African black soap is an all-natural and gentle alternative to traditional store-bought soap. Most store-bought soap can be too harsh causing your skin to dry out.  African Black soap or ‘ose dudu’ originated from the Yoruba communities in Benin, Togo and Nigeria.  The term ‘Black Soap is derived from its Yoruba meaning.  The word ose means “soap” and dudu means “black”.   In Ghana, it is called ‘anago samina’.  There are several different names throughout the region, all sourcing an important reference to their community.  From my research and talking with other West Africans, it appears that black soap was introduced to Ghana by the Yoruba traders.  The traders were selling peppers and tomatoes. Which is why black soap is called alatas samina in Ghana today.  Alatas means “pepper sellers” and Samina means “soap”.


African black soap has endless benefits to offer your skin and hair.  It can be used as the following:

  • Facial Wash
  • Body Wash
  • Shampoo

Tip:  pH balance maybe necessary for some people


African black soap/paste provides cleansing and healing properties.  This soap is ideal for people with acne, rosacea, rashes, dryness and other skin conditions. (like psoriasis and eczema).


Traditional black soap contains a distinctive mixture of plantain skins, cocoa pod ash and palm oil.

  • Plantain is a rich source of vitamins A & E and iron.
  • Cocoa softens and firms the skin and has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to fight against free radicals, repair damaged skin and renew skin cells.
  • Palm oil is rich in antioxidants and two forms of vitamin E, which is useful in the treatment of acne and eczema and reduces cell damaged caused by environmental toxins and free radicals.



Developing African black soap is a lengthy process but I will give you the cliff notes. Plantain peels, cocoa pods are naturally dried by the sun to a precise color, texture and fragrance. The skins are then roasted in a clay oven to produce ash. Water is added to the ashes and filtered.  The filtered ash base is mixed with red palm oil and hand stirred by local woman for up to 24 hours.  As the soap begins to solidify, the clay like substance begins to float to the top.  The substance is scooped out and the mixture is set to cure for two weeks before it’s prepared for sale. 

Authentic black soap does not contain conventional lye.  Roasting the plantain leaves and cocoa pods are used as part of the saponification’s process.  Black soap, its traditionally state, is 100% natural, organic and vegan in origins and process.

Overtime, the mixture has been altered by some cosmetics companies or mix-tresses to create their own blend.  Ingredients range from lavender, camwood ash, honey, coconut oil and shea butter. Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or cocoa butter are heated and added, and blended at the oil stage. But others also add fragrance (which can be irritating to some individuals) and artificial ingredients.


Due to the consistency and the texture, African black soap will not handle like store bought soap.  You will take the bar or paste and rub between wet hands or a washcloth.  If using as a shampoo, DO NOT rub the bar directly on your hair.  The bar will likely get trapped in the hair. 

For Storage, keep your black soap in a dry and air tight location.  The natural glycerin content absorbs moisture from the air making it a softer soap over time.  If the soap is exposed to the air, it will develop a white film caused by the absorption of water from the air. 

African black soap is still used around the world in many forms.  The ingredients may differ from region to region but the timeless production and formulation methods are what makes this soap a stand out from all others.