Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar: My favorite way to wash away the day

My dad shares his thoughts on why Ivory soap may be more irritating than Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar—and what type of detergent to look for if you have sensitive skin.

Has anyone else been singing “Happy Birthday” multiple times a day, every day, as a way to ensure that you’re washing your hands long enough? I probably need to switch to a new song soon. There’s something rather therapeutic about lathering up with soap and rinsing away the suds. If there’s any bright side to the crazy times we live in, it’s that maybe we’ve come to respect—and even enjoy—the simple but necessary act of washing our hands to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm. Today, I’d like to shine a spotlight on the bar soap that’s been a long-time favorite of mine: Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. I don’t use it to wash my hands, but I do use it in the shower every single day.

I always try to bulk buy this from Costco because I know that if I ever run out, I’ll have to resort to using the other soap in the house—Irish Spring—which is much too harsh for my skin. Its packaging depicts a wholesome scene of nature, but it’s a “deodorant soap” that contains fragrance and dyes.

Bad memories of Ivory soap

A good soap shouldn’t be taken for granted. If you have sensitive skin and you find a soap that doesn’t irritate you, you’re probably going to want to stick with it. In the past, I’ve tried Ivory soap, and it made my skin feel incredibly itchy, so I never made that mistake again. Of course, lots of people probably use Ivory soap without any problems. It’s been around since the 1800s, after all. I just personally can’t handle it for some reason.

Here’s a fun quote I found that references Ivory soap and its distinctive smell:

"Maybe on that day," I would say, running the tips of my fingers along her fascinating curls. "But I would have found you eventually." I said this because I knew it was what Celeste wanted to hear, this warm girl in my arms who smelled like Ivory soap, but I believed it too, if not romantically then at least statistically: two kids from Jenkintown and Rydal going to college in New York City were likely to bump into one another somewhere along the way. —*The Dutch House*, Ann Patchett

Unfortunately, those of us with sensitive skin are using fragrance-free soaps, so we probably can’t smell like the girl in this quote. We probably don’t give off any signature scent at all.

After my unfortunate brush with Ivory, I started using Dove—but I’ve only tried the fragrance-free version marketed to sensitive skin. I have no idea how my skin would react to the original beauty bar, and I don’t really care to find out. The sensitive version comes in a green and white package instead of the classic blue and white package. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into Ivory Soap vs. Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, and see if my dad has any clue as to why Ivory irritated my skin.

Ivory Soap ingredients

sodium tallowate and/or sodium palmate, water, sodium cocoate and/or sodium palm kernelate, glycerin, sodium chloride, fragrance, coconut acid, palm kernel acid, tallow acid, palm acid, tetrasodium edta * = contains one or more of

Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ingredients

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, sodium chloride, tetrasodium edta, tetrasodium etidronate, maltol, titanium dioxide

Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar review vs Ivory Soap comparison

My Dad the Chemist’s review of Ivory soap vs. Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar

Dear Emily, Dove is less irritating because the primary detergent/surfactant is sodium lauroyl isethionate.


My dad suggests looking for soaps that use Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate as the primary detergent/surfactant, like Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. The other factor, of course, is that Ivory Soap contains fragrance while Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar does not.

So in short, look for soaps that use sodium lauroyl isethionate as the primary detergent if you have sensitive skin and/or have experienced irritation from Ivory soap in the past, like me. Also avoid fragrances wherever possible.

Sodium lauroyl isethionate was also the primary detergent in Aveeno Moisturizing Bar, which was too harsh for my face but worked fine for my body. That bar of soap didn’t smell as nice as Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar for some reason, maybe because of the natural odor of the ingredients it contained? That soap contained paraffin, aka wax, which might have helped explain why it sort of smelled like crayons. In contrast, Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar smells like nothing, pretty much.

Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar review

I love using Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar every day. It lathers really nicely without irritating or drying out my skin. I don’t use it to wash my face, but I do use it to hand wash the microfiber towel I’ve been using to wash my face lately (review to come soon). It removes any traces of tinted physical sunscreen from that microfiber face towel pretty effortlessly. I also use it to hand wash other items like bras! Strangely, even though this soap doesn’t contain any fragrance at all, I feel like I smell pretty clean after rinsing it off.

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