I Wash my Face with Castile Soap

Enjoy only 2 cosmetics: enough sleep and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap”.

While there may be many things on my grandfather’s label that are rather enigmatic, this statement is as straightforward as it gets. I would only add a third element: drinking plenty of water. When it comes to a clear complexion, this has been my recipe.

For about 15 years I ran in circles trying to clear up my complexion. Between acne and general redness, I was fighting a losing battle. As a teenager I tried all the big name products: Noxema, Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, Cetaphil, various salicylic acid ointments, even Estee Lauder and Clinique. When I entered college, I sought professional help and used prescription Retin-A and Erythromycin. After that I used Dermalogica products. None of these were a long term solution. I just lived with the acne, covering it up as I could.

When I began answering the customer service emails for Dr. Bronner’s, I decided I needed to be trying out for myself the solutions I was offering to customers. One of the most common topics dealt with using the castile soap to alleviate acne, eczema, psoriasis, and general redness. My recommendation was to wash with the Tea Tree pure castile soap, or to use the unscented Baby Mild pure castile for general irritation or for sensitive skin.

Now I can say from firsthand knowledge: this stuff really works.

In this age of specialization, the idea of using one product on hair, face, and body sounds pretty naïve. But experience speaks.

I began using the Tea Tree Pure Castile soap on my face twice a day. I found that it removed make up easily and completely. The soap will even remove mascara. After a week, my blemishes were disappearing and no new ones were forming.

At first, my face did feel tight after I washed. I think this was due to the change from the intense facial washes I had been using, as well as the creams, masks, and who knows what else. (Not even I remember all that I had applied.) So during the early months I also used the Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Coconut lotion – a very lightly scented, lightweight moisturizer. It was just right.

At a month out, my skin was smooth, my color was more even. With all that I had been through, I was somewhat astounded that the answer was so simple and had been right there in front of me, quite literally, for much of my life. (Not my whole life since Tea Tree wasn’t introduced until my later childhood.)

I also discovered a pretty direct correlation between the amount of sleep I get, the amount of water I drink, and the condition of my skin. During crazy times, when sleep dwindles to 3-4 hours a night (bear in mind I have three young kids), my tiredness breaks out all over my face. When junky treats creep in to my diet and water creeps out, my face tells that story as well.

Now, several years later, I still wash with castile soaps. I don’t need the lotion any more except when the crazy Santa Ana winds sweep across California in the Fall.

In summary, here’s my technique:

  1. I wet my skin with warm water.
  2. I take about three drops – yes, three drops – of the Tea Tree pure castile soap and lather it up on my hands.
  3. Then I rub it on my face in gentle, circular motions, taking extra time where my make up was and on historically problematic areas. I do not use a washcloth or scrubbie of any sort. I find that it irritates my skin.
  4. However, as the label emphasizes, keep the eyes closed. Let me say that one again, Keep the eyes closed.*
  5. I rinse my face with warm water in my hands with about five splashes.
  6. I dry by blotting my face with a towel.

As I’ve said before, you have to figure out what works for you, and perhaps you need to be more vigorous or more gentle than I have been. It’s a bit of trial and error, but be persistent. It’s completely worth it.

284 thoughts on “I Wash my Face with Castile Soap

  1. I have recently started using Dr Bronner’s tea tree soap on my face and body. Since starting I have noticed my face is oily and I have acne bumps forming under my skin. I use the product as directed and when my skin started to become oily I started to use less frequently. I am really disappointed because I have heard so many lovely things about Dr Bronner’s and how it’s good for your skin and for the environment. Any advice?

    • Hi there – When I first switched the the Castile, I too experienced an increase in breakouts at first. This is from the soap’s really digging deep and cleaning out those pores. A lot of gunk is coming out. Give the soap a couple weeks to work its magic and see how it does. Also, the oiliness could be a reaction to the switch as well. If you had previously been using a product that left behind a heavy film as a “moisturizer”, your skin may be adjusting to the fact that the castile doesn’t do that. One way to help it transition is to use a light moisturizer during the day like our Lavender Coconut Lotion, or perhaps a deeper moisturizer such as pure coconut oil (just a bit, though) as a masque at night.

  2. Hello what are some of the benefits to skin in using this soap. I want to try it out as a facial and body soap. However I want to know how it will improve my skin.

    • Hi Jonell – I’m glad you asked! Here are my top three benefits of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap:
      1. The oil combo is perfectly matched to the naturally occurring lipids in your skin. Some soaps strip out the skin’s oils and some leave behind heavy oils that are incompatible with our skin. Dr. B’s castile mirrors the skin, especially with the hemp and jojoba oils, balancing your skin. Give it 2 weeks of daily usage so that your skin can heal and respond.
      2. No synthetic fragrance or preservatives. These two categories cause most of the problems in conventional products. They are mostly responsible for irritation, allergies, and long-term health problems such as hormone imbalances. Check out what the Environmental Working Group (kind of the Consumer Reports of health) says about Fragrance here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/ and about some common paraben preservatives here http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=paraben. In EWG’s rating system, anything in 7-10 is “high hazard”.
      3. Resolves recurring skin ailments such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and general redness. Because the castile soap promotes healthy skin, it enables the skin to become stronger, less prone to problems, and to heal itself. The Tea Tree liquid is best when battling acute problems.

      Overall, I love the simplicity of having one product I can wash with from head to toe. It really clears out my shower of all the variety of products.

      I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t! Let me know if I can answer further questions.

  3. Hello Lisa,

    I have been using Dr Bronners Peppermint Castile Soap on my face for about a week or two. Recently, I’ve been getting this redness that really stings/burns on my whole face (not the cooling effect from peppermint) Some areas are more red than others and it feels almost like a rash. It exacerbated some of my acne, particularly the blackheads on my chin. Our tap water is chlorinated, if that makes a difference. I’m not sure if I’m explaining it correctly..

    Could I be having an allergic reaction to the soap? Or Just doing something incorrectly?

    • Hi Lucas – A couple thoughts here: I too found that when I first switched to the Castile – Tea Tree in my case – I had worse skin for a couple weeks. It was like my skin was detoxing and bad stuff that had been buried deep was coming out and wasn’t too happy about it. After a couple weeks, though, my face was clearer than it had been in decades. This could be what is happening with you. Another possibility though is that the Peppermint Castile is our most intense castile. Peppermint essential oil is a naturally drying oil (I know that sounds counterintuitive to have a drying oil) and unless you have very oily skin, or perhaps exercise heavily, it may be too strong for your skin. It is for me. If I use Peppermint on my face regularly, it turns very red. This drying ability is fantastic for oily skin and for situations like poison ivy or skunk spray, where it is actually an oil that needs to be removed. However, it’s not for everyone. Perhaps consider the Tea Tree instead.

  4. I think the Dr Bronner’s line of unscented soaps/shave gels are great. And I have extremely sensitive skin that can easily get dried out, I “believe” the trick is the water to soap ratio and I have read that hard tap water does not help.
    I myself use as little as possible of unscented Baby Mild pure castile in an old hand soap pump foamer bottle.
    Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Coconut lotion is great stuff but as a person with a fragrance sensitivity and as a guy…I would think it would be awesome to see an unscented version of Dr. Bronner’s Body Lotion. I bet it would sell like hotcakes.

    • Hi Jason – That’s great to hear about the unscented line. An unscented lotion is definitely a big request around here. It’s not as simple as taking the essential oils out of our current lotions. It would require a complete reformulation. Because a key ingredient in our lotions is organic ethanol, the federal law states that the ethanol must be denatured (i.e. made undrinkable) by adding essential oils to it. You know, to make sure no one eats our lotion and gets drunk. Tempting though it may be…

      Still, we’re working on it!

  5. hi is that true ? can i try ? i was trying many soaps but, i dont get improvement .my face nature is oily & i have acne where did i get this soap?

    • Hi Melknesh – Yes, it’s true! I myself am one of many Dr. Bronner’s users who have found that the castile soap works great at clearing up acne. You’ll need to give it two weeks of daily use to let it work its wonders. You can buy it online (Amazon is one of many sites) or in any natural foods store, or big retailers like Target, Walgreens, and Costco.

  6. Right now my face wash routine is not working out very well for me. I have read a lot of things saying that the Castile soap works very well for the face. I have very oily and sensitive skin so I am hesitant to try something new. What soap would be recommended?

    • Hi Hailey – For oily sensitive skin, I recommend the Tea Tree liquid Castile. Give it two weeks of twice daily use before you decide on the results. At first, it might be worse because it’s cleaning your skin very deeply. Also be careful of what else you are using on your face. If you wear make-up, wash it off as soon as you can in the evening. Perhaps avoid toners, creams and lotions for a while too. Sometimes our skin just needs to breathe on its own.

  7. Hello Lisa, Thanks for the recommendation. I will probably give the tea tree a try! I noticed there are 2 different types.. The Hemp Teatree Pure Castile or Sugar Teatree Pump Soap. Which would you recommend for just face, hair and body? Would the Pure Castile last longer? I also noticed there are different ingredients in the Sugar Teatree Pump like Shikakai Powder.. What’s up with that?

    • Hi Lucas – I prefer the simplicity of the Pure Castile liquid. The Pump Soaps are more moisturizing, thanks to the Shikakai powder, and they work in regular pumps, which lots of people like. However, I find the Pure Castile to be much more versatile and it lasts longer, too.

  8. I’ve been using the Almond Castile Soap for a few months now—when I first switched, my skin LOVED the stuff—I had a great even tone and never over-dried. Now I am finding that I am getting dry and wonder what has changed. Would I benefit, do you think from changing to the unscented? Maybe it is the changing of seasons? I don’t know- but my skin is flaking with dryness. Any ideas?

    • Hi Michel – I was just thinking to myself about how our skin and hair are so easily affected by so many factors – the weather, the humidity, our diet, our sleep, our stress levels. They’re like our bodies litmus strips. It would be nice if they weren’t so visible in announcing to everyone around us, “THERE’S SOMETHING GOING ON WITH THIS PERSON RIGHT HERE.” Anyhow, in answer to your question, yes, your skin may very well be affected by the change of seasons. You can either switch to our mildest soap which is the unscented Baby Mild, or try a moisturizer. I like to do a coconut oil treatment one night/week when my skin needs it. It has a deep, long lasting affect on my skin. For day time use, our Lavender Coconut lotion makes a lightweight facial moisturizer.

  9. Hi Lisa, I just purchased Dr Bronner’s hemp lavender castile bar soap. I’ve read the previous questions about the tea tree & the peppermint versions. I too have adult acne & more so now than I ever did in my teen years. I like you have tried everything you have & also thought I know I’ll use organic products & I still broke out. I am so discouraged & really should not be dealing with this issue at my age of lets say over 55. I wasn’t sure which soap to try & bought the hemp lavender knowing lavender is calming so thought it would also calm my skin. I’m afraid to try it & be worse & not sure I can handle a lot worse before better. Can you tell me what the hemp lavender soap is good for & what type of skin. Mine is very sensitive. There is nothing on bar stating how tio use or what this will do or accomplish! I also would like to know if this will help or be worse for for blemished skin.? Is the Tea Tree the only one recommended for Blemish prone skin?
    Thank you Lisa for any recommendations,

    • Hi Sandy – Outbreaks are so frustrating. If I wanted to feel like a teenager again, this isn’t what I had in mind! All of our scented Castile soaps have the same base but differ in the essential oils that are added to them. While lavender essential oil isn’t specifically targeted at acne, it won’t worsen it either. You can go ahead and give it a try, but give it two weeks before pronouncing judgement on the results. It may be worse for a few days while it cleans your skin deeply. The Tea Tree does have the extra boost from the natural antimicrobial agents in Tea Tree essential oil, and if the lavender doesn’t cut it, you might want to go that route. Otherwise, the Lavender makes an awesome body wash, and you can even mix up a spray bottle and clean your house with it. 1/4 c. of soap in a quart of water.

  10. I was wondering which cleanser you would recommend for acne prone skin, oiliness, and redness.

    • Hi Lareine – The Tea Tree Pure Castile liquid is the one to start with. It’s antimicrobial qualities address several skin issues.

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