Elixir Collective No. 15 ~ Black Rose Cleanser
The April Elixir Collective subscription box was centered around the Limited Batch Black Rose Cleanser, a 2 oz bottle of gentle face & body wash crafted from African Black Soap infused with local & organic hydrosols. The accompanying note is transcribed below...
A paradox within its own chemical makeup, soap is one of the only natural substances able to perform the small but mighty molecular miracle of binding to both oil and water. This rare feature is what makes it so good at what it does — and why it has been reveled by humans for many thousands of years. Soapmaking requires the use of alkaline salts (more commonly known as lye), which are used to ‘saponify’ oil (or specifically the triglycerides within it) until a transformation takes place. Once the saponification process is complete, the end result is a very unique molecule with a water-attracting (hydrophilic) group of atoms at one end (the ‘head’ of the molecule), and an oil-attracting (lipophilic) group at the other end (the ‘tail’). Together these molecules aggregate into micelles, or peculiar structures that allow soap to be so effective at washing off just about anything!
While cleansers can be quite elaborate, my all time favorite is unequivocally simple. African Black Soap, the inspiration behind your enclosed Black Rose Cleanser, is traditionally made with just a few ingredients: oil, water, and the ashes of certain fruits & woods. Originating from West Africa, the exact recipe varies greatly across the region but always incorporates some combination of charred plantain skins, cocoa pods, bamboo shoots and other local plant refuse. The ashes are combined with water to create lye, and this utterly natural lye is then used to saponify the oils of choice. While there are a lot of products on the market claiming to be African Black Soap, the authentic bars are not actually black — but instead are mottled tannish brown, relatively soft & pliable, and have an unusual but very mild scent. For years I’ve sworn by it to keep a clear complexion, and use nothing else to cleanse my face. Most days it serves as my shampoo and body wash as well! I’ve long dreamt of creating a Hawaiian Black Soap entirely out of local ingredients, but this is still very much a work in progress… so in the meantime I am excited to share this amazing African product infused with precious Hawaiian essences.
The Black Rose Cleanser is a blend of authentic African Black Bar Soap and four different botanical hydrosols. I sourced a fair trade Black Soap to use as the base, which was crafted in Ghana with only a few simple ingredients: raw Shea butter, Cocoa pods, Coconut oil & water. To turn this solid bar into a liquid, it was immersed in a bath of Big Island Orange & Rosemary hydrosols distilled by Vetiver Farms Hawaii as well as organic Red Rose and White Rose hydrosols. African Black Soap is beloved for its abilities to fight the effects of aging, prevent and reduce blemishes, and relieve itching & irritation. Hydrosols, or the distilled waters that are the larger byproduct of oil distillation, possess similar properties to their essential oil counterparts but are more mellow. Small batch Hawaiian Orange hydrosol clears and brightens, while local Rosemary distillate strengthens capillaries to smooth mature skin. Red and White Rosewater — timeless beauty favorites — are rejuvenating, astringent and soothing to encourage a radiant glow.
This synergy of botanical ingredients creates a creamy, lathering cleanser that can be used from head to toe on all complexions, including dry, oily, or problematic areas. Simply wet skin with warm water, lather a dime size amount in your palms, massage on and rinse clean. As a shampoo, work into hair thoroughly saturated with water and wash thoroughly. Black Rose Cleanser is very gentle and less drying than other soaps, but I still recommend following up with a moisturizer if you’re prone to dry skin — and for your hair, try substituting your favorite hydrating oil or my Tropical Locks serum instead of conditioner!
If you are curious to experience the soap in its original bar form, I highly recommend: they are widely available, just look out for the characteristics I described and that the ingredients only contain natural oils, water, and plant ashes (also known as potash). To make your own liquid version, simply slice up a bar and let soak in an equal amount of water or hydrosol by weight. A typical bar of Black Soap may be about 2 cups, so you can combine this with 2 cups of liquid or more to make a thinner soap — just allow the bar to fully dissolve over a day or two before bottling. Note that pure solid African Soap has a shelf life of two years, and your aqueous cleanser can be enjoyed for at least a year.