Black Soap

Ose dudu, literally translated as black soap, is a traditional African cleanser made by the Yoruba people of Nigeria from palm kernel or cocoa pods that have been cooked and mixed with clay and coconut or palm oils. Although called black soap because of the resulting color of the cooked mixture, the actual color of black soap depends on the ingredients and may actually turn out to be a light grey. Ground powder from dried leaves of Pterocarpus osun was traditionally added to create an exfoliating dermabrasion, with coconut or palm oil for moisturization.1, Inc.

Modern versions of black soap are now manufactured and sold under names like Zee Black soap and Dudu-Osun, utilizing Shea butter tree oil as an added emollient. While claims of effectiveness of black soap in the treatment of acne have yet to be widely investigated, some teens who use it as a facial scrub claim it has helped facial acne. This is possibly due to the exfoliating action of the ground cam wood leaves. Some modern, manufactured versions of black soap lack this attribute, however, since they use cam wood extract instead of the rough leaves.1

Commonly called cam wood.

  1. George, A.O., Ogunbiyi, A.O., Daramola, O.O.M. International Journal of Dermatology 45: Cutaneous adornment in the Yoruba of south-western Nigeria – past and present. PubMed: U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. [Online] 2006. [Cited: January 07, 2011.]
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