products i love: african black soap + diy shampoo

My skin and hair care regimen is best described by the term “minimalist.” A total of 6 products compromise my entire skin and hair care routine.

Yes, I really said six.

My arsenal is composed of natural products that are versatile enough to use in both routines. Many products have been with me for a long time- and others are new products that I have also come to love, so I’d like to share those with you- and hopefully you will find as much joy and value in them as I do.

This week, I’d like to highlight African Black Soap and the beautiful, wonderful properties it offers.

Despite its name, African Black Soap is actually brown in color. It is a soap that originates from West Africa and is composed of the ash of locally harvested plants such as plantain, shea tree bark, and cocoa pods that have been incorporated with water and oils and left to cure. The process yields a dark brown bar that is easily pliable in the hands.


Benefits of African Black Soap

As a gentle cleanser and antimicrobial agent, African Black Soap has been hailed as one of the holy grails of skincare with claims that it works well for oily, dry, acne prone, and normal skin. It has also been touted for its ability to heal eczema.

Due to the plantain ash, African Black Soap also contains high levels of vitamin A and E that assist in the production of healthy collagen, provide protection against UV damage (although it does not replace the importance of sunscreen!), block free radicals, and slow the aging process.

Each ingredient within a bar of African Black Soap affords a wealth of benefits for our skin and hair (courtesy of

Plantain Peels Good source of antioxidants, protein, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, potassium, and vitamin C.

Cocoa PodsRich in antioxidants, have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Coconut Oil – cleans and moisturizes the skin, and helps kick start collagen production.

Palm Kernel Oil­ – Obtained from the seed of Elaeis guineensis, palm kernel oil is rife with several types of fatty acids.

Palm Oil Unrefined palm oil (known as red palm oil) is abundant in vitamin E, alpha and beta carotene and other antioxidants, as well as essential fatty acids.

Shea Butter – Also plentiful in beneficial fatty acids, shea butter is a prized ingredient for silky smooth skin. It helps repair damaged skin tissues and boost the body’s ability to generate collagen.


image courtesy of

How to Use + DIY Shampoo

African Black Soap lathers well, so you need only a small amount to get the job done. Take a small piece and lather in your hands with water before applying to your face and body.

DIY Shampoo

Your African Black Soap can also be converted to a liquid, which make for an absolutely luxurious liquid soap or shampoo!

This is the only shampoo I use for my locs and it leaves my hair and scalp cleansed and refreshed. Although my hair feels moisturized after washing, it can tend to be a tad bit drying for others. To alleviate this, you can add some additional oil to your shampoo mixture for a bit more moisture.

My Personal Shampoo Recipe is as follows:

  • 3 ounces of African Black Soap, chopped or crumbled into small pieces

  • 6-8 ounces of warm water (I use enough to have about half an inch of water above the soap pieces)

  • Essential Oils (for scent)! I love utilizing a mix of Peppermint and Eucalyptus oil in my shampoo. It's such an invigorating scent that leaves a slight tingle on my scalp and, quite frankly, makes my hair smell like peppermint candy.

Place the mixture in a small bottle or container (hint: a bottle with an applicator tip makes it easy to apply while shampooing!) Shake the mixture vigorously and allow it to sit for a few hours. By this time the soap should have been fully dissolved and ready to go!

***Note: at this point, you can also test the consistency of your soap. If you prefer it to be thicker, add a bit more black soap pieces and allow to dissolve. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add water until you are happy with the results!

Do you include African Black Soap in your regimen? If so, how do you utilize it? Share your tips in the comments!

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