponge or shower puff (personally, I have found the soap lathers best on a damp wash cloth)
- Best to use a fresh (clean) wash cloth with each use