In honor of Hemp History Week, we’re highlighting one of our absolute favorite brands that’s also a champion of hemp: Dr. Bronner’s.
In 1999, the company reformulated its products so that as many as possible include hemp, which not only has an enormous number of beneficial uses in agriculture and manufacturing—but also happens to be renewable and sustainable. Agriculturally, hemp crops flourish in a number of environments without the use of pesticides or GMOs.
While Dr. Bronner’s is busy leading the charge on changing federal hemp laws to help drive the demand for U.S.-grown hemp, its products are just as beloved as ever—in particular, their signature “18-in-1” Pure-Castile Soap. Truth be told, 18 uses for a single product is nothing short of revolutionary when you’ve got dishes, dogs, spills, and numerous other home tasks at hand. Plus, the special hemp formula claims to “make soap lather smoother and less drying.” I had to try it to believe it.
My pick was their Hemp Peppermint liquid soap, a refreshing, invigorating formula that works wonders on everything from skin to floors. I diluted it with water per the brand’s recommendations as necessary—here’s how it all went down.
1. Face wash
At night, I put two small drops on a warm water-soaked washcloth and gently massaged all over my face. All my makeup (including waterproof mascara) came right off, and it didn’t seem to bother my sensitive eyes at all. And the pleasant, tingly sensation that followed lasted about 10 minutes.
2. Hand wash
One tiny drop left my hands clean and freshly scented. It had a pretty solid foaming effect, even without the dreaded sodium lauryl sulfate. My skin felt a tad dry, but lotion fixed that.
3. Shave gel
For the ultimate test, I used my regular shaving gel on my left leg, and Dr. Bronner’s on my right. The latter triumphed. A little went a long way, the razor glided smoothly, and my legs felt silky-smooth.
Word on the street is that Dr. Bronner’s also works to soothe skin and prevent tiny bumps and irritation post-shave. So right after shaving, I put a drop on the wet washcloth and and massaged it into my legs. They felt a tad sticky, so next time I’ll try using more water—but when I walked out of the steamy bathroom, a nice tingly sensation set in as the cold air hit. And best of all, my sensitive skin showed no signs of razor burn the following day.
5. Body wash
My body felt clean and refreshed instantly. There was less foaming than regular soap, but even the smallest amount (one squirt) on my washcloth worked to clean my entire body.
After warming the tiniest dollop between my hands, I dabbed the soap on my wrists. Because it felt sticky, I spritzed some water over the soap, but that didn’t really help. While the peppermint smelled cool and refreshing, it wasn’t as pleasant an experience as using aromatherapy oils.
Verdict: Not for me
A lot of natural beauty aficionados swear by Bronner’s as shampoo, and I was surprised it produced a lather similar to that of my usual formula. But after rinsing, my hair felt extremely dry and tangled. I went to sleep with wet hair and woke up to an oily-yet-stiff ’do that was tough to style. My hair smelled great, though!
Verdict: Not for me
(Bronner’s recommends following a wash with some detangling, nourishing conditioner like their Peppermint Organic Hair Creme.)
Following the general protocol for a DIY facial steam session, I put a few drops into a bowl of steamy hot water before settling in with a towel draped over my head. My sinuses started to clear up almost instantly as I breathed in the cooling, refreshing peppermint. This makes up for No. 6.
9. Foot soak
After a long day on my feet (in booties that were too small, no less), I really needed #9 to work. I poured 1 ½ tsp. in a tub of hot water, plopped my tired feet in, and kept them immersed for about ten minutes. I'm not sure if it was the soap or the respite that did it, but my feet felt a lot less achy both during and after the soak.
Though I never had my mouth washed out with soap as a kid, I’m guessing it tasted something like this. Scrubbing with a small dab, I got notes of both invigorating peppermint and bitter soap. Post-brushing, I still tasted the soap. But my teeth did feel clean and my gums weren’t irritated as is sometimes the case with other toothpastes.
Verdict: Success, but not for me
(It’s worth noting Bronner’s now offers an all-natural Peppermint Toothpaste—a member favorite at Thrive Market.)
Five minutes after brushing, the aftertaste of the soap wore off, but my mouth still felt refreshed and slightly tingly. This got me thinking the soap might work better as a breath freshener than toothpaste. So, later that night, I mixed a drop in a glass of water and swished it around like I would with mouthwash. It worked!
12. Laundry detergent
A load of bath towels, a ¼ cup of Dr. Bronner’s, and my machine didn’t break like I’d feared—plus my towels smelled delicious! The product label recommends adding a ½ cup or so of vinegar to the rinse. Since I kept this experiment strictly to soap and water, I didn’t try this, but will next time.
13. Floor cleaner
I went to town on my dirty kitchen floor with a mop and a combo of ½ cup soap in 3 gallons of hot water. My dog, Izzie, usually trails behind me, licking everything in my path, and for the first time, I felt okay with her doing it because it’s all-natural. So, Izzie and I both loved it as a floor cleaner.
14. Fruit and veggie wash
I’ve heard that a soap-and-water combo may remove more pesticides, germs, and wax than water alone. There’s no way I can know for sure, but I tried it by squeezing a dash into a bowl of water, then dunking and rinsing my apple. The soap wasn’t detectable, but I could smell the peppermint with every bite.
Verdict: Success, but probably needed less soap
15. Dog shampoo
Poor Izzie wasn’t done with our Thrive Tries It just yet. Next up: lathering up her fur in lukewarm bath water and a few dashes of Dr. Bronner’s. She smelled great, looked extra white and fluffy, and was super happy to be done (nothing new there!).
For numbers 16 through 18, I diluted ¼ cup of soap with a quart of water in a spray bottle.
16. Dish detergent
After cooking chicken parm, my pans and plates were pretty greasy and soiled. I used a generous spritz of the concoction, scrubbed, rinsed in warm water, and towel-dried. Everything looked and smelled clean and I was able to skip the dishwasher. (Note, Dr. Bronner’s is recommended for hand-washing dishes only.)
17. Glass cleaner
After the first pass, a soapy film remained on my windows, so I added more water to the spray bottle to dilute it down. That seemed to do the trick for a clean, streak-free finish.
18. Tub and toilet cleaner
With a little elbow grease and lots and lots of sprays, I successfully scrubbed up residue from my super-thick conditioner on the tub and cleaned my toilet bowl. Both came out sparkling!
Verdict: Double success!
There are tons more uses I’ve heard about since completing the experiment—like protecting plants from aphids and preventing dust mites—and I’m super excited to try them all. But for now, I know the “18-in-1” moniker on Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap isn’t hearsay: This multitasker can do a lot more than get hands clean—and it’s earned a spot in my beauty cabinet, laundry room, and kitchen.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho