Review - African Black Soap (ABS)

Prior to this soap i used La Roche-Posay Effaclar cleansing gel for my face. I was very happy with it and even repurchased it. But then i took a look at the ingredients and saw that one of them was Sodium Laureth Sulphate. And eventhough this isn't as harsh as it's brothers it's still not good for your skin. Why?

Number one reason is that it's a harsh detergent that will eventually strip all the oil of your face, which causes your skin to produce more oil. My experience with harsh cleansers is that they take away the 'normal' acne and overtime give you cystic acne instead.

The second reason is that it's an emulsifier and those things can irritate your skin, especially senstive and acneprone skin. Guess what, my skin has both those characteristics ha!

So i Googled for SLS-free facial cleansers and came across ABS. What really thrilled me was that it helped not only acne but all types of skinrashes and could be used on all skintypes. So it cleansed thourougly without being harsh, just what i was looking for.

You can easily find ABS online, just make sure it's fair trade and has a light or midbrown colour. If it's black it contains dyes which means it isn't the real thing.

Also, don't buy it if it's hard, it should feel kneadable. The real ABS is round or weirdly shaped, not square like normal western soaps.

The ingredients are usually virgin palm kernel oil, unrefined shea butter and potash produced from the ashes of plantain leaves or tree bark. However, the list can be slightly different since every village/region has it's own recipe.

How to use it

Take a small piece of the soap (size of a pea is enough for the face). Add a little bit of water and lather it up between your hands. Massage it over your face.

My tips

It lathers best if your face is also slightly wet. And if you have acne or oily skin you should massage it in for at least 2 minutes.

My experience on it

Some people report that the first times they use this soap it sting a bit. However, i never experienced this. I can also use it twice a day without my skin becoming too dry, whereas others use it no more than once a day or their skin will get flakey/dry.

I actually think i need an additional cleanser ha!

I don't recommend this for people with dry to very dry skin though, because if you rinse the soap off your skin will feel squeaky clean.

To some this might sound as if it stripped the oils of my face but actually it balanced my skin's oil production instead of increasing it (as you would expect with such a soap)

Also, after i rinse my skin has never felt tight in the 3 months i used it.

And i can honestly say that when it comes to acne on it's own it works just as good as a commercial anti-acnecleanser + antibiotics.


- Cleared my acne without having to take antibiotics
- Is free of dyes, fragrance, alcohol, preservatives, all that nasty stuff
- Balances oil production of the skin
- Can be used on face, body and hair
- Doesn't aggravate redness
- Face didn't feel tight afterwards
- If you buy it fairtade you support the local economy
- Skin didn't get flakes (it does with other acnecleansers)

- It's cheap


- You will probably have to order it online (check the african shops in your neighbourhood, they might sell it)
- The look of it might turn off some people (some people say it looks like poop, don't worry the smell is normal ^^)
- It might be inconvienient to store/use because you can't keep in the bathroom and have to lather it between your hands before use.
- May be too stripping for very dry skins

Overall if you have normal to oily, combination or acneprone skin i suggest you check this out. Especially if your are acneprone AND sensitive.

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