What Can I Use If I’m Allergic to Soap?

The chemicals in soaps and detergents can cause allergic skin reactions in some people. Such a reaction is known as contact dermatitis and is as a result of an overreaction of your immune system to generally harmless chemicals or ingredients.

It is entirely possible to develop an allergy to soaps that you have used before.

Symptoms of Soap Allergy

You may experience a chemical allergic reaction up to a week after using the soap product. However, a reaction could easily be visible just 48 hours following exposure.

Some symptoms of soap allergy include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Rashes or bumps on the skin
  • Weepy blisters
  • Flaking or scaling

Common Allergens Found in Soaps

Soaps contain a host of allergens that could trigger contact dermatitis. These include:

  • Fragrances: Fragrance does not help in cleansing but it is widely present in many soap products and can easily trigger an allergic reaction in people with sensitive skin.
  • Preservatives: These are used to prolong the life of soap products.
  • Thickening and lathering substances
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This compound disintegrates the layer of oil on your skin that keeps the skin from drying out.
  • Coconut Diethanolamide: This compound is common in detergents and has the same effects as sodium lauryl sulfate. Yes, your skin may react from touching coconut.

What To Use When You Are Allergic To Soap

If you experience allergic skin reaction when you use soap, several alternatives are available to you.


Organic clays have been used for centuries as a way of eliminating impurities and unblocking facial pores.

Masks are also great for reducing redness and inflammation especially if you have acne-prone skin.

Clays come in many different types, each with its own properties. To cleanse your face try the following clays in place of soap:

  • Kaolin Clay
  • Bentonite Clay
  • Moroccan Clay
  • French Green Clay

To add an extra healing flair, mix these clays with tea, raw apple cider vinegar, rose water, pure water, yogurt, and kefir.

For best result, use one type of clay at a time to see what works for you and to avoid any possible irritation especially if you have sensitive skin.


Cetaphil is a brand that prides itself on offering personal care products that do not contain soap fat-based ingredients.

Some of their products include non-soap cleansers, antibacterial cleaning bar, and a simple cleansing bar.

The absence of soap-based chemicals means that these products will not lather in the same way that other typical soap products do.

However, the products will still leave you squeaky clean and fresh.

Cetaphil cleansers gently remove dirt from the skin and sooth the skin with a glycerin coating.

Doublebase Emollient Wash Gel

Doublebase wash gel is a soap substitute that you can safely use all over your body if you are allergic to conventional soap products.

Soap substitutes are typically creamy lotions applied to wet skin and rinsed off. The active ingredients contained in this wash gel are liquid paraffin and isopropyl myristates, which are known as emollients.

Because Doublebase is a non-soap wash gel, it does not foam and does not contain any fragrance.

When used as part of your usual bathing routine, the wash gel can help to cleanse, soften, and protect your skin by restoring the skin’s protective function.


Soap allergies are not very common but they can be difficult to deal with given the many daily applications we use soap for.

To minimize chances of an allergic reaction, opt for non-soap based cleaning solutions. Home remedies such as clays can help to cleanse the face while soap substitutes can be used for whole body cleansing.

When shopping for soap alternatives look for products with few ingredients and avoid those with common allergens.

Do not rely on labels such as non-irritating or hypoallergenic. Instead, patch test new products for about 48-72 hours before using on a large area.