When it comes to soap, I tend to be a little picky. My pickiness is primarily born of necessity — my oldest daughter suffers from eczema. One “wrong” soap choice can have her broken out from head to toe, and something as innocuous as an “antibacterial hand soap” can leave her dry winter hands cracked and bleeding.
The other reason I tend to be picky has to do with the typical ingredients found in a majority of soaps on the market today. Parabens, chemically- derived fragrances and the ever-present sodium laurel (or laureth) sulfates, have all been linked with various health problems and skin irritation.
But, finding a “pure” soap is no easy task.
That’s why when I stumbled upon the reasonably-priced Dr. Bronner’s Magic 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap, I was a little giddy.
Castile soap, for those who don’t know, is soap made exclusively from vegetable oil. Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 soap uses a combination of saponified coconut and olive oils, as well as hemp oil and jojoba oil. It is available in either bar or liquid form.
Now, admittedly, the packaging is a little weird. There are a lot of bizarre ramblings about the “All-One” Philosophy — which make for some pretty interesting reading. But, lest you think you might be supporting some kind of cleanliness cult, know that the label is kept for nostalgia purposes only. (The All-One philosophy was the belief of the late Dr. Bronner, but today the company supports a variety of worthwhile causes and charities, including The Boys and Girls Club of America.)
So what exactly can this soap be used for? Well, according to the label, here are the 18 uses: shaving cream, shampoo, facial pack, hair conditioner, massage/body rub, toothpaste, bath soap, laundry soap, fruit and vegetable wash, denture cleaner, mouthwash, pet shampoo, car cleaner, foot soap, mint deodorant, cleaner for silks and wools, bubble bath, mouth freshener.
I’ve been using the soap for shaving, bath soap, hand soap, and as a house cleaner. The liquid soap is rather thin, which can make it easy to overuse, but it lathers beautifully. (The only problem I ran into was when I tried to use it as a bubble bath for the kids. For some reason, it didn’t foam when added to the water.)
While the bar soap is great, I find our family can go through one bar rather quickly. The liquid soap — which must be diluted, tends to last much longer. (I bought a 32 oz. bottle about three months ago and have only used about 1/4 of it.)
Which brings me to an important point — dilute, dilute, dilute. If you’re using the liquid formulation, please be sure to dilute it — particularly if you have dry, sensitive skin, as the soap can be drying at full strength.
Dr. Bronner’s soap comes in a wide variety of gorgeous scents — I’ve tried the almond, lavender and peppermint (which is very cooling and tingly). There is also an unscented baby formula. If you have sensitive skin, start with the baby formulation. Some of the essential oils used to fragrance the other varieties — such as peppermint or lavender — can be drying or irritating.
One of my favorite ways to use Dr. Bronner’s soap is as a hand soap. Add two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s per 8 oz. of water to a foaming soap dispenser — it’s absolute perfection. The soap doesn’t dry out my hands (or my daughter’s for that matter) the way regular soap does, and for mere pennies you can refill your soap dispenser with a perfectly “green” cleanser.
What’s more, all Dr. Bronner’s ingredients are certified organic and fair trade — which means in addition to making your life healthier, you’re helping to ensure the welfare of others.