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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.

Comments

  • March 24, 2011

    Gasp!!!!
    Ok…
    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…
    Thanks

    reply
  • March 24, 2011

    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.

    reply
  • March 25, 2011

    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.

    reply
      • March 31, 2011

        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 🙂

        reply
  • March 25, 2011

    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!

    reply
  • March 25, 2011

    I will def try black soap.What do you use to moisturize and deep condition?

    reply
      • November 7, 2011

        lovina

        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

        reply
  • March 26, 2011

    What?!!! So why do companies keep using that stuff??? *GASP*

    reply
  • March 27, 2011

    Thanks for the education, thats how some of us pack our system up with irritants that do nothing fantastic for the hair, and go on to affect the skin and eye of all body parts.

    I will try this black soap and see how it goes.

    Gracias

    Mena

    someone needs serious advice–>

    http://efemenaoreoluwa.blogspot.com/2011/03/er-candy-thoughts-caramel-dreams-and.html

    reply
      • March 30, 2011

        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.

        reply
  • April 7, 2011
    reply
  • May 5, 2011

    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

    reply
  • May 17, 2011

    Niki

    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.

    reply
    • November 7, 2011

      lovina

      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

      reply
  • August 25, 2011

    pray tell where i can get lavender essential oil

    reply
  • August 27, 2011

    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!

    reply
  • February 26, 2012

    uche

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

    reply
  • September 27, 2012

    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 ^_^

    reply
  • November 10, 2012

    Torera

    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.

    reply
  • November 18, 2012

    princess

    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

    reply
  • February 1, 2013

    uloaku

    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?

    reply
  • February 20, 2013

    charity

    Can black soap cure bald hair on women?pls help.

    reply
  • March 9, 2013

    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?

    reply
      • November 24, 2013

        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?

        reply
        • January 15, 2018

          Meg

          Alkaline is the opposite end of acidic so if you “bring down the acid” your increasing its alkalinity. What the original poster asked was how to return balance after washing with black soap so you need an acidic product to return the hair to “balanced” after washing with black soap. Or just wait for your body to do it for you.

          reply
  • March 16, 2014

    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! @ http://africaimports.blogspot.com/

    reply
  • March 16, 2014

    I was wondering if I can use this post on my blog, of course I would link it back to your site. Thanks

    reply
  • April 16, 2014

    Ijay

    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.

    reply
  • July 5, 2014

    yvonne

    can black soap(diluted in water) be used on permed hair as shampoo?

    reply
  • April 2, 2015

    Onyinye

    Biko black soap is the same as DuDu Osun ryt?

    reply
  • April 5, 2016

    debbie

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

    reply

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