Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Substituting: Surfactant based products - liquid hand cleanser

Hi, I'm Swift and I'm a surfactant junkie. I have to have at least 500 ml of any surfactant I find in my workshop at all times, and if I see a new one, I buy it. I recognize you have lives that don't revolve around lathery, bubbly products, and I try to keep that in mind when I'm formulating recipes for this blog, but sometimes I get all excited about an obscure or difficult to find surfactant and I throw those into a recipe without thinking of the hassle it will cause for those of you who wish to find it!

Let's take a look at my new favourite liquid hand cleanser recipe (original post found here) and see how we can make a few substitutions.

10% cocamidopropyl betaine
11% polyglucose/lactylate blend
10% SCI without stearic acid
2% glycol distearate

33.5% water
10% aloe vera
10% orange hydrosol
3% PEG-7 glycol distearate
3% glycerin

3% honeyquat
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance
Crothix (optional)

So what can we substitute here?

Cocamidopropyl betaine - a co-surfactant. Please don't substitute this surfactant for another one. I consider this one essential to increasing mildness, increasing viscosity, and decreasing irritancy as well as boosting foam and stabilizing foams.

Polyglucose/lactylate blend - One of the two primary surfactants. It's a very mild cleanser that offers moisturizing, a reduced feeling of tackiness, and a boost to the conditioning power of your product. You could substitute it with decyl glucoside, but you will have to adjust your pH with citric acid to get it into a neutral state. I've been using LSB, a surfactant blend from Stepan containing sodium lauryl sulfoacetate and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (or DLS mild). I like this blend because I can get it locally, it's mild, and it thickens up the mixture very well. You can use any surfactant you want in the place of the polyglucose/lactylate blend as long as it is a gentle (so anything other than SLS), but you might need to thicken it more with Crothix in the end.

SCI without stearic acid - The other primary surfactant. I've chosen this surfactant because it feels lovely on our skin and thickens the mixture nicely. You can use SCI with stearic acid, but 10% might be a little much and might make it really thick. I'd go with 5% SCI with stearic acid to see how it thickens. You can choose any liquid surfactant you like, but remember that you'll have to thicken it quite a bit. I'd normally use about 40% to 50% surfactants, but I've only used 31% here because the SCI thickens it so well.

Glycol distearate - This is the pearlizer, moisturizer, and irritancy reducer. You can use other pearlizers in its place at whatever level is suggested. This is also a thickener, so removing it will make the product a little thinner than if you include it. Or leave it out if you want a translucent product.

Water - Our solvent. No need to replace that.

Aloe vera -  A moisturizer and anti-inflammatory, you can replace this ingredient with water with one disclaimer. Aloe vera contains a ton of electrolytes, which are great for increasing the viscosity of your products. Leaving it out may mean you have to increase your thickener.

I'd always wondered why the products I made with the kids in my youth groups didn't thicken properly. Then I realized I was leaving out the aloe vera (it's kinda expensive!), which was key to thickening! 

Orange hydrosol - This is an astringent hydrosol good for oily skin. I used it primarily so I could call it orange & honey hand cleanser. Feel free to leave it out or use another hydrosol.

PEG-7 glycol distearate - A water soluble ester I've included as a moisturizer. Choose another water soluble moisturizer like PEG-7 olivate or leave it out as we do have a ton of moisturizers in this mix!

Glycerin - Our humectant. Choose another if you like, but remember that sodium PCA and sodium lactate are rinsed off by water, so they're probably poor choices.

Honeyquat - A cationic polymer that conditions and behaves as a humectant. You can use another cationic polymer - I like polyquat 7, but there are tons of other choices - or leave it out.

Liquid Germall Plus - A broad spectrum preservative suitable for water only products. You can choose another preservative as long as it works with water or surfactants.

Fragrance - Use a fragrance or essential oil or leave it out.

Crothix - The thickener. Glycol distearate will thicken this mixture to my satisfaction, but I keep the Crothix on stand by. To thicken your surfactants, you can use salt (check the surfactant chart to see which ones thicken with salt) or another product suitable for thickening.

So now you have an idea of what you can do to make this recipe when you don't have all the ingredients. I've already tweaked this recipe to create the take 1, clear version of the hand cleanser, but you can alter it as much as you want. Just keep in mind the goal of mild cleansing with some moisturizing and conditioning and you'll create a wonderful hand cleanser with what you have in your workshop!

As a note, this recipe makes a great body wash as well. I ran out of my usual recipe (okay, truth be told, I had packaged up the last batch as Christmas presents, so I had some but they were in pretty bottles and that's such a waste in my bathroom) so I tried this one and it was awesome! Very moisturizing and creamy! 


Tara said...

Do fragrance oils cloud a clear surfactant recipe?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

It depends on the fragrance. Some do, some don't. It depends on the polarity of the fragrance and how the fragrances blend with the surfactants. I can get a completely clear Black Amber Lavender bubble bath or body wash, but it might cloud up a shampoo that has a conditioning agent. The only way to know is to try it! I used Satsuma from one company in my bubble bath and it was clear; the second bottle from another company completely clouded it! But they smelled the same and were supposed to be from the same manufacturer!

I wrote a post about this last year - you can see the differences between cedar & saffron and black amber lavender in the same batch of bubble bath. (Oh, I see you've commented on that post!)

TaraW said...

Oh thanks. I guess someone else goes by 'Tara' so I shall go by TaraW to differentiate.

Anonymous said...

Great post!
If i con't use the SCI and just stearic what will this do?
I am interested in using the base for a facial/non drying cleanser. Could you add panthenol to this and guar to thicken? Or will just stearic alone thicken enough?
many thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. You don't add stearic to this recipe - you either have SCI with stearic acid or SCI without stearic. You can add panthenol to this, but I can't comment on thickening it with guar as I've never used the product before, but it is supposed to be good for creating gels (there's a little bit of information in this post about that topic).

I do have other facial cleanser recipes on this site that won't need to be modified as much as this one to become a cleanser. I'm happy to post a few, if you want, or you can do a search (upper left hand corner).

Anonymous said...

Only anonymous because I don't have one of those accounts. :) Can you lead me to the facial cleanser you mention on the site? Interested in trying the lactylate blend for face. So this one not ideal for face then? Can't wait to see your other. Thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I have quite a few facial cleansers on this blog, and you can substitute any surfactants you want for the surfactants I list. Here's the foaming facial cleanser I made with the polyglucose/lactylate blend, and here's a body wash I made with the blend (which would work as a facial cleanser), but here are a few other ideas for facial cleansers.

How to formulate a facial cleanser
Foaming facial cleanser with white willow bark
Facial cleanser for dry skin
Creamy exfoliating cleanser
Creamy surfactant based cleanser for oily skin
Creamy surfactant based cleanser for dry skin
Creamy foamer cleanser

Gloria Gangi said...

Thank you for posting this recipe, being a newbie it is makes it easier to understand what goes into the product and why when you write our the ingredients and what they are meant to do in the formulation ( and the ones that can be left out).