Nini Original African Black Soap

Back when I was a wee lass I used native black soap because I had to. Even then I used to tinker with it because I wanted a soap bar that I could use directly on my skin. Fast forward a few decades and I’ve finally done it…well, sorta.

Where I’m from, black soap is made with Palm (/Kernel) Oil and Shea Butter, in addition to burnt plantain skin and cocoa pods. The resulting brown and black crumbly soap is always surprisingly gentle on the skin.

Personally I’ve never been interested in making black soap from scratch so that’s not what this is about (sorry!)
My inner TinkerNini led me in 2 directions: cold/hot process and a clay blend.

For cold and hot process, I used a recipe with PKO, Palm Oil, Shea and Cocoa butter (90%) and softened black soap and camwood at 10% of the recipe. My PKO had been infusing orange peel for a couple of weeks and I also added orange peel powder into the soap batter. My great grandma would have protested but I added kaolin clay and honey also.


Hot process Nini Original ABS. I know, Funmi, i have to work on my pictures 😀

Here it is, a gently exfoliating black soap I can hold 😀 This soap is not fragranced and leaves a warm bathroom smelling smoky (in a good way 😀 ) As much as soap can, it leaves touchably smooth skin behind. Which got me thinking of a baby (or super sensitive skin) soap like Castile with 10% ABS instead of just a swirl like I made a while ago…

The second route needed a little more elbow grease and I will blog about that another day.

French Red Clay facial soap

I gifted a bar of French red clay soap to a dear lady who called shortly after to ask what was in the soap because ‘it’s cleared the stubborn skin issues around my chin’.

I’m always pleasantly surprised at feedback like that because the primary reason I make soap is for the love of real soap {not detergent bars}, not for medicinal or dermatological reasons. Second is that I like to be able to pronounce what’s in my soap and body products 😉

20150116-115800.jpg She’s asked for her own batch 😀 which I’ve fancied up with Camwood infused coconut oil and crumbly black soap (that’s my thing at the moment) and scented with Lemongrass EO.

Aloe Vera ABS

Okay…I can’t get variations of liquid ABS out of my mind and one I’ve been meaning to try is with AV. I have several plants, some more than 3 years old and I remember reading somewhere that AV has skin benefits from 3 years on.

I harvested 3 leaves and scooped out the gel inside.

I then liquified the gel chunks with my immersion blender. Next I crumbled up my crumbly black soap and layered the AV and ABS alternatively in a mason jar.

The mixture needed some heat to help it combine. I recommend a few hours in a crockpot on low, or a double boiler on very gentle heat so as not to compromise the AV. Just because I had some on hand, I added a good pinch of ground calendula petals.

After the mixture has combined, I plan to add honey and a little coconut oil (both wonderful for the skin).

This is the consistency I’m going for


I’m excited to try this out soon, and will update this post with results.

*all the pictures in this post are borrowed from google image search as I was unable to photograph my process.*

Liquid ABS

My little girl has been complaining of itchy skin for a while and I finally decided to change her soap today.

African black soap is my go-to traditional remedy for most skin complaints but I wanted to make it more nourishing for my little treasure so I added honey {a great humectant} to dissolved crumbly black soap.


I left hers unscented but couldn’t resist saving myself a portion of the soap to which I added orange essential oil :D. It’s one of my all time favorite bath fragrance.


What I like about this soap is that it’s ready to use immediately and it can be customized almost endlessly. And it’s great for everyone – from newborns to crusty ol people 😀

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.