A Comparison of the Ingredients in Handmade Soap and Dove

Updated on April 11, 2016
Bluebeard handmade soap scented with anise and bay rum essential oils and colored with aquamarines.
Bluebeard handmade soap scented with anise and bay rum essential oils and colored with aquamarines.

"I can only use Dove"

This is something we soap makers hear sometimes. Someone will walk up to our booth, smell some things, then say something like, "I'm allergic to everything! I can only use Dove."

Is this really true? How does handmade soap compare side-by-side with Dove? You may be surprised!

Please note, this is purely my own opinion and I am not saying Dove is bad. I am biased towards handmade soap (I make it and use it and have for years) and am presenting this so you can make your own informed decision.

The picture is my handmade soap, Bluebeard.

Getting back on point... - "I can only use Dove"

Goat Milk, Oatmeal and Honey handmade soap
Goat Milk, Oatmeal and Honey handmade soap

This line can really make someone who makes handmade soap wince.

That's like walking up to a baker who has beautiful hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and telling them your stomach is so delicate you can only eat Twinkies. Please don't. Not only are you wasting their time and your time, it's dismissing that person's hard work and training of years and putting it side-by-side with something spit out into a crinkly plastic wrapper by a factory machine in a matter of seconds.

I decided to investigate to find out what Dove has that I don't. Let's take a look at the ingredients and compare them to mine.

Wait, that's not terribly easy. Their site doesn't list ingredients...I had to get them off a cosmetics archive site.

To be fair, I'm using the ingredients of their gentlest "beauty bar" vs. our second-gentlest soap. The most gentle is the Castile, but since that's made of only Water, Lye and Olive Oil I chose our next-gentlest one.

I've listed all the ingredients in descending order, as is done for cosmetics. Dove has to do that because that format is required by law for cosmetics and it's not just soap. Ours are listed that way here because I want you to make an informed decision about our products. Since soap is not a cosmetic, all we legally have to list is that it's soap, where it's made and how much it weighs. Everything else is there because I want you to know.

The most important thing about any recipe is going be to how well-balanced it is. No matter what I put in our soap, I make sure it's a balanced recipe and that there's always something called a "superfat," which means balancing the lye used with an excess of oils/fats to ensure there is no lye remaining in the final product. The percentage of superfat in a soap is what's going to make it feel more or less moisturizing. The slight excess of oils/fats allows the soap to clean your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. If you've ever used soap that was lye-heavy, you'd remember it. (I find lye burns to be itchy, myself.)

Ingredients in Dove beauty bar for sensitive skin

Read, think and compare to handmade

Dove beauty bar for sensitive skin

1. Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate

-A mild synthetic detergent, used for cleansing. It adds to emulsification and degreasing, and may dry or irritate skin, especially sensitive skin.

2. Stearic Acid

-a hardening agent.

3. Sodium Tallowate

-Another way to say tallow or beef fat, which has been saponified. This is done by combining it with water and an alkali. You're left with a salt, which is the "sodium" and "-ate" part of this ingredient. When you combine tallow with lye (but don't want to put lye on your label), this is how you write it. If we did this, we'd list the lard as "sodium lardate" and leave the sodium hydroxide off. Tallow, which is fat from around the loins and/or kidneys of a cow, contributes to a hard bar with creamy lather. It's not exceptionally cleansing, but when combined with other ingredients can add to a balanced bar.

-Lye is a strong alkaline which is used in many different processes. Food-grade lye is used in the preparation of certain foods, including green olives, mandarin oranges and pretzels. Lower grades which are unsuitable for food are used in various cleaners, such as drain cleaner and oven cleaner. When used in soap, it is essential to create a well-balanced recipe to ensure there is no lye remaining in the final product. We use food-grade lye in our products. Lower grades may contain unknown impurities which can effect the final result. There's no way to know from this list which grade lye is used in this product.

4. Sodium Palmitate

-Palm oil + lye. Palm oil contributes to hardness and lather, but when used in too high a percentage can be drying.

5. Lauric Acid

-Otherwise know as SLS, this is a foaming agent and synthetic detergent, commonly used as a degreaser in shampoos. It dissolves the oils on your skin so the water can rinse them away. An unfortunate side effect of stripping your skin's natural oils can be irritation and drying of the skin.

6. Sodium Isethionate

-A mild synthetic detergent which creates dense lather and is non-drying. It is also used in shampoo as an anti-static agent.

7. Water

-Is wet.

8. Sodium Stearate

-Stearic Acid + lye. A surfactant, which basically means it clings to dirt and helps water rinse it off.

9. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

-A synthetic surfactant derived from coconut oil and Dimethylaminopropylamine.

10. Sodium Cocoate

-Coconut oil + lye. Coconut oil contributes greatly to the hardness and lather of the bar. It is also high in cleansing properties. It's best to balance this oil with other ingredients, making sure not to use too high a percentage, as it can be drying when used in excess.

11. Sodium Palm Kernelate

-Palm Kernel oil + lye. Palm Kernel oil is used to add hardness and bubbly lather.

12. Sodium Chloride

-Salt. Used after the saponification process to draw out water and glycerine for a harder bar. (And then they can sell the glycerine or add it to other products.)

13. Tetrasodium EDTA

-Used in place of parabens, this is a water softener and preservative made from formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. It also reduces soap scum and improves lather. There are mixed studies out there about whether this can be absorbed by the skin or not.

14. Tetrasodium Etidronate

-Another water softener. It helps to prevent the magnesium and calcium in your water stick to the bathtub and create soap scum.

15. Maltol

-Primarily used as a flavor enhancer, this is also used to create a sweet fragrance in some products. There's been a study (on mice) that showed this helped them absorb aluminum.

16. Titanium Dioxide

-A whitening agent. Makes it all purty-like.

Lathering up with handmade soap. I test every batch on hubby.
Lathering up with handmade soap. I test every batch on hubby.

Ingredients in Soapmarked Goat Milk, Oatmeal and Honey

1. Lard

-It contributes to a hard bar with creamy lather. It's also mild and nicely conditioning. It's not exceptionally cleansing, but when combined with other ingredients can add to a balanced bar. Lard is the common term for pig fat.

2. Olive Oil

-Olive oil is very mild and nicely conditioning. It contributes to a smooth, creamy lather.

3. Goat Milk

-Goat milk contributes to mild, creamy moisturizing qualities. It also contains a variety of vitamins and nutrients, which I'm not going to go into here as soap is a wash-off product. Any vitamins and minerals will be quickly rinsed off your skin when you wash with this soap. When I really want the beneficial qualities of the nutrients in goat milk to be absorbed by my body, I drink it. It's delicious! :)

4. Coconut Oil

-Coconut oil contributes greatly to the hardness and lather of the bar. It is also high in cleansing properties. It's best to balance this oil with other ingredients, making sure not to use too high a percentage, as it can be drying when used in excess.

5. Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)

-Lye is a strong alkaline which is used in many different processes. Food-grade lye is used in the preparation of certain foods, including green olives, mandarin oranges and pretzels. Lower grades which are unsuitable for food are used in various cleaners, such as drain cleaner and oven cleaner. When used in soap, it is essential to create a well-balanced recipe to ensure there is no lye remaining in the final product. We use food-grade lye in our products. Lower grades may contain unknown impurities which can effect the final result.

6. Honey

-Made by bees. Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture from the air and helps retain it. Also, the sugar in honey adds more lathering to the soap. And it retains some smell through the saponification process, so the final bar smells a bit sweet.

7. Oatmeal

-Contributes to the mildness of the bar. There are a myriad of other claims out there about oatmeal and your skin, but I'm not going to go into that here, as it veers into the area of claiming your soap has the beneficial qualities of a drug.

All I can really say is I like it, our customers love it, and it makes the soap very nice

A quick comparison

Handmade soap
Dove
Made with skin-loving oils
Made with some oils and some detergents
Handmade in small batches
Contains chemicals to make sure dirt washes down the drain
SLS-free
Contains SLS

Which one do you prefer now?

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Questions & Answers

    Questions? Comments? Make your mark here.

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      • profile image

        C-Marie 

        3 months ago

        Brady is correct. Maybe change your description.

        SLS/SLES both start out using one fatty acid called lauric acid which is usually sourced from petroleum oil. Lauric acid is converted to lauryl alcohol and SLS is created. SLS is a known skin irritant so it's put through the additional process of ethoxylation to make it more gentle.

      • profile image

        Brady 

        8 months ago

        Saying Lauric Acid is SLS is a lie and you should feel ashamed of yourself. I guess your "years of training" didn't really amount to anything.

      • profile image

        Melissa 

        2 years ago

        I too make soap and love doing it. I have heard this comment so many times, especially in regards to price (usually $6 per 4/5 oz bar) but this last time someone else was with them and said, "yeah, you can drink bud light for the rest of your life too, but you don't"

      • Soapmarked profile imageAUTHOR

        Soapmarked 

        3 years ago from TX

        Thank you! I'm glad you found it useful :)

      • melissae1963 profile image

        Melissa Reese Etheridge 

        3 years ago from Tennessee, United States

        This is a wonderful and informative HUB. Voted up and useful.

      • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

        OUTFOXprevention1 

        4 years ago

        Seems simple enough!

      • Frugal-UK LM profile image

        Frugal-UK LM 

        6 years ago

        I also make soap and apart from the ingredients you also have to take into account the process by which commercial soap is made. the process is harsh and not only does it remove vital ingredient, the valuable ones to sell off, but some of the oils are damaged by it and no research has been done into how theses damaged oils may affect the skin.

        Also in many commercial soaps things are added and processes done to give the soap a longer shelf life, things that are not needed in small batch handmade soaps.

      • KimGiancaterino profile image

        KimGiancaterino 

        6 years ago

        I've never liked Dove soap, but am still shocked at the list of unpronounceable ingredients. Thanks for breaking it all down. Our plumber told us that some commercial soaps are known to clog drains. Another reason to avoid them.

      • profile image

        purpleslug 

        6 years ago

        Great lens and information! Thanks!

      • profile image

        oiloflife 

        6 years ago

        Terrific lens! Thanks for all of the other lens references and online resources.

      • Soapmarked profile imageAUTHOR

        Soapmarked 

        6 years ago from TX

        @LiteraryMind: Thank you! My main aim is for people to have information so they can make their own decision :)

      • LiteraryMind profile image

        Ellen Gregory 

        6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Thak you for all of this information. It appears very honest and thoroughly presented.

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