one of my not-so-secret skin care weapons is black soap. a little bar of magic, it’s like a clarisonic brush, glyclolic peel and microdermabrasion all in one. it keeps my skin clear and bright and for pennies on the dollar. this little bar of black soap has worked better at cleansing my skin during a breakout better than any other facials soaps when it comes to swift delivery of results. it works amazingly fast and keeps my skin smooth and soft for days on end before i have to use it again.
black soap can be tricky though. usually when i encounter someone who’s used it before they either love it or hate it and for those that hate it, it’s mostly because they burned themselves with the soap. because the overuse of black soap can be akin to the overuse of glycolic acid, it’s definitely a painful nuance if you misuse it. been there, done that and had the tight, dry and flaky skin to go with. with a few tries, i finally created a regimen for using black soap without going overboard that has been working for me for over a year now, and i’ve shared tips on how to use black soap to help you get the most out of this odd looking little bar.
KNOW HOW BLACK SOAP WORKS
black soap works by cleansing the skin but without harsh chemicals and is not your regular run-of-the-mill antibacterial grocery store soap. the “authentic” recipe for black soap calls for cocoa pod, roasted plantain skins, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, palm oil and natural sodium. additional additives like shea or cocoa butter are often added to enhance the soap depending on the manufacturer. basically, the ash from the plantain skins saponify the oils turning them into soap unlike traditional soap that uses sodium hydroxide.
when you first pick up the soap, you’ll notice that it’s firm but not hard like traditional soaps and if you drop it, it will easily crumble into large chunks. when you wash with it, black soap goes to work by penetrating the skin to remove impurities. it does not remove existing acne, instead it helps to prevent excessive oil production and bacterial growth which help to create acne in the first place. because of this, when you use black soap you may experience “purging” where it seems like your skin is getting worse. i went through this for two weeks after being encouraged to stick it out. afterwards my skin was very clear and vibrant as black soap also helps to fade dark marks from the iron, vitamin A and vitamin E it contains.
TEST IT ON YOUR SKIN FIRST
i have oily and acne prone skin and black soap is a great match for me. if you have dry skin, you may want to skip this soap (or not – see usage tips below) as it strips the skin of oils and impurities. also, if you are allergic or sensitive to caffeine, the cocoa pods could also cause a skin reaction. because black soap contains ash and sodium, you may notice a tingling sensation when you use it. this is normal and went away for me after i’d used it for about a week. but keep in mind that this little soap is a powerhouse and going in when you first use it is not recommended at all. the first time i used black soap i used it with a puff exfoliatior and scrubbed my skin like i was using a regular cleanser. let’s just say i ended up with raw skin! my skin was smooth, but it was raw, especially around my nose, and had to suffer through a week of skin rebuilding itself which meant thin, flaky scabs to heal the skin underneath.
“CUT”/DILUTE THE SOAP WITH OILS, CERIMIDES AND HYALURONIC ACID
the greatest success i’ve found with black soap is cutting it with a skin friendly oil. washing my oily face with black soap and oil has been the best thing i could have ever done. i simply lather the bar in my hand (this soap lathers amazingly easily) and then add two to three drops of Aura Cacia Organic Jojoba Oil mixed with either or both Aura Cacia Organic Rosehip Oil, and Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil to my lather and then proceed to wash my face. i choose these oils because jojoba oil is the closest oil to natural scalp and face oils we already produce, rosehip seed oil contains essential fatty acids, vitamin C – an antioxidant, and vitamin A – a natural retinol, and argan oil has a very high concentration of vitamin E and fatty acids.
i also keep a bottle of CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser on hand which contains cermaide 3, ceramide 6-ll, ceramide-1, and hyaluronic acid as some of the main ingredients. the cleanser is rated on par with la mer which costs almost $70 and i can now say i understand why. though i have oily skin and this cleanser is recommended for those with dry skin, i use it in my black soap regimen because ceramides and hyaluronic acid help to keep moisture in the skin and are great for cell turn over. one or two pumps to my black soap lather at night and i’m good to go. i’ve found that between this and the oils, if i am even a tad bit close to over usage (scrubbing a little to hard), this gets my skin back to normal within 24-48 hours unlike three to five days without. because this cleanser makes my skin oilier with use, i only use it at night. when i wake up my face is oily but in a very glowy way and by just washing my face with water, i’m good to go for the next two to three days. if you have dry skin and want to use black soap, this is a great combination to make sure you don’t end with with skin that’s too dry.
DON’T OVER EXFOLIATE/CHECK YOUR USAGE
i want to really focus on the potency of black soap because the bar looks so innocent but packs a mean punch. that punch can be great but if you overdo it you’ll hate the results. though many black soaps have a lower pH between 7 and 8 in comparison to traditional soap (our skin is around 4 to 5), using black soap is like getting a mini peel with each use. because of this, many people, myself included, cannot use this soap everyday. the best usage for me is two to three times a week. though i can use it without cutting it, i most often cut it just because i like washing my face with the oils. however, i have friends who do not cut this soap and use it everyday but this is what we all have in common: we don’t scrub harshly with it, we use authentic, fair trade soap, and we pay close attention to washing around our nose, mouth and eyes – where the skin is thinner and more sensitive. just a little pressure is all you need to have smooth skin that is akin to getting a microdermabrasion or using a clarisonic brush. yes, really.
i use my hands and/or a soft face wash cloth to cleanse my face with black soap. after washing my face, i follow it up with a mist of Caudalie Beauty Elixir and then my moisturizer as a finishing touch. Caudalie Beauty Elixir is an antioxidant-rich spray formulated to smooth skin and diminish the appearance of enlarged pores and stressed skin. It’s made with healing ingredients like myrrh, balm mint, and oil of rosemary.
USE IT ON YOUR BACK BREAKOUTS
back soap is great to use for back breakouts. like it helps to clear bacteria causing acne on your face, it does the same for your back and because the skin on your back is thicker, you don’t have to worry about over usage. i use this on my back nightly with no adverse side effects.
TRY IT FOR ECZEMA & PSORIASIS
the natural fats in black soap from the coconut and palm oils help to relive tight, itchy and dry skin and the iron, vitamin A and vitamin E help to promote healthy moisturized skin. i have a patch of eczema on my leg that it helps to keep clear and itch free.
though black soap is not a cure-all, it’s one of the core components of my skin cleaning regimen. without it, i really don’t think my skin would be in the condition that it’s in now. i have not used black soap in three days and just pausing to touch my skin and feel my cheeks, forehead and around my nose, it’s almost as smooth as it was three days ago right after i used black soap. if black soap is something that you’ve been wanting to try, pick up a bar and keep it simple. with just a little later, you can seriously change your skin complexion and glow.