“We can no longer live half-slave, half-free! We unite the Human race in All-One-God-Faith or perish by half-true hate! For we’re All-One or None!”
This isn’t ordinarily the type of quote you’d expect to read on the label of your body wash, but there’s nothing really ordinary about the wildly popular Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap 18-in-One Pure-Castile Soap – otherwise known, for brevity’s sake, as the trusty old Dr. Bronner’s. The company's history, the gorgeous product and the delightfully kooky quotes on the label – who doesn’t like a good bath time story? – are why I, like thousands of people around the world, always have a bottle or two of this stuff in the shower at all times. Waiting for the water to warm up, or for your conditioner to work its magic? Read the Dr. Bronner’s label! They’re filled with gems like this one: “Love is like a willful bird, do you want it? It flies away! Yet, when you least expect its bliss, it turns around and it’s here to stay!”
So what’s the deal with Dr. Bronner, anyway? It's an odd, sad, yet inherently fascinating story, the stuff that fiction is made of. The good doctor was a Jewish German soap maker who, uneasy with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, tried unsuccessfully to convince his parents to move to America in 1929. When they didn’t agree, he moved to America alone and began traveling around the country lecturing about the Moral ABC, his philosophical response to the Nazis that preaches the unification of all religions, one love and the equality of humanity regardless of caste, nationality or faith. He continued making his soap and started printing sections of his Moral ABC on the labels, which have remained unchanged since. Tragically, the last he heard from his parents was through a postcard from his father in the 1940s, which stated only, “You were right.” His wife, the illegitimate daughter of a nun (you can’t make this stuff up!) died soon after, leading him to amp up the moral preaching, which led to a subsequent arrest and a stint in a mental institution.
Meanwhile, the popularity of his soap grew and his children and grandchildren took over the business after his decline into Parkinson’s and death in 1997. It’s now one of the most popular organic soaps of all time – and for good reason!
Quirky (or deep and meaningful, depending on how you look at it) quotes about cleansing your “mind-body-soul-spirit instantly” aside, the soaps are wonderful. They’re packed with essential oils, smell incredible, and it takes an almost ridiculously tiny amount on a loofah to lather up into a silky, soft foam that leaves your skin super soft and smelling gorgeous. They’re also famously versatile; granted, among the 18 uses that Dr. Bronner suggested for the soaps, a couple were a little unconventional - a Dr. Bronner post-coital douche, anyone?Editor’s note: This is a bad idea. Do not do this. He also recommended using the soap as a toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant, and while you could technically do so (and some people do), they probably wouldn’t be the most effective at each. Having said that, there are still plenty suggested uses for the soap that work wonderfully – 14, to be specific (see below). The multi-purpose goodness doesn't end there; the soaps are also hugely popular among men for their ability to double (triple?) as a soap, shampoo and shaving foam.
They come in a series of delightful fragrances too; personal favourites are the Rose and the Almond, which really do impart a ‘romantic and traditional feel’ and bring “the warmth and coziness of home and hearth into the shower”, just like the company says! How’s that for an instant mind-body-soul cleanse?
DR. BRONNER'S MAGIC SOAP: 14 USES
Body wash: as stated above, a teeny bit goes a long way, cleanses skin and lathers beautifully.
Face wash: since they’re 100% organic and formulated with vegetable and coconut oils, they’re great for your skin.
Shampoo: A couple of drops diluted with water gently cleanses all hair types.
Baby wash: there’s an even milder version of the soap just for babies, but the regular stuff will do too, thanks to its chemical-free composition.
Shaving foam: lather up with some water, shave and rinse!
Decongestant: as stated on the label, pour a couple of drops of the soap (the eucalyptus and tea tree versions work especially well for this) into a bowl of hot water and inhale.
Dish detergent: dilute the soap 1:10 with water and wash away!
Laundry detergent: works with a regular washing machine or when you’re camping / at a music festival
All-purpose cleaner: for floors, windows and tabletops.
Fruit / vegetable rinse: a couple of drops of this in warm water gets rid of pesticides and dirt.
Pet cleaning: because your dog needs a bit of organic love too.
Plant spray: A couple of drops of this mixed with water and sprayed onto plants keeps the bugs away.
Ant spray: Add ¼ cup of the tea tree variant to a litre of water and spray infected areas.