This $5 Soap Is Saving My Skin

African Black Soap may look like tree bark, but it works like a miracle at clearing skin.
Publish date:
September 16, 2013
acne, breakouts, bargains, soaps, clarisonic, cleansing oil, miracles

I’ve been struggling with my skin for about three years. It was pretty decent until I graduated college in 2010, and then all of a sudden, it freaked out and I’ve been battling it ever since.

At first, I thought it was a reaction to biotin, but I don’t think it takes three whole years to clear biotin out of your system! I’ve tried a whole bunch of stuff (short of Accutane) to combat my breakouts. Antibiotics gave me yeast infections and made my birth control less effective. I didn’t have the patience for a retinol. Arcona worked wonders, but it’s so expensive that I just can’t keep up on my shopgirl’s salary. And the scarring--oh lord, the scarring. That’s another story for another day.

Another thing that probably bothers my skin, besides boy drama (I’m convinced this has an effect), is that I’m constantly getting new products to try. I LOVE new products! Give me your scrubs, your oils, your creams and potions. I want them all!

But that freaks my skin out. And that’s annoying. I’m tired of wearing a mask of foundation.

So I said to myself, “Kara, it’s time to simplify. Back to basics.”

I had heard of African Black Soap years ago. It was said to shrink existing breakouts, get your skin clean without stripping it raw, and even speed up the healing process for scars. It sounded like magic. A pound cost me about $5 + shipping.

I liquefied mine to store in a pump container and used it for most of the summer of 2011. It worked like a charm; I swear my skin just ate it up! A tiny chunk lasts forever, and gives great lather, so it was definitely worth the low price I paid.

But because I’m always looking for the next best thing, I abandoned my soap for some idiotic reason. I think I passed it along to my hippie-dippie little brother.

Well, the good news is I’m back on the sauce. Or the soap. Whatever.

Frustrated by the insane ups and downs of my complexion, I went back and bought the Nubian Heritage soap after reading rave reviews about it. It’s made with the elements of traditional black soap (plantain peel, palm ash, papaya enzymes, shea butter) but they’ve added some salicylic acid to make it extra-potent. Regular ABS is a workhorse in itself, but it’s also very gentle for sensitive skin.

And who would’ve thought that keeping it simple was the key to better skin? All I do is wash normally with warm water in the morning, then lather it up on my Clarisonic at night. I took a break from the Clarisonic for awhile, but I’ve gone back and am using the acne-specific brush instead of the deep-pore-cleansing version. I like to do two or three cycles at night to really dig up all the makeup.

Once or twice a week at night, I use my beloved Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics oil cleanser first, then ABS for extra deep cleansing and exfoliation. When I’m done, my skin feels CLEAN but not squeaky or painfully tight.

I’ve only been using ABS again for about a week, but I swear there’s been improvement. Of course I still have zits, and that legendary Clarisonic “purge” is a real thing. However, zits shrink more quickly and the tone and texture of my skin seems to have improved. I don’t know why I didn’t stick with it all along; I think I’ve learned my lesson.

There are different varieties of ABS for sale. I know you can find a liquid version at Whole Foods. I would recommend trying the giant chunk from Amazon before any other brand, especially if you have problem skin. Just look past the fact that it resembles tree bark and try it out.

I’d love to hear if it works for you. Have you tried ABS? Do you think it’s a miracle product or a load of hooey?