An Honest Review of Shea Moisture African Black Soap (2024)

As someone who is passionate about exploring different types of skincare products, I was particularly drawn to Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap. Recommended for tackling skin problems such as breakouts, pigmentation, and stretch marks, this versatile soap is known to be antibacterial, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory. With a rich lineage dating back to the early 20th century, Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap is inspired by the work of Sofi Tucker, a pioneering entrepreneur who used to sell shea butter, homemade beauty preparations, and African black soap in Sierra Leone. The soap is handcrafted by talented women in Africa, using plant-based ingredients to mimic the authentic African black soap experience. Although I admit it’s not quite identical to traditional African black soap, it’s been an absolute joy to use this product on my sensitive skin. Shea Moisture’s version takes the best qualities of African black soap, but replaces some of its harsher components with a gentle formula that has Raw Shea Butter for added moisturization.

shea moisture african black soap packaging

Packaging and Size

When the soap arrived, I was immediately impressed by its compact and attractive packaging. The soap came wrapped in minimal plastic, which makes it a more environmentally friendly choice compared to other products with excessive packaging. Shea Moisture’s African Black soap is available in two sizes: 3.5oz and 8oz. Excited to try this soap, I opted for the larger 8oz version.

Upon receiving the product, I noticed that the 8oz soap bar was enormous – to the point where it couldn’t even fit into a standard soap holder. At first, it was quite challenging to hold and maneuver during my showers, which took some getting used to. However, I found a solution to this issue by cutting the bar in half, creating two reasonably sized soap pieces. The soap itself is black and features a rough surface that offered a gentle exfoliation effect during my showers. Although not as coarse as traditional African black soap, Shea Moisture’s soap provided a more comfortable alternative to those with sensitive skin like mine.


Shea Moisture’s African Black soap offers a decadent formula that combines a variety of natural ingredients, such as cocoa pod ash, coconut oil, shea butter, palm ash, and plantain peel. This delightful blend works together to cleanse impurities while conditioning and restoring the skin.

The use of cocoa pod ash and palm ash gives the soap it’s signature rich, black color while lending it a gentle exfoliating texture, ideal for everyday use. The coconut oil and shea butter infuse the soap with a deep moisturizing quality that leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Additionally, the inclusion of Vitamin E, Aloe, and Oats in the formula provides a soothing effect that restores and maintains the natural balance of my skin.

To give you a better idea of what’s in this soap, here’s the full list of ingredients:

  • Sodium Palmate
  • Sodium Cocoate (Or) Sodium Palm Kernelate, Water (African Black Soap Base)
  • Glycerin
  • Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend)
  • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Meal
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Plantago Major Leaf Extract
  • Tocopheryl Acetate
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract
  • Tetrasodium Etidronate
  • Charcoal
  • Pentasodium Pentetate
  • Iron Oxides

Lather and Scent

Before even taking it out of the package, I noticed the delightful scent that emanated from the soap. It has a clean aroma that isn’t too overwhelming nor overly floral, as it carries a slight hint of plantains. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, this soap does contain some in its formula (as an essential oil blend); however, in my experience, the scent does not linger on my skin after rinsing off.

shea moisture african black soap color and texture

In the shower, this African Black Soap lathers exceptionally well, even in soft water, which is something I find pretty rare in other soaps. What I did notice, however, is that the lather has a slightly blackish hue to it due to the soap’s color, so you should be prepared for some staining on your sponge, loofah, or washcloth. My recommendation is to use a dark-colored cloth so the soap’s staining isn’t too noticeable.

It’s important to mention that there are little chunks of plant material within the soap which, while not bothersome to me, can occasionally become a bit sharp and scratchy if you use the bar directly on your skin. So, be cautious if you have particularly sensitive skin.


When it came to testing the effectiveness of this black soap, I decided to start by using it on my face. To do this, I lathered the soap in my hands until I had enough suds to cover my entire face and washed away makeup and dirt. I then took my face brush, pressed it gently against the soap, and used it in circular motions on my face for a deeper clean. After rinsing and patting my face dry, I followed up with a round cotton pad soaked in witch hazel as a toner.

During my body cleansing routine, I couldn’t help but appreciate that the bar has small bits of oats embedded in it, adding a gentle exfoliating factor while simultaneously moisturizing. Once rinsed off, my skin didn’t feel dry, tight, or stretched, which I often experience with other soaps.

One of the soap’s main components is charcoal, so it makes sense that it leaves the skin feeling stripped of any excess oil. This is actually helpful if you’re battling breakouts since the soap effectively dries out excessive oil in the skin. Just remember that, after using the soap on your face, it’s crucial to replenish moisture with a good moisturizer to avoid overly dry skin.

In my personal experience, I’ve seen improvement in my blemishes, and the redness of my stretch marks has reduced. The dark areas of my skin have begun to lighten, convincing me of the soap’s hyperpigmentation-fighting properties. While browsing product reviews, I discovered that many users found this soap helpful in combating HS and cystic acne, as well as reducing flare-ups in sensitive areas such as underarms and inner thighs.

Apart from its cleansing properties, this soap works wonders in removing deodorant residue and makeup from the skin. The only exception is eye makeup – it’s not the most effective makeup remover in that area, and the soap can sting if it gets into your eyes.


Throughout my time using Shea Moisture African Black soap, one aspect that truly amazed me was its impressive lifespan. These solid, hard-milled bars of soap have lasted me an extremely long time, contributing to the overall value of the product. To prolong the soap’s life and maintain its good condition, I recommend patting the bar dry after use.

Another helpful tip for prolonging the soap’s lifespan is to cut the bar in half. I found this made it much easier to handle during use, while also allowing me to use one half at a time. With these measures in place, I find that the 8oz soap bar can easily last between 6 to 8 weeks, with two daily uses.

Price and Value

When it comes to the cost of Shea Moisture African Black soap, I firmly believe that you are getting a fantastic value for your money. Priced at $4.99 for an 8oz bar on their website, it’s quite affordable, considering how long the soap lasts.

Beyond that, there are different purchasing options, such as multi-packs and bath and body kits, which offer even better value. I personally opted for a four-pack deal that cost me less than $18, a price I was more than happy to pay. You can find this soap at Walmart and many other retailers, where you may get a better deal.

Given the soap’s performance, I couldn’t resist sharing its goodness with my friends and family. It seemed like a thoughtful and unique Christmas gift idea! It’s now a regular purchase for me, and I couldn’t be happier with the value I get from this soap bar.


check price

To conclude, Shea Moisture African Black soap is genuinely an outstanding product with numerous benefits. Its effectiveness in dealing with breakouts, hyperpigmentation, stretch marks, and more is commendable. Moreover, it caters to sensitive skin, offering a gentler alternative to raw African black soap while retaining many of its positive attributes. Its luxurious lather and unique scent make the cleansing experience even more delightful.

In the spirit of being environmentally conscious, Shea Moisture African Black soap also serves as a more sustainable alternative to bottled face wash products. Although it may not be completely plastic-free due to its minimal plastic packaging, it’s still a step in the right direction for those seeking eco-friendly options.

While it’s true that the soap does have a few minor drawbacks, such as the black residue it leaves in the shower, the short-lived fragrance issue, and the presence of small, sometimes sharp plant material chunks, the overall efficacy of the product is undeniable. Its long lifespan and great value for money make it an ideal choice for those looking for high-quality skincare solutions on a budget.

Remember, my overall opinion of this product is based on my personal experience, and individual results may vary. However, I truly believe this product is worth trying, and I have no doubts that it will become a favorite in your skincare routine too. So, give it a shot and let me know what you think. And if you have any questions about this product, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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