One of our indigenous Nigerian products that seems to be getting a lot of face time is the humble black soap. Actually, this is something that is used in many many African countries although the recipes differ from country to country and even state to state within a country. I can tell you that the Igbo black soap is nothing like the Yoruba one. There is a distinct difference between the two from the feel to the smell. All the same, African Black Soap has several similarities.
For many years, my family and I have used to Black Soap wash ourselves from hair to toe. My mother would buy a black soap base from Cotonou where she used to travel for business and then mix in the things she wanted in a big bowl. That bowl of soap would last our family of 8 (yes, 6 children) at least 3 months. I told you it was a big bowl :). Also, black soap lathers exceptionally well so a little goes a loooooooooong way!
You can adapt black soap to be whatever you want it to be. Anything. A cleanser. A moisturizing cleanser. A brightening cleanser. A hair clarifier. An aromatherapeutic cleanser. A mix of one or more of these. The limits are only determined by your imagination.
In the Ahia, we started offering a raw black soap base made from Cocoa Pod Ash and Shea Butter. It is the perfect base to start off with because it contains gobs of Shea Butter and does not leave skin or hair dry. Also, it does not require any grating. Ladies, biko leave the grater alone and start with something that is easier to manipulate.
Like I said what you can do with Black Soap is almost limitless. Today, I will share a recipe for an aromatherapeutic moisturizing black soap which you can make easily.
I did not measure anything here so please use quantities that you feel comfortable with until you find something that works for you. It really is not difficult.
Lay out your ingredients. In this picture below, you see that I have Aloe Vera Juice, Hemp Seed Oil and an assortment of essential oils. Not pictured is the preservative I used. I used Optiphen Plus. Why? Once you add anything that is water based (in this case Aloe Vera Juice) in a cosmetic mixture, you MUST add a preservative. I have spoken about the importance of preservatives here.
UPDATE ON PRESERVATIVES: Please disregard this call for a preservative. Black soap is so alkaline (pH) that none of the nasties can survive. And in a a lot of cases, the preservative is deactivated if the pH is too high. However, if you feel better about it, go on and add it.
Also, I do not usually use any oil in my black soap recipe, preferring instead to use it as is because the base I use is not drying. However these bases differ from maker to maker and you might find that the one you have is slightly drying. If that is the case, go ahead and add a bit of oil.
Just wanted to mention that I used hand filleted Aloe Vera Gel, taking advantage of my Dad’s supply of Aloe Vera Plants. If you do not have this easily available, you can use bottled Aloe Vera Juice.
Start with your base.
Pour in your Aloe Vera Juice, several drops of Essential Oils – I like Tea Tree Essential oil, Lavender Essential oil and Eucalyptus Essential Oil. This mix not only smells good, the Eucalyptus opens up your respiratory system and clears it. The tea tree Essential Oil has anti-bacterial, -fungal, -viral and many more benefits that help rid skin of any of these issues.
Mix and store for a few days or weeks before using. Soap “cures”. The longer you let it be, the longer it cures and the better a soap it is.
Please let me know how you get on!