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.

321 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.

  11. Hi Lisa
    I plan to use the tea tree for facial cleansing. What are the measurements for mixing tea tree and water in a foam pump. Thanks

  12. Hello! Could you tell me how the Hemp Lavender and Eucalyptus soaps work with regard to insect repellant? Also, would you recommend the Tea Tree soap for dry, sensitive skin as well? I’ve used the Rose liquid soap in the past to remove makeup (which is AMAZING), but it has left my skin very dry and tight, sometimes even causing my t-zone to flake. Which soap is best for sensitive skin?

  13. Will the lavender lotion be okay to use on the face even though it says it’s hand and body lotion?

  14. Are the bar soaps safe for facial use – whats the difference in bar and liquid as far as facial skincare?

  15. i have extremely sensitive and oily skin and for the past year i’ve been using purity as my face wash and it worked amazingly! i just recently decided to switch to an all natural skin care routine and turned to Dr. Bronner’s soap, since i heard so many great things about it. i got the tea tree oil Castile soap and that night i used it with my spin brush, and though my skin did feel clean, it burnt so bad (only on my cheekbones though)! i came here and read you only use your hands, so i did that and my skin wasn’t as irritated. i thought it was just the strong scent of the soap (scents tend to make my skin freak) and switched to the baby soap. i used my brush again and it hurt just as bad in the same place! it’s confusing me because my brush has never irritated my skin so i’m wondering if its the soap. is the soap strong enough to use with my bare hands? and if so, will exfoliating be necessary?

  16. Which Dr. Bronner’s would be best for pores and hyper pigmentation and just helping smooth out the skin overall

  17. Hello, what soap do you think it’d fit me if I have acne prone skin, large pores (mostly on cheeks), acne marks and kind of oiliness? I’m between the tea tree and the peppermint one. Thanks.

  18. Hi Lisa!

    I use the peppermint liquid castile soap for cleaning everything around my house, and I love it.

    I am in my early 60’s and want to use a pure castile soap for washing my face – which I do only at night. What do you recommend? My skin is pretty good, no acne/pimples…but age spots and uneven color.

    Thanks 😉

  19. Lisa
    I have the unscented liquid Castile along with a bottle of tea tree essential oil and a bottle of witch hazel and lavender essential oil. Can I combine these to make a cleansing facial soap? If so, can you recommend how much of each I can use? I have normal to sensitive skin

  20. Hi Lisa! So, I usually use apple cider vinegar as a toner for my skin (diluted 1:1). I’ve found that it helps dramatically with the redness and I’ve been using it for about the last 6 months. I just bought the lavender castile soap, and I was wondering if it would react badly with ACV? I know castile soap is way too alkaline for your skin (so I dilute it 1:1) and ACV is more acidic. After I use the castile soap it leaves my skin stinging a bit, but I’ve noticed the ACV takes that away (followed by a moisturizer). I’ve heard mixing these two basically cancels the soap part of the equation out. Should I worry about that? Is that routine healthy for my skin? Thanks!

  21. Hi, I would like to know what products you would recommend for dry skin (oily T zone)
    Many thanks!!

  22. Hi Lisa,
    I was just introduced to the Pure Castile Soap line and am I very impressed. What a life saver. I can hardly say enough great and amazing things about the Castile soap line. I suffered from mild acne to slight body oder after taking medicine that was prescribed from a Doctor. During my prime time in life. I was in a state of depression with anxiety due to the acne and oder. I began taking the Peppermint Castile Soap a month ago and “WOW” what a difference in my acne and body Oder. It vanished within weeks and am I proud to say my confidence has been restored and I thank Dr. Bronner for making quality products. Not only have I used product on face and body I have used for brushing my teeth and as a household cleaner. This product represents the finest in beauty and wellness.

  23. what will this product do for your hair. I have used tea tree oil when I had scabbies. I used it for a few months , my skin was so soft it felt great. you mentioned in your first statement something about hair. can you tell me what it would do for my hair? The tea tree smells not so nice. Does it come in a nicer smelling fragrance?

  24. Just purchased a bottle of Dr. bronners magic soap at tj maxx. But I’m having trouble telling which one it is besides mint. It’s in blue print, but in German language.. Reine Naturseife
    Is this the same as the pure Castile.peppermint? Thank you

  25. I have dry peeling skin that is quite sensitive. If I use the dr bronners tea tree Castile soap do you think it would dry out my skin worst or cause more peeling? And if it does what are some recommendations that you have for dry skin. Thank you

  26. Hi! I too have tried many different things on my skin and nothing seems to be working! The amount of masks and washes I’ve tried is extreme. My sister bought me Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Tea Tree Pure-Castile Bar Soap and I am excited, sure, but skeptical with all my skin has been through! I have combination skin and have bumps all over my face. Will this product really help me.???

    • Hi Ashley – I do recommend that you try it out. Give it two weeks before you judge it. Your skin will go through a detox phase as the Tea Tree cleans deeply.

  27. Hi, I just bought the rose pure Castile soap. pls share with me few recipe blend for body, face or anything which is good to recommend. I have out of idea what could be use beside body wash.

    Thank you.

  28. I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Castile soap (3-4 drops) lathered with water for more than a week and it seems that I’m breaking out more, then when I had been using my sulfur acne wash. After my wash I put coconut oil on my face. I’m wondering if I’m just not a good candidate for it or what I should do differently..

    • Hi Leila – I would guess that you have probably moved on to something else since I am so late in responding to your question. In case others have the same question, though, I’ll still address it. When you first switch to the Tea Tree, there is an initial detox phase. The Tea Tree really digs deep into pores and brings stuff to the surface. Sometimes they get clogged on the way out, but if you keep using the Tea Tree twice a day for two weeks, this will definitely clear up.

  29. Hello, what do you recommend for dry very sensitive acne prone skin ? Eucalyptus or the tea tree?

    • Hi Mary – Before we came out with the Tea Tree, we would always recommend Eucalyptus for problem skin. The Tea Tree seems to be more effective though.

  30. Hi! Can I add tea tree oil to the unscented Baby Castile soap, or do you recommend getting the tea tree castile soap due to the formulation (ratios) being effective? I have the baby soap for my kids and separate tea tree oil. Trying to figure out ways to use this tea tree oil!

    Thank you

    • Hi there – You can certainly add your own essential oils – tea tree or any other – to the Unscented Baby Mild soap. This would be a great way to use the tea tree oil you have. Another thing to do is to make an All Purpose Housecleaning Spray out of it – 1/4 cup soap with 2- drops oil in 1 quart of water. Clean your whole house with that. I write more about that here: http://www.lisabronner.com/how-to-make-a-castile-soap-household-cleaner-spray/.

  31. Hi Lisa! I am a newbie in using Dr. Bronner’s BAR soap so I am currently researching how to use this. Do you have a cheat sheet how to use this? I would like to use these bar soaps as shampoo, body soap and facial soap. I have oily hair and oily skin, what variant do you recommend? I bought one of each variant and planning to share this to my family.

    Also, what is the effect of the citrus oils? A friend is interested in buying the citrus variant if it has whitening / clarifying properties. LOL

    Thank you Lisa for your help and recommendation!

    • Hi there – Welcome to the family! The Castile Cheat Sheet will get you started,http://www.lisabronner.com/dilutions-cheat-sheet-for-dr-bronners-castile-soap/, but I wrote it with the liquid in mind so it doesn’t translate perfectly into the bar. However, that being said, the bar soap is good for every part of the body. You will still need an acidic rinse such as apple cider vinegar if you do want to use it on your hair. The Tea Tree Castile is best for correcting skin balance issues, but I don’t want you to miss out on the loveliness of the other varieties. At the moment, and for quite some time now, Citrus has been my go-to. Before that it was Almond. The Peppermint, though, is naturally drying, so that could also be a good option for oiliness.

      Our Citrus soaps are not whitening. Pure lemon juice does have a bleaching effect in sunlight, but that doesn’t carry over to the citrus essential oils in our soaps.

      Let me know if I can answer further questions as you travel the Dr. Bronner’s road!

  32. Lisa,
    Is the Tea Tree Castile recommended for spotty skin? I have had more dark aging spots lately – mainly from the birth of my last daughter. Is this soap something I could wash my face with at night that might help or is it mainly for acne and red skin?

    • Hi Marni – I have had so many testimonials from customers on how the Tea Tree Castile has helped a wide variety of skin maladies, but I haven’t heard from one specifically for spotty skin. The darkened patches that some of us experience in pregnancy are caused by melanin, and there’s really no safe way to lighten those with a product. Time, as well as sunscreen or staying out of strong sun, can help to lighten those. Age spots are another indicator of too much sun exposure over time. If you do try to the Tea Tree CAstile, let me know your thoughts after two weeks.

  33. Hey Lisa! after I read this article I went out and bought a bottle from Frys. but ever sinced I switch from baby shampoo to the tea tree soap, there’s been a lot of irritation around my nose. it burns, is red, is dry, and is flaking skin. any suggestions on what I should do??

    • Hi Mariah – Did you switch from Dr. Bronner’s Baby soap to the Tea Tree, or from another baby soap? If you’re switching from another baby soap, the castile soap might at first be a bit drying. Use a light moisturizer to take care of this. I think I said in my article that I used the Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Coconut Lotion for a bit, but after a couple weeks, my skin totally adjusted. No more breakouts and no more dry skin.

  34. Hi Lisa,
    Found this site in my new search, and use of natural / homemade skin care, and face products that are not only inexpensive, but help with mature skin with fine lines, wrinkles, roseacia (slight), and those annoying white hard bumps on the face that look like whiteheads.

    In my search for face washes there are a whole host of recipes that have Dr. Bonners castile soap as an ingredient w/other ingredients like coconut oil, sweet almond oil etc. and water, and as a *note, that having water as an ingredient in the mixture cause the growth of all kinds of bacteria…( I made one w/the lavender castile soap, olive oil, honey, and water. Used it in the morning and at night, and after about 2 weeks I had a burning sensation when I used it. I quickly dumped it out).

    So I my big question is…if I mix it with water and place in a pump bottle, will it grow bacteria, if not what would the ratio of soap and water be?

    Thx. Lee

    • Hi Lee – Any dilution of the soap also dilutes the preservative (which is tocopherols – aka vitamin E). One way to extend the life of your solution is to add your own tocopherols. You could take a vitamin E capsule and open it into your mixture. I don’t know what the ratio would be, though. Another option is to mix only what you would use in a week or so. I find that my foaming pumps that I have beside my sinks with a ratio of 1:3 do fine for several weeks. The shelf life of your mixture depends on just how diluted it is. Also, the other ingredients may shorten the shelf life, especially the honey, which gives the bacteria something to eat. (Actually, pure honey is one of nature’s great naturally perserved substances, but when it’s diluted with water and other stuff, it loses its naturally preserved quality. There’s probably a better explanation at that, but I’ll leave it at that.)

  35. Time for true confessions, folks. It is February 9, 2017, and I have missed several months of comments for the simple reasons that things went a little crazy around here. I very much apologize. I am tackling them now for the sake of those faithful and new readers who might actually read them all. I am going to start with the most recent. Bear with me.

  36. Hi Lisa. I just bought the hemp citrus castile soap. Is the pH level lower because of the orange and lemon oils? Would I stI’ll need to rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar if I wash my hair with the hemp citrus soap? Thank you in advance for your guidance.

    • Hi Arnelia – The essential oils do not effect the pH to a noticeable extent. Lemon or orange oil doesn’t have the equivalent pH of lemon or orange juice. Although there is a vast variety of hair types, most people need to rinse with an acidic rinse afterwards to get their hair nice and smooth. ACV is a great option.

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