The Truth Behind the Dove Beauty Cream Bar (Advantages and Side Effects)

The Dove Beauty Cream bar has been touted over the years for having outstanding cleansing, nourishing, and hydrating properties thanks to its revolutionary ¼ moisturizing cream technology. This cleanser has been the best selling product of the brand for over 60 years today but is it truly the miracle beauty bar it seems to be? In today’s article, you will discover the truth behind this highly acclaimed product and its possible side effects.

dove beauty bar

Dove ingredient list explained

How it works

What sets the Dove Beauty Cream bar apart from other soaps is its specific formulation. In general, soaps are known to strip the skin from its essential lipids and offset the skin’s ph. Dove’s Beauty Bar on the other hand contains a quarter of moisturizing cream to prevent it from drying and stripping effect. By combining hydrating and mild cleansing elements to its formula, the Dove beauty bar is said to make the skin softer and smoother.

This has been the marketing point of this product however, it is important to take a close look at the ingredient list to find out if its ingredients truly live up to the expectations set by the brand. Below is an outline of all the ingredients found in this bar and their function on the skin.

1. Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate (SLI)

Function: SLI also called sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) or Sodium Isethionate, is a surfactant or detergent used in products to give add cleansing properties.

Safety and Toxicity: Unlike other surfactants, SLI is a mild cleansing agent and is less likely to damage skin lipids. It is considered safe to use in cosmetic products but it  subjected to dosage limitations. According to EGW, there is no cancerogenic data related to this ingredient.

Skin Irritation: Although considered a mild cleanser, SLI remains a surfactant and can cause skin dryness and mild skin irritation. Surfactants clean the skin by attracting and trapping oil and other impurities in micelles. Unfortunately, they do not make a difference with the skin’s sebum which ends up washed off causing a disruption of the skin’s barrier.  

2. Stearic Acid

Function: In soap stearic acid is primarily used as a cleansing agent. It is also used to modify the texture of soap to create a harder bar.

Safety and Toxicity: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel declares it safe in its current use in the cosmetic industry.

Skin Irritation: Stearic acid is classified by EWG as a low human health priority. However, a few studies have shown it to be a mild skin irritant and sensitizer to allergens

3. Sodium Palmitate

Function: A surfactant derived from palmitic acid. It used to break the surface tension of oil on the skin to wash it away. It also acts as a skin protectant and skin conditioning agent.

Safety and Toxicity: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR) classified it as safe in its current use in the cosmetic industry. There is no indication of toxicity when used in the right doses.

Skin Irritation: Sodium Palmitate records an EWG score of 1. This means it is not likely to irritate the skin. But like it is common with surfactants it can have some side effects. Prolonged exposure or high concentrations may cause skin inflammations, dryness, or chafing.

4. Lauric Acid

Function: Lauric acid is used in this soap as a surfactant or cleansing agent. It helps boost the lather of the bar.

Safety and Toxicity: This ingredient is considered safe in its current use in cosmetic formulations.

Skin irritation: Although considered safe, it is listed as a possible skin and eye irritant

5. Aqua

Function: Water is a solvent as a solvent for all the ingredients in the bar.

Safety and Toxicity: In cosmetic products distilled, deionized or purified water are considered safe.

Skin irritation: It causes no irritation to the skin.

6. Sodium Isethionate ( see Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate)

7. Sodium Stearate

Function: This ingredient is used as a surfactant and an emulsifier to make a cleansing and creamy bar.

Safety and Toxicity: It is reported safe to use in limited doses in the recent CIR assessment report.

Skin irritation: It is classified as a low human health priority and not expected to be potentially toxic or irritating to the skin.

8. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Function: A surfactant – cleansing agent

Safety and Toxicity: It is considered safe in cosmetic utilization but has a very restricted usage rate.

Skin irritation: Can cause skin sensitization to allergens thus considered a skin irritant

9. Sodium Palm Kernelate

Function: A gentle surfactant and foam boosting agent in soap.

Safety and Toxicity: Generally considered safe and not toxic for dermal application.

Skin irritation: Does not cause any skin irritation or sensitization.

10. Glycerin

Function: A humectant used to draw moisture into the skin for hydration.

Safety and Toxicity: Glycerin is considered safe by the CIR Expert Panel safe in cosmetics in the present practices of use and concentration.

Skin irritation: Does not cause any skin irritation except in very rare cases

11. Parfum

Function:  Synthetic fragrance mix. This consists of a mixture of chemicals that create scent in products.

Safety and Toxicity: Fragrances are safe when used in restricted amounts. However, some of the chemicals used in them may be linked to toxic health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities.

Skin irritation: Can potentially cause skin sensitization and allergic reactions.

12. Sodium chloride

Function: Viscosity Controlling Agent

Safety and Toxicity: Classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful

Skin irritation: does not irritate the skin.

13. Zinc Oxide

Function: colorant

Safety and Toxicity: This ingredient is relatively safe to use on the skin however it is known to have detrimental effects on the environment.

Skin irritation: Does not cause any skin irritations.

14. Tetrasodium EDTA

Function: Chelating agent used to isolate and reduce the reactivity of metal ions that may be present in the product.

Safety and Toxicity: It is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful depending on the dosage. It is subject to government recommendations for safe usage.

Skin irritation: Not known to cause skin irritation.

15. Tetrasodium Etidronate

Function: Chelating agent

Safety and Toxicity: It is safe to use in personal care products in restricted amounts non-toxic.

Skin irritation: It is not known to cause any skin irritations.

16. Alumina

Function: Bulking agent, anti-caking agent, absorbent, and colorant.

Safety and Toxicity: Classified as safe to use in cosmetic formulations.

Skin irritation: It is not known to cause any skin irritations or allergies.

17. Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone

Function: Fragrance

Safety and Toxicity: It is recommended in restricted doses for safe use in cosmetics and is an allergen and an environmental toxin.

Skin irritation: Is known to cause contact dermatitis, especially on sensitive skin.

18. Benzyl alcohol

Function: Fragrance and preservative

Safety and Toxicity: Benzyl alcohol is safe to use at a maximum concentration of 5% in cosmetic formulations. It is noted to be a human allergen.

Skin irritation: It is known to cause skin irritations such as rashes, inflammation, and redness.

19. Butylphenyl Methylpropional

Function: Fragrance. Also called Lilial

Safety and Toxicity: It is recommended in restricted doses for safe use in cosmetics and is a potent allergen.

Skin irritation: As an allergen, it is likely to cause contact dermatitis on the skin.

20. Citronellol

Function: Fragrance ingredient

Safety and Toxicity: It is a known allergen and used in cosmetic formulation under restriction.

Skin irritation: Known to cause contact dermatitis

21. Coumarin

Function: Fragrance ingredient

Safety and Toxicity: It is safe to use in cosmetics in low concentrations because it is listed by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) as an allergen. However, it is not classified as toxic.

Skin irritation: It is known to cause contact dermatitis especially on sensitive skin.

22. Hexyl Cinnamal

Function: Fragrance ingredient

Safety and Toxicity: It is safe to use in cosmetics under restricted amounts because it is known to cause allergies.

Skin irritation: Causes contact dermatitis

23. Limonene

Function: Perfuming agent

Safety and Toxicity: Safe to use in cosmetics under restricted concentration because it is a high allergen.

Skin irritation: A high skin and respiratory irritant and sensitizer especially for sensitive skin.

24. Linalool

Function: synthetic fragrance

Safety and Toxicity: It is reported as a possible toxicant or allergen with restricted safety use recommendations.

Skin irritation: This can cause level 2 skin and severe eye irritations according to the European Chemical Agency. This ingredient can highly irritate sensitive skin.

25. CI 77891

Function: Also called Titanium dioxide. It is a mineral used as a colorant.

Safety and Toxicity: It is safe to use in low concentrations in topical cosmetic products. According to EWG, this ingredient presents moderate cancerogenic risks. It is equally classified as expected to be toxic or harmful and a medium human health priority.

Skin irritation: Does not present any skin irritation risks.

Are ingredients in Dove soap bar harmful?

A quick observation of this ingredient list reveals that the Dove Beauty bar contains a lot of ingredients that can potentially be irritating to the skin. Out of the 25 ingredients present in the bar, 14 are likely to sensitize the skin and cause irritations.

There are 9 fragrance ingredients that are known allergens. Surfactants appear at the top of the ingredient list which is an indication that they make up a higher percentage of soap’s formula compared to fewer hydrating ingredients like glycerin.

Side effects of using the Dove Beauty Cream bar on face and body

If you are debating whether or not to use the Dove beauty cream bar on your skin,  here are some possible side effects you should consider;

  • This bar can cause skin dryness. It contains a large number of surfactants that are known to be drying and irritating. Although it contains hydrating ingredients like glycerin, surfactants are present in a higher concentration.
  • It can also cause allergic reactions. The Dove bar contains a lot of synthetic fragrance ingredients which are known allergens and skin sensitizers. Therefore, for people with sensitive or broken skin, this bar is susceptible to causing skin inflammations, redness, swelling, or the appearance of rashes.
  • It can trigger contact dermatitis (eczema). Again, because it contains allergens, this bar is not suitable for eczema-prone skin.

To this point, our analysis points to the fact that this beauty bar is not as great as it marketed to be. Nevertheless, the Dove beauty bar also has some advantages:

Mild cleanser

Although it can cause skin dryness it still remains one of the lesser irritating cleansers on the market. Dove’s initiative to add a moisturizing cream into its formula is laudable.

Non-Toxic

There are no studies or records that this product can cause cancer or is toxic. It has a low skin absorption rate therefore, the ingredients in it can not penetrate below the dermis.

Sulfate-free

This is possibly one of the best attributes of this soap. It is formulated with no sulfate-based surfactants that tend to be very harsh on the skin. The star ingredient of this bar is sodium lauroyl isethionate, one of the mildest surfactants compared to more common options like sodium lauryl sulfate.

Does not leave a film on the skin

The claim from the brand is that the Beauty bar does not leave a film on the skin once rinsed off. However, anecdotal claims from users sometimes contradict this. Nevertheless, there is no study that proves this, and testimonies from individuals do not necessarily factor in if they were using the soap with hard or soft water.

Is Dove Beauty Cream Bar a natural soap?

In fact, the Dove Beauty Cream Bar is not a soap but is rather a cleanser. Soap is made by combining fat (oils or butters) with a strong alkali (lye/ sodium hydroxide) in a process called saponification. Cleansers on the other hand are made by combining various surfactants and skin conditioning compounds to get a product capable of cleaning the skin. Essentially, both do the same job but are created differently.

For a product to be considered natural, it should be largely free from synthetic chemicals. However, the word “natural” has been widely misused in the beauty industry and some products are labelled “natural” despite having only 1% of natural ingredients. There are no rules or requirements to follow in order to use the word “natural” on the product label.

In the case of the Dove beauty bar, there are some naturally derived ingredients present in it (such as Sodium Palmitate and Glycerin) but this bar is mainly formulated with synthetic detergents (surfactants) and lab-made fragrance ingredients so it should not be classed as “natural”.

Conclusively, although the Dove Beauty Cream bar is one of the mildest cleansers on the market, it still has a huge potential to irritate the skin. Its capacity to cause skin irritations like dryness, contact dermatitis and other allergic reactions can not be ignored.