Budget Shopping Weeks: SheaMoisture African Black Soap

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I decided to continue with different cleansers and make up removers to start my budget weeks> I really do have something for each occasion and in various forms. So today I’ll share my experience with a very strange thing for me — African black soap.

It’s not a common thing in my country and many haven’t ever heard of it. Still there was some buzz in beauty communities some time ago and I bought it when noticed in Duane Reade, because according to the reviews African black soap was recommended to oily, problem and combination skin.

What is it? African Black Soap is generally made in western Africa. The difference is, however, the preparation of the soap. Leaves and bark of various trees and plants are first burned in a kettle or vat. These may be leaves from banana trees, plantain skins, leaves and bark, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods, shea tree bark, etc.

Water is then added to the ashes and then filtered. Oils such as shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter are added to this water to create the soap. The soap is then hand stirred by local women for at least a day and then set out to cure for two weeks. Each region and tribe have their own recipe that has been handed down through generations. The color of African Black Soap varies depending on the region it’s made in since the availability of the ingredients varies. African Black Soap from coastal regions of Africa contains a higher percentage of coconut oil whereas soap from the interior regions contains more shea butter. (see more at BellaOnline.com)

What is it used for? You can use this soap on your body, face, and hair. There are many claims on the benefits of using African Black Soap. The claims are that it helps relieve rashes, scalp irritations, softens rough skin, oily skin, dry skin, acne, blemishes and other skin problems. Black soap gives your face a deep cleansing, leaving it fresh and healthier.

So I bought SheaMoisture African Black Soap, put it away for a while and decided to try when my Clinique soap bar was gone. The first thing I’ve noticed — it smells wonderful (bananas, nuts and some flowers). Your bathroom gets this scent also, but it is very delicate, nothing chemical or unnatural in any way. I couldn’t get rid of feeling that I want to eat a bit of the bar.

I used it as a cleanser though you can use it as a make up remover. I use other products to remove make up or this soap with cleansing oil (like Sephora or Shu Uemura). I make some foam and wash my face with it. You can also rub your face with the bar itself and it will work as a scrub (it contains some parts like oat flakes). Its foam has a light grey color, but it isn’t very dirty, not as one from Erno Laszlo if you’ve tried it.

Was it effective? Oh, yeah:

+ perfect cleanser — leaves your ideally clean and fresh;
+ reduce blemishes and imperfections;
+ reduce pores visibility;
+ improves skin surface;
+ calms your skin;
+ leaves your skin soft;
+ doesn’t fry your skin as much as a regular soap;

Of course you don’t see all the benefits from the first time you try it (except of cleaning effect), but within a week I’ve seen considerable difference with my skin. It is combination, not that bad actually, but with visible pores, occasional imperfections and redness. My skin felt dry in T-zone after first few days, but than this feeling has gone. Although some product descriptions say that this soap hydrates your skin, I still recommend and use myself a moisturizer daily.

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.

Availability: SheaMoisture products can be found online and selected stores Target, Walgreens, Duane Reade, WalMart. Other kinds of African black soap can be found on Amazon, Ebay, iHerb and look for it in organic stores.
Price: may vary from 5 to 15$ depending on size and brand. Mine was for ~8$ per 230 gr.

Summary: this soap is great for my combination skin. It gives the best cleaning I ever had and even more. Some things that you may be don’t expect to get from soap. Though it can’t be used as a single product for my daily routine it is definitely a must have for me. I’ve not sure how it will work for dry skin, so no advice here.

Have you already tried some kind of black soap? What do you think of it?

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