Why do so many commercial soaps, handwashes, shampoos, etc. not make the cut for people who suffer from eczema? Then what is it that really works as the best soap for eczema?
In this article, we zoom in on
- soap vs detergent chemistry
- our favourite soap brand
- the other things we do with it
If you would like to skip all these technicalities and just find out our recommended soap for eczema, click on the button below to go to our review page:
Soap vs Detergent Chemistry
Soap and detergent are entirely different things, in terms of how they are made, and hence their chemistry, functions, and effects on our skin.
How soaps and detergents are made
Soaps are made from natural ingredients, by mixing fats and oils with a base. These can come from animals or plants. Some people prefer their tallow soap (usually made from beef, or lard from pig, or even sheep), while others love their plant oils (coconut, olive, hemp, jojoba, etc.).
Detergents are made from synthetic chemicals, and can be formulated for all sorts of cleaning purposes around the home, or in industries. They are generally much harsher than soaps, as they are meant to cut grease and oils. Almost all commercial household cleaners use detergents, from dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent to toilet cleaners, wood cleaners, floor cleaners, and glass cleaners.
For more information, visit britannica.com or explainthatstuff.com.
So, soaps for the skin and anywhere on the body, and detergents for everything else. Sounds good? Think twice…
Detergents are everywhere
In fact, the surfactants used in detergents are almost always found in commercial skincare products! Surfactants are surface active ingredients, which, in simple terms, has one end of its molecule attached to water, and the other end to oil and grease, hence being very effective in cleaning.
Common surfactants found in personal care products like body wash, hand wash, facial cleanser, shampoo, etc. include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), among many others. I give special attention to SLS because it is highly irritating to people with sensitive skin, and can even irritate the eyes and lungs. So these can’t be good for eczema warriors.
Take a walk along the aisle of personal care products, pick up random brands and chances are you will find SLS or some other surfactant on the ingredients list. We really don’t need harsh chemicals to clean ourselves. In fact, many times I just shower with tap water, just water and nothing else, no soaps even. And I feel clean!
Manufacturers of personal care products have brainwashed us, and have us believing that we need those bottles of chemicals with fragrances (which are also irritants by the way) in order to feel clean and fresh. That is not what nature intended for us.
If you look at the ingredients list of your ‘body soap’ or ‘hand soap’ (in fact those aren’t even real soaps as what we have defined here), you will find chemicals names that you mostly don’t recognise, that tells you to chuck it into the bin, it’s really no good for your eczema skin.
And we have not even started discussing all the other bad stuff lurking in there, from preservatives to fragrances, which is really best left for another post.
The best soap for eczema skin is Dr Bronner’s
Why is Dr Bronner our recommended best soap for eczema? The answer is very simple:
- it is made purely from plant oils, with zero additives.
- it is versatile, as it comes in the form of bar soap, as well as liquid soap.
- its liquid soap is concentrated, so dilution is required for all our uses, which means it is very cost-effective.
- according to the labels, it has 18 uses, all the directions for use are stated clearly, like the dilution ratio, etc.
- our entire family has been using it for one full year, on our bodies and everywhere around the house. It has worked great for everyone, with or without eczema.
To elaborate on the last point, I left my job to stay at home so that I can work on my eczema warriors’ health this year. So I have shouldered the load of all the household chores for the whole year, from laundry to toilet scrubbing, from cooking three meals a day to washing of dishes. This is certainly not to brag, but to bring across the point that I’m exposed to household cleaning products on a daily basis.
I’m so glad we found Dr Bronner’s, and overhauled all our household cleaning products into DIY ones, throwing out all the commercially bought ones. We use simple kitchen items like baking soda, vinegar, and of course Dr Bronner’s soaps, to make everything on our own.
Despite daily exposure, lots of it, to the soaps, my hands feel soft and smooth. They totally give no clue that I’m a homemaker. In comparison, before this year, when I was working a full time job, and hardly did household cleaning as we had part-time help, at most I cooked dinners and did the washing up afterwards. But we were using dishwashing detergent. It was harsh! Made my skin dry, rough and cracked, and all wrinkled.
So I am living testimony to the mild, nourishing and protective qualities of Dr Bronner’s soaps.
Other cleaning products around the house
So you see, not only do eczema warriors have to choose the best soap that suits their sensitive skin, even household cleaning products matter a lot. Because they will come into contact with the surfaces that we clean using those products, from the floor to tabletops, from windows to toilet seats, and even their clothes that we laundered.
All these come into direct contact with their skin. So these demand the same stringent criteria that we give to their personal care products. The 18 uses labelled on Dr Bronner’s soaps include whatever household cleaning you could think of. But for some of them, I have formulated my own DIY recipe, which you can refer to in the links below. These still have Dr Bronner’s as one of the ingredients.
The other attribute that makes detergents more popular than soap is that they do not leave a residual film like soap does, hence you get the squeaky clean feeling after rinsing off the dishes, while washing with soap tends not to give the assurance that it is cleaned effectively. So the trick is finding the right formulation when making your own dishwashing liquid.
Here are all the DIY recipes that I have posted about before:
Oh and I have made my own DIY body wash too, which adapts Dr Bronner’s soaps in it as well.
Soaps are great because they are natural and biodegradable, allowing us to do our part for conserving the environment. Equally importantly, Dr Bronner’s is the best soap for eczema skin, because it is pure plant oils, with zero additives, and is versatile as you can use it for all household cleaning. I feel great knowing that my home is cleaned naturally, and chemical-free.
12 thoughts on “Your Answer to the Best Soap for Eczema Skin”
I’m so glad I found your website. I’ve been dealing with eczema for a while. I always thought I could find a better soap, but nothing works all that great. and I know it’s related to a little stress in my life, but anything helps. I’m going to try the soap and also I’m going to change my detergent.
My heart goes out to you, eczema is really a tough thing. Hope this works for you. Stress is a BIG thing in triggering eczema, try to minimise if possible, I know easier said than done.
Thank you for a most enlightening article. I didn’t realize that detergents could cause such havoc with your skin. It makes a lot of sense though that we should all be using more natural products like Dr Bronners. The soap looks great but is a little expensive with the exchange rate so bad here in South Africa.
Nevertheless you have given me food for thought and I will now be searching for more natural ingredients in both my soaps and the chemicals that we use in our house.
Definitely look for more affordable products around your area, if this is too expensive, not just with the exchange rates, shipping will cost too.
I’m glad at least this helped you to go in the direction of more natural, for personal care products, as well as cleaning products around the house.
I suffer from Eczema on my elbows, on my forehead and on other private parts of my body. I do notice when I don’t drink enough water I flare up more. I also know that when I drink lots of green tea and if I drink hot lemon water in the morning for consecutive days that my Eczema is very minimal, so I know it has to do with what I put in my body. I also know that detergents and soaps that I use on the outside can affect my skin and make it more irritated or make the Eczema less, or itch less. I love Dr.Bronners lavender soap and I have been using this brand of soap for ( litterally everything, not just my body ) for over 10+ years. It has a strong smell and feels like it would be strong but actually it doesn’t irritate your skin. It is also really good for the environment. I beleive they have a peppermint scented one that you can use for cleaning your house. I personally use my lavender one for everything. Cleaning my hair, my bathroom, my cups, my lingerie, etc.
Wow, you found this wonderful product 10+ years ago! I wish I had found it earlier! But better late than never, yeah?
I use lavender one all over my body too, and tea tree for cleaning around the house, as well as laundry. Have not tried the peppermint, am going to try it now that you mention it. 🙂
Thank you for this excellent explanation about the difference between soaps and detergents. Eczema is really a difficult skin condition that requires special care and mainly a good soap to help in the improvement. I had never heard about Dr Bronner’s soap, a good product. I saw it is a vegan soap, that’s good. Thank you for sharing this review 🙂
Yes, this soap is really great! Do give it a try if you have the chance.
Thanks for the helpful and informative post.
Thanks for the new insights on Surfactants and although I am aware of the harmful effects of soaps I am not sure about the best soap to go with and your post helped me on that “Dr Bronner’s” I will give it a try.
The great news for me is when you said Dr Bronner’s can be used by all with or without eczema.
Wow great reviews when I checked about Dr Bronner’s and they are in the market for a long time (Since 1858) which is amazing. Cost is also affordable.
Thanks for help!
Yes, this is definitely the best thing we have found. Hope you like it too!
Wow, Joo, this is a very interesting article. I’ve known about some of these chemicals but I didn’t realise it was that bad. It’s a shame that humans have to take something that started out as a naturally based that is good for our skin and try and turn it into something they think is better.
When I was a teenager my brother had a best friend who had a very severe case of eczema. It was so bad that on many occasions I saw him with bad cracks in his skin. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been. He found it really hard to find the right personal care products that didn’t dry out his skin even more. That was 50+ years ago and I believe he eventually died from infections incurred because of this disease.
I’m glad you are putting this out there for those who are dealing with this issue, to see. It could make a big difference in the lives of many.
Oh my gosh. This is such a heartbreaking thing, to hear that someone has lost his life because of infections related to eczema. It can certainly happen, I have seen it happen several times, sad to say, in the eczema support groups that I’m part of. The sad thing about eczema is, people who don’t have experience with it really don’t understand how much the suffering can be, how all-consuming it can be of our lives.
There are worse that has happened than dying from infections, but I don’t want to go into that here.
You take care, stay healthy!