July 22, 2013 by thesoapalchemist
Where is the 1/4 moisturizing cream in a bar of Dove?
But is that anything special? Is Dove unique compared to other soaps? (And yes, Dove IS soap, but I’ll save that and their misleading “soap is drying” ad campaign for another post).
Fatty acids are found in oils, and oils are what soap is made from. When subjected to lye, the fatty acids in the oils become sodium salts of the fatty acids, or what we call “soap.” Soap that contains only enough oil to react with the lye in a given recipe will not have any remaining free fatty acids. The fatty acids will all be transformed into soap.
But soaps made with an excess of oil will have an abundance of unreacted, “free” fatty acids in them when the soap making reaction is complete. Our soaps are made with an oil excess. It’s a common practice called “Superfatting.” The free fatty acids are what make our soaps so wonderfully moisturizing and non-drying.
So, does “moisturizing cream” really just refer to the presence of free fatty acids like our soaps have, or something more magical? Let’s take a peek at the ingredient listing on Dove’s White Beauty Bar to find out!
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate: A mild synthetic detergent, used for cleansing, emulsification and degreasing. Not a fatty acid, and not moisturizing cream.
Stearic Acid: a fatty acid found in coconut oil, this isolated component is used as a thickener or hardener. Since our bars contain coconut oil, stearic acid is present in our bars, too.
Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate: beef fat or palm oil, subjected to lye and turned into soap. Not moisturizing; rather harsh, actually, but a great way to add cleansing power and hardness to a bar.
Lauric Acid- a fatty acid from coconut oil. Another of Dove’s illusive moisturizing cream ingredients! Again, since we also use coconut oil, lauric acid is in our bars, too.
Sodium Isethionate- a sodium salt of one of the fatty acids in coconut oil, but not a free fatty acid. Any soap made with coconut oil would contain this, although a natural soap maker would not add it as an isolated ingredient. It would just come naturally with the coconut oil.
Water: Not moisturizing, and not creamy.
Sodium Stearate- The sodium salt of stearic acid. Makes bars hard, and cleansing. The opposite of moisturizing.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: A foam booster, thickener and surfactant derived from coconut oil and dimethylaminopropylamine. Dove may also contain Sodium C14-C16 Olefin Sulfonate, a similar ingredient with a similar purpose. But, it’s not a cream, and it’s not a moisturizer.
Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Palm Kernelate: Coconut oil or palm kernel oil reacted with lye to create soap. Not cream and not particularly moisturizing. In fact, on their own, palm kernel oil and coconut oil produce a VERY drying soap. Auto-mechanics or others needing harshly cleansing soaps would appreciate this, but most of us would not.
Fragrance: Not cream, not moisturizing, and probably not natural, either.
Sodium Chloride: Salt. Definitely not cream and not moisturizing. Salt has been used as a drying agent for eons!
Tetrasodium EDTA: A “chelating agent.” It binds to metal ions in the soap, essentially helping hard water to clean better. Also prevents rancidity, and protects fragrances. Definitely not moisturizing cream.
Tetrasodium Etidronate: Another chelating agent, which helps to make hard water clean more effectively, and protect products from going rancid, colors from fading, and scents from disappearing. Definitely not moisturizing cream.
Titanium Dioxide: A whitening agent. Found naturally, but is also commonly chemically synthesized. Definitely not moisturizing cream.
So, it looks like the only “moisturizing cream” ingredients found in a bar of Dove are the fatty acids: Lauric Acid and Stearic Acid; the very same fatty acids found in many handmade soaps!
What I’ve learned, in addition to that (and the fact that they put an awful lot of stuff into their soap), is that Dove’s “moisturizing cream” is just a customer friendly way of saying “Our soap has free fatty acids in it.” Since our recipes are all superfatted to contain a bit of extra oil, these same free fatty acids are present in our bars of natural, handmade soap, too.
OUR bars are a bit different than Dove’s, though. Not only do we keep our ingredients a bit more simple and un-messed-around with, we also use olive and castor oils in our recipes, and these two oils contain even more varieties of fatty acids!!! In fact, you can find all of the following free fatty acids in our bars:
Lauric Acid, Stearic Acid, AND Oleic Acid. Linoleic Acid. Linolenic Acid. Palmitic Acid. Arachidic Acid, Behenic Acid, Palmitoleic Acid, Myristic Acid, Lignoceric Acid, Dihydroxystearic Acid and Ricinoleic Acid.
How’s that for “Moisturizing Cream?”
Perhaps I should market my company as,