In my experience, black soap is usually a good thing. I've tried my fair share of dark soaps made from various ashes or mineral muds. They generally help tighten skin almost instantly and continued use results in clearer, smoother skin.
So, during a routine Target run, this velvetty black bar immediately caught my eye. Its formula includes palm ash, plaintain peel, tamarind extract, shea butter, aloe, oats, and Vitamin E. I was little wary of using a black soap that throws a large amount of shea butter in the mix. I worried that it might be too hydrating and cut back on the skin tightening effect of the palm ash. But, to my delight, upon using the soap it became clear that the shea butter does not overpower the other ingredients. It seems to be the perfect balance!
This soap has a pleasant, somewhat strong (but not overpowering) scent. It lathers lightly and leaves skin feeling clean. There are random bits of oats throughout the bar, giving it a nice exfoliating texture.
I am a big fan of quick fixes. I love when you can see (or feel) results after just one use of a product. This is definitely the case with the Shea Moisture Organic African Black Soap Bar. After your first use, your skin will feel tight and clean and your pores may look smaller. Blemishes might also appear smaller. Regular use of this soap can help tame problem skin, reduce redness, and clear up breakouts.
As with any ash or mud soap, it is very important to apply moisturizer after using this bar. If you use this stuff without following up with a decent moisturizer, your skin WILL dry out. Because this soap tightens skin, excessive use will most likely have a drying effect. It's probably not a good idea to use it both morning and night. Once daily in the shower should be plenty. If you are prone to dry skin, you might want to start out using it every other day.
I personally use it when I'm in the shower. I use it on both my face and my body. It has helped clear up the breakouts on my back and it has almost completely cleared up the mild keratosis pilaris (chronic skin bumpies/redness) on my upper arms. It's good stuff--but don't forget to follow with a good moisturizer!
Shea Moisture Organic African Black Soap Bar is available in stores at Target and Walgreens, but for some reason they don't sell the soap bar online. If I recall correctly, it costs about 5 or 6 dollars. That might sound pricey for a bar of soap, but this is a BIG 8oz bar that should last a while and it does some pretty great things. Oh, and it's formulated with awesome organic ingredients and it's free of yucky chemicals and synthetic fragrance. Definitely worth it!