Reblogged by PhilaSun.com
If you ask most women what they know about African black soap, their responses is typically “I really don’t know much about it.” However, a bit of minor research reveals the product does wonders for the skin and the hair.
Women like Nancy Connors recalled visiting open-air markets or festivals and stopping at vending table is laden with an array of natural beauty products. Next to the one-pound tubs of shea butter, there was always a display of African black soap.
Connors admitted being curious about African black soap. “I always noticed its qualities– color, texture and shape,” she said, noting that vendors always touted the health and beauty qualities of the product.
She was prompted by the claims of others who believed the soap could remedy anything from eczema to skin blemishes to scalp problems to try it. “I decided to research their assertions. I wanted to know what African black soap was and if it could really live up to those claims.”
What actually is African black soap? According to soap-maker Nadira O’Neill, African black soap is created from the ash of organic materials such as plantain skin, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, and shea tree bark. She explained the production process. “The leaves and bark are sun-dried and then roasted in a kettle or pot at a consistent temperature, which ensures its color, texture and smell. Then water and various oils – palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil (including shea butter and cocoa pod powder) – are added to the mixture and stirred for at least a day. After that, the “soap” is left to set for two weeks to cure.”
African black soap, (also known as Anago Soap, Alata Simena, or Ose Dudu), is traditionally made in West Africa (usually Ghana and Nigeria) from secret recipes that have been passed down for generations among diverse tribes and communities. Most have their own secret blend of oils and techniques which result in the different color variations among black soap. The ash itself was often used for its healing properties. Varieties of black soap that are actually made in Africa tend to be pure, while soaps made in Europe or the United States, more often than not, have added artificial ingredients.