|Posted by Evelyn Marshall on February 4, 2013 at 10:10 PM|
Everyone has heard or at least went into a store like a beauty supply store and seen this hunk of brown stuff wrapped in plastic wrap and thought, "What in the world is this?" You've picked it up, stared at it, examined it front to back, sniffed it and probably squeezed it. Well at least that is what I did when I first saw it. So what is it?
Pure african black soap has been made for centuries in countries like Ghana or other West African countries. It can be made elsewhere like the US or Europe but the true stuff is usually made in West African by women of the various tribes. Each tribe adds its own ingredients and special additions (herbs & fragrances) which can change the color or texture of the soap. It is usually various shades of brown. It is made during a process that takes an entire day. It is made with water, bark of the shea tree (where shea butter comes from), leaves of palm trees, bark and leaves of banana trees, bark and leaves of the plantain and cocoa plant. It also contains shea butter, olive, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils. Depending on the tribe various other fruits, herbs and scents can be added.
It is made when the leaves and bark of the various trees and plants are shredded and placed in a metal vat or a cooking kettle and then they are burned until only the ashes of these are left. The ash is then mixed with water. This mixture is then poured through a filter to get all the large pieces out. Then it is mixed with the oils to create the soap. Various herbs and oil essences are added. It is then left to cure for two weeks then packaged to be sold. If you purchase black soap from stores or online make sure that it says "Fair Trade". That way you can ensure that the women of these African tribes that make this wonderful soap are getting paid fair wages for producing it. It is very suseptible to water so make sure not to leave it in a soap dish as it will melt. To ensure you get the most use from it, cut a small piece from the main bar and use that to make it las longer. I usually dry mine off a bit after using it and store it in a plastic ziploc bag.
Now on to the important stuff that you really want to know. What are the benefits of this soap versus other soaps? Well first off, it is rich in vitamins E & A which are great antioxidants that help the skin to fight free radicals which can result in premature aging, loss of skin elasticity, resilience, suppleness and diminish your skin's structural support. It has a high shea butter content which protects and smooths the skin. This is one reason why it can be a great shaving agent for men. The lather will not dry out the skin and will leave it softer which will decrease the amount of ingrown hairs if it is accompanied by proper shaving techniques. It has been known to heal dry, cracked skin of the face and body. It can help with the minimization of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by adding proper moisture levels to the skin and replenishing it. It provides deep pore cleansing without stripping the skin of its natural oil barrier that is meant to protect the skin. It also can help with reducing the apperance of dark spots on the face and body caused by acne scars. I also did some research and have saw that lots of women used it during pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of stretchmarks and even when they did still get them they were less noticeable. It also helps to minimize acne breakouts by providing the skin with the necessary moisture needed to balance oil overproduction in the skin. Some of the soaps have tea tree, rosemary and salicylic acid (which is an extract of the wiilow tree which helps in the treatment of acne and breakouts). Tea tree and rosemary posess anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which are helpful in the treatment of acne. Even if the soap does not have these added extracts in it it is still good for acneic skin. This is a wonderful product to use for teens or those who suffer from acne. Now this is NOT a cure all and may not work for some skin. So it is advised that you see your dermatologist if it is very severe or even cystic. However it can be an addition to your skin care routine due to the severe drying effects of some prescribed medications such as Accutane (a systemic acne drug that causes extreme dryness of the skin, body and hair by shrinking the oil glands all over). It can also be used as shampoo for the hair and all over the body.
I did an experiment on myself to test this theory, I have combination skin which means that I have an oily t-zone and elsewhere my skin is dry. I get occasional breakouts on the forehead, chin and cheeks and even when the bumps are properly extracted I still end up with bothersome dark spots. I wanted to balance the oil in my skin and wanted a healthy glow as well being that I am hitting my mid thirties. So I gave myself 30 days to soley use african black soap as my sole cleanser. I used a facial brush to provide exfoliation twice a week. I also did an oil pre-cleanse with olive oil. I used my AHA/BHA treatment serum (this helps with cell turnover in the skin & makes exfoliation easier to reveal brighter skin) and using my moisturiser with an SPF in the day and olive oil at night. I also used a vitamin C alcohol free toner by Murad as well. After two weeks of use going into week three I can definitely tell a difference in my skin. I don't have to use as much moisturiser because it has began to balance the level of moisture in my skin. My breakouts have become less and less. The biggest difference I have noticed is the dark spots on my face have totally began to diminish. Some of these spots have been there since my teens. Yes overall I have been blessed with pretty decent skin but as I age it definitely has developed a mind of its own. So I have to switch up my routine every now and then. I can say it's not the prettiest soap but it does do the job and well. My twelve year old has been using it as well and her skin has cleared up tremendously. She also suffers from eczema and it has softened up the spots on her face and body that were rough and scaly. And to my surprise and hers it has started to clear up and return back to its normal color. Also she finds it easier to handle and tolerate than the other products she used. I purchased mine at the local beauty supply store for $2.49 a bar.
In conclusion, I have found the soap to live up to all the hype surrounding it. There are imposters or soap that claims to be black soap but be careful because it is not. To me it reminds me of an oatmeal bar of some sort. But for the price, the process it takes to make it, who makes it and the benefits it brings to my skin I say its a natural Godsend.
That's all for tonight ladies and gentlemen.
Until next time