In my post Shampoo Day, I mentioned that I had stopped using store bought shampoo and had switched to black soap. I invited anyone who wanted to know why I had made that decision to leave a comment saying so. That was because as I did not want to make the Shampoo Day post too long by explaining my transition to black soap. Adaeze left such a comment so here’s the post.

In my journey as a “naturalista”, I find that I am constantly adjusting my choices. One such adjustment was the decision to stop using commercial shampoo for my hair. At the time I made this decision, I was using Motion’s Lavish Conditioning Shampoo.

Here are the ingredients that this shampoo contains:

Aqua, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PPG-5-Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Disodium Cocoamphodipropionate, PEG-30 Glyceryl Cocoate, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Silk Serica, Cocotrimonium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Sodium C14-17 Alkyl Sec Sulfonate, Propylene Glycol, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate , PEG-12 Dimethicone, Polyquaternium-10, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Linalool, Fragrance Parfum.

Although, I dumped this product because of almost all of their ingredients are unsafe, I will just take a minute to talk about the ingredient highlighted in red: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).  I will also speak on its close relation: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).

They are  known skin and eye irritants. They are also known to be drying to skin and hair. You may ask why manufacturers still use them in formulating body products since they are known irritants. The quick answer is that SLSs and SLESs are used because they are cheap surfactants. They give you loads of suds for a penny. For that reason, any concerns regarding the health of consumers are chucked out the window.

There have been several published reports in scientific journals about SLSs and SLESs. They are known to make the proteins on the skin more soluble thus leaving the skin more permeable and making the skin a corridor through which environmental contaminants get into the body. That is like leaving the door to your house open for all and sundry to come in at will.

SLESs are less irritating than SLSs but stay in the body longer because they cannot be metabolized by the liver. Just by gaining contact with the skin, they enter the body and maintain residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This is scary when one learns that SLS and SLES are also linked with a known carcinogen (a substance or agent causing cancer) called 1, 4-Dioxane.

Now if you are merely interested in the beauty side of things especially regarding shampoos, SLSs and SLESs dry your hair out by stripping it of its natural oils. This leaves hair weak and may even cause hair loss.

By the way, if you think that washing off the shampoo really well will save your hair, the very next ingredient on the list: Cocamidopropyl Betaine is what is known as a penetration enhancer which means that its work is to ensure that the active ingredients (along with other ingredients of course) are delivered efficiently to hair/skin. That way, the product is not just left on the hair shaft, it penetrates into the hair shaft.

Here is a short list of products that contain our SLSs and SLESs.  You will begin to get a real idea of how difficult it is to avoid them because they are in:

• toothpaste

• soap

• laundry detergent

• skin and facial cleansers

• children’s soap and shampoos

and much much more.  Also, they can be listed with different chemical names depending on the manufacturer. I believe SLES and SLS have about 150 other names they are known by.

There are now shampoos commercially available that do not have any SLS or SLES in them. These are however not available in Nigeria (at least I have not found any here).

I use black soap (which is a great soap) as a shampoo and for bathing. It is sudsy without the help of irritating SLSs and SLESs and best of all it is all natural. Barks, stems and leaves of plants like plantain, cocoa are used in the preparation of black soap and they impart their goodness to the soap.

I tend to buy the local one that is wrapped in paper and then mix it with ingredients that I specifically want in my soap, depending on my mood when I am mixing. The last batch I made, got some coconut oil, aloe vera gel and lavender essential oil mixed in….smells good and feels great on the skin.

References: Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF TOXICOLOGY, Volume 2. Number 7, 1983.



I am turned off by my shampoo….*Tosses bottle*
I think it explains a lot now…
Will be trying the black soap a week from now…


I wish I could afford that luxury, you have to pay an arm n leg for authentic black soap here.I will definitely bulk up next time I am in 9ja.

Natural Nigerian

Really? I have never bought black soap abroad. It is extremely cheap in Nigeria. The fancy one I bought in a store for N700 (approx $5) will probably last 2-3 months.

If you are just looking for a product that has no SLSs and SLESs, you can try use castille soap. Try Dr. Bronner’s.

Repressed One

This is the second time ive read someone about using black soap on hair. It doesn’t dry your hair out?
I find that it leaves my skin squeaky clean which i like but i fear what it will do to my hair.

I just might give it a try. I got some on my last trip home.

Natural Nigerian

It absolutely does not dry my hair out. Part of the process of making black soap is the addition of oils like palm kernel oil, palm oil and coconut oil. Some makers even add shea butter to their black soap which makes it an excellent UV protector. However, if you are buying the local one like I do, it is difficult to know just what was added to your black soap. I address any concerns I may have by adding my own oils like jojoba and coconut oils. Black soap is very tweakable.

A Simple Thing

I sometimes find Black Soap a little drying, so I simply dilute it with some water (leave a chunk in some water and it will have dissolved overnight). It still works beautifully 🙂


OMG! Black soap as shampoo?! I will give it a try.

If most “every day” products contain SLS and SLES, what are the alternatives? Na wa o!

Natural Nigerian

Some people use castille soap as shampoo, household washing up liquid, body wash, facial wash and even for brushing their teeth (get the peppermint flavor if you want to try this). I have not seen this for sale in Nigeria though.

I think the first thing is to increase your awareness of these chemicals and then gradually find alternatives. You may not be able to make massive changes all at once.

Natural Nigerian

I use water to moisurize. Sometimes I do a mix of water, glycerin and very little oil in a bottle and spritz it on my hair. I use coconut or castor oil to seal my ends.
Deep conditioning brings out the “concoctionist” in me. Depending on my mood, I use a variety of oils, aloe vera gel, eggs. I will put up a few posts of some of concoctions soon.

I see that you have been using Cantu…


I local product mostly for my hair,thou my hair is permed i use palm kernel oil and egg to steam and some times mix with shea butter cos i have very dry scalp but since i started with this i have being relieved @least 80% of dry scalp

Natural Nigerian

It is cheap. Cost is a big factor when deciding what goes into a product.

Plus when your consumers simply do not know what they are signing up for, you can act as you like.


thanks for making the post! Took a while for me to check it but finally here I am. FYI since the reply u gave me, I’ve been looking out for SLS and SLES and I am determined to get rid of products that contain it. I am very grateful for all your education 🙂 I wonder where I can find black soap here….I want to try.

Natural Nigerian

You are very welcome, I mentioned that SLS and SLESs masquerade under other names (like 150 of them), so look out for anything that ends in a sulfate among the first three ingredients on any label.

I am sending you an e-mail…..

stephen ifeyinwa

i used dudu osun and did brade my hair, after the brading it started itching and makes me go crazy, i’m afriad of using it agian. what do u suggest

Natural Nigerian

I have not had that experience with Dudu Osun. Did you use anything else after you washed your hair? That might have been responsible for the itching.

If you are sure that the Dudu Osun was the culprit, you may want to try some other type of black soap or a castille soap if you have it.


Though my comment is coming pretty late, I definately agree with you in regards to Black Soap. I’ve been using it on my skin for the last 2 years and my skin has never looked better. I decided to try it on my hair for the first time not long ago and I must say it did the job. My hair was left clean, soft and it wasn’t stripped of its natural oils. Will be using it again to wash my hair once I take out my braids. I’m currently on a mission to get all my friends washing with Black Soap.
I’ve always used Black Soap from Ghana, although I’m keen to try some from Nigeria.
By the way Dudu Osun I don’t like, its extremely drying and word has it, its fake black soap.


i use to like dudu osun but stopped it cos its no longer natural .lots have been added like perfumes etc which i really dont like

Antropia Luna

Lovely, lovely! Thanks for spelling out the particular chemicals that store bought shampoos are laden with. Black soap is also touted as one of the finest African beauty secrets that applies to skin and hair with improved health and appearance for both. Love it!


@renee,u can check healthplus which is a drugstore.I buy my natural oils from them and they do stock some essential is located in the palms mall at Lekki

New Transitioner

Yay! I had already tossed my shampoos for black soap ‘fore reading this. Store-bought shampoos leave my hair too dry and then I remembered that in boarding school I had always used Dudu-osun. I went back to it and it was a good judgement call ^_^


Hey!! found your blog today and I’ve been super happy for it. I hate to sound like a critic but as thoroughly enlightening as your posts are I must point that you may need to do a holistic research on both pros and cons before publishing. People follow these things and you don’t want to lead your followers astray. When black soap is used on the hair for extended periods it causes it to grey, as I’ve seen in a lot of men. And no, their grey hair wasn’t caused by age or stress. It was linked immediately to black soap. Like I said, I dnt wanna sound like a critic. I’m just trying to let readers weigh the options properly before plunging in. Aside that! Ur blog is super amazing!!! And very enlightening. I have bookmarked it and will read everyday. God bless the road(google) that led me to you.

Natural Nigerian

Hey Torera, I appreciate a balanced approach so nah!, this is not viewed as criticism (except constructive). I live to learn.

I usually rely on scientific research rather than anecdotal evidence for my posts and I was unable to find any that linked black soap to greying in men or women. If you have any material, please let me know and I will update the post pronto.

Thank you so much for your kind words! You make jabbering on on the blog worth it. Google and I have to formalize our relationship…they’ve led so many people here.


i think using black soap on body is great but hair? i had a friend once used black soap (the paper wrapped one) on her hair and when she combed, she had a lot of breakage. but then again, with all the benefits of black soap comes the imitation. so much so that its difficult to know which is fake or not. from the locally made (hand crafted- like the ones made in my villa) to the ones packed in fancy green packs and the ghanian made, the list goes on. i guess what im trying to say is that to fully benefit from black soap, dudu osun, african black soap, ect, one has to be careful not to buy the generic imitation. princess


i bot black soap frm d mkt once, jst put water n it formed into a bar. i dnt lik it tho, it itches my body lik crazy. wat do i do?

Brittany Michelle Butler

I use black soap in my hair, and it’s wonderful!
but i do have a quick question: I’ve heard black soap is very alkaline, and that it is recommended that you do a final rinse with something acidic (like ACV, or seal with aloe vera juice) to close the cuticle and balance out the hair’s pH. Would just a rinse with cold water and then sealing with an oil do the trick?

Natural Nigerian

I love black soap too but unless you use Dudu Osun, there is no standard manufacturing process. Soap is alkaline so it does follow that Black soap will be too. If you need a pH adjustment, you will need to use acidic liquids like you pointed out. Cold Water (pH 7.0 – pH 7.5) will not be able to do that task.

Brittany M Butler

Thanks! So, what if I mixed aloe vera juice into the black soap (along with a natural preservative, like rosemary extract). Would that possibly bring down the pH?


Hello. Thanks a lot for your post. I buy (wholesale) use and sale DuDu Osun soap and haven’t known it to be drying. And as far as I know all ingrediants are all natural. My Aunt is a naruralist and she would tell me if this wasn’t true. Reading through your blog I was kind of alarmed at how many believe it is not all natural. Any whoooo, I just wanted to thank you for pointing out an eye opening epidemic! The cheap things they are putting in store bought products are destroying us and I will be taking the all black soap all over body and hair challenge. Thanks for listening..P.S. Check out my blog for inexpensive Black Soaps and things! Affordable shipping and handling available! @


Oh….I have recently become obsessed with black soap and ori (shea butter), they are great!!!! Infact, i was just googling to get more info on black soap and i found this blog. Luckily I am now home based and so I get first grade products, thanks to my mum. I use the soap for everything, hair, bath, pedicure, washing my black panties etc. I can’t have enof of it. initially the smell put me off but i have become so used to the smell now. I only use ori on my foot, knee, elbow, inner thighs and once in a while i use it on my lady parts (let’s just say my bf knows when i have used it…lol) Nature has truly blessed us peeps, enjoy.


Interesting and very educative post. Please where can i find good or rather original black soap to buy in lagos


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