Thursday, January 7, 2010

Formulating with oils - body wash

I really do love body wash - they smell nice, they get me clean, they are all foamy and lathery - and I'm always trying to find ways to incorporate moisturizing ingredients into them. So why don't I use oils more often?

I'm always seeing ads for body washes with moisturizers or ribbons of moisture or some variant on the words "body wash" and "moisturizer". I use a lot of other moisturizing ingredients in surfactant systems - humectants, cationic polymers, and mild surfactants - and oils can be a great way to trap in that water from bathing.

But oils and surfactants don't play well together - you can see the difference between the two body washes, exactly the same formula but one has oils, the other doesn't! - so you'll have to use water soluble oils or oils and emulsifiers like polysorbate 80 or EZ Pearl so you won't get the layer of oil floating on the top. Any oils you add to a surfactant system will reduce the lather and foam, but if you package with one of those scrubby, poofy things, people probably won't notice.

Do you ever think about those little scrubby poofy things? They arrived just about the same time as the milder surfactants were starting to get popular in the mass produced body washes...because the milder surfactants lather less, and the poofy things exfoliate and increase the lather, so we don't notice it. Try using a moisturizing body wash with mild surfactants without a scrubbie. There's very little lather without it!

I've already played with water soluble oils in my foaming facial cleanser recipe and water based anti-itch spray, so I won't go into that in great detail right now, and I've used EZ Pearl as a moisturizer, so let's concentrate on the non-water soluble oils and esters.

To add oils to our body wash, we'll want to use an emulsifier. You could use equal parts polysorbate 80 and our oil, something like cromollient SCE at 3%, or something like sulfated castor oil (turkey red oil) at equal parts of the oil.

Which oils to add to a body wash? Which ones do you like? We're looking for something very emollient and moisturizing. I'm choosing jojoba oil because this oil/wax can penetrate our skin and has a fatty alcohol that can soothe very dry skin. You can choose pretty much any oil you like. I chose jojoba because I haven't used it in a while and it has a nice long shelf life.

I'll add 3% polysorbate 80 to 3% jojoba oil and mix it very well. Then I'll add it to the body wash at the end with the fragrance oil and preservatives. So we'll remove 6% from the water phase. You might find adding oils to your body wash will thicken it enough, so, as always, let the mixture completely de-bubble and return to room temperature before adding the Crothix.

As a note....the addition of oils may thin down your recipe dramatically. In my normal recipe with lemon curd fragrance oil, I don't have to add any's perfect! In this version, I had to add 2% liquid Crothix to thicken it adequately. So watch to see how the body wash and oil combination react together!

I think this body wash actually looks tasty! It's lemon curd scented, and I swear adding the oils made it look creamy and edible. I should probably warn people about this with a big label - WARNING: BODY WASH. DO NOT EAT, DESPITE ITS AWESOME TASTY LOOKING-NESS!

26.5% water
15% Amphosol CG (coco betaine)
15% Amphosol AS-90 or SLeS
15% BSB or LSB
10% aloe vera
3% glycerin
3% Condition-eze 7
2% cromoist or other hydrolyzed protein
2% panthenol
3% jojoba oil
3% polysorbate 80
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix
0.5% preservative
Colouring, if wanted

In a container, mix the surfactants together well, then add the water and aloe vera (you can heat the aloe vera and water to make it easier to mix. When this is mixed together nicely, add the glycerin, condition-eze 7, cromoist, and panthenol, and mix very well.

In a separate container, mix the oil, polysorbate 80, and fragrance oil together until well blended. Add to the body wash. Add the preservative mix well.

Try not to get a ton of bubbles at the top. Let it rest until the mixture is clear of the bubbles and check the viscosity. If you are happy with it, bottle it! If you want it thicker, start at 0.5% liquid Crothix and stir well, ensuring you have blended it completely. If you still want it thicker, add another 0.5% Crothix. You can go up to 2% Crothix if you wish.

Join me tomorrow for more formulating fun with lotion bars!


Anonymous said...

can i use laureth-4 instead of polysorbate? im actually trying to replicate a shower oil.

the original ingredient list says "MIPA –Laureth Sulfate, Laureth-3, Glycine Soja oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Laureth-7 Citrate, Parfum, Argania Spinosa Kernel oil, Bertholletia Excelsa seed oil, Olea Europaea fruit oil, Rosa Carnina fruit oil, Benzyl Benzoate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis flower extract, Linalool, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Salicylate

possible to tell how many percent of oil & mipa surfactant is used in this formula?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Laureth-4 should work in my body wash recipe as it's good with surfactants. You'll have to try it out and see how it works for you. I would suggest getting some polysorbate 80 if you want to make body washes with oils - it's not that expensive, and it has many uses.

If you break this recipe down, you'll see the "parfum" listing - everything after that is probably in this recipe at 1% or less. So you have 4 oils listed below the parfum, which means you have no more than 4% of those total oils in this recipe. Soy and fractionated coconut oil are above the parfum but below the emulsifier, so I'm thinking you probably won't see much of it - maybe 3% to 5% at the most.

Where's the water in this recipe? I don't see any! This product either doesn't contain water or the ingredient list is wrong. Oh, wait, I'm wondering if they don't have the orange flower extract as a hydrosol and have this recipe in the wrong order?

I would say start with about 20% MIPA-laureth sulfate, 5% oils or so (you could go as high as 10%), about equal amounts emulsifier, 2% fragrance oil, 0.5% to 1% preservative, and the rest water. Oh, and 0.5% orange flower extract. You'll want a thickener close at hand as this won't be the thickest body wash you've used.

Having said that, if this recipe doesn't contain water I honestly don't know what to suggest. And I'm wondering why they're using only one surfactant when we know something like cocamidopropyl betaine increases mildness and thickens well?

What product is this?

Anonymous said...

the item is actually the body shop Spa Wisdom Morocco Argan Oil & Orange Blossom Bath and Shower Oil.

i have some other formula & it seems they don't contain water as well.

here are the various formulas i source online

Oil Foam Bath
MARLINAT 242/90 M (MIPA-Laureth-Sulphate (and) Propylene Glycol 25%
MARLIPAL 24/30 (Laureth-3) 25%
MIGLYOL 829 (Caprylic/Capric/Succinic Triglyceride) 26%
SOFTIGEN 767 (PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides) 10%
DYNACERIN 660 (Oleyl Erucate) 10%
Dye q.s.
Fragrance q.s.
Antioxidant q.s.
All components are admixed and stirred homogeneously.


Oil Foam Bath with Aromatic Oil
MARLINAT 242/90 M (MIPA-Laureth-Sulphate (and) Propylene Glycol 25%
MARLIPAL 24/30 (Laureth-3) 25%
DYNACERIN 660 (Oleyl Erucate) 11%
SOFTIGEN 767 (PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides) 10%
Eucalyptus Oil 29%
Antioxidant q.s


Shower Oil Gel
Almond oil 25.30%
Castor oil 13%
Zetesol 100 (MIPA-laureth-sulfate, laureth-4, cocamide DEA) 57%
Nature Therapy D4110A (Symrise) 1%
Oxynex K Uquid 0.2%
dl-Alpha Tocopherol E 307 0.5%
Aerosil 200 (Degussa AG) (silica) 3%

the last formula actually have a patent application at

I was thinking of using
MIPA –Laureth Sulfate
Polysorbate 80 as recommended by you.
Anti-Oxidant like Vitamin E & Rosemary extract.

only concern is the quantity on how much to use.

thanks for ur help!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Wow, that's just an interesting bunch of formulas there.

Based on these formulae, I'd try this as a first recipe...

25% MIPA-laureth sulfate
25% laureth-3
24% first oil
23% second oil
1% Vitamin E
1% preservative (something like Phenonip)
1% rosemary essential oil

As for oils, it depends upon your skin type. If you have dry skin and you're hoping to repair barrier damage, then perhaps using a high linoleic or high GLA oil would be a good idea. I'd personally go with something really light - fractionated coconut oil seems to be popular in these recipes - as one oil, and try something medium with the other oil (rice bran or sesame might be nice). I wouldn't use castor oil as some people find it trying. Soy oil would be lovely as well.

For the love of all that is good, do not use 29% eucalyptus oil that we see in one of the recipes. I have a feeling they're using a carrier oil made from eucalyptus instead of an essential oil - 29% essential oil would be insanity!

I can't guarantee this will work, so try a small batch at first, but it's a start. Let me know how it works out!

Tara said...

Have you ever read "Cosmetic Formulation of Skin Care Products"? On page 39, it relates how a cleanser with 25% petrolatum actually cleanses better. I wouldn't mind trying that as my hand skin is practically falling off. I wonder how the difference plays out between natural oils which I have access to, and petrolatum which I would have to source from accross the border. Of course, they don't actually show us any formulas of how they achieve this, so I wonder what sort of emulsification system they have going on.

Dionne Heaven said...

Hi, im so glad I found your site, has helped me so much, I am new to all of these chemicals but learning slowly thanks to you, I was wondering at what stage do I had the aloe Vera...Phase 1 with the sulfates or phase 2 with the oils emulsifiers, not even sure if I have worded this correctly , so hope you can help me :(

Irene Chong said...

Hi Susan, can I use red turkey oil to replace polysorbate 20. I need a natural solubilizer to mix essential oils into hydrosol. Hope to hear from you. Thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Dionne. Add the aloe vera in with the surfactants.

Hi Irene. You can use turkey red oil if you wish as a solubilizer.

Chloe said...

Hi Swift,

I noticed that lotioncrafter now has a water soluble shea butter. Could I use this in place of jojoba oil in the above recipe?

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chloe! Yes, I've actually got a recipe on here using that very water soluble shea butter. I love it! (Which reminds me that I have to order more!)

Danuta said...

Susan, I think all those formulas are for shower oils that do not contain water and they look like clear oils but when you apply them to wet skin and rub them they turn into a fantastic emulsion, get milky and rins off very nice without leaving tubs oily. Someting simulare to emulsyfying scrub without exfolients. I love the L'occitane Almond Shower Oil /Mipa-Laureth Sulfate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Laureth-3, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Sorbitan Oleate, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Fragrance, Cocamide Mea, Propylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Limonene, Coumarin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Linalool./ and I would dye for instructions on the Mips or Tipa Laurets Sulfate. I can nit find it anywhere. I also have a question regarding FO. My supplier lists usage of up to 30% on bath snd body products and you always suggest 2% when you break down recipies and that makes me confuse. One of the recipie listed in this post lists fragnance before oils and I think it is shower oil so to me it looks like FO procentage is much higher then 2%. I do not think that this recipie would only have 4% of oils. Please help.

Ruth said...

Hi, I'm trying to recreate a foaming almond shower gel. I just need an indication of the quantities. These are the ingredients:

Grape seed oil, Tipa-laureth sulfate, laureth-3, caprylic triglyceride, perfum, cocamide mea, propylene glycol, sorbitan oleate, bergamot oil, sunflower seed oil, rosemary leaf extract, vitamin e, water, limonene, coumarin, linalool

Is there anything you think I can omit?

Any help you can give would be amazing.

Thanks ☺

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ruth. I'm sorry, but I don't offer duplications for commercial products any more, except for the once a month offering on my Patreon feed for subscribers. I think you're trying to duplicate the product that the commenter above you is trying to duplicate.

Click here for my duplicating process.

You really have to know your ingredients to be able to duplicate something, which is a process that takes some time. Learn what each ingredient brings to the chemistry of the product and the skin feel, then you can duplicate it better. If you look on this blog, I have information on each ingredient and what it brings to the mix.

As an aside, the mipa-laureth sulfate is essential for this recipe. If you don't have it, you can't make this.

Tachan said...

Is Soya lecithin a suitable surfactant for kids blowing bubbles? I read it is amphiphilic and a food grade surfactant.