How 4 African Black Soap Bars Rate

Updated 04/12/19

African black soap receives rave reviews for its skincare benefits, and it's especially good for troubled skin. The raw form isn't for everyone. It can be inconvenient to use and also be extremely drying and irritating to certain skin types.  

While many people pan the factory-made African black soap as not being as effective as the so-called authentic soap, the ingredient list can be more controlled because raw African black soap can differ from batch to batch, and factory-made soap has added ingredients to help prevent irritation and soothe the skin.  Plus once you've tried a brand and like it, when you purchase the product again you generally know exactly what you will get. You have several good options to choose from if you are looking for factory-made African black soap.

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Dudu Osun African Black Soap

 Tropical Naturals

Tropical Natural’s Dudu-Osun is pure African black soap from Nigeria.  It is a bit harder in texture than the raw form, but it has the core ingredients.

The product description typically states that it’s good for all skin types, but if you have dry or sensitive skin, you might prefer a gentler brand.

Ingredients: Pure honey, shea butter, osun (camwood), palm kernel oil, cocoa pod ash, palm bunch ash, glycerin, aloe vera, lime juice, water, and essential oils for fragrance. There are no dyes, synthetic or natural, therefore it is brown in color.

Pros and Cons:

Some users have found that this soap causes redness and a burning sensation. There are ways to safely use African black soap to prevent skin problems. For example, if you find that the soap stings or burns, try washing with cool water instead of warm or hot.

Some find that the soap, which lathers into grayish foam, can possibly stain washcloths and towels. 

Once characteristic of African black soap is that it removes excess oil. Even if you have oily or combination skin, the soap can initially dry out the skin, and it might look a bit ashy.  Many people find that their skin eventually adjusts and then begins to retain more moisture. It seems best for oily skin types, but you still need to use a moisturizer afterward.

There might be some breakouts from purging the skin, especially if your skin is congested. 

The soap helps with scarring and razor bumps.  It helps fade dark spots, clear acne, and brighten the skin.

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Nubian Heritage African Black Soap

Nubian Heritage African Black Soap
Photo: Sundial Brands

Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap With Oats, Aloe & Vitamin E is described as an anti-blemish, detoxifying, and healing soap.​

Ingredients: It is a 100 percent vegetable soap with ingredients that include African black soap base, coconut oil and/or palm oil, shea butter, oat kernel meal, aloe vera leaf juice, plantain extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), vegetable glycerin, mineral pigment or vegetable color, and essential oil blend.

As with Dudu Osun, you can’t tell what essential oils are used, so if you’re allergic you won’t know until you use it.

Pros and Cons:

Some comment that if black soap is uniform and jet black, it’s not authentic, but if it works, it works. Nubian Heritage uses mineral pigment or vegetable color instead of synthetic dyes. Sometimes raw African black soap can look like something else that's not appealing, especially when you have guests that aren’t familiar with the look of authentic black soap. So some may prefer a bar that looks like a regular bar in black.​

This soap gradually fades old scars and discolorations. It’s also good for eczema and drying up blemishes. Some acne sufferers have reported that the soap clears and smoothes the skin after two weeks. It does leave the sink and bathtub with grayish stain, but it easily washes away.

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Shea Moisture African Black Soap With Shea Butter

Shea Moisture 

SheaMoisture's African Black Soap with Shea Butter has been formulated to specifically target acne-prone and troubled skin. 

Ingredients: African black soap base, African shea butter, oats, aloe, plantain extract, vitamin E, essential oil blend, vegetable glycerin, palm ash, rosemary extract, and iron oxides. It is free of synthetic fragrances and colors.

Pros and Cons:

Like other African black soap, the lather is dark because of the ash.  Some say it will stain the washcloth (especially white) and leave black residue on tub and sinks. But this is easily cleaned. You can avoid the washcloth issue by just not using one when you wash your face.

The soap is soothing to rough and acne-prone skin. It promotes healing and gives a bright glow to the skin, leaving it clean and soft.  It’s still a little drying for dry and sensitive skin. It also can calm eczema and itchy skin, as well as acne breakouts.

It’s also good to use when shaving because it helps reduce razor bumps and prevent ingrown hairs.

04 of 04

Ambi Black Soap With Shea Butter


Ambi's Black Soap with Shea Butter has a nourishing formula to clean while moisturizing and conditioning the skin.

If you have used authentic African black soap, you might be disappointed. Ambi’s Black Soap is black soap only in terms of color.  While the name African black soap is not used, naming it "black soap" is still misleading.  That being said, it does what it claims, which is to clean and nourish the skin.

Ingredients: Sodium tallowate, water, sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernelate, glycerin, sodium stearate, sodium dilinoleate, stearic acid, sorbitol, fragrance, propylene, glycol, potassium tallowate, aloe vera leaf juice, shea butter extract, potassium cocoate, potassium stearate, pentasodium pentetate, tetrasodium EDTA, tocopheryl acetate, iron oxides, red 33, green 5, yellow 10, orange 4, and ultramarines.

Pros and Cons:

Aloe vera leaf juice is good for repairing and soothing the skin. This soap also contains shea butter, which helps with softening the skin, and it gradually fades dark spots.

This soap is hit or miss when it comes to fading dark spots; for some it works, slowly fading dark spots from acne, but others report they don’t get results.  It also helps clear breakouts in some cases and although some find it causes them, this seems to be rare.  Another plus: It rinses clear. 

A major negative is that this one has the mile-long ingredient list, which includes additives and chemicals. Its maker, Johnson & Johnson, has started working on making its products safer with fewer potentially dangerous chemicals. Nubian Heritage used to have some of those same chelating agents and preservatives in its black soap, which has been revamped and is now natural, so it's possible.

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