Thursday, August 8, 2013

Modifying the low surfactant foaming facial cleanser: Substituting surfactants

As I mentioned yesterday, I modified my low surfactant foaming bottle cleanser with foaming silk to include foaming oat protein instead. But I use a lot of ingredients you might not have in your workshop, so let's take a look at the ingredients and see what we can substitute for each one!

Note: Always remember that when you substitute one ingredient for another, you will be changing the skin feel and/or the properties of the product. Look for an ingredient with a similar skin feel or property when you're substituting.

I went into more detail in this post about why I was using each ingredient in this post, so I encourage you to take a look at that if you want more information than I'm providing here. 

5% foaming oat surfactant
5% decyl glucoside
2.5% cocamidopropyl betaine
10% apple extract (liquid)
10% witch hazel
10% chamomile hydrosol
49% water

1% ginger root extract
5% honey matte
0.5% liquid Germall Plus
5% water soluble liquid calendula extract

Surfactants: There are three surfactants in this product - foaming oat surfactant, decyl glucoside, and cocamidopropyl betaine. We generally use at least two surfactants in a product, and one of those is generally what's called an amphoteric surfactant - cocamidopropyl betaine or disodium cocoamphodiacetate - because they increase the mildness of the product. So you could use either of these in this product. The down side of disodium cocoamphodiacetate is that it has a higher pH, which means the pH of your product could be higher when using it. We're using a small amount, so it won't make a huge change here, so substitute away!

Decyl glucoside is a non-ionic or neutrally charged gentle to mild surfactant. You can use any other gentle or mild surfactant in its place. Choose something suitable for your skin type. I would use C14-16 olefin sulfonate or disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate for oily skin; ACI, SMC or SMO taurate, or polyglucose/lactylate blend for dry skin; and SLes or ALS for all skin types. You could also leave it out and increase the cocamidopropyl betaine or disodium cocoamphodiacetate to 7.5% as both of these are considered gentle to mild surfactants. Remember that when you

Foaming oat surfactant can be substituted with any mild surfactant. You could increase decyl glucoside or cocamidopropyl betaine. If you want something that makes your skin feel conditioned, consider using ACI.

Potential substitutions:
Cocamidopropyl betaine - use disodium cocoamphodiacetate at the same amount.
Decyl glucoside - use any of the surfactants you like for your skin type.
Foaming oat surfactant - a mild surfactant. Possibly ACI.

Visit the surfactant section of the blog for loads of detail or look at the surfactant chart for a quick summary of the surfactants mentioned here.

Modifying the surfactant could result in any of these combinations. I've kept the surfactants at 12.5%. I would describe the skin feel as non-drying and conditioning.

MODIFICATION #1 - no decyl glucoside. Might have a slightly more conditioned skin feel.
5% foaming oat surfactant
5% ACI
2.5% cocamidopropyl betaine

MODIFICATION #2 - no foaming oat surfactant. The pH might be a little high.
10% decyl glucoside
2.5% cocamidopropyl betaine
Note: Check the pH on this. It should be okay, but it might be a little high

MODIFICATION #3 - no decyl glucoside, more cocoamidopropyl betaine. Might be a bit milder than combinations with another anionic surfactant.
5% foaming oat surfactant
7.5% cocoamidopropyl betaine

MODIFICATION #4 - no decyl glucoside, no foaming oat surfactant. Definitely has a conditioned skin feel.
10% ACI
2.5% cocamidopropyl betaine

MODIFICATION #5 - no decyl glucoside. Might be a little too moisturizing for normal or oily skin.
5% foaming oat surfactant
5% polyglucose/lactylate blend
2.5% cocamidopropyl betaine

And so on. You can play with whatever combination you want to get the skin feel you want. If you think combination #5 makes your skin feel greasy, then take out the polyglucose/lactylate blend and try combination #1 instead. Don't be scared of making changes - this is how you learn what your ingredients bring to the mix!

When it comes to surfactants, I have my two go-to surfactants - C14-16 olefin sulfonate and cocamidopropyl betaine - because they work well for my oily skin and hair type. I use them in bubble baths, body washes, shampoos (solid and liquid), and just about every other surfactant thing I make. I like to have SCI and SLSa for solid products, and I'm really loving ACI as my third go-to surfactant lately. Learn which surfactants will be your go-to surfactants, and feel free to substitute those for any that are suggested in recipes.

Make sure when you make substitutions you don't make a huge batch of product. Make 100 to 200 grams at the most, enough to try for a few weeks but not enough to worry about it if you don't like it.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look some of the other substitutions you could make in this product.


lunamac said...

Hi, I have bone dry skin and have purchased decyl glucoside and cocoamidopropyl betaine to use in an oil balm cleanser I'm making.
I've looked around for the mildest surfactants and got these two. Am they some of the mildest or is there something else I could use?
I haven't tried it yet as it's on it's way.

Aesthete said...

Hi Susan, I made this cleanser, really liked it. I try to not let cleansers get into my eyes because of stinging and was wondering, what or which ingredients cause the stinging? or is it ph related? And is there anything we can add to cleansers that reduce stinging? lets' say I wanted to make a cleanser specifically for removing eye-makeup, sting free, would that be possible?


Jane Askin said...

Hi Susan, I'm so excited, recently discovered these mild surfactants! Ive been playing around with a 'natural' shampoo and got great results, including lather, with traditional saponin sources. Unfortunately, something about Opti + kills the bubbles so hoping to include one of these to boast foam. Have you ever used sodium cocoyl apple amino acids?