Target has a “natural” aisle in its skincare and cosmetic department and I wasn’t surprised to spot drug store staples like Burt’s Bees and Aveno. But what I didn’t expect to find was some lesser known brands such as Shea Moisture and I immediately swooped on the African Black Soap Shea Butter Lotion ($11.50). I was won over by the relatively short list of mostly good-looking natural ingredients and the absence of any nasties and took it home to be inaugurated as my new body lotion.

Shea Moisture’s Black African Soap Lotion is very, very thick. It is almost impossible to squeeze through the plastic flip-back cap and so I resort to removing the cap completely and tapping and squeezing dollops out (think very uncooperative ketchup).  Once out there is a blast of scent that reminds me of kindergarten; it’s the smell of Plasticine or Play-Doh. I don’t think that the dominant ingredient, shea butter, is responsible for this as in its pure form it has a nutty, chocolatey smell. I think its probably a combination of honeysuckle and the oat meal.

Anyway, shea butter certainly accounts for this cream’s (it is not a lotion by any stretch) dense texture and moisturizing qualities. Shea butter is considered to be a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). As an NMF, it helps keep the intercellular structure of the epidermis intact, effectively keeps bacteria out, facilitates the skin’s healing process, prevents dermal irritation and regenerates the skin.

African Black Soap is generally made from plantain skins that are roasted and then mixed with ashes (in this case, palm) and Shea Moisture’s variation also includes tamarind. In West African countries it is used extensively to treat skin disorders such as eczema.  I also like the skin nourishing and antioxidant mango and cocoa butters used here.

I’m not likely to buy this again as it doesn’t give me the soft silky feeling that I get from current favorite body cream made by Zinn. But at half the price, I would recommend this as a good buy and cut above most of the so-called natural products in Target, Walmart or Duane Reade (all of which carry this brand).

Ingredients: Shea butter*, deionized water, stearyl alcolol (palm kernel), vegetable emulsifying wax, mango seed butter, cocoa seed butter*, African black soap extract, oat kernel meal, aloe vera leaf juice, tocopherol (vitamin E), vegetable glycerin, jojoba oil, salicylic acid, honeysuckle flower and Japanese honeysuckle flower extract, essential oil blend. *certified organic