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Growing up I used African black soap religiously for my face and skin. I saw how it improved my complexion, and I’ve never turned back. Back then I didn’t know of any benefits for hair, but after some research, I found out that not only does this soap help with your skin, it can also benefit your hair. African black soap benefits for hair include conditioning, strengthening, cleansing, moisturizing, reducing breakage, and promoting growth.
African black soap is made from the ash of locally harvested plantain skins mixed with oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, or even cocoa butter and shea butter. The mixture is then heated over a fire until it solidifies into a soap-like bar. The dryer the climate, the drier your soap appears. Cocoa pods are also used in some variations for their moisturizing properties making it beneficial for dry skin, sensitive skin, and just about all skin types1.
If you weren’t using African black soap before, and this is the first time you’ve heard about it, let me give you a brief description of what it actually is. The only difference I’ve noticed between different brands of African Black Soap is the name. Basically, it’s just an herbal-based soap made from plantain skins that is well known for its purifying and moisturizing properties. It has become a popular alternative to mainstream cleansers because it’s made with natural ingredients. The soap is used by millions of African women to clean their hair, face, and body. Women swear by the benefits of washing your skin with black soap as opposed to regular soap.
In West Africa, black soap has been used for centuries because of its skin benefits. It is made from the ash of plantain skins, cocoa pods, and other locally harvested ingredients which are mixed with oil (usually Shea Butter) and whipped until creamy. Palm kernel oil is also used as one of the ingredients because it contains high amounts of vitamin A, which is a very beneficial ingredient for the skin2. Black soap has been known to help with a variety of skin conditions such as eczema and acne, too.
Black soap has been used by Africans and African Americans for centuries and is traditionally used by men and women alike. It’s also referred to as ‘Alata Samina’ – a Swahili phrase that means ‘black soap’ – and can be found in health food stores, online, and in some drugstores. The benefits of African black soap are vast and can be used by people of all skin or hair types. Adding African black soap to your hair care regimen is a great way to improve the health of your hair. Related: How to Make Rice Water for Hair Growth and Strength
Why is black soap better than regular soap?
The casings of most soaps are made from lye which is a chemical compound that strips the hair and skin of natural oils, leaving it dry and unbalanced. Regular soaps may also contain other harsh chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, triclosan, fragrance, and colorants. Black soap is made from ash of plantain skins which are naturally aged for 6 months to 2 years before being harvested, dried in the sun, and mashed into a powder.
The ash is mixed with oils such as coconut oil or Shea butter (depending on the type) before being whipped until it becomes creamy soap. This is one of the most common African black soap benefits for hair. The butter and essential oil in black soap help to retain moisture in the hair and skin, leaving it soft and supple instead of dry hair or flaky.
What makes black soap good for the hair?
Black soap contains a powerful combination of ingredients that include palm ash, plantain ash, papaya fruit, cocoa pods, shea butter, and coconut oil. All these natural ingredients combined together make a very powerful cleansing and moisturizing bar of soap that can do wonders for the hair and skin.
Most people are skeptical about using this type of soap because they’re not sure if its capable of cleaning their hair properly, but they also don’t understand that black soaps are actually very gentle on the hair. African black soap benefits for hair provide a great way to remove any products your hair is coated with such as oils from styling products or general build-up.
African Black Soap Benefits for Hair
1. Conditions hair
When hair hasn’t been washed for a while, moisture or water evaporates from it, leaving it dry and brittle. In the process of bathing, your hair may also become exposed to harsh chemicals in shampoos that can leave your hair feeling dry and tangled. Black soap is a great way to restore lost moisture to the hair because it has conditioning properties that go a long way towards making hair healthy again. Moisturizing ingredients like Shea butter and cocoa pods naturally condition the hair. Shea butter acts as a humectant, which means it attracts moisture to your hair, leaving it soft and shiny after use. Related: 3 Ways to Use Bentonite Clay for Low Porosity Hair
2. Creates a healthy scalp
The scalp is another part of the body that needs to be cared for and cleaned to promote hair growth. When the scalp is not clean, scalp issues like bacteria and toxins can build up, triggering a variety of problems such as dandruff3. Black soap cleanses the scalp without stripping it of its natural oils as regular shampoos do.
The Shea butter in this soap also helps to moisturize the scalp, creating healthier roots that promote hair growth from the follicles. You can use black soap to keep the scalp free of dandruff and other irritants that may block hair follicles.
3. Contains anti-fungal properties
Fungi and bacteria that grow on the scalp can be a major problem for those trying to grow their hair. The Shea butter in black soap contains anti-fungal properties which help to keep the scalp free of fungi and promote healthy hair. Using this natural soap is a great way to eliminate dandruff and keep your hair free of irritants that might affect its growth.
4. Prevents hair loss
Black soap can be used to cleanse the scalp without stripping it of natural oils which are necessary for healthy hair growth. Shea butter is also key in preventing hair loss because its moisturizing properties attract moisture to your roots, leaving them hydrated and strong enough to grow thick, healthy hair. This soap also contains anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that help to keep the scalp free of irritants and bacteria that may cause damage and hair loss. Related: 7 Incredible Reasons To Use Pachai Payaru for Hair Growth
5. Treats damaged hair
Black soap can be used to cleanse hair even if it has been severely processed or treated with dye. The Shea butter in black soap acts as an emollient, which means it helps trap moisture into the hair. It also contains Vitamin E that nourishes the hair and promotes growth by hydrating the roots. The anti-fungal properties of this soap are helpful in treating damaged hairs caused by fungus or bacteria that grow on a dirty scalp4. Free radicals from sunlight exposure, stress, and pollution can also damage hair, so using this soap is a great way to treat damaged hair.
6. Reduces dandruff
Black soap contains antifungal properties that help prevent dandruff and other scalp irritants on the hair. Shea butter also helps to moisturize the scalp, which can minimize experiencing an itchy scalp, flaking, redness, and scaling of the scalp caused by dandruff. When used regularly, black soap can reduce the amount of dandruff and keep your scalp healthy.
7. Adds shine
Black soap has a high level of shea butter which adds an extra layer of moisture to your hair, preventing it from becoming too dry or brittle. You’ll notice that your hair becomes shinier and healthier after using this product because it locks in moisture for your hair. Synthetic shampoos strip natural oils from the hair, which can cause it to dry out and break off. Using a natural soap that is gentle enough for daily use will help prevent damage to your hair and eliminate dandruff problems or excess oil on the scalp.
8. Strengthens hair
Shea butter is a powerful moisturizer that adds hydration to the scalp and the roots of the hair, leaving them stronger and healthier due to improved circulation. This creates thicker, stronger, longer hair that can grow quickly without breaking off or thinning out. Shea butter also contains important vitamins that nourish the hair, keeping it healthy and strong.
African Black Soap Shampoo Recipe
While it’s fine to use African black soap bars directly you can also use the body wash to make a shampoo. By creating your own shampoo you can enhance it with ingredients for specific hair concerns. You can add
- Tea tree oil for scalp irritations or fungus
- Aloe vera gel for dry scalp, hydration, and moisture
- Argan oil for shine and smoothness
- Apple cider vinegar for dandruff or to balance pH of hair
- Peppermint oil to stimulate the scalp and promote growth
- Jojoba oil for antioxidant properties to fight hair stand damage
- Neem oil for dandruff or as a natural alternative to anti-fungal medication
To make a simple shampoo you will need
- African black soap bar, grated or shaved
- Baking soda for clarifying and pH balancing properties
- Water to dilute ingredients
- Essential oils/carrier oils for scent and hair benefits.
- Using a double boiler, place the African black soap into an aluminum pan filled with water.
- Heat the water until it reaches a boil and allow the soap to melt completely. Remove from heat and add in essential oils if desired.
- Add baking soda as needed until you create a liquid shampoo that is approximately one part baking soda to two parts liquid from melted soap. This ratio will vary depending on your hair type so play around with different amounts of each ingredient until you find something that works best for you.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to create a smooth mixture.
- Store shampoo in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it for maximum freshness.
Where To Buy Pure African Black Soap
There are a lot of African black soap beauty products on the market today. However, you need to make sure what you’re getting is 100 percent authentic African black soap and not a knock-off product that uses other ingredients such as artificial fragrances or alcohols that can cause damage to your hair and skin.