Review: Shea Moisture African Black Soap

While restocking my Shea Moisture Restorative Shampoo and Conditioner, I came across the company's African Black Soap and decided to give it a try, and after about a week of using this soap, I just may be in love.

What's In It:

Before buying anything I intend to put on or inside my body, I check the ingredients, and if there is anything I don't like or understand, I put the product right back on the shelf. According to Shea Moisture, the ingredients for this product are:

African Black Soap, Coconut Oil Soap, Decyl Glucoside(Coconut Oil), Lauroyl Lactylate(Palm Kernel), Deionized Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Essential Oil Blend, Jojoba Beads, Lonicera Capriflorium (Honeysuckle) Flower (and) Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Salicylic Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Dead Sea Salt, Aloe Barbadensis Leave Juice*

Reading this, I felt good about putting this soap in my cart. The real test, however, would be when I took it home and used it.

What is African Black Soap?

The fist ingredient in Shea Moisture's version of African Black Soap is, well, African Black Soap! But what is it? Well, here are its basic facts and ingredients, according to

About African Black Soap:

Black soap hails from West Africa and is quite popular due to its powerful effects on the skin. It is known by many names, including "ose dudu," a name used by the Yoruba people of western Nigeria that literally means "black soap." The color of black soap can range from light brown to deep black, depending on the method of production. Black soap contains ingredients that are beneficial for the skin.

African Black Soap Ingredients:

Palm Oil:

Palm oil is an ingredient in black soap that is rich in antioxidants. It contains both tocopherols and tocotrienol, both forms of vitamin E, which is used in the treatment of acne and eczema. Palm oil also contains carotene. Carotene, tocopherols and tocotrienol all help reduce cell damage caused by toxic substances and environmental pollution.

Palm Kernel Oil:

Palm kernel oil is another ingredient in black soap and is extracted from the fruit seeds of the African palm tree. It is used to increase the lather and hardness of soap and is high in lauric acid, which helps to destroy organisms like fungus, bacteria and viruses. Palm kernel oil is similar in nature and properties to coconut oil.

Cocoa Butter:

Black soap also contains cocoa butter, a natural fat extracted from the cacao bean. notes that cocoa butter is a very good moisturizer and readily absorbed by the skin. It is often recommended for the treatment of eczema and dermatitis.

Shea Butter:

Shea butter, also known as karite butter because it is made from the nuts of the karite tree, is another ingredient in black soap. Shea butter is used to heal burns, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis and sores, as well as dandruff and stretch marks. It can diminish wrinkles by moisturizing the skin while increasing circulation and promoting cell renewal. It contains cinnamic acid, which helps to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.


Black soap gets its distinctive color from a form of potash, potassium hydroxide, which is derived from the ashes of plantain skins, cocoa pods and shea tree bark, and is the by-product of shea production.

What Shea Moisture Adds:

As you can see from their list of ingredients, Shea Moisture took it upon themselves to improve upon the concept of African Black Soap and make it their own. Among their list of soothing, natural ingredients are:

  • Oats: help soothe irritated skin while absorbing excess oil.
  • Aloe: moisturizes and calms dry, sensitive skin.
  • Vitamin E: a powerful antioxidant highly effective in protecting skin from free radical damage.

The Results:

After about a week of using this African Black Soap, along with my trusty and highly recommended exfoliating gloves (pictured above), my skin was softer and better toned than before. This product also has a pleasant, indigenous scent that reminds me of growing up in my grandmother's house back in St. Thomas. The aroma is pleasantly earthy and natural. I love it.

bath & bodyElisabeth Ovesen