How to Make Black African Soap and Exfoliation Recipe

Updated on March 22, 2017

What Is Black African Soap?

Black African soap is also known as "Ose dudu" in Nigeria and "Alata samina" in Ghana. The name "Ose dudu" is from the Yoruba language and it literally translates to "soap that is black." It's a natural product that has many beneficial properties for the hair and skin. It's main ingredients are Shea butter and the potash of plantain skins. It is produced in many West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria.

What makes this soap unique is that it doesn't contain sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) as a source of lye. Instead a natural lye, potassium hydroxide, is formed from the plantain potash.


Although Black African Soap is called black," it's actually brown in colour.

How Is Black African Soap Made

The process of creating black soap can take from 2-4 weeks.

  1. The leaves and skins from bananas, plantains & the Shea nut tree are burnt into a potash.
  2. Water is then added to the ash to create a dark liquid, which creates a potassium hydroxide lye.
  3. Finally, the resulting liquid is strained & filtered to remove impurities.
  4. The mixture is stirred in a large vat and Shea butter is added to the mix.
  5. This is the basic soap mixture. It is allowed to sit for a month for the ingredients to bind and set into soap.

It can be bought in a solid form or as a liquid. The colour varies from a rich golden brown to off-black. The colour is dependent on the ingredients used and the country of origin.

Potassium and sodium hydroxide lye

Soaps made with sodium hydroxide lye are solid and have a uniformed colour. The potassium hydroxide lye in black soap doesn't harden in the same manner, resulting in a softer, more naturally-coloured product.

Most Black African soap is fair trade and ethically-sourced. This means that the farmers, workers, and producers are given a fair price for their product and it's only harvested if it's a sustainable crop.

The Benefits of Black African Soap

It's a natural product that's rich in vitamins A, E & essential fatty acids. It helps to treat eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It can also be used as a shampoo for all types of hair including Afro textured, Bi-racial, Asian, and European.

Not tested on Animals
Natural - No chemicals
Clears eczema
Balances oily skin
Lightens hyperpigmentation
Clears acne
Cleanses skins impurities
Efficient make up remover

Drawbacks of Black African Soap

Although it has a lot of benefits, there are some drawbacks:

- It can be drying for some skin types.
This is due to the relatively high alkaline content, which clenses the skin of oils, including natural skin oils. This can be managed by using a cream or oil after use to restore moisture

- It makes my hair dry when I use it in place of shampoo.
It can be drying to some hair types because it removes some natural oils. This can be recified by using a deep or moisturising conditioner

Note - The drying properties are lessened when used in a soft water area

-The aroma can be off putting
It has a mild nutty smell which is fairly neutral, however this can be off putting for some. Adding an essential oil to the liquid version of the soap can improve the smell

-The soap gets soft when left in a humid environment
It's a natural humectant, this means that it absorbs moisture in the environment.If the soap is left out in a steamy bathroom, it will soften. This can be avoided by keeping it in a container or covered soap dish

How to Make a Deep Exfoliation Treatment

Although African Black Soap is a natural exfoliant that removes dead skin cells, it's scrubbing properties can be further enhanced by creating a deep exfoliation treatment.

The following recipe is for an intensive exfoliator, so it should be used no more than twice a month or weekly on rougher skin types


  • Teaspoon of solid black soap or 3 tablespoons of liquid soap
  • Juice of half a squeezed lemon
  • 1 and a half 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • Your favourite essential oil


  1. Dilute the solid soap in a small amount of warm water (skip this step if you're using liquid soap)
  2. Add the lemon juice
  3. Add 2 drops of essential oil
  4. Add the sea salt and stir the mixure
  5. Rub the mixture all over the body, focussing on rough skin patches such as knees and elbows and avoiding sensitive areas
  6. Rinse off with warm water

The scrub leaves the skin silky smooth and removes excess oil and impurities from the skin. It's therefore essential to use a good quality moisturiser or body oil.

Black African soap is a versatile cleanser that has a multitude of uses. It has some minor drawbacks, however, its benefits, purity, and therapeutic properties make it a great soap!

Have you used Black African Soap

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Questions & Answers


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      • Erzulie LM profile image

        Zulie 2 years ago

        Thanks Threekeys, your're absolutely right!

      • threekeys profile image

        Threekeys 2 years ago from Australia

        This soap is multifaceted! Can make life easier and I love that!

      • Erzulie LM profile image

        Zulie 2 years ago

        Thanks sparrowlet! It's a great soap, it sounds like it's suitable for your hair and skin type. I'm sure you'll love it!

      • Sparrowlet profile image

        Katharine L Sparrow 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Wow! Never heard of this soap, and I am a handmade soap connoisseur! Very interesting, you've tempted me to try it! I tend towards oilier hair and skin, so drying may not be a problem for me. Thanks for the great info!

      • clivewilliams profile image

        Clive Williams 2 years ago from Jamaica

        very good and informative hub. Black African soap...interesting