African black soap has been used for centuries in West African countries. It originates with the Yoruba people in Nigeria and Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. In Yoruba language black soap is ose (soap) and dudu (black). It’s actually one of the most essential gifts from Ghana you can give to anyone.

With time, its use spread throughout many other West African countries and nowadays is sold worldwide because of the amazing benefits it has.

The base ingredients of black soap are: potash and a fruit derived oil, this can be palm kernel oil or coconut oil for example. You are then free to add any other ingredients to it, such as shea butter for example which is especially great for those people with dry skin because it helps by adding a moisturizing effect to it.

The process of making African black soap

We can differentiate two techniques of black soap making. One produces a slightly harsher soap than the other. The difference is in the pounding. One technique integrates the pounding of the soap after it is taken off the fire whilst the other doesn’t.

It’s a completely natural process, involving no chemicals, and culturally, one of the best examples of artisanal work in Ghana.

Pounding of the black soap technique

The palm kernel oil is heated on fire wood for approximately 10-15min. Then the potash is added gradually to the oil (potash is a mixture of dry cocoa pod husk with water). It is important to mention that adding the potash to the palm kernel oil has to be done with a specific technique (you cannot just pour it into the pot). The mixture becomes powerful and can splash and cause harsh burning on the skin.

Non-pounding technique

This is then left on the fire wood for approximately 30 minutes. It is then taken off the fire and put into another container for it to cool down (the first few seconds it starts rising quickly, just like a cake!). Once it has cooled down, the women start molding it into a ball shape (all kinds of sizes), and that is it, it is ready for packaging and sale!

The pounding of black soap

Additional technique

As mentioned previously, this technique produces a less “harsh” black soap, thanks to the integration of pounding. Once the mixture of potash and palm kernel oil has been left for approximately 30min on the fire wood, instead of being left to cool off, it is pounded for another 30 minutes. When the pounding is complete, it is put onto fire wood again (at a very low fire) and is left there for some hours.

The pounding and slow fire cooking produces a less harsh soap as well as changing the color of the soap to a black color, whilst the technique without the pounding produces a whitish soap.

It may sound like an easy and fast process when reading about it but it’s not! It is a bit like shea butter making, which involves some physical work and patience! Africana Skincare is one of the top brands offering sustainable black soap, one important social project run by expats in Ghana.

Uses of black soap

One of the great things about African Black Soap is that it is a multi-use product. Its use in Ghana is so widespread that is regarded as one of the essential items you must use if you want to immerse in the Ghanaian lifestyle.


Cleansing your face with African black soap is one of the most common uses. While it is generally safe for all skin types, it is especially helpful for oily or acne-prone skin. It has the ability to remove excess oil from your skin, leaving it very clean and fresh.

That said, since it is more alkaline than your skin, it can irritate dry and sensitive skin types; do a patch test to ensure you do not get any skin irritation before you use it on your face.

Make up remover

This is a great alternative for a more sustainable and natural use of a makeup remover. This is a two-in-one product for your skincare routine; remove your makeup while you also cleanse your skin. Without a doubt, African black soap is one of the top beauty products in Ghana.


Using African Black Soap as a shower gel is also a possibility. You can consider it as an eco-friendly shower gel thanks to its natural ingredients. Plus, it’s less harmful for your body because you’re not absorbing and inhaling toxic substances.

Having said this, we still do recommend you test it before to avoid any skin irritation or allergies as it can be a little harsh on more sensitive skin types.


Some people love using black soap to wash their hair. Using real African Black Soap can be very beneficial because it feeds nourishment to the scalp, instead of stripping the nutrients away. You just need to be careful on how you use it, especially if you have a very dry scalp as it can dry it out even more. If that is the case, we recommend you mix it with any oil of your choice.

Hand washing clothes with black soap

Hand-Washing clothes

Many locals in Ghana use African black soap to hand wash their clothes. Maybe you have a few pieces of clothing that cannot be washed in the washing machine so try giving a go with African black soap!

Hand-washing dishes

This is something different for you to try if you really want to switch to a sustainable hand washing option. Instead of using the normal dish washing sponge, try using the kotsa (pronounced ko-cha, which is the traditional bath sponge which is natural and processed from a plant called Saporyaa in Ghana).

Benefits of African black soap

Anti-inflammatory properties

Black soap is rich in vitamins A and E. These vitamins are both antioxidants, which help combat free radicals and attacks on otherwise healthy skin tissues. This can be helpful for people who have inflammatory conditions like rosacea.


African black soap has natural antibacterial properties that are an excellent alternative to chemical cleansers, the reason why it’s great for face, body and hair.

Natural exfoliant

The rough texture of unprocessed black soap makes it a mild exfoliant that works to remove dead clumped cells from the skin’s surface. It’s also a good alternative to fight acne. Its antimicrobial properties can help kill bacteria causing acne or other skin blemishes.

Good for both women AND men

African black soap is also great for men! Black soap can loosen ingrown hairs by gently exfoliating the affected areas. The added shea butter and/or coconut oil act as a moisturizing agent and help protect the skin from razor bumps and soothe any irritation caused by shaving.

Last but not least, it’s safe for the environment and cruelty free!

The process of making black soap is completely natural

How to use African black soap

Gently soften the soap in your hand with water. Don’t apply the soap directly on your skin but work a small piece of soap into a lather in your hands. Then apply the lather over your damp face, body, or hair. Wash the lather off with warm water.

Interesting facts about African Black Soap

It’s actually not black!

Even though it is called BLACK soap, it is not actually black but brown. That is how you can check if you have authentic black soap, it should always be brownish in color!

The production techniques varies from country to country

Black soap is produced in various West African countries, so depending which ingredients it has, you can know which West African country it comes from.

Some countries will still produce the traditional, simple combination of water, plantain skin ashes and palm oil, while others will also add other ingredients such as tropical honey or shea butter.

It’s a completely natural product

Most people are not allergic to African black soap and that is because it has no added chemicals or no added fragrances. However, the brands producing African black soap nowadays are vast so it is really important you check the ingredients before buying.

It comes in all shapes and forms

The formats in which African black soap comes can be multiple (such as its uses!). The main, and most popular format is a bar format. You can also buy it in a liquid form or in a semi solid/liquid form.