I'm a big fan of multitasking beauty products, and there are few more eager to live up to the all-in-one hype than Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, which claims to have 18 different uses in one post-consumer recycled plastic bottle. According to the brand's website, Dr. Bronner's soaps can be used for washing pretty much every part of your body and your home, as well as for "washing dogs, controlling dust mites, and killing ants and aphids."
Now, using a product on your face that also claims to control dust mites sounds a little terrifying, but really, there's nothing to be afraid of because it's just soap. Plus, the company is committed to making eco-friendly soaps and products, sourcing organic ingredients from certified Fair Trade projects and certified to not be tested on animals. (We've got to keep Spaceship Earth clean, as Dr. Bronner would say.)
I don't have a dog or a problem with aphids, but I'm always looking for a new lazy girl beauty hack. (See Smith's Rosebud Salve.) I've used Dr. Bronner's while hiking and backpacking since it's biodegradable, but I decided to really put Dr. Bronner's to the test and use Rose Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in place of my regular body wash, cleanser, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, and toothpaste to see if it could live up to the hype. Here's what happened.
I have used Dr. Bronner's on the road before, so I had some idea of what I was getting into with this one when replacing my regular bar of soap that I literally got at the local convenience store for this organic liquid soap. I poured a few drops onto a loofah and scrubbed away, and I can assure you that that stuff really works to get your skin clean. This was my first time using the rose-scented Dr. Bronner's, and it was nothing short of delightful. The scent is floral without being too sweet, and it lingered in a pleasant, not cloying way. My skin felt moisturized and clean, and there were no rashes or patches of dry skin or anything nasty like that. Honestly, there was nothing that interesting to report because, at the end of the day, it's soap, and it did what it's supposed to do.
My skin has been on a rampage for a few months, with regular breakouts of what might be cystic acne or could just be a huge pain. I've been trying to calm it down by using Aveeno Brightening Cleanser, which has been doing some good things for my face, and I was nervous to swap it out for soap. But Dr. Bronner's is mild for sensitive skin, and lots of people on the Internet (who are sometimes the most reliable people in the world) say that it's been good for their oily skin and acne.
I washed my face with it in the morning to no great fanfare. Dr. Bronner's is gentle, and I was impressed with how matte my skin appeared. I washed again with Dr. Bronner's before going to bed and was less than impressed with its ability to remove my mascara. Plus, this time my face felt tight and dry and stripped of anything good. So it was little surprise when I woke up the next morning that my face was extremely oily and over-compensating for the lack of moisture. In other words, it was an epic fail in the preventing breakouts department.
Shampoo And Conditioner
My hair has been through the ringer recently, and a veritable whirlwind of bad dye jobs and over-processing has left it dry and relatively damaged. I was hesitant to swap out my OGX Keratin Oil Shampoo and Conditioner for soap that would strip my scalp of oil, especially after the whole face washing fiasco.
It was tough to work the liquid soap through my hair, and I had an even harder time trying to comb it out. I just kept coming up against tangles. After letting it air dry, as I normally do, I was totally disappointed. It wasn't even the lack of bounce or shine or softness that got to me. It was the waxiness, a strange residue that lingered, that made me wonder if I had even washed my hair at all. That weird, unclean feeling lasted until my next shower, two days later, when I returned to my regular shampoo and conditioner.
I've tried my hand at shaving cream alternatives in the name of Bustle before, and along the spectrum, soap is a pretty tame option. I lathered up my legs with Dr. Bronner's, grabbed a new razor, and hacked away at a few weeks of hair growth. The hardest parts of the process were not being able to see where I had already shaved and being constantly fearful that the razor would slip on the soap and cause a flesh wound, but I had no accidents and my legs weren't irritated after the fact, so I would say that it worked.
This was the part of the experiment I was dreading the most because this was the one I could imagine going the most wrong... and tasting the worst. I even bought a new toothbrush for this one, because I didn't want to contaminate my regular toothbrush with the taste of soap. But I put a drop on my toothbrush, as recommended by the Internet, and hopped to brushing.
It wasn't the worst. It definitely wasn't a pleasant taste, but it was more gentle than I expected. My biggest issue with brushing with Dr. Bronner's, much like with washing my hair, was that my mouth didn't exactly feel clean after I spit out the soap and rinsed. There was a definite after-taste that lingered until my next cup of coffee, and really, I much preferred having coffee breath than Dr. Bronner's breath.
All-In-One Or All-In-None?
At the end of the day, Dr. Bronner's did not do it for me. Sure, it got me relatively clean and kind of smelling like a bouquet of roses, but it was by no means a miracle product. There was something liberating about the efficiency of using only one product in the shower. My shower time was cut definitely cut down significantly by only using one product rather than six or so, but the results weren't better than, or even as good, as my regular routine.
If we're talking desert island essentials, I'd be happy to take along a bottle of Dr. Bronner's. It's a good product to have hanging around in case of emergencies, and it works great as soap for your body since it is just soap. But as long as I'm living in civilization, I'll stick to my regular multi-product routine and leave the organic hemp soap for the aphids.
Images: Maxine Builder
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