Health Benefits of African Black Soap

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on July 23, 2023
3 min read

African black soap is a traditional soap that comes from West Africa. It’s made from natural ingredients and can benefit your health in many different ways.

This soap isn’t limited to just cleansing the skin. African black soap has antibacterial properties which can help improve certain skin conditions, and might even slow down some signs of aging.

African black soap is originally an all-natural soap produced in different countries in West Africa. Exact recipes depend on where the soap originated from, but most include palm kernel oil, and the filtrate of burnt cocoa pod ash or roasted plantain skin ash. Other additions can include aloe vera, honey, shea butter, lime, or camwood — a tree native to central West Africa.

African black soap is made without adding lye, which makes the texture soft and lends a more moisturizing quality. It’s also unscented, making it suitable for most skin types.

There are many kinds of African black soap available on the market today. Some are more processed than others. Try to find one with the least amount of processing possible.

To find authentic African black soap, look for a soap that’s brown or grey in color, and has an uneven surface. It should be slightly crumbly around the edges. Read the label to make sure there aren’t any additives you don’t want in your soap.

Black soap has antibacterial properties. Studies show this natural cleanser works better than medicated soaps when removing the following bacteria:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Corynebacterium spp.
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Bacillus spp.

These properties have positive effects on the skin and can help remove harmful bacteria as well as dirt and impurities.

Other benefits of African black soap include:

Thoroughly cleans the skin and removes makeup. Not only is black soap a facial cleanser, but it also cleans just about anything. Some people use it for doing housework.

Safe for most skin types. African black soap is unscented and safe for anyone who wants to improve their skin. Always check the label before you buy to make sure there aren’t any additives that might irritate your skin.

May help reduce acne and clear blemishes. Black soap has been reported to reduce and treat the appearance of acne.

May eliminate razor bumps. In a limited survey, 54% of participants said they were “very satisfied” with how black soap cleared their razor bumps, and 40% reported they were “somewhat satisfied”.

May clear some skin rashes. Some people use Black soap to help improve eczema. But more research is needed to tell if it’s an effective solution for eczema overall.

May have antifungal properties. Black soap may fight against fungus and yeast. Studies show it’s effective against a yeast called candida albicans. It can help promote skin health by fighting off yeast and fungal infections.

You can use African black soap in your skin care and hair care routine. Because it has antifungal properties, it can even be used to fight dandruff on the scalp.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, proceed with caution. Your skin may feel tight after cleansing with black soap, so have a moisturizer on hand. Try to get a black soap that contains shea butter for extra moisturization.

You might get redness or a tingling feeling on your skin at first. Try a patch test before applying it to larger sections of your body.

Follow these steps to use African black soap on your face:

  • Wet your face, then grab the soap and work it into a lather in your hands.
  • Massage the soap into your skin in circular motions for 90 seconds.
  • For extra exfoliation, use a washcloth or other exfoliating tool before rinsing (optional).
  • Rinse with cool water.
  • Apply moisturizer.

You can also use African black soap as shampoo. Because it’s antifungal, it can help treat dandruff. Just lather it onto your wet hair and wash it off as usual.