Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gels: Surfactant-y fun!

As I mentioned in the first gel post, carbomers and surfactants don't tend to play well together. But we're going to force them to be the bestest of friends by choosing our surfactants wisely and putting the ingredients together in the proper order.

I made up this recipe - the Gardener's Hand Scrub - for my post-formulating fun in the workshop. I've included these surfactants - BSB and SLeS (anonics) and Amphosol CG (coco betaine, amphoteric) - for mildness and foaminess. You can choose other surfactants you like - DSL Mild, LSB, Bioterge 804, Amphosol AS-40, and so on - but do leave in the coco betaine as your amphoteric surfactant. BSB is a very thick surfactant, and it works well with this gel recipe - if you choose a thinner surfactant, you might want to increase your gel amount to 3 grams to make it thicker. I have no idea how polyglucoside works with gels as the pH for this surfactant is very high, but why not try it and see how it works out?

I am adding glycerin as the humectant as the cleanser is meant to be washed off, and sodium lactate washes off too easily. I've included d-Limonene as a degreaser, and tea tree oil and poly 20 because someone mentioned to me it might be a nice addition (it does add a nice smell in the mixture). The hydrolyzed oat protein is a must for me - I need some moisturizing when I've been playing all day! - and I always like to add a little cationic polymer for the same purpose.

We have to change the order from the previous recipes because we are adding surfactants to the mix. If we made up gel, then added the ingredients, the gel would turn into a liquidy mess, so we need to add the ingredients in the correct order!

So let's get formulating! (And I apologize in advance that this recipe is really messed up in terms of weights - my brain just isn't into re-calculating this morning!)

85 grams water
13 grams aloe vera liquid
2 grams Ultrez 20 or ETD 2020
16 grams BSB surfactant
5 grams SLeS surfactant
2 grams lye solution
0.5 grams Liquid Germall Plus

Mix the water and polymer flakes together in a bowl, making sure the flakes are wet. Leave for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the surfactants and mix well. Then add the lye solution and mix well again. You should have a nice, medium weight gel.

3 grams glycerin
2 grams Amphosol CG (coco betaine)
5 grams fine grain pumice
1 gram d-Limonene
0.2 grams tea tree oil
1.5 grams polysorbate 20
1 gram hydrolyzed protein (I like cromoist, but any will do well)
2 grams condition-eze 7, honeyquat, or other cationic polymer

Mix the d-Limonene, tea tree oil, and polysorbate 20 in a small container, then add to the gel. Add these ingredients and mix well. You aren't adding preservative to this because it is in the gel at the proper proportion. Bottle this in a malibu tube for easier use!

Join me on Thursday for a series of posts on esters!


Simone said...

37ScreaftHi Susan,
As always thank you for your wonderful blog. Yesterday I tried making this hand scrub but I didn't have, nor want particularly, the pumice so I just omitted it. The finished product looks/is grainy - ie tiny grains of gel, when you rub it onto your hands in blends out well and it appears to wash well. I thought that perhaps I hadn't left the carbomer to sit for long enough and I also didn't add the aloe vera in with the water, so I repeated the process. The second product has a slightly finer grain but much the same as the first.
Have I done something wrong or does this description sound like the correct texture? My husband's comment was that it looked a if something had separated in the process. I used the exact weight of carbomer (2g), would I achieve a smoother gel if I used a little less?
Thanks you so much for sharing your knowledge and your time.


Simone said...

Hi Susan,
Who knows where the 37Screaft came from- it didn't appear in the preview. My apologies.

Simone said...

Hi Susan.
Still working with this recipe. After a week the gel has thickened to almost cut-able. The fish-eye effect has changed to a "champagne" effect. The grains of gel seem to have become tiny air bubbles.
My main question: Is there any way of diluting this after making? I tried with water but it is too solid to dilute.
Other than the texture it seems a great product - it lathers beautifully and skin feels really soft and moisturized after wash-off.
Any suggestions or ideas on what I am doing incorrectly would be greatly appreciated.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Simone. Can you post your exact recipe and process? It'll make it easier for me to pinpoint what might be happening. How old is your carbomer? I found that mine absorbed too much water and turned into a rock after about 6 months!

Simone said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you.
I used your recipe exactly, using Ultrez 20 but without the pumice. In the first attempt I used 3g and in the second I used 2g. The Ultrez 20 I bought at the end of last year so I would have had it a good 5 months, perhaps this is the culprit. I made the gel (the second time leaving it almost 20 minutes) then added the surfactants and it was at that point the fish eye problem arose. I didn't whip the mixture just stirred with a fork. Could that have added to my problem? Should I have whipped it? The first batch is now solid and the second gives one pump and then blocks. As I mentioned in my previous post the actual feel and lather is super.
As an aside - is there any way to retrieve a gel gone wayward or do you just put it down to experience? I tried with warm water and I am going to test with a few other ingredients. Would heating help or does that destroy the structure of the gel?
I hope to receive some pumice today and will try again with some fresher gel and perhaps drop the quantitiy down to 1.5g of Ultrez 20. On your blog you mentioned Ultrez 10, which I have only just purchased, would that make any difference? As yet I haven't used that product.
Thank you for finding the time to answer my questions and I hope your back get better fast, I have had the same in the past and it really isn't nice.

Simone said...

Hi Susan,
I know you hate spelling mistakes. I thought I had proof read my comment but "quantitiy" slipped by.
Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Hello Susan,

I have a question about working with Carbomers and heating/holding.

I noticed in this recipe there was no heated phase, is that okay? I have been messing around with a formula using Carbomer 940 (with Suttocide A to neutralize it) and a surfactant phase (Polyglucose/Lactylate and SCI). I need to heat my surfactant phase in order to incorporate cetearyl alcohol. (Note: I am using the Carbomer 940 for its ability to efficiently suspend my exofliants). Is it acceptable to add my heated surfactant phase to my room temperature Carbomer gel solution? The formulation turns out good, so no real problems there, but I am just wondering about this in a technical sense.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,