What is Black Soap?

African toiletries are set to be one of the next big things in the UK so I read yesterday in a trends for 2017 article. Of course, we’re on it already and I have put a range of African ingredient-based non-toxic toiletries onto the shop so you know where to get the good stuff!

I thought this blog post that I’ve adapted from one written by Lindsey at Akamuti might help start you off. It’s all about African black soap – or magic soap as she calls it. It looks like fruit cake to me, but is really rich in shea butter. Many of you have raved to me about it – especially as a shampoo alternative – which is partly why I sourced it and popped it in the TrulyGlutenFree grain and dairy range of toiletries because, as we know, finding TGF-safe non-toxic toiletries is a bit like finding rocking-horse do-do!

African Black Soap - made in Ghana

What is African black soap?

Our black soap is a buttery fusion of virgin shea butter, sustainable palm oil and coconut oil. It is one of the few all natural soaps that you can buy, crafted with only natural ingredients from start to finish. Black soap is an extraordinary product and it works small wonders on skin problems. It’s lather is creamy and gentle and it is particularly kind to dry skin. It makes a particularly good facial soap for problem skin. 

Dark, earthy and crumbly, black soap brings a new level of natural goodness to your bathroom. It looks a little bit like fruit cake! Unique to West Africa, our black soap is handcrafted by women in Ghana. This amazing product is made to a recipe that has remain unchanged for hundreds of years. Unlike mass produced soap, black soap is made by hand, using ingredients that are produced freely in the area that it is made in. For this reason, black soap recipes can vary from town to town. What they all have in common is one magic ingredient – nutritious, creamy shea butter.

Shea butter gives this soap it’s rich and creamy feel and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. Authentic black soaps usually have around a 50% shea butter content. [Ed: you will find others on the market contain a lot less!]

How is black soap made?

All soaps require lye in order to turn vegetable butters and oils into soap. Saponification doesn’t happen without using a caustic lye. Before the advent of sodium hydroxide (derived from salts), our ancestors relied on potash – a caustic mixture of water and ash. Black soap is still made in this way, using roasted cocoa pods and plantain potash. It is the process of making soap with potash that gives black soap it’s famous chocolate brown colour and slightly smoky aroma.

How do I use my black soap?*

Black soap is naturally soft and crumbly, so you might like to slice off a small piece of the bar rather than getting the whole bar wet and soggy! (Black soap likes to absorb water). You can use your soap from top to toe and if you have very dry hair, you can even use it as an alternative to shampoo.  Black soap is so kind and gentle, it has something to offer everyone. It can even be used on children and babies.  Unhappy skin seems to respond really well to this old fashioned soap, so if your skin is feeling unsettled or prone to spots, make this your facial soap!

We also make a liquid version of black soap using rosewater, it is much less messy and it looks a bit like liquid chocolate 😉 We hope you fall in love with this soap as much as we have!

*We recommend avoiding the use of soap on broken skin, on skin recovering from chemical peels or surgery.

So, it is a good choice if you are looking for gentle, nourishing, grain & dairy free, and pure, of course. Have a look and tell me how you get on or do please share if you have any tips how you use it!

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