Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shampoo: Shampoo bars - an overview

Yep, shampoo bars are a great way to make a 2-in-1 kind of product. We can incorporate the really serious conditioning compounds into a shampoo bar and they won't end up as a gooey mess in our bottle! These are great for all hair types as they are easily tweakable, and you can add all kinds of moisturizers, oils, butters, and goodies without worrying if they'll emulsify!

 Here's what I consider to be the basic recipe for making a shampoo bar...

50 to 65% powdered surfactants
10 to 26% liquid surfactants
2 to 7% bar hardener like stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, or sodium lactate (liquid)
1 to 3% emulsifiers (usually e-wax, but BTMS would double duty here)
2 to 7% conditioning agent like Incroquat CR or BTMS
2 to 3% butters - shea, mango, cocoa
1 to 2% hydrolyzed proteins
1 to 4% silicones - dimethicone at 1 to 2%, cyclomethicone at 1 to 2%
.5 to 2% panthenol
1 to 2% fragrance or essential oils
0.5% to 1% preservative

POWDERED SURFACTANTS: For the powdered surfactants, I like a mix of SLSa and SCI. I prefer SCI. SCI is great for all hair types - just choose between that with stearic acid (the noodles and flakes), which is great for normal to dry hair, or that without (the granules), which works best for oily hair. SCI is the base of this shampoo bar as it will harden very nicely, and offers a creamy, conditioned feel! 

As for your secondary powdered surfactant, you could consider using any powdered surfactant - Bioterge AS-90, SLSa, or SCS.

I have tried Bioterge AS-90 (powdered version of C14-16 olefin sulfonate) as an SCI substitute (when I couldn't find any in Canada). This was a bad idea as it wouldn't got solid for me. It is, however, a great substitute for SLSa (especially for oily hair).

SLSa is the easiest powdered surfactant to find (I buy it as Lanthanol at Voyageur, but it comes under many different names). It is a mild surfactant that offers amazing bubbles and lather. Some people find their hair feels crunchy after using it, so you can use the other powdered surfactants (not SCI) in its place.

SCS (sodium coco sulfate, found at the Herbarie) is an alkyl sulfate, a relative of sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a high foaming and high lather surfactant, but it isn't considered a mild surfactant. It also has a really high pH levels, so if you're using this in a shampoo bar, I'd suggest using 40% SCI and 20% SCS to get a gentler, more pH balanced product.

LIQUID SURFACTANTS: This field is wide open. Choose the surfactant your hair likes most, and include about 10% cocamidopropyl betaine to increase the mildness. I like to use C14-16 olefin sulfonate combined with cocamidopropyl betaine for my oily hair. (If you're using Bioterge AS-90 as your powdered surfactant, leave out the C14-16 olefin sulfonate as they are the same thing. Consider using something a sulfosuccinate instead, like DLS mild.) If you have dry hair, remember to use a very gentle or mild surfactant. If you have normal hair, you can choose any surfactant you like.

I will be putting together various surfactant combinations in the next few days, so look for those posts! 

BAR HARDENERS: This is optional if you are using SCI with stearic acid - believe me, it will be hard enough! - but if you're using SCI without stearic acid, you'll want to include some stearic acid (if you aren't an oily haired girl) or sodium lactate (if you are oily haired). The sodium lactate will rinse off, so it isn't considered a humectant in this situation, but it will make the bar solidify even further.

If you're trying to make a 2-in-1 shampoo bar or if you really like oils, cetyl alcohol is a great addition as a bar hardener. It will work with the cationic quaternary compound (like BTMS) to condition your hair even more!

EMULSIFIERS: We want something that will emulsify all the various oils and water based ingredients together, so something like Polawax will work well here. But why not use BTMS or cetrimonium chloride? They're both great emulsifiers and conditioners, so they're two great things in one!

If you're making a 2-in-1 shampoo bar, then you'll want to use higher levels of BTMS - up to 7%. If you're making a clarifying shampoo bar, then you'll want to use Polawax instead. If you're making a conditioning shampoo, then about 2% to 3% will be fine.

BUTTERS: I include butters in my bars for all hair types because they can add a little extra lubrication to our hair strands, which is always a good thing. As I have oily hair, I like to use a little orange butter because it contains d-Limonene, which will remove some of the sebum gently (certainly more gently than using d-Limonene straight from the bottle!) Coconut oil is a great choice for any hair care products, thanks to the lauric acid, and any of the butters will offer moisturization of your scalp and a light coating of your hair strands.

The hardness of your bar will depend also upon the butter you choose. If you go with coconut oil, the bar will be softer than one with cocoa or sal butter.

HYDROLYZED PROTEINS: I've already gone on and on about how great these are for different hair types, so just remember to choose a low molecular weight protein for moisturizing, a high molecular weight protein for film forming.

SILICONES: I like to use 1 to 2% dimethicone for a conditioning shampoo bar. If you don't like silicones or if you're making a clarifying shampoo bar, leave these out. If you're making a 2-in-1 shampoo bar, you can include them at up to 5% each.

PANTHENOL: I like to use 2% panthenol in my shampoo bars. As I've already mentioned panthenol a dozen times in previous shampoo posts, I'll just give you this link for more information.

FRAGRANCE OR ESSENTIAL OILS: I like to use my oily hair blend at up to 2% in a shampoo bar after I've removed it from the heat, but you can leave out the fragrance or choose something else.

A note on extracts and hydrosols: Normally I like to include these in my shampoo products, but we don't want a ton of liquids in these recipes - we already have enough in the surfactants and the additional ingredients. You can include extracts at up to 0.5% per extract by mixing it into one of the liquid ingredients - panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins, or include a little glycerin - then incorporating it into your bar. Rosemary would be a great choice for oily hair, white willow bark for dandruff prone hair, and green tea for all hair types. (Consult the page on extracts for more information!)

If you simply can't live without your hydrosols, infusions, or liquid extracts, try making a liquid shampoo instead.

So now you know why we're using what we're using in our shampoo bars! Join me tomorrow for tweaking this basic formula for different hair types!

Here's a visual tutorial for making shampoo bars if you can't wait for tomorrow's post! 


Anonymous said...

With the high percentage of surfactants is this bar safe for daily use?

Anonymous said...

Do you know where to buy Incroquat 18-MEA 40?

Nancy Liedel said...

Gosh, you're fantastic, Susan. As for the anon commenter that asked about high levels of surfactants...yes, this is fine for daily use. Just formulate for your hair type, there is a ton of information on this site. Be sure to use your honeyquat, oat protein or other proteins of choice. I like silk, or wheat myself.

I've used a famous syndet bar from an expensive store for over a year now and that one has sls noodles on the outside of it. I'm very prone to irritation and had no problems at all. It's all a matter of how you formulate it. There are some super gentle surfactants out there. Baby blends are one of them.

Phuong said...

Hi Susan,

I love love love your blog. I have learned so much from you. Please never stop writing :)

I have a small question about shampoo bar. I love the concept and am eager to try. However, is there any chance this type of shampoo can leave build up from the waxy ingredients like stearic acid and BTMS? That's what The Beauty Brains says about Lush bar here: http://thebeautybrains.com/2010/06/27/do-lush-shampoos-build-up-on-hair-2/. I have fine hair so naturally I don't want any build up at all.

Thank you Susan.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Phuong! Leave out the stearic acid and BTMS-50. Use sodium lactate as a bar hardener, if you wish, or leave it out. Are you conditioning your hair after washing it? If so, then you're using something like BTMS-50 (behetrimonium methosulfate) that could leave build up, so having a bit in your shampoo won't be making that big a difference.

If you click on the "newer post" and go to the next shampoo bar post, you'll see a recipe that has BTMS-50 without stearic acid for oily hair.

I have a whole section in the hair care products section of the blog for fine hair, if you're interested.

Alittleofthisnalittleofthat said...

I have been experimenting with your shampoo formulations and have finally received all of my ingredients. I made this recipie and followed exactly. I ended up with mushy bars. If you have a moment could you explain what may have happened?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Alittleofthis! I think you might be referring to another recipe because this isn't a recipe - they're guidelines - and it would be hard to follow it exactly because the ingredients aren't in exact amounts.

Can you please follow up with the exact recipe you followed as well as any substitutions you might have made and the process? Otherwise, I can't really help.

Mariah said...

Hi Susan,

I love your blog so much! I was wondering if I could put dried herbs in my syndet shampoo bar? I am using a preservative but don't know if I should use that actual dried herbs or make an infusion of some sort and incorporate that.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Mariah! Thank you for the kind words! You could include them, but I don't think you'll get any benefit from them and you might end up with soggy herbs as the bar dries after use.

Lori said...

well hello there ...found your blog in my search for instruction on making a syndet bar – had a good selection of ingredients on hand ...so, how long should the SCI take to melt?? ( it’s labeled as flake but it looks like granules to me). I did make the mistake of adding the SLSa into the pot all at once before melting the SCI/CB ...seems like I’ve been siting over the d/boiler for nearly an hour although I didn’t look at the clock ...how ong should this take? TY so much for all your postings!!
-Lori M

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lori. Check out either the link for SCI in the surfactants section of the blog and my write up last week on SCI for more information.

Lori said...

Thanks Susan - I'll give it a read - you have so much info here & my inner chemist wants to play! My bars came out okay last night but I know al the SCI didn't melt ...I'll give it another go this weekend & make sure I follow the directions! I might up the % of CB and lower the % of the SLSa - thanks again for all your work!

Lori said...

I used one of my original bars that I made 2 days ago (my SCI was not completely melted but it wasn't bad) ...I noticed right away after drying my hair how much less frizzy it is - I have longish silver/gray hair. The first day I shampoo, it's always rather frizzy. I made my bars with 10% shea butter, wheat protein (wheat was what I had on hand) & panthenol ...despite the higher butter %, I had plenty of lather & my hair loved it. I also plan on using it as a body bar!

Kat said...

Hi Susan,

I am making your shampoo bar recipe using SCI with stearic.
I currently have in stock SCI without stearic. How much stearic should I add to the plain SCI to approximate the "other" SCI?

thanks so much for your help - love your blog, your hair, your adorable hubby...the whole deal.

Wendy Eligh said...

I love your blog!! I have made quite a few shampoo bars using basically the same formula that you describe, however the last ones I made were very sticky to touch - not sure what went wrong? Any ideas? It has been very humid and hot - wondering if that could be it? And if so, do you have a fix? Any help and feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Bunny said...

Review Time! I made this with:

48% SCI powder (BabyFoam from IngredientsToDieFor)
26% Polyglucose/Lactylate Blend
10% BTMS (the 25% kind)
5% cocoa butter
5% coconut oil.
3% stearic acid
2% panthenol
1% lavender, cedarwood, and rosemary oils

Firstly, let me share the most important thing I learned. YOUR STEARIC ACID AND PANTHENOL SHOULD BE THE LIQUID FORM, because they sure as heck ain't gonna dissolve in your surfactant/butter mix. You will end up with a gritty, not-quite-hard-enough bar. But! Beyond that minor failure, I still think I would edit this a bit. It did lather okay when you got a bunch in, but it's a really draggy kind of bar. I think cetyl alcohol might be the better choice.

As a side note, my choice of scent was influenced by this old paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9828867 (I omitted thyme because it was expensive!) In the end I don't know if it'll do any good, but it's actually a REALLY nice scent combo!

Bunny said...

...aaand with that review out of the way, I have a question! What kind of things can we add to a bar or to a shampoo to make it less draggy? I tried a second, small scale experiment of...

50% polyglucose/lactylate
20% SCI powder
10% BMTS
20% coconut oil

...to make more of a liquid concentrate, but this makes kind of an interesting paste! SCI melts really well in the poly blend, and even better with BTMS in the mix.... but again, it foams well but just leaves my hair supper draggy, the OUCH-catch-on-your-comb kind. I have a ton of both these surfactants left and don't really want to buy a third that will also sit around un-used, so what are my options on improving these two? Some cetyl alchol? Or other emollient?

Birgit said...

Hey Susan,

can you tell what is in the orange butter you use? The link you provided for the store that has it (in another post that I cannot find now)does not work, and when I search for it I find different combinations of sweet almond oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, etc.


Danuta Kildan said...

Dear Susan I just made your shampoo bar and I am in love with it. Thank you , thank you so much:))

Victoria said...

Hi Susan,
I'm about to sink $NZ 60 on the needed ingredients to make this and am wondering can we put something in it to help with stopping my blond highlights from going yellow? I currently use a redken shampoo that is PURPLE :) purple being on the op side of the yellow on the colorwheel. It's fantastic but V expensive!! what can i put into a solid shampoo with purple dye to keep my blond nice?

Here's the ingredients from my shampoo bottle:
Aqua,sodium laureth sulfate, dimethicone,coco-betaine,cetyl alcohol, hydroxysteryl, cetyl ether, sodium chloride, hexylene glycol, cocamide mipa, parfume, sodium benzoate, acid violet 43, salicylic acid, carbomer, propylene glycol, ethylhexyl salicylate, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, potato starch, modified hydroxypropyl trimonium, hydrolyzed wheat protein, tocopherol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, magnesium acetate,methyl cocoate, sodium cocoate, sodium hydroxide, citric acid.


Nessynz said...

Hi Victoria did you manage to find ingredients in nz

ME G said...

Hi Susan
My SCI without stearic. How much stearic should I add to make my bar hurd?
Also, i have myristic acid,no idea what to do with it, i've read that myristic is adds to cleansing properties, can it be added to the shampoo bar, will it contribute to solidification?
Also are there any other bar hardeners apart from stearic acid and sodium lactate?
And bit off topic- is there any liquid replacement for BTMS-50, preferably in clear solution?
Many millions of thanks, Irina.

Erdenesuvd Bat-Erdene said...

Thanks for the great post, I want to make a syndet bar and I do not have panthenol. Instead I have d-panthenol...Could I use it instead? Thanks!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erdenesuvd! Sure, you totally can!

C Sims said...

Hi Susan,
Are you still checking on this post? Two questions:
1. Is there an option to not melt the noodles and have a lush-like appearance? I like the look.
2. The mix doesn't pour well. Is there a way to give it a smooth finish without sacrificing the hardness?

Marissa Chesney said...

So, I had posted a question to chemists corner regarding what preservative to use, but they had issue with the btms (cationic) and the surfactants that I had planned (sci/slsa with coco betaine as the liquid surfactant) because they would not mix... maybe I'm misunderstanding your recipe, as this time when I looked, I saw you had incroquat btms-50... the btms I have is from ingredients to die for and is btms-50 without the butylene glycol... the whole recipe is not in question (haven't started experimenting yet, but I plan on using your basic recipe and tweaking what needs to be tweaked)... I'm just confused with different conflicting advice and wanted to see what you thought of this cationic conundrum. Thanks