African black soap or ose dudu originated with the Yoruba people in Nigeria,but receives more widespread use and production among the Ghanians. Black Soap, Ose Dudu or Alata Samina is a true West African Soap.
HISTORY OF AFRICAN BLACK SOAP.
Black soap was introduced to Ghana many years ago by Yoruba traders of Nigeria doing business in Ghana. These traders were women and many were in the business of selling tomatoes and peppers. They were called the Alatas (Pepper Sellers).
The Yoruba Word Ose Mean SOAP and Dudu mean BLACK this was translated to “THE BLACK SOAP.” It is also called ANAGO SAMINA by Ghanaians which means the Pepper Sellers soap. “Anago” is a slang term in Ghana used to refer to Yoruba Nigerians. Anago means Yoruba. Alata: A term commonly used to describe Nigerians, to their great displeasure as it means pepper seller in their language. (Derived from the Yoruba language)
Samina means, “Soap” in the Twi Dialect of the Akan Language. This made the Ghanians call Black Soap Alata Samina Which Simply Mean Pepper Seller Soap.
Alata samina, is now the Word used throughout Ghana to Refer to Black Soap.
Yoruba women had an important and unique role in agriculture in pre-colonial Yorubaland. They were responsible for processing raw farm produce into finished goods for trading. This included harvesting produce from trees and they also tended to the gardens where vegetables and fruits, such as peppers, were grown. They were also responsible for selling the produce, including black soap.
Nigerians especially the Yorubas and Ghanaians have used black soap for centuries for bathing and for reducing body odor.
It was, and still is till today, used as first Soap Used in bathing New Born Baby by the Yoruba people,they mix the Black Soap with Camwood Powder to bath the Baby Because it Cleanse off Everything on newborn Skin like MAGIC,its purity makes it gentle and non-drying for babies’ sensitive skin. In fact, black soap is generally the only soap used in most Western Part of Nigeria “The Yorubas”. used as a shampoo for hair, not only to cleanse, but also to alleviate scalp itchiness and irritation. African black soap was used to relieve oily skin and certain skin conditions, such as Acne and Eczema.
WHAT IS BLACK SOAP?
Black soap is a dark colored cleansing bar. It is soft and porous and dissolves faster than most cold press soaps. Black soap produces a very rich lather and gives the skin a clean soft feel. Black soap clears up acne, eczema, blemishes and discolorations.
Black soap is 100% natural, Organic and Vegan in origin and process.
VARIETIES OF AFRICAN BLACK SOAP
The color varies from jet black to light brown depending on the ingredients used in making the soap. The Jet Black is actually the Real Colour of Africa Black Soap Made By the Yoruba People of Nigeria. The Light Brown is Mostly the one from Ghana. The basic ingredients used in Black soap are Shea Butter, Red Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Roasted Plantain Skins, Roasted Cocoa Pods. Other additives like Agoa bark, scents and other oils are optional.
The darker soaps tend to have more of the roasted plantain skin in the ingredients. The oxidation from the plantains make the soap bar darker. For a lighter bar more roasted cocoa pods are used.
Black soap does not contain conventional lye, however the ash from roasting the plantain and cocoa pods are used in the Saponification process.
RECIPES OF BLACK SOAP
Traditional black soap was typically a mixture of water and the ashes of plantain skins, cocoa pod powder and palm oil. Other recipe blends can include the ashes of palm leaves, or shea tree bark, and a combination of palm oil, coconut oil, shea Butter and Raw Honey.
Village women in western Africa are still handcrafting black soap till today, there are more than 100 varieties of African black soaps. Recipes have been passed down in families from Generation to Generation. Ingredients can differ by region and each batch can be unique. Age-old formulations and production methods make a big difference in the final outcome of the soap.
How Black Soap is Made
The process of making African black soap is involved, but in the short version, plantain peels are dried under the sun. The skins (and/or palm leaves and cocoa pods) are then roasted in a clay oven to produce ash. Water is added to the ashes and filtered. Ingredients like Shea Butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, Cocoa Butter are heated and added, and hand stirred by local women for 24 hours. The soap solidifies and moves to the top, is scooped out and the mixture is set out to cure for two weeks.
The soap is then prepared for sale. Cosmetic companies often purchase black soap and add ingredients. Some of these ingredients can be natural like Lavender Essential oil, Lemongrass, Aloe vera gel, but others also add artificial fragrance (which can be irritating to some individuals) and artificial ingredients. So buyer beware.
WHAT MAKES BLACK SOAP DIFFERENT:
- Black soap is made with rare tropical honeys that are known for softening the skin and creating a smooth surface.
- Black soap is also a natural source of vitamins A & E and iron. This helps to strengthen the skin and hair.
- Black soap contains a high amount of glycerin, which absorbs moisture from the air and literally deposits it into the skin, making the skin soft and supple.
- For centuries, Nigerians and Ghanaians have used black soap to help relieve acne, oily skin, clear blemishes and various other skin issues. Many swear by it for skin irritations and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Women in Africa will use black soap during pregnancy and afterwards to keep them from getting stretch marks and to protect them from dry skin that is often accompanied by pregnancy.
- Black soap can also be used as a hair shampoo. The shea butter in the soap softens the hair, while the vitamins give it strength.
- Men can use black soap in shaving. The high shea butter content leaves the skin smooth and protected.
- African black soap is unique in that it contains no preservatives, color enhancers, or fragrances. African black soap creates a soft lather without the animal fat additives that are commonly used in soaps made in the US.
- African Black Soap is familiar to many people of African descent for It’s Skin Care Benefits. It has been known to soothe skin irritations and diseases from simple rashes to contact dermatitis and psoriasis, as well as fading skin discolorations and evening out skin tone.
- Women used black soap for Skin Care during and after pregnancy to keep from getting dry skin, stretch Marks and other skin conditions caused by hormonal changes. When the Baby is Born,the soap is also used on babies because of its purity and it was gentle on sensitive skin.
IS AFRICAN BLACK SOAP FOR ALL SKIN TYPES?
African black soap is considered to be safe and beneficial for all skin types—dry, oily, normal, combination and even sensitive in some cases. For the most part, users of African black soap have found it to be beneficial, even healing to the skin.
But while some find the soap moisturizing, others might find it drying. Skin will react in different ways depending on the individual and the product, especially since black soap can vary from batch to batch and can have varying proportions and types of ingredients.
There are numerous recipes and ingredients used in making black soap, which begins with potash from plantain skins and leaves and cocoa pods, mixed with palm kernel oil. Batches vary, so it’s possible that one batch could be fine for an individual while another has more of a certain ingredient that could possibly cause a reaction in the skin.
Upon first use, even those with oily skin might notice that the skin feels dry and tight. This might last for a week.
It’s believed this is caused by the soap drawing out impurities and excess oils. After a few days the PH levels of the skin will balance out (which is why it is believed to be good for both dry and oily skin.)
The soap can also cause a tingling, sometimes burning sensation leading to red skin. This also seems to eventually resolve
- For some individuals the raw black soap dries out the skin. Other black soap that includes Shea Butter,or another moisturizing ingredient in the formula will probably be better for dry skin types.
- If it’s drying out your skin, try using less. A little goes a long way and using too much soap will definitely be drying to already parched skin. If you have sensitive and/or dry skin start out by using it only once a day.
- Be sure to use moisturizer Like Shea Butter,or oils like Macadamia oil afterwards, especially if your skin tends to be dry, and during winter months when cold weather could further dry out the skin.
- African black soap is great for oily and acne prone skin. It’s efficient for deep pore cleansing because of its natural exfoliating qualities. For some oily skin types it seems to keep the skin hydrated without increasing oil.
- Even if you have oily skin you should moisturize afterwards with a non-comedogenic lotion or oil like sweet almond oil and virgin coconut oil.
CLEANSING WITH AFRICAN BLACK SOAP
- If you are using raw African black soap, take the soap apart and knead it into a ball to make sure there aren’t any jagged edges, and rub between hands to work into a lather. If you apply the soap directly to the skin, do so gently, because there could still be particles that can tear the skin.
- Washing and rinsing with cool water can help reduce the possibility of stinging and redness. Avoid getting the soap in the eyes.
- If you have sensitive or very reactive skin, don’t leave the soap on the skin for a long period of time.
- You could experience tingling or a burning sensation in acne areas, open sores and cuts.
- If your skin feels squeaky clean afterwards, it means the skin is too dry. Try reducing the amount of soap that you use. A very small amount (the size of a marble) can cleanse the face and neck.
Make your own body wash
You can dissolve the soap in purified water and use it as a body wash. Let it soak for a while and liquefy. Purified water is not necessary, but recommended because you could experience different results from tap water, since some tap water has more chlorine and can be either soft or hard.
African black soap deep cleanses because of exfoliating properties, so you don’t need to scrub hard. Avoid rubbing the skin with raw black soap, especially on delicate facial skin. Lather up soap in hands first before putting on face. The soap contains ash granules and other debris that might not dissolve quickly and can scratch and damage the skin.
Make Your Own Body Scrub
Mix black soap with brown or white sugar and use it as a scrub. When making liquid black soap, you can also use the granules that sink to the bottom of the bottle as an exfoliant, but remove any sharp particles—some customers have reportedly found wood pieces (splinters) and pebbles in the raw African black soap.
Reactions to African Black Soap
- If you break out in a rash or contact dermatitis discontinue use and consult your dermatologist.
- If you are latex-allergic you could have latex fruit syndrome and could have a reaction the plantain ash in black soap, as well as palm and coconut oil.
- If you have a chocolate allergy or are sensitive to caffeine, also be aware that there could be a high concentration of cocoa pods (which make the ash) used in the soap.
CARE & STORAGE OF AFRICAN BLACK SOAP
Make It Last
I’ve read complaints about African black soap not lasting very long. If this is the case for you, you’re not storing it properly. African black soap contains a high amount of glycerin, which absorbs moisture from the air and helps retain moisture on the skin, leaving it supple and soft. For this reason the soap can soften and start to slowly disintegrate when left exposed.
Since black soap absorbs water, don’t let it sit in a puddle after use. Keep it dry to keep it from dissolving. Place the bar on a wooden soap dish with slats to allow the soap to drain.
Before you toss that soap…
- When exposed to air black soap can develop a thin white-colored film. This is not mold.
- You might even want to cut off a portion from the bar, or cut and roll into small balls and place in a Ziploc bag to make it easier to use daily.
- If you purchase by the pound or in bulk, cut off part of the soap and store the rest. Store in a cool, dry place. Leave it wrapped in plastic and then put in a Ziploc bag.