Pros: All natural, minty smell, refreshing and inexpensive!
Cons: Can be a little thin, requiring a washcloth. Clouds when it gets cold.
General Update under 06.13.05 heading at the end.)
I first heard of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap after a pretty wild party at a friend's house. I woke up on the couch exhausted and feeling like death warmed over the morning after. Getting up, I found my host in a cheerful mood pouring coffee for the stragglers who had stayed over.
I grunted one word, "shower". He laughed and grabbed a towel for me, directing me to the guest bathroom shower. Once inside I searched desperately for the bar of soap that should have been in the soap holder. I never found it, but I did find this odd bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Pure Castile Soap on the corner of the tub.
I poured some of the stuff on a washcloth and the rest, as they say, is history. The minty smell was amazing and woke me right up. I left my friend's house that afternoon and headed straight to a local health food store to buy a bottle of my own!
This is a soap with an illustrious and odd history. The first thing that you will notice when you pick up a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap is that the label is filled with words. So many of them that you can't read them all in the store; but you can read them during a nice soak in the tub!
Emanuel Bronner was born into a soap making family in Germany. In the 1920's he rebelliously left his family and came to America. In 1938 the Nazis in Germany took over the soap-making industry and killed his family, an event that forever changed his view of the world and our place in it.
In the 1940's, Bronner branched out from his soap consulting business and began making pure, ecologically sound soaps. His pure soaps, with their spiritual message really took off about 20 years later, during the 1960's.
Dr. Bronner passed away in 1997. Today his family runs the soap business unchanged, promoting their father's message on every label.
After his family's death during the Holocaust, Emanuel Bronner developed a spiritual idea of "ALL-ONE". That is, we are all children of one divine creator. He used the labels of his soaps to promote this ideal. Some quotes:
"Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Who else but God gave man Love that can spark mere dust to life! Poetry, uniting All-One! All brave! All life!"
"1st: If I'm not for me, who am I? Nobody! 2nd: Yet, if I'm only for me, what am I? Nothing! 3rd: If not now, when? ... WE'RE ONE! ALL-ONE! EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? NONE! ABSOLUTE NONE!"
Does it sound a little crazy? Well, yeah. But is it damn good soap? Absolutely!
Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap is like nothing I've ever used before. It has a very thin consistency and is a translucent orange-yellow color. I use it with a washcloth, a loofah or a sponge. It's really too thin to just pour in your hand and use straight, though that will work in a pinch.
The first thing you notice about the soap once it's out of the bottle is the exceptionally strong peppermint smell. There is no mistaking that this is Peppermint soap. Remember those "Coast" commercials about how it would wake you up? Coast has nothing on Dr. Bronner's!
The smell is at once intense and invigorating. I've found that when I'm not feeling well, taking a good whiff of Dr. Bronner's while in the shower clears my head and my stomach, at least very briefly, which is not surprising since peppermint is often used as a home remedy to treat nausea. The soap is also cool and very tingly. I wouldn't recommend getting Dr. Bronner's in your eyes. It's never happened to me, but I imagine the results wouldn't be pretty.
The soap lathers readily and spreads easily. It doesn't take much. I usually pour about a nickel or quarter-sized amount of soap for my shower. The 32 ounce bottle will last me for more than half a year, which makes it a fantastic bargain.
Finally, the lather rinses off cleanly and quickly, leaving no discernible residue. It leaves the slightest soapy smell with just a tinge of mint behind that seems to disappear after five or ten minutes. Don't worry, you won't find yourself walking around the office smelling like a candy cane.
The Instructions (and Warnings)
There are a million uses for Dr. Bronner's soap, or so it would seem based on the label. Some of the listed uses on the label are:
"Use Dr. Bronner's for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental-Soap Bath!"
The instructions call for you to "Get wet and pour soap full-strength onto hands-washcloth-loofah. Lather up, scrub down, rinse off, and tingle fresh & clean!"
But you must heed Dr. Bronner's simple warning, "Warning! Keep Out of Eyes! Wash Out with Water! Don't Drink Soap! Dilute! Dilute! or Wet Skin Well! OK!"
One reason that I love this soap is because I have sensitive skin. I suffer from bouts with eczema and ongoing rosacea and I don't often find products that I'm comfortable using on my skin. Dr. Bronner's soap is all natural, 100% vegan and contains no detergent. I have found it to be very gentle.
The ingredient list is short and sweet:
"Water, Saponified Coconut-Hemp-Olive Oils (with retained Glycerin), Olive Fatty Acids, Peppermint Oil, Rosemary Extract"
I first discovered Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap in 1995 and I've been using it ever since. I love how it wakes me up in the morning and honestly, wouldn't use anything else unless I have to. The message on the bottle is quirky and odd, but it's just one of the many charms of this soap.
In a world where everything is chemical-laden and factory-pressed, Dr. Bronner's soaps stand out as a unique and amazing line of products.
Address: Box 28 Escondido, CA 92033
Update 06.13.05: I first wrote this review in February of 2004, almost sixteen months ago. Even though I had been an adoring fan of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap for many years, my husband had not yet started using it. About six months ago he decided to give the bottle a squeeze and give it a try. Now Mr. J is also a confirmed addict. He loves the strong peppermint scent and at least once a week straight out of the shower he says, "Mmm smell me, I smell like peppermint!" Yes, he can be a weird one. Or, he'll get dressed and come up to me and shove his neck in my face. "Smell that? That's Dr. Bronners!" I tell you, the crazy man is a fan.
He is so much a fan that he made sure to let me know that we're almost out of our current 16 ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner's. I tend to buy Dr. Bronner's from drugstore.com and as I went online to purchase it, he hollered, "Make sure you get the 32 ounce bottle this time!" up to me. So, another convert to Dr. Bronner's.