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Whenever people ask me if I have a hobby I tell them that I collect soap. My mother's neighbor is a soap maker and I have learned much from her finished products. The first time I held a smooth bar of African Black Soap, (ABS), I noticed that it was shaped like a traditional bar of soap. There were small rough spots that became more noticable as the bar was used, the scent was unusual and I still have a difficult time matching it up to something more familiar. 

A bottle of lotion came packaged with the bar of soap. The soap was touted as good for oily skin which I do not have however it was also supposed to be good for troubled skin: the back of the bottle stated that it has been used to treat ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. I also tried the lotion which claimed that daily use, "will leave skin softer and clearer".

Lathering up the soap performed as I expected it to. It did dry my skin out a bit however I expected that as it is contraindicated for my skin type. It seemed to last about as long as a regular bar does in my bathroom, the girls thought it was fun and together we did some online research about how soap was made and the different ingredients that could be included.

The initial package we received was manufactured by Nubian Heritage, the African Black Soap lotion is made with certified organic ingredients however it does not bear the circular organic logo. Application of the lotion is easier than getting it out of the bottle as it is quite thick. The fragrance reminds me somewhat of baby oil and related products however I do not find it unpleasant.

After our first bar dwindled we decided to repurchase the African Black Soap again despite the price. While a simple online search reveals that you can purchase the Nubian Heritage brand at Target all of our orders have been placed through other companies. The second time we purchased the African Black Soap I was surprised when I opened a rather large box and found a massive brick of soap inside a large plastic bag.

This soap bore little resemblance to the first bar we used. The lather produced was softer and smoother which seemed strange as the bars we had removed from the mother chunk were rough. Using brown and black soap means you will drip brown or black residue which is off putting to some. Other soaps do the same thing however since the color is lighter drips are less noticable.

The second bar of soap provided a milder clean when compared to the first bar we purchased although both recipes are similar. A review I read stated that soap-making is an art and soap produced by factories is always going to remain inferior to those batches made by hand. Before this I hadn't realized so many online forums discussing soap making existed.

If I am totally fair about this product I have to say that I am probably biased against it since I prefer Greek soap. The lather may not be quite as nice however I find Greek soap to be more moisturizing than either of the African Black Soaps I have used. Greek soap appeals to my minimalist side, there are fewer ingredients however there is more wrapper waste produced by liberating prepackaged Greek soaps which can be avoided by purchasing soaps in bulk.

Since I no longer have a paycheck to play with my purchases of extravagant soaps have been discontinued. Being out of work has made me realize that I spent much of my money foolishly and while it is noble to support Fair Trade a higher priority must be the payment of my own bills and support of my immediate family. African Black Soap, Greek soap, and the soap my neighbor makes can all be used to clean your entire body and hair. Some of these can even be used to brush your teeth if you can get used the taste. At the end of the day these soaps are all well and good, you must have something to clean your body with however I think it wise to recognize that your hobbies can easily erode income and ought to be low on your priority list during lean economic times.

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