Dove Beauty Bar: Syndet?

I've heard many times that Dove bars aren't actually soap, but rather synthetic detergents.  Look at the ingreidnets it looks to be more of a hybrid due to some soap content that I have highlighted below.  Could those "soap-like" ingredients be synthetically derived as well?  Also, how is it they are able to include soap and still make a pH friendly bar?

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, 
Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate Or 
Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Tetrasodium Etidronate, 
Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891).

A related question that I have is why certain surfactants such as the above isethionates are "milder" than others?  Does it have to do with the ionic nature of them?  I recall you (Randy) saying that because SLES is ionic it can react with the skin's protein.  Of than that how does one surfactant, which is made to make water and oil mix and be rinsed away be milder without also not being as effective?


  • Since the primary ingredient is a detergent it's fair to call this a Syndet bar. By using lower levels of true soaps (the tallowate and palmitate) it appears they're trying to get the best foam quality in a mild system. My guess is that they used a low level of the soaps to keep the pH down. 

    It's not the "ionic" part that makes a product mild or not. ALL these soap and detergent ingredients are ionic which simply means they separate into oppositely charged particles in solution.

    SLS can be irritating because it's structure tends to make it bond to skin protein. Therefore it doesn't rinse as well and can cause irritation. The isethionates have a different structure that don't interact with protein the same way. So they can foam and cleanse with much less of a potential for irritation.   
  • I understand, thank you.  Aside from pH differences is there anything that makes the effectiveness of soap and a synthetic detergent different?  For example, is soap more effective because it washes away more oils?  If so does that mean that a synthetic detergent (like an isethionate) leaves behind more oils?

  • Syndet bars will clean just fine. In fact, if you have hard water they will clean BETTER because they won't combine with minerals to leave a deposit like soap will.
  • Thanks Randy.  I'm curious, Dove markets their bar as having 1/4 moisturizing cream.  What ingredient is responsible for that smooth finish it leaves? 
  • Stearic acid and lauric acid can be used as moisturizing cream ingredients, so they could be supporting the claim that way. The smooth finish is a result of complete formula not a specific ingredient. 
  • Sometimes I see in regular soaps out there EDTA added I'm guessing as some sort of chelating function.  Does this really work in an inherently high pH environment?
  • Yes, it's a chelating agent. I've seen it used in a range of pHs. 
  • I was poking around on the internet and I read that Tetrasodium EDTA is used in alkaline environments where Disodium EDTA is for acidic environments. I noticed my shampoo has Tetrasodium EDTA. Does this mean my shampoo is alkaline? I thought this would work against cationic conditioning agents. Or, is it formulated alkaline because it is a gentle sulphate free formula and the anionic nature helps to reduce buildup of product?
  • Tetrasodium EDTA can be used in acidic environments too so that is no indication of the pH of your shampoo. It's most likely slightly acidic but I'd need to see the rest of the ingredient list to make a better guess.
  • Thanks Perry, this is the rest of the ingredients list:

    Water/Eau/Aqua, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Lactamide MEA, Glycol Distearate, Octafluoropentyl Methacrylate (OFPMA), Behenyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Polyquaternium-47, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Laureth-4, Laureth-23, Potassium Sorbate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propanediol, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance/Parfum, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Citronellol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Magnesium Nitrate, Magnesium Chloride

    Also, why put magnesium chloride in it? Doesn't that essentially make the product "harder"?
  • I would guess that formula is slightly acidic. Especially since they are using Potassium Sorbate as a preservative. It is only functional as a preservative at a pH of 5.0 or less.

    While Magnesium ions are one of the components for hard water and they can create insoluble salts with Soap, they do not have the same interaction with synthetic detergents like the ones listed in this formula. I don't know why they wouldn't use Sodium Chloride but magnesium chloride is perfectly fine in this formula. It doesn't make the product harder.
  • Interesting! Thank you!
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