Dr. Bronner's Review - The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Review :: The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's is known equally for its purity as it is for the nonsensical cult-y stuff written on every bottle. It's sold in both bar and liquid form, but is most frequently used as a liquid. In the bottle, it looks like a diluted version of transparent face wash or hand soap, but in reality it's a completely different product.

Dr. Bronner's is distinct from other liquid cleansers because it is pure castile soap. What this means is that it is made of "saponified" plant-based fats and oils (fatty acids), whereas most liquid face washes are made from synthetic detergents. Without those synthetic detergents, face wash does not have its trademark soapy suds.

This idea of synthetic vs natural is a big reason why a lot of people opt for real soap. Most face washes contain synthetic detergents called "sulfates" are thought to be triggers for a whole host of skin disorders including psoriasis, perioral dermatitis (POD), acne, eczema, and even canker sores (sulfates are in toothpaste too).

While I do not think sulfates trigger my specific kind of acne, I do think it is has something to do with a different skin condition: the fine rash I've had on my chin for almost two years. When it comes to conventional medicine, Perioral Dermatitis does not come with many treatment options. POD is often treated with antibiotics, but after the infamous ass-zit incident, I will never go near them again.

Yes, it is embarrassing to share this with the world, but it would be hard to explain what I learned and how I Iearned it without sharing this humiliating history.*

In an attempt to fix my lumpen POD chin without conventional medicine, I went sulfate free with my skin, mouth, and hair products. When I started The Acne Experiment, I found some articles touting Dr. Bronner's soap as a good face wash for keeping POD, and acne, in check. I'm ready to start living the rest of my life. Inside everyone is a loser afraid to be loved, and out there is that one product that can make it all better.**

  1. Rinse face with water
  2. Take 3-4 drops of Dr. Bronner's and lather all over wet face.
  3. Rinse face with water.
  4. Dry face lightly via towel-dabbling, like they do in face wash commercials.
  5. Repeat once per day in the evenings. 
† A Note on Dilution: Some say a couple drops of Dr. Bronner's straight on the face is more than enough, while others use more than 4 drops without issue. Others recommend diluting Dr. Bronner's when using it on the skin (maybe in a 5:1 water-to-Bronner's ratio). Like everything with acne, what works for someone else may not work for you. My recommendation: Try Dr. Bronner's diluted first, especially if you have sensitive skin. That way, if you do react to it, you'll know it's not a concentration issue.
    For the first few days, I was surprised by how soft my skin was. It didn't feel tight or dry, which is what I expected based on the face-wash lobby's propaganda that natural soap is more irritating than synthetic detergents.

    On the morning of day 4, I discover some redness, but I ignore it. My face's soul-mate couldn't possibly be doing this to me. By the afternoon, I confirm that there are little bumps all over my forehead. This experiment is over. (*runs into the bathroom, hysterically crying*)

    Dr Bronner's and Acne :: Crappy Candle
    this is bullshit.

    Okay, maybe the face-wash lobby was onto something here. Soap on its own is very alkaline (basic), but Dr. Bronner's soap's pH level is brought down to a more neutral state by the addition of citric acid (8-9 pH). Unfortunately, the face's natural state is not neutral; it is acidic (5.5 pH). I messed with the pH of my skin and then exposed it to potentially pore-clogging oils (coconut and olive oil are very pore cloggy). This means that, no--I'm sorry--I'm not trying that bar of African Black Soap I bought a few weeks ago. It's a shame because African Black Soap was totally my back-up plan.***
    I switched back to the Aztec Healing Clay/ACV for the remainder of the week. I'm going to keep using it until my skin calms down.

    Dr. Bronners for POD/Acne Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
    Dr. Bronner's Before and After

    Dr. Bronners Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
        You'll notice I have a ripe zit on my cheek in the upper right photo. Cheek zits = danger (I almost never get cheek acne).

    PS: Before anyone tries to tell me my face was "purging," let me say this: Purging is a load of crap. Even if I discount my gut feeling, i.e. allowing my skin to "get worse before it gets better" is inherently sadistic, I've learned that it actually is a load of crap.

    Well, except for purging related to AHA/BHA or retinoid use, which will only result in distinct non-inflamed "purging" in the areas you normally break out in. The angry zits that pop up after using normal oils, soaps, and serums are essentially your face telling you to knock it off; breakouts in non-normal areas, or pimples that re-occur more than two months following the introduction of any product means your skin doesn't like a specific ingredient. So quit being a bunch of sadists, sadists.

    Next Up: Tea Tree Oil


    */**Parts of this monologue may or may not have been lifted from Never Been Kissed.

    ***We told each other we would meet at the top of the Empire State Building when we turned 32 if we were still unattached.

    ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

    Does Dr. Bronner's Cure Acne? :: The Acne Experiment
    Does Dr. Bronner's Cure Acne? :: The Acne Experiment

    All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment


    1. This is really interesting! I had the exact opposite experience, except I use the Dr. Bronner's with tea tree oil (the orange bottle) and it did WONDERS for both my face acne and my back acne. It definitely dries out my skin so I started using witch hazel (humphrey's) as a toner after and then an all natural moisturizer at night (canus) and sunscreen during the day (badger). I exfoliate at night with the burt's bees orange peel exfoliant after washing my face with bronner's. Going all natural made a huge difference for my skin, but just goes to show you everyone is different!

    2. Using too much castile soap on my face made it red and inflamed after a few weeks. I thought it was the essential oils I was using but during a week or 2 of process of elimination, I realized the concentration of castile to water I was using on my face was too high.That stopped after I started using much less whenever I washed my face. I use the almond scented castile soap one bc I like the smell but TT may be on to something with the tea tree...After washing, I use a diluted mixture of tea tree and lavender essential oil and safflower oil on acne prone areas every night and it helps. Unlike grape seed or coconut oil, safflower is not supposed to clog your pores virtually at all. I used to use coconut and I think that made things worse. It's like a 1:1 ratio of essential oils and safflower oil that seems to work (less essential oils didn't seem to have the effects I was looking for). This doesn't prevent every break out but in my opinion, this works better than anything else I've ever tried, natural or synthetic. Hope you find something that works for you!

    3. It's the jojoba oil in the castille soap that causes breakouts.

      1. I automatically suspected the olive/coconut oil in the soap (coconut oil has a comedogenic rating of 4 - eep!), but jojoba could definitely cause problems for some people. Pure jojoba didn't cause this kind of reaction for me though.

    4. I swear by Olive Oil soap by Kiss My Face and Coconut Oil as a moisturizer! Has completely changed my skin. Good luck with your experiment!

    5. Eeek! 3-4 drops for your face! I have been using Bronners for a while, even on face and 3-4 drops straight is too much. I never use more than 1-2 drops undiluted for face, and I mix it with a drenched washcloth. I always dilute in a small bottle with water. For my 4-5 oz bottle I put about 4-5 drops, maybe less when I am especially careful for my for feminine wash. I once read online that someone used 1tsp for two cups water, which I think was way too much. You have to get over the expectation of "lather" and "suds," and trust the product without all the foam. Once you get there and dilute the product properly, you'll see that Bronner magic. I use Bronners Baby Mild for face, body, and yoni, and I love it!

    6. You MUST dilute this soap. Now wonder this happened, 3-4 drops straight is way too much. The labels says it's three times more concentrated then regular soap. Mix it with distiller water and you should be fine.

      1. You're the second person to tell me I overdid it. (Perhaps I overdid it!). This trial was almost a year ago, so it's hard for me to remember all the details, but I know I must have got the 3-4 drops deal somewhere else online specifically for acne treatment. I figured I was using about 10% of the amount I would have used if it was normal face wash, so I never suspected that I could be using too much. My skin never felt dry, irritated, or itchy - I just got acne. To me, that means it's less of a concentration issue, and more of a pore clogging issue (but who knows?). Since I tested Dr. Bronners, I found that I don't do well with foaming surfactants in general -- I won't be trying it again myself, but I'll add a note to the article about dilution.

    7. I can say that, personally, my skin does "purge." Not to say that it has to "get worse to get better" or what have you. I just have excessively clogged pores that like to build up tolerances to anything I do that might keep them clean, so when I switch, I usually have a few seriously clogged pores and blind pimples that are forced along their natural life cycle all at the same time.

      Just my experience. I've been using Dr. B's soap bar for my body for a while, and it's been fabulous. Thanks for experimenting and writing the article!

    8. You should get your hormones tested with an in-depth test that will look at everything. It sounds like a hormone imbalance.

    9. Just came across this because I was looking into using Dr B's soap as a body was and was concerned because I know Coconut Oil can be highly comedogenic. I know people are touting it as this miracle beauty product but for people prone to acne or clogged pores it can be a bit of a nightmare. https://www.beneficialbotanicals.com/facts-figures/comedogenic-rating.html

    10. I currently have been using castille (almond) soap as hand wash (I bought the foaming dispensers), and started using as face wash when I ran out of aveda. Came across your site while looking for info on whether to continue. I don't have acne at 43, but my pores may be clogging. Hard to tell. Now considering other products, including Ursa Major fantastic face wash that I read about in, "the green beauty rules" by paige padgett. Just wanted to say I enjoyed your site, and good luck.

    11. Also, curious about your experience with BHA's. Sounds as though you've tried them. I had good luck with BHA gel and liquid (alternating %'s) from Paula's Choice when I had some bad breakouts due to medication. I know it's not considered a very "green" ingredient now, but the results were worth it at the time.

    12. I use the baby mild in a hand soap foam pump bottle diluted with aloe vera at a 1:1 ratio, tone with witcher hazel, and moisturize with vitamin email oil. I have eczema. It may not work for everyome, but this worksfor me. Happy day all.

      1. It could works for me. Aloe gel or aloe juice? What is that " vitamin email oil"? I used sasha inchi oil.

    13. Has anyone found an alternative? I've been using La Almona Castile Liquid Soap for a few years now after buying a gallon from Amazon. I add tea tree and love it, mostly, but I'm pretty sure it gives me blackheads all over my shoulders and back. I suppose my next step is to find castile soap with lower comedogenic ratings. Thank you, ThatAshGirl, that was a fascinating link!

    14. I think the trick is in the Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree formula (liquid or bar)! I've used this on my face and at this point I can honestly say that I'm never looking back.

      After having previously tried the peppermint & lavender versions, I started using the tea tree one (on my body first) & noticed how my skin looked so uniform, bright, and less scaly in just about a wk or 2. Then decided, 'what they hey, let me use it on my face'. I did about 1-2 drops (<-- major key) rubbed my hands together & rubbed it on my face (w/ bare hands, no washcloth/loofah/scrubber) & actually left it on for about 5-10 min while i finished showering. I made sure I didn't apply it near my eyes.

      It tingled my skin at first, which I was worried would result in a red face once I washed it off & dried. But to my surprise, my pores were completely unclogged & from the whiteheads I was staring at just minutes before.. & my skin looked vibrant.. the most alive it's looked in a VERY long time. Most importantly, my face wasn't red, nor did it hurt!

      Make sure you moisturize after doing this! As someone said above, the tea tree version is drying. But it matte-ifies your skin in such a way, w/o damaging it. I can't really explain.. Anyway, so to moisturize, I alternate btwn a Vitamin E moisturizer from the Body Shop or some Aveeno.

      I personally think you should give it one more try (& everyone else too). And as someone stated above, hope you got your hormones checked at some point. Not sure how old you are but from what I know, bad eating habits, etc or not, having acute acne after age 19 is not normal. My all time favorite beauty secret (aside from this newly discovered one) is washing your face only ONCE A DAY... preferably at night. I won't say anymore, as I've been long-winded enough... but try it for 2 wks & you will not regret it. Hope all of this helps & good luck to you!

    15. Love this post! I normally use Bronner's for my body. Then one day, I decided to use it for my face for week or two. One of the biggest mistakes I made! I broke out in the same areas as you and have been struggling to clear my skin.

    16. I love bronners but different essential oils do different things you have to find what works for your skin. The peppermint cured my hubbys face and body acne and he had since he was 15 years old. I no longer get more than 1/2 a zit when I get my period now but it was due to using peppermint Bronners. And yes my face will get really dry after a shower and I use any lotion I want now. No zits. I use st. Ives collagen on my face no zits. I used to get zits with any lotion bronners has solved that for me. I use almond when it’s super cold tho cause the peppermint shower can leav you feeling really cold.

    17. I used Dr Bonner liquidsoap (lavender) for the first time on 7-14-18 and my skin looked so refreshed and brighter, and very soft just after one use, I used it the next morning as well even better results.... I really love it, I found this 16oz bottle at TJ Max for 7.99 great price... it only take a little to go a long way.

    18. the reason you are getting breakouts is from the food you are eating. not the products you do or dont put on your face. Get a blood test for allergies. I was allergic to wheat. No, I dont have celliac disease and have been eating wheat products my whole life, but when I stopped, amazing things happened to my skin and my digestive. It is always the food you eat...it shows up not because of what type of food it is but becasue how your body is reacting to it.

    19. Almost forgot--and Hydrate!...So very important and amazing how many people do not drink near enough water each day. this plays huge role as well in your skins appearance and functionality.


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