Choosing the right body soap can be a tricky process. Walk into any store and the skincare aisle is filled with tons of brands and each brand usually has at least a couple products. Since most of us use soap every day, choosing a natural, toxin-free brand is the smart way to go to reduce your body’s toxin burden (yes, some chemicals can penetrate the skin, especially in the hot shower when your pores are open and you are also breathing in plenty of fumes). African Black Soap is a fave of ours since it’s been used by women (and men!) for centuries and has lots of skin benefits.
Black Soap was first created in Ghana and Western Africa centuries ago and it’s made today much as it always has been, produced from ashes of plants and tree bark ranging from plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea trees. The leaves are heated, and water, palm and coconut oils are added to the mixture. The natural fats help relieve skin irritation and conditions including; acne, oily skin, eczema, and psoriasis. During pregnancy, Ghanian and Nigerian women cleansed their bodies to prevent dry skin and stretch marks (and its gentle enough that its traditionally used to wash babies too). The soap also works well when shaving as its shea butter base ingredient leaves skin smooth and protected. Black soap isn’t actually black, it’s dark brown. According to Livestrong, “True African black soap is soft and malleable, has no scent and should not stain your washcloth.”
Black Soap is naturally packed with Vitamins A, E, and Iron, which strengthens skin (and hair; the soap also acts as a shampoo). Glycerin contributes to a soft skin feeling. Keep in mind that conventional, unnatural products include chemicals like pthalates (which might cause birth defects and liver damage) and triclosan (which affects the thyroid; continuous exposure may contribute to breast cancers). Black soap, on the other hand, is made with all-natural ingredients and has been used safely for thousands of years.
My favorite brand is Alaffia’s African Black Soap Shower gel which comes in a 32 oz. shower gel bottle priced at $13.99. (It’s available at Whole Foods). The ingredient list includes: shea butter, palm kernel oil, and African mint extract. It’s refreshingly minty and gets the skin tingling a bit (great in the morning or on hot days!). There’s also a more traditional bar soap that come unscented or in ‘Savannah spice.’ In addition to African Black Soap’s cleansing uses, here is a step-by-step guide for a black soap mask that is perfect for exfoliating skin.
Photo Credit: [mi:m]