Sunday, 17 January 2010

Dr. Bronner's Magic Shikakai Soap

Please note - this product was sent free of charge for us to review.

Cold weather is pretty much the only time I think about hand-care. After spending time out in the freezing icy wastes, I notice that my hands become dry and rough - and little wonder. Unlike my face, which gets regular doses of moisturiser and is routinely exfoliated and nurtured with lovely cleansing products, my hands, if they're lucky, get a bit of accidental moisturising when I go to apply body lotion and that's about it. Given that they are exposed to the elements just as much as the face and neck, hands really do deserve a better deal.

If, like me, you notice that your hands are getting a rough ride in the cold, you could do much much worse than invest in some high quality handwash like Dr. Bronner's Shikakai Magic Soap (£6.99 for 356ml/12oz) to cheer them up a bit. It's a liquid formula in a pump bottle, and is bristling with wholesome ingredients and credentials. It's also good for body and hair apparently, so you're bound to find a use for it even when the weather gets milder.

The brand story is an interesting one - the actual Dr. Bronner was a soapmaking entrepreneur with a mission to spread messages of peace along with his products, following his experiences in World War 2. True to this idealistic spirit, the "Magic Soap" formula is wholly Fair Trade and comes in 100% post-consumer recycled packaging. The company is now run by his family and celebrated its 60th anniversary year in 2008.

New for 2010, the Shikakai magic soap is the latest in a long line of products based around Bronner's original castile soap formula. The flagship ingredient, Shikakai, is derived from the seeds of the Acadia concinno tree which grows in southern Asia and is a traditional Indian cleanser. It's teamed up here with organic coconut, olive and hemp oils and Vitamin E. The variant I've been testing, Lavender, also contains lavender oil.

It's a caramel-coloured liquid, viscous but not thick, and slightly reminiscent of melted sugar. it lathers up very nicely, even in hard-as-nails London tapwater. The lavender scent is quite rich and lingers pleasantly on the hands for a short while afterwards. (My boyfriend doesn't like it much, but his general opinion is that lavender smells old-lady-ish.) It leaves my hands feeling soft and clean, with no tightness to the skin.

For a small indulgence with squeaky-clean conscience (and hands), I would heartily recommend this product. The £6.99 outlay may seem a lot for a handwash if you currently use bog-standard soap, but given the large size of the bottle and the quality and breadth of the ingredients (just look at all those oils), it's an absolute bargain. Plus you get to support an independent brand with a responsible ethos who take obvious care in creating high quality products. All-round win!

Find out more at or buy direct in the UK from Liberty, local health food shops or


  1. I'm testing the mint version at the moment, it smells like Blackpool rock! I'm kind of liking it though.

  2. I was really tempted to ask for that one - or the tea tree - or the citrus... looking forward to your review.


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