I spoke with a telephone representative at Dove today. Apparently, both unscented Dove and unscented Dove for Sensitive Skin have technically been discontinued.
Dove has replaced both with a bar called unscented Dove Sensitive Skin. The new bar has a different ingredients list than either of the two products it is replacing:
Ingredients of the new unscented Dove for Sensitive Skin, as of January 2007:
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate
Sodium Tallowate or Sodium Palmitate
Sodium Cocoate or Sodium Pam Kernelate
As I have noted on my site, unscented Dove was a combination of soap and mild detergent. (For more about this, please see the web site, www. solveeczema.org, The Solutions page, search on the term “Dove”.)
The following are chemical names for true soaps:
Sodium Tallowate – soap from tallow
Sodium Cocoate – soap from coconut oil
Sodium Palmitate – soap from palm kernel oil
Soap has gotten kind of a bad rap in some circles since the introduction of detergents. Some of it was deserved, as some soaps can be quite harsh. But so can some detergents. (This is all separate from the eczema issue as discussed on my site.) It’s unfortunate for people with eczema that all soaps were tarred with the same brush. But this is likely why products like Dove list “Sodium Tallowate” (tallow soap) and Sodium Cocoate (coconut oil soap) rather than just saying the product contains soaps.
The first ingredient listed for the old unscented Dove was Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, a mild detergent.
A good resource describing most of the ingredients in the old and new products can be found at this blog [link]. (There is a straightforward discussion of the purpose of various ingredients, but just remember the issue of eczema, detergents and membrane permeability is a different discussion.)
The first ingredient listed on the new unscented Dove Sensitive Skin bar — the product replacing both the old unscented Dove and unscented Dove for Sensitive Skin — is Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, a mild detergent that I believe is similar to Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate. The true soaps in the bar are essentially the same as in the previous products.
However, when I say “similar”, I do not know what that means from the standpoint of what it does to the hydration properties of the final product. I will have to watch and see what happens with this product before I decide how to best update the Solveeczema.org web site. I have bought the new product, and my only comment at the moment is that the old unscented Dove had, in my opinion, a nicer feel to it.
Some positive developments: The new product does not contain a masking fragrance as the old unscented Dove did. The old unscented Dove was so well-tolerated by people with eczema even with the masking fragrance, but it’s one less concern for anyone who doesn’t think the masking fragrance was necessary. The oils in the old unscented Dove for Sensitive Skin, including Sweet Almond Oil, are not in the new product. This is probably a good development for people concerned about nut oils. (I like Sweet Almond Oil in soaps, but my son is not allergic to nuts.)
So, in the meantime, if you are trying to locate a new soap product, I will try to put some reviews of my experiences with new products on this blog soon. Bottom line: if you are making the switch, find a non-drying true soap, it’s the safest if you are problem-solving the eczema. Products with the same surfactant and fatty acid profile as the old unscented Dove (the soap and mild detergent combination) are probably also fine, there are a few on the market, I believe. Just remember that the combination of ingredients is probably an important factor. I will try to post more about this soon.
Later post on this issue: No longer recommend Dove for the washing test.