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Welcome to our Dr. Bronner’s review!
Even if you’ve never used Dr. Bronner’s products, you’d likely still recognize the colorful bottles with an abundance of words and phrases wrapped around each available square inch.
But Dr. Bronner’s is far more than just organic soap making philosophical statements—this family-run brand with a 75-year history is setting the bar for how an ethical and transparent company should be run.
With values including social justice, environmental stewardship, commitment to fair trade, animal advocacy, and so much more, Dr. Bronner’s is on a mission to better the health of both the earth and the humans that live on it.
Outstanding moral values aside, Dr. Bronner’s has been providing high-quality products since 1948, beginning with the best-selling Pure-Castile soaps that have amassed somewhat of a cult following and, most recently, their fair-trade and organic chocolate bars.
With these factors combined, our editorial team awards Dr. Bronner’s with an overall A+ grade—let’s see how they did it.
Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
Made with organic peppermint oil, this liquid soap is a flagship Dr. Bronner’s product that’s made without synthetic chemicals, preservatives, detergents, or foaming agents.
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Mentha Arvensis, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Mentha Piperita, Citric Acid, Tocopherol (*Certified Fair Trade Ingredients; **None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.)
Pros and Cons
- Organic, natural, and fair-trade ingredients
- 11 certifications on their products
- Strong values supporting philanthropy, sustainability, and social advocacy
- Generous 45-day satisfaction guarantee on personal care products
- Slightly expensive price point
- No live chat option for customer service
From Soap to Social Justice: A 75-Year History Behind the Messages on the Bottle
If you’re one of those people who likes to read the shampoo container when you get bored in the shower, Dr. Bronner’s word-packed bottles will keep you entertained (albeit pruney) for hours.
But who is the exclamation point-loving, white space-hating person behind these (often rambling) messages?
Dr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner—no, he wasn’t a doctor, but he was a third-generation Jewish-German soapmaker who escaped Germany just before World War II.
After tragically losing his family in the Holocaust, Bronner made it his mission to share his values of peace, unity, and fighting oppression with the world.
As he struggled to get this message across, he took the phrase “standing on a soapbox” to an almost-literal level, printing his passionate thoughts on modernized bottles of the soap he grew up making.
Within the seven-decade gap between then and now, Dr. Bronner’s has remained a family company, with Dr. Bronner’s sons Jim and Ralph helping with the business beginning in the 1950s and taking over in the 1990s when Dr. Bronner was in ailing health.
Since 1998 and 2000, respectively, grandsons David Bronner and Michael Bronner have been at the helm, carrying on the family legacy and becoming pioneers in the industry for their organic, fair trade, sustainable, and progressive business practices.
Along with the liquid soaps that haven’t changed much since their original start (peppermint is an all-time fan favorite), Dr. Bronner’s also offers toothpaste, shaving soap, lotions, lip balms, and, perhaps surprisingly, chocolate.
When we spoke with Michael Bronner at Natural Products Expo East 2022, we learned more about the pivot from personal care products into chocolate, which occurred when they realized their palm oil suppliers (used in the bar soaps) also grew cocoa.
Then, they paired world-class Swiss chocolatiers with fairly-treated, regenerative organic cocoa farmers—an industry typically rife with exploitation and unjust practices—to craft the delicious “magic chocolate” that we sampled as much as we could at Expo East.
Suffice it to say, Dr. Bronner’s has made a name for themselves in the natural products industry, earning their spot as the top-selling natural brand of soap in the U.S. marketplace.
And to learn more about the Bronner family’s journey and missions, check out the book Honor Thy Label: Dr. Bronner’s Unconventional Journey to a Clean, Green, and Ethical Supply Chain.
Our Dr. Bronner’s Review
With their high-quality ingredients, unrivaled transparency, prompt customer service, and considerable commitment to bettering the world, Dr. Bronner’s received an impressive overall A+ rating from our editorial team.
Here are the six categories we grade on, with Dr. Bronner’s scores included.
- Quality (A+)
- Transparency (A+)
- Website Experience (A)
- Customer Service (A)
- Value (A)
- Brand Value (A+)
It’s worth noting that our review team doesn’t give out A+ grades lightly—here’s how Dr. Bronner’s did it.
Recognizable and high-quality ingredients, 11 certifications, fair-trade sourcing, and equitable supply chains led to this A+ rating.
From ingredient formulation and sourcing to manufacturing practices and certifications, quality is not something that Dr. Bronner’s skimps on.
It’s challenging to find personal care items where you can recognize most of the ingredients, but the organic coconut, palm, and olive oil that make up most of Dr. Bronner’s products almost look like something you could eat.
And these ingredients are not only healthy for us, but they are also good for the planet and the people who are growing or producing them.
In a world filled with synthetic ingredients and preservatives, Dr. Bronner’s is a breath of fresh air, using natural and unrefined oils and traditional methods without harmful chemicals or greenwashing—the practice of using unsubstantiated claims that deceive a customer into believing a product is environmentally friendly or “green.”
Dr. Bronner’s also has a strong commitment to organic and fair-trade supply partners, showing commendable transparency about where each ingredient is coming from and who’s growing it.
Their worldwide sourcing includes cocoa from a women’s collective in Ivory Coast, coconut sugar from Indonesia, and mint oil from India, all utilizing Certifed Fair Trade Practices that implement paying farmers fair prices, providing safe working conditions and opportunities for growth, absolutely no forced or child labor, and much more.
Dr. Bronner’s products and practices are not short on third-party certifications, including:
- USDA Organic
- Oregon Tilth Certified Organic—a nonprofit that promotes biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture
- Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC)—the coconut oil is currently ROC, with a goal for all products to become ROC in the near future
- Fair for Life—a fair-trade certification program
- NSF—standards for personal care products containing organic ingredients
- Leaping Bunny—ensures no animal testing on products
- Certified Vegan
- Certified B Corporation—Dr. Bronner’s is the second-highest rated B Corps in the world
Benefit Corporation in California—companies that pursue profitability alongside social and environmental goals
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- OK Kosher Verified
Lastly, although their products are sourced from all over the globe, the manufacturing processes are more straightforward, with the personal care products being made in Vista, California, and the chocolate made in Switzerland by Swiss chocolatier Maestrani.
Now, let’s take a look at what Dr. Bronner’s has to offer.
Dr. Bronner’s Product Catalog
If you’re in the market for organic soaps, personal care products, and chocolate, consider Dr. Bronner’s your one-stop shop for all things natural.
Personal Care Products
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap—Castile means soaps made from plant oils like olive and coconut—boasts 18 different usages, from typical hand and body washing all the way to teeth cleaning and dog bathing.
Pure-Castile Bar Soap
Dr. Bronner’s Castile bar soaps are gentle yet effective, coming in eight scents ranging from lavender to tea tree to almond.
Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Mentha Arvensis, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Mentha Piperita, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol (*Certified Fair Trade Ingredients; **None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.)
Arnica-Menthol Magic Balm
A blend of organic oils, beeswax, and essential oils moisturize skin and soothe sore muscles or achy joints.
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil,*† Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil,*† Cera Alba (Beeswax),* Mentha Arvensis (Peppermint) Oil,* Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil,*† Cinnamomum (Camphor) Oil,* Mentha Arvensis (Menthol) Crystals,* Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil,* Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil,* Arnica Montana Oil,* Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil,* Tocopherol (*CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS; †CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS)
Dr. Bronner’s has also made its way into the food space, first with their Regenerative Organic Certified coconut oil.
Their most recent success is the Magic All-One Chocolate, a delicious vegan treat using West African cocoa grown using regenerative organic agriculture, Indonesian coconut sugar, Congolese cocoa butter, and Madagascan vanilla bean.
But this new product launch is not just about making chocolate—it’s also another way that Dr. Bronner’s can convey their important messages of social justice and environmental stewardship.
Although six core flavors are in the variety pack, don’t miss out on their new Cool Peppermint Cream bar, a peppermint filling inside a layer of dark chocolate.
Magic All-One Chocolate Variety Pack
Magic All-One Chocolate is certified organic, fair trade, kosher, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free, with the variety pack flavors including Salted Whole Almonds, Salted Almond Butter, Roasted Whole Hazelnuts, Crunchy Hazelnut Butter, Salted Dark Chocolate, and Smooth Coconut Praline.
(Salted Dark Chocolate) Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Beans, Fair Trade Organic Coconut Sugar, Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt, Fair Trade Organic Bourbon Vanilla Bean. (Ingredients vary by flavor)
Dr. Bronner’s is an open book with easily accessible information about products, sourcing, manufacturing and supply chains, and even revenue and upper-level executive salaries.
Transparency is key when it comes to building customer loyalty, which encompasses information about product sourcing, supply chain practices, and even the more mundane, like shipping and return policies.
Between our interview with the Dr. Bronner’s team and the abundance of information on their website, it’s clear that they want to share as much as they can with consumers.
For an in-depth look at what Dr. Bronner’s did this year—including revenue and salary breakdowns, environmental footprints, and supply chain details—check out their comprehensive 2022 All-One Report.
Their “About Us” page is just as chockful of information, with details about their values (“Cosmic Principles”) and how they practice them, as well an extensive timeline of the Bronner family.
You can also find more about the executive leadership team here, including that of brothers and grandsons to Dr. Bronner—David Bronner, CEO (that’s Cosmic Engagement Officer, obviously), and President Michael Bronner.
Overall, it’s effortless to find anything you’d want to know about Dr. Bronner’s on their website, from sourcing to salary equity to shipping and return policies, awarding them with an A+ in transparency.
A clean design, straightforward shopping experience, and abundance of blog articles and resources—with a couple of minor design issues—led us to an A rating.
With a blue-and-white background reminiscent of a cosmic sky, Dr. Bronner’s website is simple, helpful, and easy to navigate—albeit not the most high-tech we’ve seen.
While the e-commerce experience was straightforward, a couple of minor issues dropped them down from an A+ rating, including the “Contact Us” button hovering over the necessary “My Cart” button when shopping on mobile devices, rendering it hard to click.
A second issue was that the orange “save” buttons on the shop page don’t tell you the price and only refresh the current page upon clicking—they don’t take you to an individual product page.
However, the abundance of blog articles, resources, and educational materials—ranging from information on green cleaning and psychedelic-assisted therapy to recipes and nutrition—made up for these slight snafus, leading us to give Dr. Bronner’s an A for overall website experience.
Dr. Bronner’s customer service team was quick and helpful when answering our questions via email and phone, although a live chat option is always appreciated.
Responsive and accommodating customer support combined with generous shipping and return policies make up the crux of this category—and Dr. Bronner’s passed the tests.
Dr. Bronner’s offers phone and email support—but it’s worth noting that a live chat option would likely lead to an A+.
However, a phone call was answered within seconds with a helpful response, and the email option was similarly prompt, getting back to us in less than 24 hours.
As for shipping and return policies, Dr. Bronner’s offers free shipping on orders of $45 or more, with five different paid shipping options if you don’t reach that threshold—but, beginning at just over $11, the options are a bit pricey.
Finally, the Dr. Bronner’s return policy is generous, allowing for a 45-day satisfaction guarantee on personal care products.
They understandably don’t offer returns on the chocolate bars unless an order is damaged.
Overall, Dr. Bronner’s earns an A in customer service with their generous return policy and rapid responses on email and phone.
Although Dr. Bronner’s runs a bit more expensive compared to some other organic soaps and body care products, the higher ingredient quality leads them to an A rating.
The aspect of assigning value to a brand or product is not as simple as it sounds—rather than simply looking at price alone, we also award points for ingredient quality relative to price and how they compare to competitors.
While Dr. Bronner’s soaps and other body care products are a bit more pricey than other natural and organic brands, they aren’t over-the-top expensive—and for people wanting to live a “clean” or more natural lifestyle, their products certainly fit the bill.
Plus, their chocolate bars run in the middle of the pack compared to other healthy and fair-trade chocolates.
Let’s take a quick look at how Dr. Bronner’s prices compare to products from similar companies.
|Organic Liquid Soap||Dr. Bronner’s: $0.53/oz*||Mrs. Meyer’s: $0.39/oz*|
|Toothpaste||Dr. Bronner’s: $1.36/oz*||Tom’s of Maine: $1.09/oz*|
|Fair-Trade Chocolate||Dr. Bronner’s: $1.83/oz*||Hu Chocolate: $2.86/oz*|
Weighing these prices against the quality of ingredients used, we awarded Dr. Bronner’s with a solid A for value.
By funding hundreds of non-profits and charities, giving away over 40% of their profits, and the innovation of healthy products that benefit public nutrition, Dr. Bronner’s gets an A+ in brand value.
Brand value is one category that Dr. Bronner’s has in spades, with factors ranging from innovation and industry disruption to philanthropy and public nutrition.
Beginning with philanthropy, Dr. Bronner’s could not be doing more than they already are—in 2021 alone, they gave away over 40% of their profits, totaling over $8.6 million in contributions to non-profit organizations or charities.
All of Dr. Bronner’s business practices follow a model of constructive capitalism, which, at its core, helps funnel profits to environmental and social justice projects while supporting fair compensation of employees and suppliers.
As Emanuel Bronner first put it—and a model under which Dr. Bronner’s still works today—“Share the profits with the workers and the earth from which you made it!”
And, Dr. Bronner’s does more than just talk the talk, as the company has a salary cap ratio of 5:1 for the highest-paid executives to its lowest-paid, fully vested positions—for reference, the average CEO pay in the U.S. in 2020 was 351 times that of the average worker.
The younger Bronners in the family also commented on this ideal, with David and Michael stating, “It’s why we began 2022 by providing a 6.5% cost of living increase to all our employees, matching inflation rates.”
They continue, “And it’s why we not only fund over 300 nonprofits, but strive to amplify their voices, and share tools with those activists and advocates as they lead with heart on the frontlines of movements for change.”
Dr. Bronner’s funds seven core causes—regenerative organic agriculture, animal advocacy, drug policy reform, community betterment, criminal justice reform, fair pay, and fair trade—which tend to focus on projects that are typically underfunded or unrecognized by conventional philanthropy.
Three such organizations that Dr. Bronner’s highlighted in 2021 were:
- Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI): The IPCI addresses peyote conservation and aims to empower Indigenous communities to reconnect with, regenerate, and conserve sacred Peyote medicine.
- VINE Sanctuary: This LGBTQ-led refuge for farmed animals works for social and environmental justice and animal liberation, rescuing animals from factory farms and rehabilitating roosters used in cockfighting.
- Soul Fire Farm: An Afro-Indigenous community farm committed to providing farmer training for Black and Brown growers, reparations and land return initiatives for northeast farmers, food justice workshops for urban youth, and more.
As if that wasn’t enough, the launch of Magic All-One Chocolate has led Dr. Bronner’s to help their cocoa farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast transition to climate-friendly dynamic agroforestry (DAF), a sustainable way to increase biodiversity and support healthy forests.
Sustainability is also constantly considered, with Dr. Bronner’s being among the first companies to use 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic bottles back in 2003.
Today, they continue to increase the PCR in all their plastic packaging, including an increase of PCR in the flip-top caps to 25% in 2021.
Plus, they encourage consumers to try the bar soap (packaged in paper) and
Last but not least, Dr. Bronner’s is an innovative company—what other personal care product brands make the pivot into chocolate?—and they have certainly elevated public nutrition, providing millions of people with safe and healthy alternatives to toxic or chemical-laden cleaning and body products.
Overall, these factors undoubtedly led us to award Dr. Bronner’s with an A+ in brand value.
The Peppermint Sugar Soap is a soothing four-in-one soap that can be used for washing hands, face, body, or hair.
We tried it out for handwashing, and it did not disappoint—the peppermint scent was refreshing and perfect for the holiday season, and the combination of white grape juice with organic coconut, olive, and hemp oils led to nourished skin.
The Peppermint Hand Sanitizer is also ideal for these winter months when sickness seems to cycle through households like clockwork, utilizing fair-trade organic peppermint oil sourced from Pavitramenthe in India and organic ethyl alcohol to kill germs.
Lastly, the jumbo-sized tub of Regenerative Organic Certified Whole-Kernel Virgin Coconut Oil will likely last us an entire year.
With its nutty, rich flavor, Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is great for both cooking and body care, including use as a lotion or moisturizer.
Overall, we were fans of everything we tried from Dr. Bronner’s—including the Magic Chocolate we sampled at Expo East 2022—and appreciated the sans-plastic packaging.
Dr. Bronner’s FAQs
Is Dr. Bronner’s Good for You?
Yes, all of Dr. Bronner’s products are good for you—both the personal care products and the chocolate.
Is Dr. Bronner’s Good for Your Skin?
As Dr. Bronner’s products don’t contain fillers, synthetic chemicals, or preservatives, they are nourishing for sensitive skin.
However, as the products are made of coconut oil—a comedogenic oil—they may not be suitable for people with acne, although results may vary individually.
What Is So Special About Dr. Bronner’s Soap?
Dr. Bronner’s soap is special because it uses organic ingredients without synthetic chemicals, fillers, preservatives, or foaming agents.
The plant-based oils are all-natural, leading to a nourishing and soothing product.
Does Dr. Bronner’s Get Rid of Bacteria?
Dr. Bronner’s soaps are not antibacterial, but they do contain natural ingredients, like coconut oil, that have antimicrobial properties and surfactants that effectively remove (rather than kill) germs and bacteria.
However, the Organic Hand Sanitizer does kill bacteria, as it contains organic ethyl alcohol.
Why Did My Dr. Bronner’s Turn White?
Dr. Bronner’s organic liquid soap products can turn white under cold or freezing temperatures because of the coconut oil solidifying in the soap, but this does not change the function of the product.
The soap will return to its normal clear amber color as soon as it warms back to room temperature.
Can You Brush Your Teeth With Dr. Bronner’s?
Yes, one of the 18 suggested uses of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap is tooth brushing—although many people note that it does, unsurprisingly, taste like soap.
Is Dr. Bronner Soap Good For pH Balance?
Due to the organic plant oils in Dr. Bronner’s soap, they have a higher (more basic) pH.
According to Lisa Bronner, the pH of the Pure-Castile Liquid Soap is 9.3, and the Pure-Castile Bar Soap is 9.8—these pHs are very mild compared to harsher soaps, which can be as high as 13.
However, our skin prefers a more acidic environment (about 5.0-5.5) due to its “acid mantle”—a film over the skin that protects from infection, harsh weather, and dehydration.
All soaps or cleansing products will disrupt the acid mantle for a short time, but the skin’s pH will be restored within 30 to 90 minutes.
Therefore, Dr. Bronner’s soap is better than harsher, more alkaline soaps for pH, but overall, the skin’s pH will restore itself after cleansing.
Who Owns Dr. Bronner’s?
Dr. Bronner’s is owned and operated by his grandsons, David Bronner and Michael Bronner.
Dr. Bronner’s is a company that really leads with heart and soul…. That encompasses the company—having integrity and ethics and truly caring about not just putting out quality products, but caring about your workers, your suppliers, and your carbon footprint.Jolana Watson, Public Affairs & Media Relations Associate at Dr. Bronner’s
With their high-quality products and ingredients, accommodating customer support services, and immense contributions to social, environmental, and animal causes, Dr. Bronner’s earned a stellar A+ rating from our team.
We were highly impressed with not only the products but also with all of the integrity and care for the world that the Bronner family has exemplified over the past 75 years.
As Dr. Bronner’s Public Relations Associate Jolana Watson told us, “Dr. Bronner’s is a company that really leads with heart and soul…. That encompasses the company—having integrity and ethics and truly caring about not just putting out quality products, but caring about your workers, your suppliers, and your carbon footprint.”