If you read my article about Adult Acne HERE you may have noticed me singing the praises of African Black Soap, and for good reason; it's pretty much the best thing I have ever put on my face. Made by hand in Africa (I get mine from THIS eBay seller, who gets it from a fair trade woman's cooperative in upper east Ghana), African Black Soap is a traditional herbal soap made from cocoa shells, plantain skins, coconut oil, shea butter and water (no nasty chemicals - SLS etc not welcome here!). It has been used for hundreds of years and is legendary for its' abilities to treat acne, eczema, body odours, dry skin, rashes, ringworm and just about every other skin condition known to man. You can use it all over your body and even as a shampoo (I haven't tried it on my hair but apparently it's good for itchy scalps too.
I'm not going to lie... it looks pretty terrible. It's brown and lumpy and weird looking: everyone in my house calls it 'Mum's Turd Soap' and pulls faces whenever I happen to leave a piece in the soap dish with the regular soap bar. But believe me, appearances are deceptive and I am more than prepared to deal with the way it looks for the results it has given me. This stuff is amazing. In my first two weeks of using this soap, it cleared up ALL of the active acne on my face (acne which was even resisting the effects of Quinoderm, previously the only thing that even came close to curing it for me). I went from having at least 3 or 4 active spots at any given moment, to none at all. By the end of the third week, most of my stubborn blackheads that just. wouldn't. quit. despite years of trying to treat them had also vanished, and the few that remain are also decreasing. Two months later, I haven't had a single breakout. My skin is smoother, the patch of psoriasis that always tries to appear on my nose seems to have given up and gone away, and all my old blemish marks and acne scars are starting to fade too.
The type I have is unscented: it smells a bit earthy and herbal due to the fact it's a natural product but nothing offensive or overpowering. I have seen scented versions too but can't vouch for them as I have only tried the regular kind. You can also get it pressed into solid bars or made into a liquid form in a pump topped bottle. Be careful if buying bars, especially if they are a commercial brand rather than the hand-made kind; many of them aren't 'proper' black soap at all. Instead they are a commercialised and beautified copy of the real thing and, while they look more like 'regular' soap bars they won't have the same medicated properties. Proper black soap is brown, not black (some companies add black dye to theirs), crumbly and a little soft. You can also get it with and without shea butter added; I'd recommend always getting the shea butter version as it can be a little drying otherwise (though no more than any other soap and this is easily rectified with a good moisturiser afterwards).
What I like about this soap:
It's basically the holy grail for acne. This stuff has achieved more results for me in 3 weeks than 20 years of conventional acne treatments combined.
It's natural and gentle, has no nasty chemicals or additives
It's fair trade!
It's cheap and lasts for ages (£5 worth is about 6 months' supply for me as a daily facial soap).
What I don't like about this soap:
Let's just say it's never going to win a beauty contest :-p
If used on broken skin/active acne it can sometimes sting a little (nothing unbearable though and worth it for the fact that acne will soon be gone anyway!)