Black Soap Reviews

How Do These 4 African Black Soap Bars Rate?

African black soap receives rave reviews for its skin care benefits, especially when it comes to troubled skin.  The raw form isn't for everyone.  It can be inconvenient to use and can also be very drying and irritating to certain skin types.  

While many people pan the factory-made African black soap as not being as effective as the so-called authentic soap, the ingredient list can be more controlled (raw African black soap can differ from batch to batch), with added ingredients to help prevent irritation and to sooth the skin.  Plus once you've tried a brand and like it, when you purchase future product you generally know exactly what you will get.

Here are four brands to consider:

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Dudu Osun African Black Soap

Dudu-Osun Black Soap
Dudu-Osun black soap boasts pure, natural ingredients. Photo: Tropical Naturals

Product Description

Tropical Natural’s Dudu-Osun is pure  African black soap from Nigeria.  It is a bit harder in texture than the raw form, but it has the core ingredients.

The product description typically states that it’s good for all skin types, but if you have dry or sensitive skin, you might prefer a gentler brand.

Ingredients: Pure honey, shea butter, osun (camwood), palm kernel oil, cocoa pod ash, palm bunch ash, glycerin, aloe vera, lime juice, water, and essential oils for fragrance.

There are no dyes, synthetic or natural; therefore it is brown in color.

Pros & Cons

Some customers have found that it causes redness and a burning sensation. There are ways to safely use African black soap to prevent skin problems. For example, if you find that the soap stings or burns, try washing with cool, instead of warm water. 

Some individuals find that the soap, which lathers into grayish foam, can possibly stain washcloths and towels. 

Once characteristic of African black soap is that it removes excess oil. Even if you have oily or combination skin, the soap can initially dry out the skin and it might look a bit ashy.  Many people find that the skin eventually adjusts and then begins to retain more moisture.  It seems best for oily skin types, but you still need to use a moisturizer afterwards.

There might be some breakouts from purging of the skin, especially if your skin is congested. 

The soap helps with scarring and razor bumps.  It helps fade dark spots, clear acne and brighten the skin.

A 5 ¼ oz bar of Dudu Osun African Black Soap typically costs anywhere from $1.50 - $4.00, so shop around for the discounts available online (often when buying in bulk or wholesale).

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Nubian Heritage African Black Soap

Nubian Heritage African Black Soap
Nubian Heritage Black Soap contains oats, aloe and vitamin E to help heal problem skin. Photo: Sundial Brands

Product Description

Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap (With Oats, Aloe & Vitamin E) is described as an anti-blemish, detoxifying and healing soap.

Ingredients: It is a 100% vegetable soap with ingredients that  include African Black Soap Base, Coconut Oil and/or Palm Oil, Shea Butter, Oat Kernel Meal, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Plantain Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Vegetable Glycerin, Mineral Pigment or Vegetable Color, Essential Oil Blend.

As with Dudu Osun, you can’t tell what essential oils are used, so if you’re allergic you won’t know. 

Pros & Cons

Some comment that if black soap is uniform and jet black, it’s not authentic, but I believe if it works – it works period. Nubian Heritage uses mineral pigment or vegetable color, instead of synthetic dyes.  Sometimes raw African black soap can look like something else—fitting for the bathroom, perhaps, but not when you have guests that aren’t familiar with the look of authentic black soap!

The soap gradually fades old scars and discolorations.  It’s also good for eczema and drying up blemishes.  Some acne sufferers have reported that the soap clears and smoothes the skin after two weeks.   It does leave the sink and bathtub with grayish stain, but it easily washes away.

My product tester gave Nubian Heritage's African Black Soap products rave reviews (which also includes body wash and lotion) and found that they are good for eczema.

Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap & Shea Butter has the suggested retail price of $4 (5 oz).

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Shea Moisture African Black Soap with Shea Butter

SheaMoisture African Black Soap
SheaMoisture African Black Soap is great for acne-prone skin. Photo: Sundial Brands

Product Description

SheaMoisture's African Black Soap with Shea Butter has been formulated to specifically target acne prone and troubled skin. 

Ingredients: African Black Soap Base, African Shea Butter, Oats, Aloe, Plantain Extract, Vitamin E, Essential Oil Blend, Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Ash, Rosemary Extract, Iron Oxides. 

It also states in the product description that it is free of synthetic fragrances and colors.

I was using an older version of this soap, and was very surprised to find that it cleared a sudden minor breakout on my neck very quickly.  SheaMoisture has improved upon the formula, which has more ingredients found in traditional African black soap, plus additional ingredients beneficial to skin.  

Pros & Cons

Like other African black soap, the lather is dark because of the ash.  Some say it will stain the washcloth (especially white) and leave black residue on tub and sinks.  But this is easily cleaned.  (I didn’t use a washcloth with the soap, since it has exfoliating properties on its own.)

The soap is soothing to rough and acne prone skin.  It promotes healing and gives a bright glow to the skin, leaving it clean and soft.  It’s still a little drying for dry and sensitive skin.  One of my product testers gave the soap to her teenager who found that it was helpful for calming eczema and itchy skin, as well as acne breakouts.

It’s also good to use when shaving, it helps reduce razor bumps and prevent in grown hairs.

SheaMoisture African Black Soap with Shea Butter has the suggested retail price of $4.99.

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Ambi Black Soap with Shea Butter

Ambi Black Soap
Ambi Black Soap with Shea Butter cleans and nourishes skin. Photo: Ambi

Product Description

Ambi's Black Soap with Shea Butter has a nourishing formula to clean while moisturizing and conditioning the skin.

If you have used actual African Black Soap, you might be disappointed.  Ambi’s Black Soap is black soap only in terms of color.  While the name African Black Soap is not used, naming it Black Soap is still misleading.  That being said, it does what it claims, which is to “clean and nourish” the skin.

Ingredients: Sodium tallowate, water, sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernelate, glycerin, sodium stearate, sodium dilinoleate, stearic acid, sorbitol, fragrance, propylene, glycol, potassium tallowate, aloe vera leaf juice, shea butter extract, potassium cocoate, potassium stearate, pentasodium pentetate, tetrasodium EDTA, tocoppheryl acetate, iron oxides, Red 33, Green 5, Yellow 10, Orange 4, Ultramarines.

Pros & Cons

Aloe vera leaf juice is good for repairing and soothing the skin.   It contains shea butter, which helps with softening the skin and in gradually fades dark spots.

It is hit or miss when it comes to fading dark spots, for some it works, slowly fading dark spots from acne, but others don’t get results.  It also helps clear breakouts in some cases and though some find it causes them—this seems rare.  Another plus—it rinses clear. 

A major con is the fact that out of all the soaps mentioned here; this one has the mile long ingredient list, which includes additives and chemicals.  Johnson & Johnson has started working on making its products safer, with less potentially dangerous chemicals.  It needs to do the same with the Ambi products, especially since so many people of color are looking for products that are more natural.  (Nubian Heritage used to have some of those same chelating agents and preservatives in its black soap, which has been revamped and is now natural--so it's possible.)

Ambi Black Soap with Shea Butter has the suggested retail price of $2.50  (3.5 oz).