Photo by Amanda Saviñón

Photo by Amanda Saviñón

Originally published April 30, 2018

Jabón de Cuaba is a multi-purpose soap and a quintessential item in a Dominican household manufactured in the Dominican Republic by Cesar Iglesias S.A. The soap was primarily detergent and later found to be delicate enough for the skin. 

For me, this jabón conjures childhood memories of family, home, and simpler times. At home, this soap was considered preferred especially for feminine hygiene. Growing up, there was always un Jabón de Cuaba and a bottle of Lemisol (a daily gentle cleanser for the vagina) in the bathroom for showers and aseos (half baths). I always preferred Cuaba soap over Lemisol.

I am on a constant search and research into the things have been automatic in my life to see if it is something that still serves me or even interested me. This week I decided to do some research into the only soap I ever used growing up to see what it is all about.

Jabón de Cuaba Benefits

  • Some of the benefits of Jabón de Cuaba are:

  • great for oily skin

  • serves as laundry soap, bath soap, and you can even wash your food with it!

  • it removes dandruff

  • eliminates bacteria

  • heals wounds and scars

  • blocks any leaks in propane gas and gasoline tanks

There are also myths about Cuaba soap (of course made up by Dominicans) one being Cuaba Soap acting as an alternative to a pregnancy test...If a woman urinates over the soap and it does NOT foam up, she is 100% pregnant. I am not sure about that myth. One myth we HAVE debunked is that Jabón de Cuaba is the best choice for feminine hygiene. Despite having used the Cuaba soap for 15-18 years, it wasn't until recently that I learned that Jabon de Cuaba is actually *harmful* to the vagina's pH levels. It was then that I realized that I don't ACTUALLY know anything about the soap I had been using for most of my life. I only knew what my family always said, "ese es lo el mejor jabon para ti!" "That is the best soap for you!"


The amber colored, cubed shaped soap contains oil extracted from a pine tree called Cuaba and includes other ingredients such as:

  • sodic soap: which is high levels of sodium

  • water: which we all know and love

  • glycerin: a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic.

  • sodium and sodium chloride: salt

  • silicate: a salt in which the anion contains both silicon and oxygen, especially one of the anion SiO42−. Any of the many minerals consisting primarily of SiO42− combined with metal ions, forming a major component of the rocks of the earth's crust!!!

  • perfume: perfume lol

  • etidronic acid: good for bone health. It can treat Paget disease of the bone. It can also prevent or treat bone problems after hip replacement surgery or spinal injury.

  • ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): It is an aminopolycarboxylic acid and a colorless, water-soluble solid.

  • sodium cocoate: Sodium cocoate is a generic name for the mixture of fatty acid salts (acid salts) of coconut oil that is used in soap making

  • sodium hydroxide: Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaOH. It is a white solid ionic compound consisting of sodium cations Na⁺ and hydroxide anions

Photo by Amanda Saviñón

Photo by Amanda Saviñón

To open ourselves up to the idea that we can create our own lives and to open ourselves up to real personal growth, we have to first relearn everything. We have to relearn nutrition, cooking, self-care, clothes, cleaning products, childcare, packing, purging, living, feeling, love... It is never too late to analyze your life and decide what you want to keep and what needs to go. Mostly, everything inside of your comfort zone needs re-looked at; old beliefs, old attitudes, and old routines.

Be more curious, don't be afraid to rethink. Contrary to what we may think, there absolutely are ways learn mmore about ourselves and where we come from while also embracing and loving our culture.

Photo by Amanda Saviñón

Photo by Amanda Saviñón

Amid my research on the cuaba soap, I was pleasantly surprised to come across Francheska Alcantara's The Cuaba Issue, an original art series about her own memories, stories and questions about Jabon de Cuaba. There she says:

It is super interesting to me how this name that is “El jabon de cuaba Hispano” with its achieved brand awareness, holds such a charged connotation with our colonial history that extends into the sexism, patriarchy, and anti-blackness that have made their way into our collective consciousness. In addition, considering the language used to market the Hispanobrand , I aim at posing the following: Haven’t we washed our black and brown bodies too much with “el puro jabon”? The soap “que cuida tu piel y tu ropa tambien“..?

Happy searching and researching.

Learning and relearning.