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What to Know Before Using African Black Soap

Moroccan black soap hammam

What to Know Before Using African Black Soap

Have you heard about African black soap? This all-natural soap was the beauty secret of Africans for centuries, but it has now become a favorite skincare product worldwide. Made of ingredients that possess healing powers for all skin types, black African soap can help anyone get flawless skin naturally.

While black soap is surprisingly healing for some skin types, for others it may be a tad drying. That’s why it’s essential to know how to use African black soap for your skin type.

Expert Opinion on African Black Soap

Morocco is one of the leaders in making premium African black soap. Black soap has been in Moroccan women’s routines for centuries. I remember growing up in Morocco and always having my little jar of black soap to use in the shower and in the Hammam. Now, even if I’m a thousand miles away from Morocco, I still use black soap very regularly and I can’t imagine using another product to exfoliate my skin.

Here is what I learned from using African Black Soap for at least three decades.

What Is African Black Soap?

This hand-made African bar soap is made of natural ingredients that have excellent effects on oily and acne-prone skin, though certain soaps can also be good for severely dry skin. According to dermatologist Patel, natives have used the African black soap bar for centuries. It’s sourced from raw farm produce in Western Africa.

Traditionally, it’s been used as a face soap, shampoo, and body bar. The unique black color comes from the ashes in the soap. African black soap ingredients include the ashes of plantain skins or palm leaves, palm oil, cocoa pod powder, honey, Shea butter, coconut oil, and water. One way to find out if you have a real African black soap is to pay attention to its texture – if it’s rough, you have the real deal, if not, your soup is most likely synthetic.

However, plants can never grow the same and since this product is plant-based it means batches can vary even if you buy from the same brand. In other words, if one batch is perfect for your skin, another may not be that suitable for your skin type due to an increased amount of a certain ingredient.

Black Soap Benefits

Here are some of the most significant benefits of African black soap:

  • It possesses antibacterial properties – the strong antibacterial properties make it an amazing natural cleanser that can substitute any chemical-laden product of this kind.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties – the ashes in the black soap contain sulfur which possesses strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. While the rough texture of the product exfoliates the skin, this active ingredient eliminates fungus and bacteria on the skin, whether that’s the face or any other part of the body. All this makes the soap a perfect product for shave bumps.
  • It moisturizes the skin – it contains oils that help trap the water in the skin, thus preventing excessive water loss from bathing. Along with the soap’s anti-inflammatory properties, the moisturizing ability helps soothe irritation linked to psoriasis and eczema.
  • It improves the tone and texture of the skin – the soap’s rough texture allows it to exfoliate the dead, hyper-pigmented skin cells.
  • It reduces dandruff – the ashes in the African black soap contain anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties which help destroy the yeast that causes dandruff. What’s more, the oils in the soap help moisturize the dry scalp.

Can You Use African Black Soap for All Skin Types?

Even though you can use black soap for the face, Patel advises that you should be careful about how often you use it. Generally, the product is ideal for combination skin or skin with oily T-zone.

If your skin is dry, however, make sure you use soap that contains a moisturizing ingredient such as Shea butter as the roughness of the soap can make the skin even dryer and more irritated. Applying a revitalizing moisturizer after using the African soap is highly recommended for those with dry skin.

Although the soap is made of natural ingredients, it can still cause allergic reactions due to the sulfur in the ashes. Some products may contain essential oils as fragrances which can also cause an allergy.

How to Use African Black Soap

Don’t use too much African soap, especially if you have dehydrated skin. Here’s how to use it:

  • Wet your face with warm water.
  • Wet the soap until you notice a lather.
  • Rub the soap gently on your skin – face, and body – in a circular motion avoiding the eyelids. Avoid the eyes and intimate parts.
  • Rinse your skin with warm water.
  • You can use an exfoliating brush or washcloth for a deeper exfoliation, especially on your knees, elbows, and neck.
  • Apply a natural oil (jojoba or argan oil) or moisturizing cream. See the section on Black Soap and Acne for more details.
hammam glove

You may notice a feeling of dryness and tightness in your skin in the first week, but that’s normal because the soap works on drawing out excess oils and impurities. After a few days, your skin’s pH levels should balance out.

You may also feel a burning or tingling sensation as well as redness which usually resolves after a while. Still, it’s best to test the effects of African black soap on another part of your body before applying it to your face.

Can You Use African Black Soap for Acne?

Yes, you can and you should use premium black soap for your acne-prone skin thanks to the sulfur in the ashes. The antimicrobial properties of the ashes included in the soap destroy the acne-causing microorganisms, the rough texture exfoliates the skin and leaves the pores open, and the sulfur and honey help reduce inflammation. This can also help decrease dark spots, especially in skin of color. The key is to always hydrate your skin after using black soap to avoid any skin dryness.

Whatever skin type you have, with or without acne, I always recommend following the black soap deep cleanse with quality hydration and nutrition. I’m a fan of natural oils like jojoba oil – one of the best oils to balance your skin and prevent acne! Another beauty essential is high-quality argan oil – known for its incredible anti-age properties. If you have mature skin or if you want to prevent aging, adding a premium argan oil to your routine will change your skin game!

Are There Any Side Effects?

Just like any other natural skincare product, black soap can also cause allergic reactions. Therefore, stop using black soap if your skin starts itching or peeling, or if it becomes overly dry or red. You may also want to avoid it if you have highly sensitive skin.

How to Store Your Real African Black Soap

Keep your black soap in a cool and dry place. The jar should be tightly closed protecting the soap from air and humidity.

If you leave it exposed, your African soap may soften and gradually disintegrate due to the glycerin content.

Best African Black Soap Brands

As a Moroccan who grew up using black soap on a weekly basis, I would recommend choosing a black soap brand that uses natural ingredients and follows a traditional saponification process. This will allow having a high-quality black soap that will take care of your skin and help clear your complexion. I use Little Moroccan Things natural black soap with argan oil twice a week to exfoliate my body and face. It’s honestly one of the best black soaps out there. The formulation is traditional and the ingredients are natural and organic. It also smells like being in a Moroccan hammam. I highly recommend it!

For other options, you can also check Black Elephant black soap with Eucalyptus.

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I need an advice regarding a product; which is Agrapur Savon Noir à base d’huile d’Argan.

A friend got it to me as a gift from Morrocco.

It’s written that it’s 100% natural. The ingredients are: Aqua-oleaeuropea-potassium hydroxide, Argania spinosa kernel oil. I was thinking to have my 15-years old daughter use it on her face for acne treatment. My inquiries are:

1- Is it really 100% natural, since it has potassium hydroxide?

2- I had it since Jan 2016 and Expiry date is Jan 2017. Do Natural Black soap products expire?

3- Can it be used on face? If yes, what are the directions of use and how frequent?

If no, what are the appropriate products and where to buy them from (any available online at a trusted source or in Dubai?)?

4- I read some articles that African Black soap is different from Moroccan Black soap, which is better for facial acne? Name products please.

5- What are the side effects and precautions?



Response from Moroccanzest

Hi Hemma,

I wouldn’t use an expired black soap. Even if it’s made with argan oil, the oil oxidizes and it might not react well with the skin. It might even be counter-productive as oxidized oil can be responsible for skin aging.

I would recommend this black soap or a similar one if you are looking for natural ingredients.

It’s 100% natural, authentic, and uses only natural ingredients. Your daughter can use it on her face to help with acne. Once a week should be fine. Just make sure she applies it gently and rinses it without scrubbing her face. It’s also very important that she hydrates her face after using the black soap. For this, I recommend using jojoba oil, which is an excellent oil to regulate sebum and reduce acne.

I hope this helps. -xxx

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.