A Unique Method to Stop Hangnails or Fix Split Cuticles

All the Dr. Bornner's Liquid Soaps together look cool!

I accidentally discovered a cure for my troublesome hangnail problem that plagues me every winter…here’s my story…

I’ve had a lot of problems with hangnails my entire life…for at least as long as I can remember.  If you don’t know what hangnails are…they occur when the skin around your fingernails and cuticles becomes so dry that splits and cracks occur which can be both extremely painful and immensely bothersome.

I usually get them in the winter.  The fact that I live in Wisconsin and it’s cold and dry here in the winter is primarily to blame.  But nothing I’ve tried throughout the years has helped much.  I’ve used tons of hand lotions, I’ve rubbed many different kinds of lubricating oils and creams into my cuticles…you name it and I’ve probably tried it…but nothing has ever really helped.  Probably my most successful treatment to date has been lanolin.  But lanolin is sticky and messy.

My 94 year old Dad has also had this condition most of his adult life…that’s a really long time!  His preferred treatment is rubbing Chapsitck onto his cuticles in the winter. This still happens even though he moved to Florida many years ago.

I was really thrilled a few winters back when I seemed to have discovered the easiest and least time-consuming method of completely fixing this problem for me and my Dad.

Originally I wrote this post for my Dad’s 90th birthday (roughly 4 years ago.) I made this soap for him and also bought a nice looking foaming soap dispenser that I put his liquid soap into. I thought that sharing this post would provide a great introduction for him on Dr. Bronners and on the concept of custom blending your own soaps. I figured it would also explain why I even bothered ‘making’ my own soap.

The entire product line of Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soad
The entire product line of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap

How I Accidently Discovered A Great Preventive Measure

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap…the liquid kind is what I discovered…I think that any scent (or variety) would work equally well although I’m using Peppermint currently because I like the smell.  My discovery really occurred accidentally when I found a large bottle of the peppermint version of Dr. Bronners at our local Costco.

When our kitchen sink soap dispenser ran out of liquid soap I put Dr. Bronner’s in it in place of what had previously been there. At first I thought that I’d made a huge mistake because the soap leaves a white, waxy residue behind which ultimately ends up coating the entire bottom potion of the sink’s walls. Since our kitchen sink is white, the overall appearance wasn’t too awful…it just kind of changed from a glossy finish to a matte one. But the idea of the waxy residue being there and building up more and more over time really bothered me. Because, it was there, and I suspected that it may not be good in some circumstances.

For example…that residue can clog many soap dispensers.  I tried this soap mixture in a few different electric soap dispensers but all of them did get clogged! But the soap dispenser that’s built into our kitchen sink isn’t electric and didn’t clog.  So I decided that our sink becoming slightly coated with this fine white residue was a side effect I was willing to live with.

2 factors improved that situation a lot. First, where the white residue was most noticeable was on the black rubber gasket which surrounds the drain area of our sink…the gasket is for the disposal.  A few weeks later we replaced the disposal…for unrelated reasons, and the new gasket has a bit of sheen to it which repels the white residue completely!

2nd I discovered that after cleaning out double sink ultra thoroughly, until it was shining (using the nondestructive scouring powder, Bon Ami primarily,) once again, the shininess repelled the residue. So, there’s an added incentive to keep our kitchens sinks super clean!

Benefits of My ‘Protective’ Soap Mixture

It Lasts a Long Time

Upon going to add more soap to the kitchen dispenser after a weeks time, I discovered that we really didn’t need any more! Had we been using our regular soap, ( clear, generic soap sold in massive sized containers,) it would have been close to running out. But because Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is so thin and runny we’d barely used any of it. That’s certainly a huge plus!

My Hang Nails Disappeared!

As I contemplated how much money we’d save it all of a sudden dawned on me that for the first time in my adult life it was winter-time and I had no hangnails!  Since I wasn’t doing anything else differently nor had I begun using any new products, it had to be the Dr. Bronner’ soap.  

I proceeded to conduct a little online research and I learned that Dr. Bronner’s soap most likely  is the reason for my miraculous ‘recovery’.  Not only that but I learned that I can get rid of the white residue build-up by simply diluting the soap with water.

It’s Inexpensive!

Diluting Dr. Bronner’s soap with anywhere from 50% to 80% water, and then adding few drops of essential oil to the mixture as a preservative, (any kind of natural oil works…I’m currently using eucalyptus.) brings the total cost down even further!

My Recipe

Here are my directions and the recipe for my current soap mixture. You can add this highly diluted mixture to any soap dispenser without fearing clogs!

  • Water – Add enough water to make your proportions equivalent to this…1/3 Dr. Bronners soap and 2/3’s water. If you really want to maximize your cost savings you can use a more aggressive dilution ratio…such as 1/4 Dr. Bronners and 3/4 water. Apparently Dr. Bronner’s soap is always diluted with use.
  • Add about 10 drops of essential oil (even olive oil will work,) as a preservative. Without it, you may notice that the scent of your soap mixture degrades overtime and becomes sort of ‘mildew scented.’ For scents, I prefer using something which has either a similar or a complementary scent to it.
  • Place all ingredients into a soap dispenser and gently move the dispenser around a little bit to get everything mixed up well (without creating too many soap suds!)

That’s the soap I use whenever I wash my hands.  The skin on my hands doesn’t seem to dry out much and my hands feel almost moisturized…although I follow up each washing with hand lotion too.  Just because I happen to really like lotion.  Within a months time of using only this soap on my hands my normal ‘extremely hangnail prone cuticles’ aren’t anymore.  My cuticles seem to be healthier than they’ve ever been in my adult life.

Product Links

Peppermint Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

Here’s a link to the 32oz Peppermint version that I got…it’s currently $17.99 (Jan 2016).  I’m not an Amazon affiliate, but I’m thinking about becoming one…if I do it that will probably be in the Spring of 2016 by the time I get around to it :-)  Remember, I purchased my bottle from Costco at a local store, and sadly don’t remember how much I paid for it.

Here’s a link to the full line at Dr. Bronner’s website and their online store.  The price for a 32oz bottle there is the same as it is at Amazon but what’s great about their site is that they offer the liquid soap in many different sizes.  Anything from a 2 oz size to a gallon size with lots of sizes in between.  My link above is for all sizes of the Tea Tree Oil version, which I’ve read is very good for acne sufferers.  That seems logical to me since Tea Tree Oil has natural antibacterial properties.

History and videos of Dr. Bronner's
A bit of history & some videos of Dr. Bronner’s

If you’re interested in learning more about how Dr. Bronner’s came into existence, the company’s history and the history of many of their products, they have one page of their site dedicated to some great and informative videos.

More background of the Dr. Bronner's Company


I like to use Dr. Bronner’s in a


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