Dr. Bronner's

How to Shave with Dr. Bronner’s

Dr. Bronner's Organic Shaving Soap. How to Shave with Dr. Bronner's

Organic Shaving Soaps

As with all things Dr. Bronner’s, there is versatility and choice in shaving with the Magic products. The simplest is the Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Soaps. In the world of Dr. Bronner’s, these are relative newbies. Ingredient-wise, the shaving soaps are closely related to Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sugar Soaps. Their high concentration of Shikakai powder makes them effective yet mild and nourishing, as well as giving them a distinctive dark golden brown color. The shaving soaps lather to a very creamy foam that shaves closely.

Coconut Oil Pre-treatment

Now let’s take things up a notch with Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut Oil. Let me just say that I love this stuff. If you need a particularly close shave or if your skin is super dry or your hair is super coarse or if you need to shave more than your norm, coconut oil is the key for not stripping your skin. Unless you like that scaly, ashy, razor-burn dappled not quite fully shaved look.

A few minutes before shaving, massage a thin amount of pure coconut oil on to the areas to be shaved. Now here’s a fork in the road: you might be able to shave straight from this point with just the coconut oil for lubrication and a wet razor, or else you can wash this off and proceed with the shave gel. If you can get by with just the coconut oil, go with that and celebrate the simplicity of it. Otherwise, use your regular soap (hopefully Dr. Bronner’s) to wash this off and then lather up some shaving soap (or see below).

Coconut Oil Post-treatment

If you didn’t put the coconut oil on before shaving, you can still enjoy its fabulous feel afterwards. Personally, I usually stumble directly from my bed into the shower (with a very brief stop by the closet) and the idea of taking a moment to apply coconut oil just seems like an insurmountable hurdle. So, I often end up going this route. A little coconut oil massaged in afterwards, especially when the skin is still slightly damp, gives a long-lasting smoothness and softness. For me, it seems to make my shave last longer.

Castile and Organic Sugar Soaps

Honestly, all too often, I don’t have the shaving soap at home. Yes, I know. My family runs the company, but still, the cobbler’s children are unshod. So, I combine the coconut oil application with one of the other Dr. Bronner’s soaps. In order of increasingly better shavability, I go with the Castile Liquid Soap, the Castile Bar Soap or—the best of these three—the Organic Sugar Soaps. Lather them up really well and apply to warm, wet skin to shave.

The Dr. Bronner’s Advantage

Let’s look at the benefits here, besides the excellently close shave. These products are all very understandable to our minds as well as to our bodies. Our bodies will be able to deal with whatever they may absorb from any of these products. The ingredients are botanicals, and our bodies speak Botanical. Our bodies don’t speak Triethanolamine or Polyethelene Glycol or Isobutane (common conventional shaving cream ingredients). Also, you do not need to beware of the scents of D. Bronner’s. If any scent is added (which it is in all of the above except the Organic Coconut Oil and the Baby Unscented varieties), it is from pure essential oils. The ingredient “Fragrance” is not your friend. (Here’s my rant on that topic.)

So go forth, and be shorn, my friend.

Further reading

This use and many more are in my book, Soap & Soul: A Practical Guide to Minding Your Home, Your Body, and Your Spirit with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, available now in hardback on or at your favorite bookseller, and as an eBook and audiobook (read by me!) from wherever you download or listen.  

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Hannah Boles says:

The bar and castille soap made my skin so squeaky clean feeling, I coul not get a smooth glide over my skin while shaving. How do I avoid that? I’ve never tried coconut oil, Sugar Soap, or your Shaving Soap but am willing to try. Would the Sugar Soap or Shaving Soap have the same feeling as the bar or castille? And with the coconut oil, do you use it before, during, or after the shower? And how do you dispose of it? I’ve head about coconut oil clogging bath and shower drains.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Hannah- Either the Sugar Soap or the Shave Soap would be a good place to start. Neither one leaves that “squeaky clean” feeling you mention, and the Shikakai Powder in them are natural hair and skin softeners. These two products have the same basic structure. However, the Shave Soap has a higher sugar and Shikakai content which produces a denser lather. Coconut oil has a benefits to the skin before, during and after the shower. You can apply a very small amount before shaving, which will soften the skin and hair, then use the Sugar or Shave Soap. You don’t have to worry about it clogging the drain, but do be aware that it will leave the shower floor slippery.

Hannah Boles says:

Thank you Lisa! I will try both! And the coconut oil!

Richard says:

I appreciate your page and products for shaving, but I would prefer a product that uses a brush to build the lather. I use an old fashion straight razor, and this is about ritual (and a close shave, of course).

Is there some recipe for converting your bar soap so that it can be suited to my needs?


Rebekkah Williams says:

New customer, will be trying your products for the first time. Please keep me updated. Have a good day. Thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Somehow I missed all these comments! I am very sorry for my delayed responses and I hope they are still helpful:

Willie – No on the catnip soap, but maybe someday… I don’t know about Native Sun, but Whole Foods definitely does, as well as Earth Origins, Nature’s Food Patch, Everman Natural Foods, and New Leaf Market.

Chris – Thanks for your support! And thanks to EcoKaren!

Earnestine – Coconut oil has a melting point of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, so if it is a warm summer day, your coconut oil will liquefy. It’s always the sign of summer in my house, and we know it’s Fall when it resolidifies. It is fine. If you want it to stay solid, you can put it in your fridge.

Mark – It’s great to hear that you’re in sync with all that we’re doing here! I’m glad the shave gel is working so well for you and your girlfriend. It’s good stuff!

Sue – You’re not alone in only knowing about the Peppermint Castile soap. It is the original and most widely sold. However, the other 8 varieties are really great – you can definitely pick your favorite. When you wash your hair with the soap, the alkaline pH of 8.9 makes the follicles on your hair stick out, resulting in a sticky feel. An acidic rinse such as apple cider vinegar or the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse helps to balance this out. However, baby hair is so different in texture that I have not needed to use a rinse on my kids when they are little. The shelf life on the liquid soap is at least three years – longer if it is kept in a cool, dry location.

Let me know if I can be of further help!

All the best,

Sue says:

I wanted to find out about the smell of the Liquid soaps. I am reading your blog and am seeing new products I have not seen before and am intrigued by the comments and great videos Lisa.! I have used the tall bottled soaps off and on over the years since the 70’s. I found that there was a smell that wasn’t that appealing to me and perhaps this is simply the nature of the natural product smell. Perhaps the scented takes care of this. I also noticed when I washed my hair, it felt like a film was left in my hair. I think I read something about rinsing in apple cider vinegar – does this remove all of the soap residue? Would you mind going over this again? Also is there a shelf life on the liquid soap? I assume there may be a shelf life due to the oil. I am considering trying your products again because I have had toxic build up in my body and these products sound so clean. One more question. – in regards to the baby liquid soap, I assume if the babies hair is washed then a mixture of vinegar and water would need to be used to get the remaining soap out – is this correct? I am so happy you have this blog because I think my past use of your products and questions I have regarding them is due to my misunderstanding of how to use them properly to get the best results.thank you for this blog!

Mark says:

Thanks Lisa for what you and your brothers are doing. I’ve learned a lot! Writing to say I LOVE the “unscented” shave gel. I keep a trimmed beard and this gel is great – it’s so smooth to run the razor over and it doesn’t foam up like crazy so I can see what I’m shaving. Plus I only need a dab – this bottle will last years! Most importantly, it rinses clean and leaves NO oil on my face. Other shave gels leave me feeling like a greasy french fry or, if I rinse/wash after, skin as dry as the Sahara.
Though it smells a bit when you’re shaving, just a herbally/foresty smell, it rinses off with no residue or lingering scent.
My girlfriend tried it shaving her legs and loves it too!
All to say, “Thanks!” So much garbage in the shave aisles out there…

Earnestine says:

I love the castile soap and coconut oil with one exception. The oil melts, all of a sudden it just turns to liquid.Why is this and is it still good?

Chris says:

Love the idea and have tried it. Another good use for coconut oil. Also, love Dr. Bronner’s castile soap have been a huge fan of it for years. I heard about you site from EcoKaren.

Willie says:

Hay, Cristina Rivera said there was a blog here… I been shaving with your peppermint soap, diluted, for a while now. DOES NATIVE SUN in JACKSONVILLE FL get the shave stuff, sounds like an improvement! If they don’t call their main location on BAYMEADOWS and tell them customers want it! regards and thanks.

PS I spilled some peppermint soap on me cat Zippy, and SHE LIKED IT!

Do you make catnip soap?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Rosemary – The coconut oil is not currently available in the UK, but it is scheduled to start there in April!


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Rebecca – Another great question! Quillaja Saponaria Extract is something I had to ask about too when my brothers first put it in our products. It is also called Soapbark, from the soap bark tree, native to Chile. In the lotion, it acts as a stabilizer and emulsifier, holding the water and the oils together. It allows us to make the lotions more moisturizing.

All the best,

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Vince – Good question. Lathering in the hands or on the face work the same. I start off in my hands, but that’s just my druthers. The Shaving Gel does not lather up stiffly like conventional products. It doesn’t have an ingredient in it that is specfically for lathering. However, the moisturizers in it still protect the skin even if your lather has faded a bit by the time you get to a particular section.

All the best,

Rebecca says:

I’m trying to find out more about the Quillaja Saponaria Extract that is present in your lotions, but am not having much luck. Could you tell me more about it?

Thank you!

vince says:

Hello Lisa,

I often use the Shaving Gel, and I do love how soft my skin feels and how close the shave works. I do have one question though. Is it recommended to create the lather in your hand and then apply to wet face? Or do I wet my face and then apply it directly and lather it on my face (this is what I have been doing)? The thing that concerns me is when I do lather it on my face, the formula starts off creamy but then quickly fades away and soaks into my skin (or something like that). How do I keep a creamy lather on my face like conventional shaving gel. Or is that just not what this does?

Hope this question will help other readers as well.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Camper Jen – Glad you’re willing to give it a try! You’re right about the scent of the Unscented Baby Mild. Although it doesn’t have any scent added via essential oils, the other ingredients such as the Shikakai powder, the grape juice, the olive oil do add a scent to it.

Hi Alisha – Thanks for sharing this recipe! The coconut oil just seems to mesh well with our skin and heals an array of maladies.

All the best,

Alisha says:

It’s also great for chapped cheeks before or after sledding, for irritation caused by runny noses and for lips.

Alisha says:

I obtained a jar of the DB whole kernal coconut oil. I think it feels nicer than the Tropical Traditions I was using. It’s great for after shave care for men and women, for styling for men’s and boy’s hair and on the ends of girl hair, for boo-boo, zits and baby bottoms and use in homemade deoderant.

The deoderant recipe I use:
1/4c baking soda (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill naturally derived)
1/4c arrowroot
1/2c to 1c coconut oil
4 drops tea tree oil

Empty jars of French Bonne Maman preserves is perfect!

Camper Jen says:

Thanks for the tip about using the coconut oil! I will have to try that! I’m one of those people who dislikes the taste and smell of coconut but am starting to get used to it because I am willing to due to it’s benefits. I do have the “Unscented” shave gel (it is not unscented at all…it actually smells terrible). HOWEVER, it is the ONLY shave gel that I’ve ever been able to use that doesn’t make my legs break out and itch with hives and excema! I’m willing to try one of the scented kinds too but am afraid it may make my legs react. Does Dr. B’s have sample sizes of these for people with chronic pain and multiple chemical sensitivities (even there are no chemicals in it, my body can still react that way)?? Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

I’m glad to hear these other Dr. Bronner’s success stories!

Alisha – Great question! You’re asking what many others are wondering. Here’s the response from Gero, who among other things, runs our Fair Trade coconut oil operation in Sri Lanka: The whole kernel oil with the brown label is made from the whole coconut kernel, including the brown parings. The white kernel oil is produced from the kernel after removal of the parings. The whole kernel oil is more nutritious with respect to its content of micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals. A comprehensive comparison of the two grades is currently ongoing. The whole kernel oil also has a slightly more nutty taste. Both oils are equivalent with respect to their potential culinary and body care uses.

All the best,

Alisha says:

Please tell me, what is the difference between the white and whole coconut oil?

Alisha says:

How timely a posting Lisa with this severe cold weather that is so harshly drying on our skin. Thank you!

Danny says:

Oooohhh, one of my guilty pleasure/hobbies…..shave geek stuff.

Here’s the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you….

After YEARS of searching for the perfect shave I have tried countless products, both foreign and domestic, synthetic and all natural, cheap and (often times VERY) expensive combinations of oils, creams, soaps, razors, blades, brushes, rags, etc., etc.

The ONLY way to get not only a GREAT shave, but also what allows me to shave on a daily (or every other day) basis without looking as if my face got into a fight with a wolverine is by using DBMS products. I do own a few different scents of the shave gels and use them as I see fit, but quite frankly, often times all I’ll use is the lather from a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap.
COLD water. Yes, I know that’s counter-intuitive and goes against EVERYTHING you’ve ever read about shaving, but you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one. A double edged safety razor (like your fathers and grandfathers used to use) and some Dr. Bronner’s soap. That’s it and that’s all.

After reading this however, I am going to stop by the store tonight and pick up a jar of Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil to work into my pre-shave routine. I’ll report back with the results.

Thanks Lisa! Keep up the GREAT work!!

Ann Mutschler says:

Great info, thank you! I have tried the Dr. Bronner’s shave gel and it is fantastic! I was so tickled to read that there is grape juice as an ingredient — whatever it is, it works! Since I never remember to pick it up at the store, I usually just use the straight castille soap (lavender is my favorite) or the tea-tree shikakai (2nd favorite). As for the coconut oil, we also briefly had a jar but it was so delicious, I think we ate most of it from the jar. I will get another jar for skin care. Seriously, that product deserves a post all on its own! We’ve mostly converted all of our soaps to Dr. Bronner’s –even laundry — because we love the simplicity, the fact that it is good not only for us, but for our little farm since we do graywater recycling. Thanks for your informational posts, Lisa!

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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