No, But Seriously, Dove Soap Is Bad

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So yesterday, BuzzFeed's editors, in a super duper blatant breach of the tenets of their Editorial Standards And Ethics Guide, deleted a post in which staff writer Arabelle Sicardi criticized toiletries brand Dove for its sleazy, exploitative advertising. Dove, you see, is owned by Unilever—the multinational consumer goods behemoth last seen being an oversensitive penis over the definition of mayonnaise—which happens to be one of BuzzFeed's major advertising partners.

Later, BuzzFeed Life's editors sent an email explaining that, actually, the post wasn't deleted for offending a BuzzFeed advertiser, but because paid writers using their voices to express actual honest thought and critical reasoning "isn't in line with BuzzFeed Life's tone and editorial mission." As you might guess, this has touched off a lively internet discussion about such issues as journalism ethics, the traditional walled-off church-and-state relationship between editorial and advertising operations in the media, and how if BuzzFeed's constitutional cynicism were a body of water you could drop the fucking Burj Khalifa into it and be a breeze of dust motes on the far side of the universe before it hit bottom. Which is all cool and good, except, I mean, let's talk about the real issue here, which is that Dove soap is bad.


True story: When I was a shitty teen, I used to get patches of dry, red, flaky skin on either side of my mouth and in the little annoying spots on either side of my nose where my nostrils meet the rest of my face. No amount of washing seemed to fix these sometimes very painful splotches, probably because I was washing with the harsh-ass antibacterial hand-soap we kept around. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to mention this to a doctor during a routine high-school sports physical; she observed the obvious point that my skin was too dry and recommended that I switch to a less harsh soap for face-washing.

"Like what kind?" I mumbled, teenly.

"Try Dove," she said. "It will moisturize your skin."

And moisturize my skin it did! Within ten days those dry red blights were gone, replaced by disgusting greasy acne, the first I'd ever had. This is because Dove soap is a hunk of congealed moisturizer lotion, and does not wash things.


Of course the folks at Dove are very careful not to label their portable bathing unguent loaf "soap," for the precise reason that this might lead a reasonable consumer to deploy this soap-sized, soap-shaped, soap-scented thing for the soap-like purpose of washing. In the specific terms of its branding, the Dove product is a "beauty cream bar." Presumably you are meant to wash your face with some variety of actual soap, for the purpose of rendering it clean, and then you are meant to rub it down with the lather of the Dove loaf, for the purpose of rendering it moist.

Many things are moist. Motor oil. Braised pork belly. A bog. Bangladesh. Some of them are even beautiful, in their way. Probably you would not think to beautify your face by rubbing these things on it just after you have cleaned it with soap. Probably, if a multinational consumer goods firm tried to tell you that you could acquire beauty by rubbing a palm-sized wad of Bangladesh on your face, you would not be all, "Cool, I'll do that."

People buy Dove bars because Dove bars look like soap. This is not an accident: Dove bars are made to look like soap, so that soap shoppers will purchase them. Ooh, I like this soap, this is the luxury soap that beautifies my skin is the precise thought that is meant to lead to the purchase of Dove bars. It is a damn lie.

Soap is a surfactant: when you lather it up and rub it on yourself, it slides between your skin and the filthy, oily residue accumulated on top of your skin, and lowers the surface tension between them, and then when the warm water comes along the skin stays and the filth goes. Dove, by contrast, is a log of coagulated grease with some perfume in it. When you lather it up and rub it on yourself, you are coating yourself with grease. Gross. Fuck's wrong with you. You are not an engine part.


Dove soap is garbage. It does not wash things, but paints them with filth, and then the advertisements tell you that this filth is self-esteem and makes you beautiful. But nah. Do not use this garbage product. There are many fine soaps which will clean your face, which is quite lovely and luminous when not smeared with grease, which is what Dove soap is.

When this post is deleted, it will be because I pressed the wrong button like a fucking idiot.