Thursday, April 29, 2010

Surfactants: Body wash with SCI

I do love SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate). It's creamy, it's foamy, and it makes my skin and hair feel lovely when I've used it in a syndet bar or shampoo. It's a great addition to any surfactant mix...but it's hard to melt and it wants to be solid again. When we add it to to our surfactant based product, it will help to thicken our products and make it feel more conditioned. You don't need to add extra thickeners - but you do have to make sure you choose your fragrance oils well.

I've taken my favourite body wash recipe and I've added 5% SCI (without stearic) to see how it would thicken. It's gorgeous! It took five days to go from the opaque bottle you see in the picture to being clear (see below)! You can go as high as 10% SCI (without stearic) if you want more thickening - just remove 5% from the LSB, not the cocamidopropyl betaine. (If you're using SCI with stearic, 5% will thicken a lot more than the stuff without, so start there!) 

37.5% water
5% SCI
15% cocamidopropyl betaine
20% LSB (or other anionic surfactant of choice)
10% aloe vera
3% glycerin
3% condition-eze 7
2% hydrolyzed protein

2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix (may not be necessary!)
0.5% to 1% preservative
colour, if desired

1. Weigh the SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine into a container and put into a double boiler. Stir occasionally until it is melted.

2. Weigh the rest of the heated phase into a container and put into a double boiler. Stir occasionally until it is the same temperature as the SCI and cocamidopropyl betaine.

3. Combine the two containers and mix very well until it is a homogenous solution. Don't stir too vigorously or you might end up with tons of bubbles that take some time to get to the top of the bottle!

4. When the mixture reaches 45˚C, add the cool down phase. Again, don't mix it too vigorously!

Let this sit until it comes to room temperature before bottling. This way you can tell if you need more thickening.

Please follow these directions carefully. I decided to add the entire heated phase together and after 30 minutes, the SCI was still solid. I know better than this, but I wanted to make a few other things in the double boiler so I cut some corners! Bad Susan!

The reason to heat the rest of the heated phase separately is that adding a cool or cold ingredient to your cocamidopropyl betaine-SCI mixture will cause the SCI to solidify very quickly, leaving you with little solid pieces in your otherwise creamy mixture!

I chose a fragrance I knew would thin this mixture - Lemon Curd - and found the viscosity perfect (at first). If you think it is too thin, add 0.5% liquid Crothix and mix well. If it is still too thin, add another 0.5% Crothix to a maximum of 2% Crothix. Or you can start with 10% SCI for those fragrances that will thin out (usually citrus or vanilla based fragrance oils) so you don't have to use the Crothix!

This is the body wash about 3 weeks later. Notice it eventually went clear at 5% SCI! Interestingly enough, I didn't include any colours in here and the Lemon Curd fragrance oil made it go orange! Perfect! With this fragrance, I'll use 10% SCI when I make it again because it is just a tad thinner than I would normally like. I still love it and use it all the time, but I'm sure I'm using more than I should because it's not viscous enough! 

This feels really lovely and creamy, and is suitable for all skin types. The SCI without stearic is great for oily to normal-oily skin and the SCI with stearic works well for those with normal to dry skin.

If you want to modify another surfactant recipe - facial cleanser, shampoo, bubble bath - just remember to include one of the surfactants that will help SCI melt well! And for the love of all that is good and wonderful in the world, remember to melt it in that solubilizing surfactant alone before adding it to the rest of the stuff!

Join me tomorrow for fun with the basics of formulating facial cleansers!


Anonymous said...

Dear Susan!
I love your blog!!!!!!!!!!!
About SCI, if I want my cleanser formula turn creamy and opaque, should I use 10 % SCI + stearic acid or SCI alone? How much stearic acid?
Thank you so much!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Roderick. If you want your cleanser to be creamy and opaque, I'd use either SCI with stearic acid (all in one, don't add the stearic) or SCI (without stearic) and a pearlizer like glycol distearate.

Stearic acid isn't water soluble, and it will just precipitate out and make a huge white mess at the bottom of the bottle.

Have fun formulating!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan!
So you mean I can't get a creamy cleanser without GDS? I wished I could stop using GDS.I hoped I could use enough SCI and some stearic to acheive this... What about 30% SCI + 20% stearic+ 15% CABetaine (30% solution) ? ALS is an option ...

Anonymous said...

Oups sorry, 20 % stearic may be way too much!?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Roderick. 20% is way too much! I'd try something like 2% - if you really want to try it - and work your way up to increase the creaminess. You will likely see it precipitate out into a gooey white mess at the bottom of the bottle, but it's worth a try.

If you want to try something like the cream cleanser without water, you will definitely get a creamy product, but it's one that needs to be in a jar!

Or you could try making a cleanser with some heavier water soluble esters like jojoba and make a cleanser like this one that looks opaque.

Or you could add some cocamide DEA, which will make your product more opaque and will increasing the slipperiness and moisturizing.

Have fun formulating!

Sonja said...

Thanx for the recipe and instructions.
My mum wanted me to make a shower gel that would not leave her skin dry. I just combined this recipe with the recipe for body wash with oils and it seems to have worked out ok.
I did not manage to melt all the SCI though. It took forever and I gave up after about 30 minutes. I just filtered the leftover SCI out of the finished product.
I will try another variation later on this week.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing body wash and another one of my favourite recipes on your blog.
It's so creamy and a little goes a long way.
I scented mine with Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lemon and Lime essential oils (similar to another suggestion you had) and its incredibly refreshing. My son and his Khun Fu classmates say it's a perfect sport body wash.
Mine also turned out to be the same orange colour as yours. It looks gorgeous in a clear bottle.
Thank you - Beth

Anonymous said...

Hi, May I know what temperature is heated phase refering to? Do I need special equipment to heat up the mixture

Rocio García said...

Hi dear Susan

I have a question What is the % actives of SCI without stearic acid? and What is the % actives of SCI with stearic acid?

I really appreciate your help!!

My best regards

Rocio García said...

I have others questions. What is the % actives of Cocamidopropyl betaine and What is the % actives of LSB?

Thanks for your help!!

My best regards

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rocio! Pay a visit to the surfactants section of the blog to get more information on the topic of actives in a surfactant. Or check out the data bulletins from the supplier of the surfactant in question.

Kelli Spears said...

Hi Susan,
I know you are extremely busy but I have a question about SCI (which I use and absolutely love!!!)
I recently saw this ingredient in a lotion. The website was and it was in two different lotions. One for baby, Super Soft Lotion and one for mama, Lovely Body Lotion.
I was just curious why someone would include an ingredient that foams/bubbles in a product designed to leave on the skin??
I would think this would leave an undesirable feeling on the skin, like stickiness or something.
These products received great reviews so they must be good lotions. I could experiment and try it myself as I have almost all of the ingredients they use and could substitute where needed, but just thinking about putting a surfactant of this type in a leave on product is not very appealing. At least not enough to actually try it.
I thought I would see if you could give me any insight on this because your expertise is far greater than mine when it comes to chemistry and formulating.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, when you have the time.

Many thanks!