African is the home of many amazing gifts to the world. And one of those gifts is black soap; a soap that is rich in antioxidants. It is made from the ashes of plantain skin, cocoa pod, palm leaves, and palm oil from leaves or kernels. Depending on who is making the soap, tropical honey is added to soften the skin and shea butter or cocoa butter for extra moisturizing.
Black soap, also know as African soap is packed with bacteria-fighting oils and phytochemical found in plants, which gives it deeply cleansing and nourishing properties for nearly all types of skin.
It protects the skin from free radical damage, which is a cause of premature skin aging, wrinkles, and facial lines. It has been known to soothe skin irritations and diseases from simple rashes to contact dermatitis and psoriasis, as well as fading skin discolorations and evening out skin tone.
The meticulous process to create African black soap begins with sun-drying plantain peels. The skin of palm leaves and cocoa pods are then baked in a clay oven to produce ash. Then, water is added to the ashes and filtered.
Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter are heated and added, and hand-stirred for 24 hours. The soap will then solidify and rise to the top of the mixture and is left to set for about two weeks before it’s ready to be used in liquid or bar soap form.
Traditionally, it is made by hand using natural ingredients derived from West Africa. Ghanaians, Nigerians, and other African countries have used black soap for many years.
African Black Soap originated with the Yoruba people in Nigeria and the Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo.
Yoruba women had an important and unique role in agriculture in pre-colonial Yorubaland. They were responsible for processing raw farm produce into finished goods for trading.
This included harvesting produce from trees and they also tended to the gardens where vegetables and fruits, such as peppers, were grown. They were also responsible for selling produce as well as black soap.
Village women in western Africa are still handcrafting black soap. There are more than 100 varieties of African black soaps. Recipes have been passed down in families from mother to daughter. Ingredients can differ by region and each batch can be unique. Age-old formulations and production methods make a big difference in the final outcome of the soap.
In the United States, black soap is popular among various ethnic immigrant populations. As they integrate with African Americans, their influence and verbal recommendations foster the usage of the soap.
And, as the market grows for black soap in the US, cosmetic companies purchase black soap and add ingredients. Some of the ingredients are natural, like lavender oil or aloe vera gel, but others add fragrance (synthetics, which can be irrupting to some skin types).
United African Diaspora, is working with West African communities, to purchase black soap, as a way of supporting economic development in small and often rural villages. We are committed to selling100% raw/natural black soap imported West Africa.
As we learn more about aromatherapy we will offer black soap with certain natural oils added, to foster skin care and over all health.
In 2018, the United States spends 2.6 trillion on imports for over 200 countries. Despite having a large African American community, Africa’s sales to the U.S. only make up 1.4% of America’s total imports.
African Americans are consumers, and their dollars are, even today, support maintenance and development of European communities all over the world.
With just a leadership and a strong will, African Americas and their consumer dollars can help build African communities in Africa and the every where they are in the world.
In 2018 the U.S. spent 3.4 billion dollars on soap, of which, African Americans spent 573.6 million dollars. 18.89% of all dollars spent on soap was spent by African Americans.