What is African Black Soap?

At Pharmaca, we’re continuously looking for natural ways to enhance our health and beauty routines. Recently, we’ve been talking about a soap that can help treat eczema, acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions, while also leaving skin feeling moisturized and soothed. “I have had several co-workers approach me about African black soap,” said Tiana Ukleja, former manager of Pharmaca’s beauty category.

That’s when she started looking into Nubian Heritage, a brand that offers a broad range of skin care that incorporates African black soap along with other nourishing ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil.

African black soap originated in West Africa, and is made with locally harvested plants. While the ingredients for black soap vary by region, they almost all contain water, roasted plantain skin (or cacao pods, in places where plantains are not native), palm oil, palm kernel oil or shea butter. These ingredients contain antioxidants and moisturizing properties that provide the soap with he medicinal qualities for which it’s known. Variations on this recipe have been used for centuries in Africa.

Nubian Heritage’s recipe for African black soap calls for palm oil, tamarind extract and plantain peel. These ingredients are burned into ashes, which are then dissolved in warm water and heated alongside a base such as coconut oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties. The remaining substance is cured for two weeks until it’s ready to be used.

“It’s beneficial because it’s acne fighting, detoxifying and healing. It’s especially good for skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis,” Tiana says. “The ash helps pull out a lot of toxins.” She’s partial to Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap Body Wash, especially because you can recognize everything on the ingredient list.

Benefits of African black soap:

  • Antibacterial properties: One study showed that samples from black soap significantly inhibited the growth of bacteria, which helps treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
  • Exfoliates skin: The ingredients in African black soap are naturally exfoliating, and help to clear dead skin which can block pores and cause irritations such as razor bumps.
  • Acne-fighting: African black soap has been used in Ghana and Nigeria to help balance oily skin; its exfoliating elements clear pores, which helps to lessen and prevent acne and other skin blemishes.
  • Moisturizes: The oils in black soap are exceptionally moisturizing, and infuse the skin with moisture, soothing the dry skin that can cause a variety of dermatological conditions.
  • Lessens hyperpigmentation (dark spots): Shea butter helps protect skin from the sun, which in turn minimizes dark spots caused by sun damage.

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