Alaffia - Authentic African Black Soap with Fair Trade Shea Butter Tangerine Citrus - 16 oz. (475 mL)
Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap with Fair Trade Shea Butter Tangerine Citrus is an "all in one" option for cleaning, and is ideal for faces and babies, shaving, shampooing, and as a general hand & body wash. It is Scented with a clarifying blend of citrus essential oils and is suitable for all skin & hair types.
- Authentic African Black Soap
- Body Wash
- Shaving Soap & More
- Domestic Packaging
- No Parabens
- No Animal Testing
- No Synthetic Fragrance
- No SLS
- Gluten Free
- Safe for Babies
What is African Black Soap?
In West Africa, authentic black soap is known by its Yoruba name, Osse Dudu. "Dudu" means the color black, which comes from the extensive "cooking" of soap to the point of charcoal. Many cultures in West Africa use charcoal to detoxify and purify the skin, and this is an integral aspect of the true African black soap.
Furthermore, the authentic black soap is made from a centuries old recipe of handcrafted shea butter and indigenous West African palm kernel oil. Saponification is provided by adding ashes to the hot oils, then cooking the soap for six hours. The final step is to dry and cure the soap in the sun for three weeks.
The extensive cooking and curing process makes authentic African black soap mild and gentle, and is the major reason for its great popularity rise in America. The second important reason is this soap's versatility. In Togo, the black soap is an "all in one" option for cleaning, and is ideal for faces and babies, shaving, shampooing, and as a general hand & body wash. Scented with a clarifying blend of citrus essential oils.
Mature shea trees in central Togo. These trees are a familiar feature of the central and northern Togo landscape. Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of wild Shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa - also known as Butyrospermum parkii in the cosmetic industry) scattered throughout the wooded savanna of West and Central Africa. Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa and is completely enmeshed within the history and culture of the West African savanna. Shea Butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra's Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of Shea Butter for cosmetic use. Funeral beds of kings were carved in the wood of old Shea Trees, and Shea Butter has always been a staple of African pharmacology. Indigenous Knowledge for Skin Care.
Try Shea Butter on these conditions:
- Dry Skin
- Hair care
- Stretch marks
- Chapped lips
- Sun damage
- Cracked and dry heels or elbows
- Small wounds and scrapes
- Diaper rash (prevention and relief)
- Insect bites & stings
- Muscle fatigue, aches & tension
- Pets (skin infections, dry skin & coats)
Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care. In recent clinical trials, Shea Butter was found to help to protect skin against climate and UV aggressions, prevent wrinkle formation, soothe irritated and chapped skin, and moisturize the epidermis. Shea Butter also enhances cell regeneration and capillary circulation, which helps prevent and minimize stretch marks, inflammations, and scarring.
Why Unrefined Shea Butter?
Handcrafted, unrefined Shea Butter contains the maximum amount of healing and moisturizing properties. Most shea butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless: in other words, it has been "refined" to remove the natural scent and color of natural shea butter. In the process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed. For example, the yellow tint of unrefined shea butter is due to the Vitamin A content. Remove this color, and the beneficial vitamins have also been removed.
Handcrafted Shea Butter
Handcrafted, unrefined shea butter is contains full healing and protective benefits. Furthermore, refined Shea Butter has usually been extracted from the shea kernels with hexane or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents, and then refined, bleached, and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400 degrees F and the use of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide. Shea Butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that may be aesthetically appealing, but lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of true traditional shea butter.
Refined Shea Butter is often hard and grainy, not smooth and creamy like pure, unrefined Shea Butter. All that can be said for refined Shea Butter is that it has an extended shelf life, a white, uniform color, and no odor.
How to Use Shea Butter
For direct application to the skin, take a small amount in the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together to warm up the butter until it is smooth and liquid. Then apply to your skin. If you are concerned about an oily feeling, use only a small amount or apply the Shea Butter before going to bed. Shea Butter absorbs quickly into the skin, but there will be a few minutes that it feels oily. Shea Butter can also be applied to your hair. Some people apply it before washing to protect the hair from harsh shampoos. It can also be applied after washing as a conditioner. Apply it in the same manner as to the skin.
Alaffia Certified Fair Trade Shea Butter
To Alaffia, fair trade means paying a fair price or wage in the local context, providing equal employment opportunities, engaging in environmental sustainable practices, providing healthy and safe working conditions, being open to public accountability, and reducing the number of middlemen between producers and consumers. Thet believe fair trade should be environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable and give local communities the opportunity to self empower.
Fair for Life: Social and Fair Trade, What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a movement of individuals and organizations working to ensure that producers in poor countries receive a greater percentage of the price paid by consumers.
While there are several definitions of fair trade, they all include:
- Fair Trade Price - base price for raw ingredients or goods is adjusted higher than the open market price.
- Price Premium - a percentage above the base fair trade price is paid into a separate account for development projects in producer communities.
- Working Conditions - Fair Trade operators must adhere to basic human and labor rights - including the right to organize, no child labor, access to health care, and so on.
- Environmental Stewardship - Fair Trade organizations must minimize environmental impact.
What does Fair Trade Certified Mean?
Fair Trade certification in an independent, neutral third party certification verifying that an organization upholds to fair trade, social and environmental standards in their operations. Alaffia shea butter is certified Fair for Life:Social and FairTrade by IMO - the Institute for Marketecology, one of the first and most renowned international inspection & certification agencies for organic and social (fair trade) accountability. IMO's Fair for Life certification combines strict social and fair trade standards with adaptability to local conditions. You can read more
Why is Fair Trade of Shea Butter important?
Unrefined shea butter is a valuable natural resource for West Africa and could be an important tool in empowering local communities. However, most shea butter on the market in the United States and Europe is not fairly traded. Without fair trade, the women who gather shea nuts and hand craft this remarkable oil receive only a tiny fraction of the final price. It is estimated to take 20 to 30 hours of labor to produce one kilogram of handcrafted shea butter, which is traded at $1 or less in today's market. A woman making shea butter in West Africa will receive only a fraction of this price. Therefore, a person working for 30 hours, almost a week's worth of work, will not receive even a dollar for her efforts. Even if she received the whole dollar, this does not even begin to reach living wage standards.
Alaffia Fair Trade Shea Butter
The cost to handcraft shea butter at the Alaffia Cooperative is over two times the price of shea butter at West African ports.
Why is Their Cost Higher?
- Nut prices - pay 15-25% above market price for shea nuts
- Fair wages - Their cooperative members receive a salary that is more than 4 times the average family income in Togo.
- Benefits - Cooperative members also receive full medical care, employment security, and one paid month of vacation each year.
Is Fair Trade certification enough?
Like all programs, there are limitations to Fair Trade certification. The rules and criteria for certification are set up in the West, without an in-depth understanding of the cultural complexity of the individual communities where certification is taking place. This means that while the criteria are set up with the best intentions, they may not be as effective as they could be. One of the largest setbacks to Fair Trade certification is the cost, which:
- In Alaffia's case, the cost diverts money from community projects.
- Excludes producers from gaining their own certification. In most cases, certification is "owned" or held by foreign companies (the buyers), making the farmer/producer groups in a sense indebted to the foreign organization.
- Often means higher prices for consumers.
- Fair Trade can contribute to famine situations - farmers plant cash crops with promise of higher prices at expense of subsistence farming (food crops). Then, when the market for the particular fair trade commodity goes down, or the crop fails, farmers may not able to feed their families.
Why is Alaffia Certified Fair Trade?
Despite the limitations of Fair Trade certification, it does have multiple benefits for Alaffia. The three primary reasons they feel certification is important for them are:
- One: To encourage the Fair Trade movement in skincare.
- Two: To help West African producers, producer groups and other entrepreneurs mobilize and demand fair prices and treatment.
- Three: To introduce West Africans to the Fair Trade movement and important players (the certifiers) in the movement.
- Community empowerment through Fair Trade.
Going Beyond Fair Trade Certification
Since their beginning - before they could even consider certification, they have been completely committed to their communities. Alaffia was founded to empower individuals and communities through the fair trade of an indigenous, sustainable resource. This continues to be their main goal, regardless of fair trade certification. As a result, their project funding goes beyond the minimum commitment for community projects required for fair trade certification - and reaches far into Togolese communities. Read more about these projects on their empowerment page. Furthermore, they reach true fair trade by eliminating the middleman, and therefore do not increase the price to their customers. You can see how this is possible in the simple diagrams below.
Organizational Structure of Alaffia:
- Nut gatherer > Alaffia Cooperative > Alaffia USA > Consumer
Organizational Structure of a Typical Fair Trade Entity:
- Small farmer > Commodity Buyer > Importer/Exporter > Ingredient Wholesaler > Manufacturer > Distributor > Consumer
Through their direct involvement in the entire process - from gathering the wild shea nuts and crafting the butter, to distribution locally and abroad - their members receive fair and steady incomes. In addition, 10% of sales always go directly back to their community empowerment projects. They believe combining fair wages and prices with community projects can lead their communities out of poverty and make our world a healthier place.
Sustainable Skin Care
Shea Butter is the oil from the nuts of wild Shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa - also known as Butyrospermum parkii in the cosmetic industry) scattered throughout the wooded savanna of West and Central Africa. Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa and is completely enmeshed within the history and culture of the West African savanna. Shea Butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra's Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of Shea Butter for cosmetic use. Funeral beds of kings were carved in the wood of old Shea Trees, and Shea Butter has always been a staple of African pharmacology. Alaffia was founded to alleviate poverty and advance gender equality in West Africa through the fair trade of handcrafted shea butter. Their mission embodies three clear principles:
- CREATE - They formulate and create their products based on indigenous beauty knowledge and unrefined, fair trade ingredients.
- INFORM - Their products inform the public about interconnections between communities and how, together, they can alleviate poverty through fair trade and sustainable choices.
- EMPOWER - Their fair trade shea butter cooperative and community projects encourage self empowerment and gender equality for women in their West African communities.
Wild Shea Trees
Now, more than ever before, it is important for all of us to make decisions that take into consideration the well-being of the generations to come. To them, sustainable means making choices and actions that improve current and future living conditions for our communities while maintaining the cultural and bio-diversities of our planet, including:
- Using Sustainably Harvested, Wildcrafted, and Traditionally Extracted
- Unrefined Shea Butter for the base of their skin and hair care products.
- Providing fair wages and prices to their Shea Butter Cooperative members and farmers.
- Dedicating 10% of sales proceeds to Community Enhancement Projects in Africa and other parts of the World.
The motivation to commit to these principles comes from the hope that their actions will:
- Improve current living standards and promote gender equality and feelings of self worth for individuals in their communities.
- Help break the cycle of poverty in Africa and preserve indigenous resources and knowledge for future generations
- Increase awareness of how individual actions and choices affect communities worldwide.
Cycle of Sustainable Skin Care
One of the main ways they strive for sustainability is by fostering direct relationships and removing the "middleman". These direct relationships reduce waste and costs, but also have another benefit. Each piece of the Alaffia sustainability cycle has a clear, unique and imperative role in helping them achieve their goals. West African Cooperatives Sustainability begins with handcrafted, unrefined ingredients. In Sokode, Togo, members of the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative handcraft shea butter, other indigenous oils and extracts using traditional, organic methods under fair trade guidelines. Their members gain pride and equality as well as a living wage. In Lacey, Washington, they repackage their shea butter, formulate and produce their finished products under the same principles. Their products are their voice to educate individuals and other organizations about the importance of fair trade and sustainable living. Their customers help spread their message, provide feedback and ideas, volunteer their time to help with their projects, as well as provide the funds with which they conduct their projects and support their cooperative members. They appreciate your support in reaching their goals. 10% of their sales are returned to West Africa to fund community enhancement projects. These projects are designed to help lift our communities out of poverty and become self-sustaining. Their projects focus on the future, emphasizing the environment, gender equality education and empowering communities.
Moral Beginnings - Moral Goals
Every day Alffia hears news about natural and man-made disasters, wars, environmental degradation - and it is easy to become pessimistic about humanity and the future. Problems include, but are not limited to:
Growing disparities between those who have and those who have not
Increasing populations while resources continue to decline
Gender inequality, child poverty, even child trafficking and slavery abound
Degraded, abused environments that are losing resiliency and ability to recover
Global climate change is disrupting formerly predictable rain patterns and water availability
Alaffia's Moral Duty
Alaffia firmly believes that it is their duty as educated, healthy, and determined individuals to take advantage of information and communication to work towards bettering the conditions of people and communities who are not so advantaged. They also understand that truly eradicating poverty, gender inequality or environmental collapse requires cooperation and action by all levels of society - individuals, governments, organizations of every scope and scale. However, until this occurs, Alaffia has pledged their lives to what they can do - helping their communities in central Togo sustain themselves through the fair trade of their indigenous resource - shea butter. The more each of us can do, the closer we are to everyone working together.