No Lye. African Black Soap is Amazing!
If you know, you know. We’re talking about the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and magical moisturizing marvel that is African black soap. The all-natural plant-based cleanser originated in West Africa, known as alata samina or ose dudu. Different regions have their own unique formulas, which often include palm oil, shea butter, and a potash filtered from burned cocoa pods, plantain skins or other plant material. What they don’t include is lye, dyes, perfumes or preservatives, making them sensitive-skin friendly.
These traditional recipes have been passed down, for generations, from mothers of Yoruban ancestry to their daughters. The women dry the pods or peels in the sun, bake them in clay ovens and filter the ashes into the water. Next, they add the oils and fats, then stir this mixture for 24 hours. Yep. All night. All day. That’s a labor of love, Sis. The resulting cleansing liquid takes weeks to cure into bar form.
The soap we’ve chosen for this box, from Black-owned Africa Imports, is handmade in Ghana. Traditional “black” soap may be gray or brown, depending on its formulation. It has an uneven surface, and it feels soft and crumbly at the edges. If you find black soap that is smooth and jet black, you’ll likely see words on the ingredient list that you can’t pronounce.
Like many traditional remedies, black soap deserves more focus from medical researchers. Preliminary studies point to its bacteria-fighting power, according to WebMD. It removed more staph, E. coli and other germs than medicated soaps did.
But devotees also swear by its phytochemical goodness for addressing dark spots, acne, razor bumps, dry skin, eczema (don’t use black soap on broken skin), itchy skin, dandruff, athlete’s foot and topical yeast infections. In addition, it’s a natural facial cleanser, makeup remover and household cleaner, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Like we said: If you know, you know.
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