Black soap is generally made from locally harvested African plants such as plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves and shea tree bark. The ingredients are sun-dried and roasted, which is how it gets its deep color. Water and oils such as coconut, palm and shea butter are then added. The soap is then left to sit and “cure.”

Traditionally made in West Africa by tribeswomen in Ghana from special secret recipes, it is often fairly traded. These soaps are more likely to be pure, whereas commercial soaps made in the U.S. may include additional artificial ingredients.

When I cleansed my face with the black soap, the deep color mixed with water made a brown, creamy lather that felt cleansing and smooth. There was no redness or tingling while using the soap, yet afterward my face did feel exfoliated into a warm glow.

In bar form, black soap is a little crumbly and softer than most soap and may look like food to a child or pet, so be careful to store it properly. It's also typically a shade of brown, instead of black. It has a high glycerin content and absorbs water easily, so it should be stored in a plastic bag or dry area away from the tub and shower.