Originally Posted by Mamid
I reacted to mr. bubble too when I was a girl.
Know what I use? Dish soap!
As a general rule, dish detergent isn't going to give you a less irritating product than bath products will, and on average will be even more irritating for a given amount of foam. Not only that, but the ultras, possibly because of their high alcohol content (necessary to keep that amount of cleaners dissolved in a bottle that small), tend to make bubbles that break faster than their non-ultra predecessors. Plus, the makers of hand dish detergents have finally convinced users they don't need such a heap of suds in the sink, and that lower suds will rinse a little faster. Thru the 1970s, hand dish detergents were very cost effective bubble baths, but not so good now.
Probably the best major dish detergent formula to use as bath foam was Ivory Liquid ("Gentle White Detergent", the one for dishes) during the late 1980s when they were using the Bissett & Mao patent. It was basically ether sulfate, palmitamidopropyl (cetamidopropyl) betaine, and amine oxide. Among formulas based on alkyl or ether sulfates, that was about as mild as it gets, as well as sudsy. The palmitamidopropyl betaine was found to smooth flaky skin in tests on humans and on dandruffy pigs! Consumer's Union also found it to be among the better products to use as hair shampoo. But the betaine may have been too expensive for them to keep using, so today's Ivory Dishwashing Liquid is neither as foamy nor as nice for skin & hair.
Many dish detergents still use dodecylbenzene sulfonate, which is one of the more irritating anionic surfactants. Also one of the more irritating household detergents to use as bath foam, and this may surprise you, is Dr. Bronner's liquid (or anybody else's) soap. Put enough of it in your bath to make it sudsy (and that may take a lot, depending on your water's mineral content) and it'll be more irritating than most suds would be. And strangely enough, some of the dishwashing products labeled as being for sensitive skin are more irritating than some of the ones with regular labeling. There also seems to be a trend back toward the direct alkyl sulfates (like SLS) and away from the gentler ethoxylates (which also tended to make bigger, though not necessarily more, bubbles, and work better in "hard" water), maybe partly as a result of the dioxane scare.
As a byproduct of the 30+ years old cosmetics ingredient labeling statute in the USA, you can now see the ingredients of particular dish detergents if
they make a cosmetic claim -- such as the ones that claim skin condition improvement or that recommend use as "hand soap" (which are almost always ones claiming "antibacterial" when used for hand washing). Then you can take advantage of the fact that they'll be trying to keep their mfg. costs down, and just assume that the other version of their product (without the "antibacterial hand soap" claim and hence without specific
ingredient disclosure) is exactly the same but missing the triclosan. In some cases they'll list patent numbers, but frequently the patent claims are broad enough that you may not get too close an idea of their ingredients. Anyway, compare to other sudsy household products such as shampoo and bath foams, and you may be either pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised.