What’s the Deal with Black Soap?

So often I’ve been asked, “what’s the deal on the black soap? I’ve heard it’s the best kind of soap to use for uneven and problematic skin!” 

G.H. Soaps discusses black soap

Authentic black soap is naturally organic, highly moisturizing soap and has its roots in African tradition.

Originally, the ingredients in authentic black soap provided for a pure & natural vegetable based bar.

Well, let me start by saying all black soap isn’t created equal so it’s easy to assume that all “black” soap is authentic African”black soap.” There is also a general lack of understanding as to why black soap works so well so I decided it was time to do a little digging wherefore, I could provide you with a little insight, to help you to make informed decisions about how and where you spend your beauty dollars…at least as it pertains to this matter at this moment.

Benefits of Black Soap

African black soap is familiar to many for its benefits to the skin. It has been known to soothe skin irritated by dermatitis and psoriasis, as well as fading skin discolorations and evening out the skin tone. People of African decent have used black soap for centuries for bathing and for shampooing the hair, not only to cleanse, but also to alleviate scalp itchiness and irritation. African black soap was also used to relieve oily skin and certain skin conditions, such as acne and eczema. Women also 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. The soap was too used on babies because of its purity and gentleness on sensitive skin.


Shea butter has many uses. It is generally widely used for the following applications:

  • Eczema Relief
  • Dry Skin Relief
  • Skin Protectant
  • Evens Skin Tone
  • Speeds healing of dry, cracked skin
  • Softens skin
  • Supports moisture retention for hair and skin


The handed down story…

African black soap or ose dudu originated with the Yoruban tribe in Nigeria and the Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. The Yoruba words ose (“soap”) and dudu (“black”) literally translates to “the black soap.” It is believed that this tribe brought their herbal wisdom with them from their original Egyptian homeland. Yoruba women had an important and unique role in agriculture. They were responsible for processing raw farm produce into finished goods for trading; this included harvesting produce from trees and tending the gardens. Village women in western Africa are still handcrafting black soap today. According to Africa Imports there are more than 100 varieties of African black soaps produced and traded.

What is it?

Genuine African black soap is brownish-black in color. It is soft with an organic shape that can be molded in your hands. It has a delicate texture & a natural earthy smell. It is not oily or scented and it melts easily if left in water. Secret black soap formulas are carefully guarded as they are passed down through generation. The soap making technique is based on the ancient art of ash treatment whereby 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. Then, ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil or cocoa butter are heated and added, and hand stirred by local women for 24 hours. The soap solidifies, is scooped out and the mixture is set out to cure for two weeks. The process is much like that which we call cold-processing soap. It’s how our soaps are made, without the long churning time but with a longer curing time.


TRUE BLACK SOAP originally consisted of roasted plantain skins, cocoa pod, palm oil and/or palm kernel oil, coconut oil and salt. Variations of the recipe include Shea butter and pure cocoa powder.

Cocoa Pod Ash is from the shell of the Cocoa fruit & Plantain Peel Ash is from the skins of the plantain fruit. Both serve as the alkali, lending the same function as sodium hydroxide in handmade bar soap.

Palm Fruit Oil comes from the palm fruit. Black Soap uses Red Palm oil. This oil is dark red in color and contains a high content of beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerhouse antioxidant nutrients are the same ones that give tomatoes and carrots and other fruits and vegetables their rich red and orange colors. Red palm fruit oil is also densely packed with numerous tocotrienols, a powerful form of vitamin E.

Shea butter and Cocoa Butter are excellent skin moisturizers & protectants. Both soften skin, minimize scars, prevent aging skin and stretch marks. Shea butter also speeds skin’s natural healing process, and evens skin tone.

It’s the combination of ingredients that makes black soap an all around beneficial soap. When compared to commercial soaps, its also the lack of synthetic ingredients that make black soap superior to other soaps. Authentic, traditional black soap does not contain dyes, artificial colorants, synthetic extracts nor fragrance oil (which is, by the way, a composition of synthetic constituents protected by trade secret laws and known to irritate skin). It is the omission of these unnecessary ingredients that make authentic black soap (and soap just like it) better for your skin.

How We Compare

BODYTRUTH brand soaps logo

While Black Soap is widely popular and has it’s place in the cosmetic industry, our soaps are made using a similar technique, only technology allows us to produce it faster. We also use much of the very same ingredients. In addition, our bars contain concentrated plant infusions that we create ourselves. Each bar is unique and its ingredients are chosen for the healing, softening and toning properties they naturally possess. Coconut oil, palm oil and Shea butter are just a few. We also use essential oils, from medicinal plants, which contain ingredients with naturally inherent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to help alleviate the various skin issues that people contend with daily.

Our soaps have been successful at promoting healthy skin, speeding healing and minimizing blemishes. Like authentic black soap, our soaps are free of chemicals, dyes, preservatives, stabilizers and synthetic fragrance oils. This allows skin to breathe, to heal and regenerate more quickly, so that your skin can look its best.