Black soap, also known as African black soap, is a product originating in West Africa. On the basis of the country of origin, it may be obtained from black olives oil or coconut oil or shea butter and potash from the ash of some plants such as that belonging to the genus Platanus. The use of black soap is growing all over the world because it is considered an essential beauty cosmetic, a remedy against dark skin spots, dull skin, rashes, scars and acne.
As often happens, also science is really interested to this product to test whether the effects indicated by tradition have also a scientific basis. Today we know that black soap has anti-bacterial properties (Agbo, Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology Research, 2012) that make it a useful product to clean the skin. Moreover, in comparison with other disinfectants dedicated to hands and body, it has shown a more efficient action in removing bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, a cause of acne, eczema and dermatitis, Staphylococcus epidermidis, that may cause resistant infections, and Escherichia coli. For its antiseptic but not aggressive action black soap can be used on oily and acne prone skin (Mongadi et al, ARPN Journal of Science and Technology, 2012). This type of soap has also an interesting antifungal effect and has been demonstrated to be able to fight microorganisms such as Candida albicans or belonging to the type T. mentagrophytes (Gbologade et al, Academia Arena, 2013). Thanks to this characteristic, black soap may be used, for example, in case of athlete’s foot or nail fungus. Black soap contains vitamins A and E that are powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances, useful to counteract scars, sun damages and skin redness (Mongadi et al, ARPN Journal of Science and Technology, 2012).
Black soap can be found solid, or in a creamy paste or liquid. It can be used for the normal cleaning of face and body, in this case massage gently the product on damp skin, but avoid the area around the eyes that is too delicate, then rinse accurately. Black soap, thanks to its composition, acts also as a scrub when it is applied by removing the dead cells and exfoliating the skin that becomes soft and luminous. Finally, in case of itching of the scalp and dandruff the black soap may be used also as a shampoo. You can apply it on the wet scalp, massage gently then rinse.