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Does African black soap help treat acne?

What is African black soap, and how is it made?

African black soap (also referred to as simply "black soap") originates from—you guessed it, West Africa (typically Ghana)! However, the word "black" is a bit of a misnomer as traditional African black soaps are actually brown in color (Pro tip: African black soaps that are black will usually contain artificial additives!).

The darker color of the soap is a result of the locally harvested ingredients, including ash from sun-dried and burned plant materials such as plantains, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. This ash is then mixed with water and various oils and fats, such as coconut, palm, and shea butter. The mixture is then cooked until it solidifies, hand-stirred for at least 24 hours, then cured.

The exact composition of black soap depends on its specific origin. Moroccan black soap, known as Saboun Beldi, is composed of olive oil and potassium hydroxide (potash), whereas in Nigeria, black soap is made primarily from palm oil and cocoa pods.

African black soap can be used as a gentle cleanser to help treat acne

What is African black soap used for?

Black soap is popular as a gentle cleanser, which can be suitable for people with rosacea and other types of skin irritation. The plantain extract in some African black soaps has antibacterial properties that can help treat and prevent acne breakouts.

What are the risks of using black African black soap?

African black soaps tend to have high glycerin content. Therefore, they are not suitable for people with allergies to these compounds. If you have a chocolate allergy or are sensitive to caffeine, you may also want to stay clear of black soaps due to the high concentration of cocoa often used. An additional risk of using certain black soaps is an over-drying effect. If you have dry or sensitive skin, look for a black soap that includes shea butter or another moisturizing ingredient in the formula. Be sure to use a hydrating moisturizer after cleansing.

Does African black soap help with acne?

For some people with very mild acne, African Black Soap to your skincare routine can certainly help treat and prevent breakouts. However, for more substantial acne, pairing this with other measures such as a good, skin-friendly diet and other topical anti-acne treatments is essential. To learn what topical acne treatments you need for your unique skin, click here for the free, 5-minute MDacne skin analysis.

How to use African black soap when you have acne

To use African black soap, lather in hands first and apply lather to the face for cleansing

  1. Lather: Lather up soap in clean hands first before applying it to damp skin. Do not apply the soap bar directly to your face, which can cause severe skin irritation.
  2. Gently Cleanse: African soaps contain ash granules and other debris that might not dissolve completely in water and can scratch and damage your skin. To prevent damage and irritation, be very gentle while cleansing and avoid excessive scrubbing or rubbing.
  3. Moisturize: Black African soaps can have a drying effect on the skin. To prevent over-drying, wash and rinse skin with cold water to help skin retain more moisture, and apply a lightweight, non-comedogenic hydrating moisturizer immediately after cleansing (even apply to slightly damp skin!)
  4. Safety Tip: Avoid getting it in your eyes as with any soap!

FAQS:

Q1. What is African black soap, and how is it made?
A. African black soap, also known as black soap, is a type of soap originating from West Africa, particularly Ghana. Contrary to its name, traditional African black soaps are actually brown in color. The soap gets its darker hue from using locally harvested ingredients, including ash derived from sun-dried and burned plant materials such as plantains, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. This ash is mixed with water, along with oils and fats like coconut oil, palm oil, or shea butter. The mixture is then cooked until it solidifies, hand-stirred for at least 24 hours, and finally cured. The specific composition of black soap may vary depending on its origin. For instance, Moroccan black soap, known as Saboun Beldi, is composed of olive oil and potassium hydroxide (potash). In contrast, Nigerian black soap is primarily made from palm oil and cocoa pods.

Q2. What is African black soap used for?
A. African black soap is commonly used as a gentle cleanser, suitable for individuals with rosacea and various types of skin irritation. It is known to have antibacterial properties, thanks to the plantain extract present in some variants of African black soap, which can assist in treating and preventing acne breakouts.

Q3. What are the risks of using African black soap?
A. African black soaps often contain a high glycerin content, which may not be suitable for individuals with allergies to such compounds. Suppose you have a chocolate allergy or sensitivity to caffeine. In that case, it is advisable to avoid black soaps due to the everyday use of cocoa, which has a high concentration in these soaps. Additionally, certain black soaps can cause an over-drying effect. If you have dry or sensitive skin, choosing a black soap that includes moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter is recommended. After cleansing, remember to apply a hydrating moisturizer to maintain skin moisture.

Q4. Does African black soap help with acne?
A. African black soap can benefit individuals with mild acne as it may aid in treating and preventing breakouts. However, combining its usage with other measures, such as a skin-friendly diet and topical anti-acne treatments, is crucial for more severe acne. For personalized recommendations on topical acne treatments suitable for your skin, you can take the free 5-minute MDacne skin analysis by clicking here.

Q5. How should African black soap be used for acne-prone skin?
A. To properly use African black soap when dealing with acne-prone skin, follow these steps:

  1. Lather: Begin by lathering the soap on clean hands before applying it to damp skin. Avoid directly using the soap bar on your face, which can cause severe skin irritation.
  2. Gently Cleanse: African black soaps contain ash granules and other debris that may not dissolve completely in water. To prevent skin damage and irritation, be very gentle while cleansing and avoid excessive scrubbing or rubbing.
  3. Moisturize: Black African soaps can have a drying effect on the skin. To prevent over-drying, wash and rinse your skin with cold water, which helps retain more moisture. After cleansing, apply a lightweight, non-comedogenic hydrating moisturizer immediately (even on slightly damp skin).

Learn more about other African black soap benefits here (spoiler alert: it can also help with fine lines and can minimize the appearance of stretch marks!).

Additional resources:
Best acne treatment for black skin
Discovering Black Soap: A Survey on the Attitudes and Practices of Black Soap Users

To find the right acne treatments for your unique skin, take the free skin assessment by clicking here.

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