Monday, September 12, 2016

Newbie Tuesday: Facial cleansers - meet your surfactants!

The key to making a good facial cleanser is to start with gentle to mild surfactants used at just the right amount to cleanse your skin without making it feel stripped or dry. We want to use the surfactants at the right suggested usage rate so they will rinse off clean. Without further ado - let's meet the surfactants!

Oh, darn it! I need to make a note about actives in a surfactant. The actives are the amount of that surfactant that you actually find in the bottle. If you look at Amphosol CG or cocamidopropyl betaine, you'll see that it's 30% active, meaning that there's 30% cocamidopropyl betaine in the bottle, with the rest being water and a preservative. So if we use 10% in a facial cleanser, we're getting 3% active cocamidopropyl betaine in our product.

This bit is important - Don't worry too much about the active content of the surfactant beyond this page. In any recipe on this blog, past and future, when I tell you use to use 10% disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, this means to pour 10% out of the bottle. I don't need you to do the math and figure out the active amount in the end product, unless you really feel like doing so. I have done all those calculations for you.

If you really can't be bothered reading all of this and just want a summary, click here for the surfactants comparison chart. It doesn't have the pH and all that, but it'll give you an idea of why we're using what we're using.

Oh, and one final note: The information about pH, viscosity, and active amount given here is fairly specific to the ingredients I have found at Voyageur Soap & Candle. If you have purchased your ingredients from somewhere else, you may have a different pH and such. The type of product is the same - for instance, all cocamidopropyl betaine will be amphoteric with good foaming properties and so on - but those few properties may be different.

Amphosol CG (INCI: Cocamidopropyl betaine): Amphoteric.
A humectant. Good foaming properties. Good flash foam and foam stabilization properties. Adding this amphoteric to an anionic mix will reduce the harshness of the other surfactants and changes the viscosity. It is a good anti-static for hair.
Poor to mild cleanser. Good where mildness is vital -- babies or sensitive skin -- but primarily used as a secondary surfactant. (Great as the only ingredient in a micellar water...Oops, did I give something away there???)
This version of this ingredient is really thin, like water!
It is readily biodegradable.
Minimal eye and moderate skin irritation at 10% (so 33% in a product)
pH (10% in water): 5 to 7
Active: 30%
Suggested usage rate: up to 30%

BSB (INCI: PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Quaternium-15, found at Voyageur): Anionic.
Very gentle with mild cleansing. Very thick, so adds viscosity to a product.
Fabulous for dry and sensitive skin.
This is very thick and will thicken your product.
Comparable to "no more tears" products, so it's safe to use around the eyes.
pH (10% in water): 7.54
Active amount: Because this is a blend of surfactants, there isn't an active amount listed.
Suggested usage rate: up to 100%

As an aside, this is a great surfactant you can use to make eye lash extension cleansers or make-up removers. I'll be addressing this more in the future.

If you are playing along at home but don't have this surfactant, you can use all kinds of pH neutral, baby safe blends found at different suppliers. 

Bioterge AS-40 (INCI: C14-16 olefin sulfonate): Anionic
Good cleansing. Excellent flash foam.
Good for normal to oily skin.
Good for emulsifying small amounts of oil.
Difficult to thicken with salt, so you want to use Crothix or a gelling agent.
It's about as thick as a thin oil, a bit thicker than water.
Less sensitive to hard water than other surfactants
Moderate skin and eye irritation at 10% (25% in formulation)
pH (10% in water): 8.5
Active amount: 39%
Suggested usage rate: Up to 25%

Decyl glucoside (INCI: Decyl glucoside): Non-ionic
A very mild non-ionic cleanser that works well as both a primary or secondary surfactant as it is a good foamer. This is a great ingredient for a conditioning shampoo or body wash as it improves the cationic conditioning in your products, as well as offer foam stabilization.
Good emulsifier for oils, fragrance oils, and essential oils.
It doesn't thicken with salt or things like Crothix. You'll want to make a gel with something like xanthan gum or a carbomer.
Active amount: 51%
pH (10% in water): 12 (very alkaline!!)*
Suggested usage rate: 4% to 40%

There's a reason I don't recommend decyl glucoside if you don't have a pH meter, and it's that super high pH reading. I've used a few different ones, and the lowest pH I've tested was over 8, so you have to bring it down using citric acid or something similar. You can try to predict how much citric acid will bring it down by x pH, but that's really only true for the product at hand. It can change with every batch, so the only way to know how much of an acid to add to bring your product down is to actually measure it. And you need a pH meter for that.

And these measurements are specific to the decyl glucoside carried by Voyageur Soap & Candle, which is Dow's EcoSense 3000. Plantaren 2000 has a pH of 7 to 9.5, so you'll have to check your data sheets or talk to your supplier to get more information.

Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate (INCI: Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate): Anionic
Considered very mild, with good foaming and detergent properties.
Good for all skin types as it removes oil and sebum gently without stripping hair or skin too much.
Stable in hard water.
Poor solubilizers, so you might need to use something like polysorbate 20 or 80 if you're using more than 3% oils or fragrance oils.
They don't thicken with salt, so you may have to use Crothix or a gellant to thicken it.
Low irritation
pH (10% in water): 6.0
Active amount: 32%
Suggested usage rate: up to 35%

LSB (INCI: Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate): Anionic
This is a blend from Stepan. Can be used as a primary or secondary surfactant. See above for more information on disodium laureth sulfosuccinate.
SLSa is an excellent foaming, lathering, and bubbling ingredient. We generally see it as a powder, but it's in liquid form here, which is just awesome. (Think of this ingredient as the first one you want to use for a bubble bath!)
As a blend, this is mild and non-drying. High volume and long lasting foam. Provides LOTS of bubbles.
Good for normal to oily skin
Mild skin and eye irritation at 10% active.
pH (10% in water): 6.0
Active amount: 25%
Suggested usage: Up ot 40%

This is an incredibly thick product! Seriously thick! I mean incredibly thick! It will help thicken your product. Take a look at the picture. Do you notice in the bottom right hand corner it looks like there's a little whirl like you'd find on the top of an ice cream cone. That's because this stuff is super thick and I was trying to get it out of the bottle!

Steol CS-230 or SLeS (INCI: Sodium laureth sulfate): Anionic
This version is 2 mole. You can find SLeS in two forms - SLeS 2 EO (or SLeS 2 mole) and SLeS 3 EO (or SLeS 3 mole). This EO part is about the ethoxylation of the surfactant. The higher the ethoxylation, the less irritating it will be for your skin or eyes and the more soluble in water.
SLeS has good foam stability in hard water, good skin tolerance (less irritation), and is easily thickened by salt, Crothix, or glycol distearate. They are also thickened by adding cocamidopropyl betaine. It is considered a mild cleanser (definitely milder than SLS!).
Thickened with salts, betaines, or amides.
It's readily biodegradable.
Good for all skin types.
pH (10% in water): 7.5
Active amount: 25.5%
Mild to moderate skin and moderate eye irritation at 10% (so 40% SLeS in a product)
Suggested usage rate: up to 40%

Note: Sodium laureth sulfate (SLeS) is not SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate. Click here to read more! 

Aren't they awesome? I think of surfactants like Pokemon - I gotta catch them all!

Have we covered everything? Did you miss any of these posts?

Newbie Tuesday: We're making facial products! 
Shopping list
Equipment list
Let's start making facial cleansers! - Your skin type
Surfactants - what are they?
pH of our surfactants

I am sorry we're a week behind schedule for this series. I was writing up the base recipes I've created when I realized I had so much more to share with you! The purpose of this blog is to share with you every single thing I can think of when making a recipe so you know why I'm using each ingredient and how to make modifications at home, so failing to share all the information I can goes against every fibre of my being. I beg your indulgence for falling behind, but I think this series will be better for the extra information. 

Join me tomorrow - on Tuesday, how shocking is that! - to start formulating a facial cleanser with those lovely surfactants!


Nicole Gravett-Straw said...

Hi Susan,

I am a long time reader and first time commenter. First, wishing your mom a healthy and speedy recovery! You and your family are in our thoughts.

Thank you so much for sharing your passion and knowledge through your blog! I learn so much with the information you share - it is great to understand the 'why' behind the 'do'.

I'm grateful to gather as much information as possible before starting to formulate my very first ever product so, please continue to educate!!! I look forward to following along, learning and reading all the comments.

Best regards,

alia said...

there are so many types of proteins
oat protein soy protein wheat protein silk protein
my question is
how each of these should be used for different hair types
can any of these make hair straighter?
will using these proteins increase inwanted facial hair?
can more than one type of protein be used when formulating a single hair product
which proteins would make a good combination?

Kath Collard said...

Being a week behind works for me...held up with ordering supplies but I believe they're on the way now. All the info is great in helping me understand formulation choices. Thank you.