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.

188 thoughts on “I Wash my Face with Castile Soap

  1. Hi Lisa, I suffer from moderate acne on forehead and sometimes cheek. I am hispanic and have brown skin, so naturally I produce a lot of melanin and suffer from hyperpigmentation. What do you recommend?

  2. Hi Lisa,

    About 3 days ago I began using the dr. Bronner’s peppermint Castile liquid soap for my mild acne. I have tried using products such as proactiv, and other harsh chemicals to rid my skin of acne for years…. Always to no avail. I thought it was about time to try something a little bit more gentle and natural on my poor skin. I picked up a bottle of dr. Bronner’s after reading hundreds of positive reviews on line. I use the soap once in the morning and once at night with no other face products. I now have loads of tiny bumps along my hairline and t-zone. I am worried that I am having a reaction to the soap and will have to stop using it. Is it common for people to have reactions like this to the soap? Could it be the peppermint that I am reacting to? I have such high hopes for this soap…. It really is too bad it isn’t working out for my skin.

    Thanks so much!

    Victoria

    • Victoria: it could be the peppermint in the soap. peppermint can be irritating more than other oils.

    • I have a similar experience and I use the Baby-mild unscented product!
      Dr. Bronner is extremely irritating to my skin, more then any product I’ve used before. I’m not exaggerating because I’m unsatisfied, I’m telling the truth. I think the problem is that the soap is too aggresive because it can also be used to clean your house.
      That’s why I tried dilluting it with water. I used 50% water and 50% baby-mild dr bronner and I don’t notice the difference, my skin has been irritating me all day. It’s extremely itchy.
      The soap works well to clean my house so luckily I can still use it for that.

  3. Hi Lisa. I tried to skim the list of comments, but I haven’t seen anyone have the same inquiry, but I have been struggling with my skin (much like your story) since my late teens, and I am now 31. I recently stopped using all products containing perfume on my skin and I have noticed definite improvement on my body but not so much on my face. I thought I might need to try something completely unscented rather than just no synthetic perfumes, and after finding this website I decided to try baby mild. I have used it twice and both times it has burned, especially my face and low back, which have the most irritation. I am assuming it might be due to open sores which tend to reopen when I shower. It’s not a lingering pain, but it’s a stinging sensation that lasts until I rinse. It’s not unbearable (although I can’t imagine putting this on a baby) it is enough to make me wonder if I should discontinue using it or tough it out for a but longer. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Dana, did you dilute the soap? Or use it straight from the bottle? I’ve been using Baby Mild on my face 3 parts distilled water, 1 part soap, a few drops of tea tree and geranium oil. Some like to dilute even more 5:1

  4. Hi Lisa,
    I recently switched to Dr. Bronners soaps to minimize chemicals in my personal hygene products. I normally don’t have an acne problem besides the occasional pimple but ever since I have switched to organic products I’m struggling to find a facial cleaner I can stick with. At first I tried Noble Formula then switched to DermaZinc for my face as they seem to have natural ingredients but both caused me to break out or made my skin very oily. I gave each soap a 2 week trial before I switched. For my body I started with Dr. Bronners liquid Tee Tree soap which was fine but then switched to the Dr. Bronners Tee Tree Bar soap because I like that it lathers more when I wash. I have started to wash my face with Dr. Bronners Tee Tree bar soap and it seems to be doing the same thing as the others but I find my face to be too dry while using this and it seems to be causing facial redness. I read somewhere that the bar can be more moisturizing then the liquid soaps but I’m curious what the pros and cons are for the Liquid VS Bar soap when washing face. Is one more likely to clog pores? Is one more drying? I know 3 drops is recommended when using liquid soap but how would you recommend using the bar for facial wash? I like the Tee Tree soap but may switch to the Uncented Baby Mild if I can’t get the desired results. Also as a last resort can you or anyone else recommend any other good gentle organic face washes?

  5. Hi Lisa!

    I have been having trouble using dr. bronners bar soap on my face. I have extremely sensitive skin, and each wash results in stinging and bumpy redness all over my face, but the rest of my body is fine.

    I have tried lavender, tea tree, and most recently baby mild.

    However, I use the lavender coconut lotion with no stinging at all.

    Many of the ingredients between the soap and the lotion are similar, with the exception of Citric Acid and Sea salt. I have never had a problem consuming oranges or salt, but have you ever heard of someone having an issue with Citric Acid or sea salt in the soap?

    Thanks.

  6. I LOVE Dr. Bronners. I have to second that it’s great for acne however lathering in hand BEFORE you apply is very important. I took the skin right off my nose putting it straight on then rubbing. I also used way more than three drops and used the peppermint version. I find it naturally exfoliates my face when I’m careful with how much I use and and how hard I scrub. My face stays clear. And grapseed oil is a fantastic moisturizer/skin emollient.

  7. Hi Lisa,

    I have been suffering from adult acne and had a terrible breakout a few weeks ago, but since using the baby mild soap (with a few added drops of tea tree oil) my cystic acne cleared up. I am left with acne scars, and would like to know if these will fade by using the soap or if you can recommend something else. Also, my face often burns when I sweat or go in the sun, what do you recommend for this?

  8. Hi Lisa,

    I think you have inadvertently found the treatment for demodex mites !! Being fair skinned and middle aged I have suffered with worsening rosacea for four years. Conventional treatments have not worked. “Natural” remedies have not worked. Out of sheer desperation last week I used the Dr. Bronners unscented soap (that I had bought for my hair) on my face thinking “what the hell – even if my face drops off I have to do something” and following your principle regarding the residue rinsed with a solution of acv and water. The next day I just couldn’t believe my eyes. The redness had toned right down and the acne had started to heal. Immediately I researched both the Dr. Bronners and the acv and found for the first time in all four years of searching that acne and acne rosacea can be caused by an over infestation of demodex mites which naturally (and happily) live on the skin of most people.

    I then read lots of your blogs and found that the exo-skeletons of the dustmites are dissolved by Dr. Bronners – these are tiny spiders which according to my theory must be like the tiny spiders which are demodex mites. I did a bit more research and found that the only way to kill off hoards of these little critters is tea tree oil !!! Bravo for you Lisa – you found the treatment for acne and rosacea without probably knowing it destroyed the over population of demodex mites.

    I now use the TTO Dr. Bronners and nothing else, as the acv did start to burn my face even in very diluted solutions. The itching, burning soreness is reducing day by day and all but two of the lumps have gone. My skin is smooth once again and starting to heal. This is in just 8 days. I am still on the antibiotics from my dermatologist and on their own these were doing nothing; working in tandem with the Dr. Bronners seems to be the winning formula for me.

    I am now going to use the TTO Dr. Bronners on my teenage daughter’s back and shoulders as her acne skin also itches like mad, so I believe those little critters are over-populating on her skin too.

    The biggest mistake I made was thinking I had dry skin which caused the rosacea so I was slathering on loads of cold pressed, organic oils and shea butter. Little did I know, my skin was shedding because of the mites and I was actually feeding them an organic, nutrient diet on which to thrive and multiply.

    I really hope this post helps someone because it appears to me that even experienced, £200 per appointment dermatologists don’t seem to recognise an infestation of demodex mites when they see one !

    Thanks again for submitting your post regarding how you healed your skin – you have saved my sanity. Please never stop making your soaps to your current formulas.

  9. Hi,

    I have fairy clear dehydrated skin, am 37 years old so starting to get a few lines, which soap do you think would be best for me?

    Thanks!

    • I know it’s been a few weeks but I wanted to give you an answer. I have redness and a tendency toward dry skin…I use the Unscented Baby Mild. You can also experiment with Jojoba Oil or Sweet Almond Oil. Here’s a list I found that should give a general idea:

      Jojoba (all skin types, but very desirable for acne-prone skin)
      Sweet almond (all skin types, especially oily)
      Grapeseed (all skin types, especially oily)
      Avocado (dry and aging skin) – Can be pore clogging but you can certainly try it
      Sunflower Seed (all skin types)
      Olive (all skin types)*
      Apricot Kernel (dry, aging, and normal skin)
      Argan (all skin types, especially aging skin … very pricey)
      Tamanu (all skin types … very pricey)

  10. I recently started going the no-poo route because I hated the idea of putting all those chemicals on my body, and my sister told me to give Dr. Bronner’s a try. I’ve used the almond, the peppermint, and am currently using the tea tree.

    As I work in the public sector my hygiene is extremely important to me and I’m constantly paranoid that I might smell bad (though I’ve definitely dealt with people who smell far worse) and I didn’t want to sacrifice the ‘clean’ feeling of conventional body washes.

    I was totally unprepared for the amazing results. I was thinking ‘okay, it sounds good, but it can’t be THAT good’. Wrong. It was a complete game changer.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the smell of the almond one; it’s nice and not overpowering, but I don’t care for almond scent. The peppermint made me feel tingly clean and cool during our hot summer (while working big music festivals as a security guard), and the tea tree inhibits bacteria growth while deodorizing (I also work in a hospital so YAY!). My hair has also never looked better and has actually gotten slightly darker in color; I used baking soda for a while not knowing how much it can strip your hair color. And my skin! OH MY GOD MY SKIN. It’s gotten more even in tone, at the end of a long shift I still don’t look greasy, and I have fewer (and smaller when they do occur) blemishes.

    The key is dilute, dilute, dilute. A drop or two in my palm with the water already on it in the shower cleans my face, a few more drops on a wet loofah cleans the rest of me, and about 1 drop:1 cup water in a bottle takes care of my thick, wavy hair. I use ACV or coconut oil or sometimes a little aloe juice on it afterwards.

  11. Hi Lisa,

    I just recently started using the Tea Tree Oil Liquid for my face. I used it yesterday morning and last night, as well as this morning. However, this morning, it started to make my cheeks looks much redder than they normally are. I have very sensitive skin and really looking forward to continue using this product since I’ve heard amazing things about tea tree oil… I’m just afraid it’s going to make my face look red and blotchy.

    I’ve tried so many other products (some of them prescribed to me) and they only cover up the symptoms, coming back later. I am eager to stay on the natural path but am scared that my sensitive skin will flair up and it will become worse.

    I have been dealing with acne since I turned 20 (I am now 22) and it’s a real downer on my confidence. I just recently stopped birth control, about a month, thinking that it was a hormonal imbalance causing the breakouts. From your experience can you tell me how long it takes for your skin to clear? I’m getting to the point were I look away from my boyfriend so he can’t see my face and I turn the lights off in our apartment after I clean my face so he can’t see the red blotches all over.

    I need help, please.

    Thank you.

  12. Dear Lisa: Thanks to your family for this product. I use diluted Dr B’s Tea Tree Soap in a repurposed foaming soap dispenser to wash my face. In the mornings, I dispense 1 pump into my hands. To remove makeup at night, I do a DIY non-disposable makeup remover “wipe” routine. I wet a Japanese face cloth (which is like a thin cloth diaper material), squeeze out well, and fold into a square. I dispense 1 pump of foam on one side of the cloth and work it in. I gently wipe my face and throat with it (keeping my eyes closed!). Then I keep turning over/unfolding/folding the cloth to continue wiping my face/throat with clean sides. Then I wash the makeup and soap out of the cloth and rinse it with clean water, and “rinse” my face by gently wiping down with the almost-dripping wet cloth. Some days, I scrub a little more vigorously in circular motions to gently exfoliate. Because the material is not the usual terry washcloth, it is quite gentle. Of course, some folks prefer to or must avoid using any sort of cloth. For some reason, I am much better about washing off my makeup at night than regular face washing. My skin is medium-toned SE Asian. I am in my mid-forties and struggling with changing skin over the past ~ 5 years due presumably to hormone fluctuations. Before, my skin was oily and acne-prone and I successfully used Neutrogena cleanser and Aveeno moisturizer/sunscreen. Now my skin is shiny and dry/flaky AT THE SAME TIME!, still acne-prone, and somewhat sensitive and can’t use those products. I’ve tried all sorts of facial cleansers since my skin changed, but Dr B seems to be the best. I generally use Jojoba oil now to moisturize but still experimenting to find other moisturizers that will work for me. Thanks again!

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