Online Exclusives

King of the Castile

March 31, 2009

Dr. Bronner�s Magic Soaps are still going strong after more than 60 years.

King of the Castile

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are still going strong after more than 60 years.

By Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

In 1858, Emmanuel Heilbronner started manufacturing soaps in the basement of his home in Laupheim, Germany. A few decades later, Heilbronner and his brothers created the first liquid castile soap and supplied public washrooms across the country. In 1908, a sole male heir the business was born, Emanuel (Emil) Heilbronner; 40 years later, he founded Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

Sixty-one years afterward and on the heels of its 151th anniversary of family soapmaking for five generations, the company is now led by Dr. Bronner’s grandson, David, and recently rolled out a new line of USDA organic personal care products.

Today, the iconic brand of peppermint-flavored castile soap is best known for its multi-purpose usage (18-in-1, the brand says) and illustrious printed labels with Dr. Bronner’s “All-One” philosophies. Its customer base has grown by leaps and bounds —what once was a product with a 1970s counterculture following is now attracting the attentions of the burgeoning million-dollar global green market. So, what makes Dr. Bronner’s soaps so magical?

“Quality soap-making consists in great part of choosing the right proportions of the right oils with their different fatty acids. Most commercial and even ‘natural’ brands do not use true soaps versus detergents in their so-called ‘liquid soap’ products,” David Bronner, president of the company, tells “Our soaps are made with certified organic olive, hemp and palm oils instead of tallow, and contain three times more organic coconut oil than commercial soaps.”

According to Bronner—a Harvard graduate who joined the family business in 1998—saponified coconut oil generates high-lather cleansing even in hard water because it has shorter-chain saturated fatty acids. Hemp, olive and palm oil-based soaps make a mild, smooth, creamy lather because these oils contain longer-chain unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

Dr. Bronner’s soaps are also touted for their moisturizing qualities and eco-friendly packaging. According to Bronner, the company “superfats” its soaps with organic hemp and jojoba oils for a milder, smoother lather. Plant-derived vitamin E and citric acid are added to protect freshness.

Also, since the soaps are three times more concentrated than most on the market, the company ecologically saves on packaging materials, according to Bronner. The new plastic cylinder bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

The classic castile soaps are available in a variety of sizes in flavors—from 2oz. travel minis ($2.49) to gallons ($52.49), and from classic peppermint to exotic rose or citrus orange. Dr. Bronner’s also recently added its USDA-certified organic personal care line featuring a whole new set of innovative formulations, such as shikakai hand soaps ($8.99) in lemongrass lime, a mild baby balm ($4.99) made with jojoba, avocado and hemp and a lavender hair conditioner and styling crème ($7.99), to name a few.

For 2009 and beyond, the brand is aiming to extend its fair trade supply certification of major ingredients to include minor ingredients used as well—besides the family magic, of course.

More info:

Related End-User Markets:

Related Raw Materials:

blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Testing for Sustainable Preservatives

    Adam P. Byrne, William Michael Hart-Cooper, Kaj Johnson, Larry H. Stanker, Dominic W. S. Wong, William J. Orts||January 4, 2016
    A rapid, inexpensive and qualitative protocol for determining microbial growth inhibition.

  • Burgeoning Beauty

    Burgeoning Beauty

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 4, 2016
    A look at trailblazers for 2016 and beyond.

  • It’s All About Teamwork

    It’s All About Teamwork

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||January 4, 2016
    Collaboration was the theme of the Consumer Specialty Products Association 2015 annual meeting.

  • Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Buy the Sea, Buy the Sea, Buy the Beautiful Sea

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 9, 2016
    Nova Scotia Fisherman makes a boatload of products that contain sea kelp and a raft of natural ingredients.

  • What

    What's on Tap for 2016?

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 8, 2016
    CEW and NPD present their beauty industry review and preview.

  • From Research to Retail

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||February 1, 2016
    What began as research on skin disorders led a dermatologist and his father to create their own skin care formulas.

  • 5 Things I Learned

    5 Things I Learned

    January 15, 2016
    The Avon & Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship Program. Dr. Sabrina Fabi (left) and Dr. Kimberly Jerdan.

  • Perfect Timing

    Perfect Timing

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 11, 2016
    New ways of collecting data can help cosmetics companies understand what women really want—and when they want it.

  • When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    When a Cosmetic Becomes a Drug

    Jacqueline Sheridan, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP||January 11, 2016
    The unintentional conversion of personal care products through marketing.

  • Africa, Rising

    Africa, Rising

    December 14, 2015
    Savvy marketers should expand their operations on the continent, according to speakers at a WFFC seminar.

  • Color, Your World

    Color, Your World

    December 7, 2015
    A kaleidoscope of concepts was the conversation at a recent NYSCC symposium.

  • Hitting a Wall(mart)

    Hitting a Wall(mart)

    November 9, 2015
    Walmart imposes slotting fees and that hurts a lot of Tier 2 and 3 FMCG companies.

  • That’s Quite an Achievement!

    That’s Quite an Achievement!

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||November 2, 2015
    The CEW honors seven beauty industry leaders.

  • A Suite Deal

    A Suite Deal

    October 12, 2015
    Image Studios provides an innovative venue for beauty professionals seeking a new way to do business.

  • What’s All the ‘Fuzz’ About?

    What’s All the ‘Fuzz’ About?

    Jeremy Kerstetter, Assistant Editor||September 28, 2015
    Lawyer presents the power and versatility of essential oils by adding them to her own handmade dryer balls.

  • A New Kind of Hero

    A New Kind of Hero

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||September 14, 2015
    An upstart household product company puts a new spin on the idea of home cleaning.

  • A Panoramic View

    A Panoramic View

    Jeremy Kerstetter, Assistant Editor||September 7, 2015
    ZSS takes a 360° approach to skin health.

  • It

    It's All in the Delivery

    Jeremy Kerstetter, Associate Editor||August 31, 2015
    AlureVé relies on pharmaceutical technology for its anti-aging skin care line.

  • A Brand of Its Own

    A Brand of Its Own

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||August 24, 2015
    Amyris creates its own skin care solution for consumers.

  • Eye on Korea

    Eye on Korea

    August 17, 2015
    At the Personal Care Conference in Shanghai there was distinct emphasis on beauty ideas from Korea.

  • No Coasting Here

    No Coasting Here

    August 12, 2015
    A Q&A with Coast Southwest CEO Joseph Cimo.

  • Scoring Big with Women’s Soccer

    Scoring Big with Women’s Soccer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 8, 2015
    Carli Lloyd and crew have star power—but will any beauty firm be smart enough sign these soccer stars? Take our poll now.

  • Teen’s Non-Toxic Dream Gets Real

    Teen’s Non-Toxic Dream Gets Real

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||June 8, 2015
    Rhode Island teen Ava Anderson serves as CEO of a fast-growing direct sales company that’s playing in multiple household and personal care categories.

  • A Reason to Smile?

    A Reason to Smile?

    Jeremy Kerstetter, Assistant Editor||June 1, 2015
    IRI study uncovers consumer optimism...even among Millennials.

  • The Right Choice

    The Right Choice

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||May 28, 2015
    The CEW Insiders's Choice Beauty Awards

  • More than Moisture

    More than Moisture

    May 25, 2015
    With diabetes so prevalent in the US, a new Eucerin line is meeting the unique needs of diabetic skin.

  • Johnson’s Making a Splash

    Johnson’s Making a Splash

    May 18, 2015
    J&J’s So Much More campaign aims to raise awareness regarding the importance of bath time.

  • Thousands Flock to NYSCC Suppliers

    Thousands Flock to NYSCC Suppliers' Day

    May 18, 2015
    Once again, the cosmetic world meets in Edison, NJ.