Black Soap

Transcend the purification of body and mind.

Black soap, also known as “beldi” in Morocco, is a traditional product with deep roots in the cultures of the Maghreb and other parts of the Arab world. Its use goes back centuries, and it plays an important role in rituals for the care and purification of body and mind.

Black soap occupies a special place in Arab culture, offering much more than simple skin cleansing. It is an essential part of skin care and purification rituals, representing the tradition, refinement and valorization of natural skincare methods in Arab societies for centuries. Its historical heritage, its benefits for the skin and its role in purification rituals make it an essential part of traditional personal care practices in many parts of the Arab world.

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١. History and fabrication

The history of black soap dates back to ancient times, when it was first used by the Babylonians and Egyptians. Later, ancient Mediterranean civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans also made soap, using vegetable oils such as olive oil and plant ashes to produce cleansing substances.

The artisanal process involved mixing this oil with potash (or vegetable soda) and water, then cooking it slowly for several weeks, giving rise to a dark, creamy paste known as black soap. Black soap is all-natural, and is composed mainly of black olive oil, rich in essential fatty acids, and vegetable potash or soda. This gives it its cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating properties.

Over time, its manufacturing techniques have been refined, and its uses have evolved, but its presence in ancient history testifies to its importance in cleansing and skin care practices for millennia, particularly among Arab populations.

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٢. How-to: Different uses and Cultural Transmission

Black soap is closely associated with hammam rituals in Arab countries. In the hammam, a traditional steam bath, the application of black soap is the first step. It is applied generously all over the body and on damp skin to soften the skin before scrubbing with an exfoliating glove, called a “kessa”, to get rid of impurities and dead cells. Black soap is known for its exfoliating and purifying properties for the skin. It is widely used to remove impurities and dead cells from the skin, leaving it radiant and revitalized.

Black soap is also used as an everyday beauty and skin care product. It is renowned for its gentle exfoliating properties, which leave skin soft, smooth and moisturized. Unlike other soaps, black soap cleanses without irritating the skin. Thanks to its high vitamin E content, it is suitable for all skin types. It’s an effective anti-wrinkle agent, acting like a shield for the skin. It can also be used on dry, damaged hair, to deeply nourish the hair fibre and soothe the scalp.

The use of black soap has been handed down from generation to generation, forming an integral part of family traditions and personal care practices. It is considered a natural, skin-friendly product, part of a deeply-rooted cultural heritage.

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٣. Our selection of Black Soap products

Black Soap – Maroc Argan: Traditional black soap scrub, made in Morocco in a women’s cooperative. Derived from Hammam rituals, it leaves skin soft and satin-smooth. Handcrafted to preserve its exfoliating and nourishing properties. Made with olives, olive oil and grains of salt, this scrub is rich in vitamin E and trace elements. Available here.

Black soap with Eucalyptus essential oil – La Sultane de Saba: Another option is black soap with Eucalyptus essential oil. This product is also obtained from Moroccan olives, and will deeply moisturize and exfoliate your skin. This product is applied to damp skin using a kessa glove to rub the body and then rinse thoroughly. It can also be used on the face by applying a dab of black soap while slightly moistening the skin. Use circular movements, avoiding the eye area, and rinse with lukewarm water. Available here.

Body lotion – La Sultane de Saba: Always use a body lotion after exfoliation to moisturize the skin. La Sultane de Saba’s lotus and frangipani flower scented body lotion will deeply moisturize your skin while leaving a delicately scented fragrance. Based on shea butter and sweet almond oil, this milk has a fine, rich texture, providing long-lasting hydration and a feeling of comfort from the moment it is applied. Available here.

Kessa glove: To accompany your black soap scrub sessions, there’s nothing better than a Moroccan Kessa glove. A staple of Moroccan beauty rituals, the Kessa glove is one of Oriental women’s secrets for keeping their skin soft. Used since time immemorial in hammams to cleanse the skin, it was once made from goat hair. This glove is ideal for deeply exfoliating dead skin cells while activating blood circulation. It’s the essential companion to black soap for silky, regenerated skin. Available here.

Selma Chougar is a French independent journalist of Algerian origin who writes for several magazines based in Paris, London, and Dubai. Culture and societal phenomena in the Arab world are her areas of expertise. She contributes to both French and English-language magazines.