African Black Soap vs. Charcoal Soap | Kokoa Eco Beauty

African Black Soap vs. Charcoal Soap

Whether you’re a skincare newbie or a derma-guru the chances are African Black Soap and Activated Charcoal Soap are two products you’ve heard about. Both are lauded for their health and beauty benefits.

But what exactly are the benefits to using these products? 
How are they made and what are they made of?
How are they similar, and how are they different?

Let's take a look…

How are they made?

African Black Soap originates from West Africa and is made from locally harvested plant-based ingredients such as plantains, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves and shea tree bark. These ingredients are sun-dried and then burnt to produce ash. Water, oils and fats are then added to the ash such as coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter. This mixture is then cooked and stirred. Finally, after the soap solidifies, it is then set out to cure.

Activated charcoal is charcoal soot that has been treated in order to become more sponge-like in texture. This is obtained by heating materials that contain high levels of carbon, such as wood, coal, sawdust, peat or coconut husks. The charcoal is then oxidised - a process known as ‘activation’. In order for the charcoal to become activated, it goes through a high temperature steaming process. This allows the carbon structure to open up and therefore making it highly porous. This means that its ability to absorb into the skin has been increased. Activated charcoal is used along with other ingredients in order to make soap. These ingredients, and the process used to produce the soap can vary depending on the manufacturer. 

Uses and benefits

For centuries African black soap has been used to help fight an array of skin and health conditions. A 2018 study on African Black Soap by the African Journal of Biotechnology found that, “screenings of black soap revealed it contains some secondary metabolites which are nourishing to the skin. This is a good justification for the reason it cleanses deeply and nourishes all skin types”. African Black Soap can also be used on your face, body and hair.

Activated charcoals’ traditional use is for emergency treatment of drug overdoses or poisoning. Although, “due to its powerful toxin-clearing properties, some advocates have proposed activated charcoal as a treatment for an ever-growing list of conditions”(Medical News Today). Uses include kidney health, diarrhea, teeth whitening and oral health. The basic chemical principles of activated charcoal are also said to provide the multiple skincare benefits, which is why it is often used as a key ingredient in soaps.

Potential uses and benefits:

Type of Soap

Uses and Benefits

African Black Soap

Activated Charcoal Soap

Suitable for all skin types


Treats acne

Reduce fine lines and impurities

Reduce dark spots

Reduce razor bumps

Makeup removal

Reduce eczema

Reduce oily skin


Deep cleanse

Reduce pore size

Moisturising effects

Anti aging effects

Tightens skin


The key difference between how the soaps are made is that the ingredients to make African Black soap are burnt to produce ash, whereas Activated charcoal comes from heating carbon-based materials to produce charcoal.

When comparing the uses of the soaps, both offer an array of skincare benefits. African Black soap is a great choice for all-round skincare thanks to the long list of potential benefits it can have on your skin. It is best for multi-use purposes and all-round skin benefits. For deep cleansing ability - this soap scores high! The ability to cleanse and treat this skin awards this soap with an array of benefits such as combating acne, breakouts and other skin diseases. Traditional African Black Soap has also been tested against name brands including Dettol and has displayed better antibacterial properties. 

Is African Black Soap really better than Dettol?

How to Spot Authentic African Black Soap?

The chemical properties of activated charcoal mean that it is particularly efficient in absorbing toxins from our skin. This makes activated charcoal soaps most effective for reducing oily skin.

If we had to choose one: It is very close but based on African Black Soap's all-round ability and purity, we have crowned it as the winner.



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