African Black Soap

It makes me smile when read the way ‘Westerners’ describe African black soap. It’s currently one of the most talked about soap in beauty blogs with many soap makers interpreting their own versions based on a basic ingredient list.

For me, using black soap as a pre-teen was like punishment because it was so sticky and stained everything! But I had a skin condition and that was what was prescribed.

In my teens I started mixing it with honey and lemon juice because intuitively I new it would be good for my acne :D. It was. As soon as I could though, I dumped the black soap and began my ‘use anything I can lay my hands on’ skin uncare routine.


My issues not withstanding, black soap is quite amazing. For eons, it’s been used to bathe new born babies and everyday by everyone in West Africa. Whether it was the intention or not, it’s simple formulation of burnt plantain skins, coconut husks, palm kernel/ palm oil/ Shea butter mix is brilliant for clearing up almost every named skin disease!

I’m probably never going to make black soap from scratch because its available in abundance where I live, but I have and am going to continually customize it for different types of applications.

For a cleansing root boosting shampoo here’s a quick recipe:

200g raw African black soap (the brown crumbly type)
2 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried sage (if you have it)
1 tbs dried thyme (I’d be shocked if you don’t have it 😀 )
500g boiling water

Break up the black soap into small chunks and place in a large jug. Break up the dried herbs a little in a mortar and pestle or however you can crush them lightly. Add the herbs to the black soap.
Cover the mix with boiling water, stir very gently and leave to steep covered overnight.
Stir the mix to break up any final clumps of soap and strain the herbs out in a fine mesh sieve. Pour into a shampoo bottle and enjoy not more than once a week.

***Please note that as there’s no preservative added, you’ll want to use this up within a couple of weeks. Water provides a friendly environment for bacteria to grow so a general rule of thumb is to make small batches that you will use up quickly.