A little goes a long way
A bit too intense for facial skin
Not a good use for toothpaste
Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Liquid Soap
I’m so excited to review one of my favorite products: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap in peppermint. I remember getting my first bottle of this almost 20 years ago, when it seemed everybody in New York City had one in their shower. What got my attention at first was the label—literally every square inch is covered in some form of raving well-being philosophy, scripture, or sage wisdom. And the stuff inside is legendary, and nothing if not versatile. Loaded with organic fair-trade oils, this "18-in-1" product is a one-stop shop, making it a great body wash, face cleanser, shampoo, shaving foam, bubble bath—you can even brush your teeth with it. It’s also ideal for around the house as dishwashing liquid as well as a terrific all-purpose cleaner that’s safe for kids and pets, according to the brand.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll focus on the top six personal care uses for this review (although I can personally attest to the fact that Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap is a great household cleaner). It comes in eight different fragrances, and the one I’ve chosen to review is the famous peppermint.
Keep reading to see where Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap triumphed—and where it fell short.
STAR RATING: 4.5/5
BEST FOR: All skin types
USES: There are 18 official uses, but we tested it as a body wash, face cleanser, shampoo, shaving foam, bubble bath, and toothpaste.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Peppermint oil.
PRICE: $17 for 32 oz
ABOUT THE BRAND: Dr. Bronner’s is a family-owned brand that embodies six "Cosmic Principles" to achieving a healthy, balanced life and which extends to their products, which contain only pure ingredients which are presented in environmentally-friendly packaging.
About My Skin: Sensitive face, balanced body
The skin on my face tends to be moody and temperamental (read: underlying dryness with significant surface oiliness). Some days are clear and bright, while others are marked by blotchiness and irritation, seemingly at whim. My body skin, however, is otherwise balanced, if not oily in the usual areas such as the center of my back. I run regularly, so I like my body wash to be effective without being too drying.
The Feel: Liquid that turns into luscious lather
The thing about Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is that the stuff is concentrated. A few drops on a wet hand turns into mounds of thick, peppermint smelling lather, so no matter what size bottle you get, it’s going to last a lot longer than you’d expect. This was a plus for me, as I don’t typically use a pouf or wash cloth in the shower. My hands were enough to work up an invigorating lather that washed away easily, leaving my skin feeling clean and refreshed.
The Scent: Ice-cold peppermint that wakes you up
Over the years, I’ve tried all of the eight fragrances Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap comes in, and definitely hold peppermint as my favorite. It smells fresh and authentic, more actual peppermint plant than candy cane. On the skin, it gives you that icy-hot bracing feeling which I love both at night after a run and first thing in the morning, especially during hot weather. Peppermint is also known for its calming and soothing effects, and a few whiffs of this can make your shower or bath an aromatherapy experience to remember.
The Ingredients: Organic and clean
The simple ingredients list of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap explains a lot—you can basically tag each of its 10 ingredients with a specific function. The base is a collection of pure oils including organic coconut oil, organic palm kernel oil, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil—all of which have been saponified so that when you mix it with water, it creates such a robust lather. If you’ve used shower oils before, be warned that Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap is nothing like that. It doesn’t feel oily at all on the skin, and it certainly doesn’t leave behind that oily veil that gives such products their charm.
I took Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap on a test-drive six different ways, and here is how each turned out:
- Body Wash: The most typical use for Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap is as a body wash, and as a fan off and on for almost 20 years, I keep coming back to it for the same reason: it works. A little goes a long way, and it leaves my body feeling clean and invigorated, but never too dry.
- Face Cleanser: I knew even before bringing the peppermint-scented lather to my face that it would be too much. While Dr. B’s peppermint is a dream on my body, I felt it was too drying for my sensitive skin. If you’re super oily though, it might be the right level of clean you’re looking for.
- Shampoo: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap lathered up like any good shampoo should, leaving my hair feeling clean and my scalp all tingly. Those with drier hair may want to follow up with conditioner, but it was just enough clean for my short coif.
- Shaving Foam: I only shave the top part of my beard, and literally one drop of Dr. B’s on each cheek was enough to get plenty of lather that allowed the blade (Gillette Mach 3) to glide effortlessly over my skin.
- Bubble Bath: As a bubble bath, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap produces tons of light, airy, peppermint-scented foam that gently dissipates, leaving the water fragrant and milky.
- Toothpaste: I love you, Dr. Bronner, but as a toothpaste you deserve a big zero. Although it did foam up nicely in my mouth and leave my teeth feeling very clean, my tongue felt stripped and my mouth felt dry afterwards. I could barely taste the peppermint, and what I did taste was very soapy. Luckily, Dr. Bronner’s now makes a line of actual toothpaste, so you can take my word for it and keep the castile soap away from your mouth.
The Value: A little goes a long way
Like I said, it only takes a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap to achieve a hefty lather. I actually got clever and measured, and found one shower takes exactly nine drops of soap. Three for my chest, three for my back, and three for my legs and feet. Since I tend to use Dr. B’s primarily as a body wash (although having a cat, I do use it to clean my floors occasionally) I expect it to last me ages. But if you take advantage of all 18 of its uses, then opt for a bigger bottle and you’ll be set.
Similar Products: You have options
Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Liquid Castile Soap ($7): This version of castile soap from Desert Essence is scented with the multi-tasker of the beauty world—tea tree oil—known for its anti-bacterial and soothing properties.
Seven Minerals Pure Castile Soap ($16): Unscented and extra mild, this castile soap from Seven Minerals is ideal for using on sensitive skin and still has many uses around the house.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap has become a universally beloved product for a reason—it’s effective, versatile, and made with pure and fair trade ingredients without any preservatives or foaming agents that might cause skin irritation. I put it to the test in six different ways—those I’ve listed above—and while some were definitely more enjoyable than others (spoiler: it tastes awful as a toothpaste) I can confidently say it lived up to its promises. Every house should have a bottle of this stuff.
- Product Name Pure Castile Liquid Soap
- Product Brand Dr. Bronners
- Price $10
- Weight 16 oz.
- Ingredients Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil, Mentha Arvensis, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Mentha Piperita, Citric Acid, Tocopherol