Friday, August 9, 2013

Modifying the low surfactant foaming facial cleanser: Substituting for the hydrosols and extracts

On Wednesday, we took a look at modifying the low surfactant foaming facial cleanser with foaming oat protein. On Thursday, we took a look at modifying the facial cleanser with different surfactants. Today, we'll take a look at some of the hydrosols and extracts I used in this product with a plan for Monday's post to be all about different versions we could make with an emphasis on how the skin feel or proeprties of the product change. 

Here's the original recipe...

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

As you can see, I substituted some of the water portion with other liquids, specifically apple extract, witch hazel, chamomile hydrosol, calendula extract, (liquid) ginger root extract, and honey matte. These ingredients make up 41% of the cleanser. Let's take a look at why some of these are included and how we can alter it...

Witch hazel: This is good as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. It's astringent, which is good for oily skin. I included it as I have a tendancy towards reddened skin, and it's supposed to help reduce that. You can use more than 10%. if you wish.

What could we use as a substitute? We could use anything that offers anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, like another hydrosol. Chamomile offers those properties - so you could increase it to 20% in the recipe - while clary sage, orange blossom (neroli), and rosemary help with oily skin. Lavender is a great one for all skin types, as is rose. For dry skin, consider using chamomile, lavender, or rose as they aren't considered all that astringent. Aloe vera is a nice choice for any of these substitutions.

Apple fruit essence: Offers astringency. You could use any of the hydrosols listed above in its place.

Chamomile hydrosol: This is a great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. I chose to use the hydrosol instead of chamomile powder as I wanted something fairly clear that wouldn't clog up the foamer bottle. You can use more than 10% if you wish.

What could we use as a substitute? Any of the things I listed above in the witch hazel part.

As an aside, one of the other reasons I use chamomile hydrosol is that it smells less like chamomile than the other ingredients. I find chamomile to be a musty kind of smell, and I'm not fond of earthy scents. 

Hydrosols and liquid extracts are acidic, with a pH of 5 to 6 (I tested rosemary and it was 4.7, so it could be slightly lower than 5). If you substitute them for water, the pH of your product will be slightly higher as your distilled water is around pH 7. It's not a very big deal, unless you're choosing to use decyl glucoside (especially the high pH version) with disodium cocoamphodiacetate. You can end up with a pH in the alkaline range, which isn't something we want for our skin. We always want our products to be between 4.5 and 6.0. (Click here to see my body wash experiment with these ingredients.) If these are your choices, I can't recommend enough that you use at least 20% hydrosol to make sure the pH is in the right range if you aren't able to test it.

Related posts:
Adjusting the pH of our products

Ginger root: Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that might help with maintaining protein levels in our skin used at 0.1% to 2% in the cool down phase.

You could use many different extracts here as many of them offer anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Green tea would be great for all skin types, rosemary for normal to oily skin, honeysuckle for acne prone, and so on. (Check out the extracts section for more ideas.) I like the idea of maintaining protein levels, so I wonder if we couldn't use a hydrolyzed protein for that purpose?

Honey matte: This is an extract from the Formulator Sample Shop (click here) that creates a matte feeling on oily skin. I'm honestly not sure what to substitute for this product because it's the first product I've found that leaves behind this skin feel. If we want the quality of sebum control, rose hydrosol and rosemary hydrosol and extract are great choices.

Calendula extract: Anti-inflammatory properties, soothes inflamed and chapped skin. You could increase one of the hydrosols or extracts that offer similar properties. Make sure the liquid calendula extract you get is water soluble; we can find calendula oil and, although it's got loads of great qualities, it won't mix well into this product.

Two notes: That isn't the right bottle lid for this bottle. Weird. And two, the calendula extract from Brambleberry is oil soluble and we want to use water soluble in this one. I used this picture instead of the one from Lotioncrafter that contains the water soluble version because that bottle is opaque and this pictured one isn't. 

What kind of substitutions could we make here? We could use all of one ingredient in place of the 41% or mix it up. Consider using 20% witch hazel and 20% chamomile, or 20% witch hazel, 10% apple extract, 10.5% water, and 0.5% chamomile extract (which will make it a yellow, cloudy product). If you have dry skin, consider a few of the extracts I mention in this post like banana, ginger, comfrey, liquorice root, or chamomile extract.

If you choose to use extracts, I recommend using liquid ones as the powdered ones will change the colour of the product, might make it cloudy, and could clog up the foamer bottle.

Or replace all of it with distilled water. Remember, water isn't a filler, it's a great ingredient, so always ask if you can substitute those more expensive liquid ingredients with it. The reality is that you can make a facial cleanser with just surfactants and preservative and it'll be nice. In my humble opinion, the extracts and hydrosols are what take it from good to great and customized for your skin type.

Join me Monday for some fun creating a few different versions of this cleanser! In the meanwhile, think about what ingredients you might use as substitutions for it!


Christopher said...

Hey Susan,

I'm intrigued by the claims about Honey Matte, but I can't find any published research about it. Do you think the company conducted the studies themselves?

Sara said...


I am a long time reader-I must cross reference your blog once a week-and I wanted to express my gratitude for your time and efforts. There are no schools that I know of which offer this kind of information (unless one decides to study chemistry or the like) which is both practical for the small formulator and detailed enough for non-chemists to understand the how's and why's of formulating.

Thank you, thank you!


Harmonynme said...

Hi Susan! I bought an 80 ml sample of Honey Matte from FSS for a serum recipe - would this be a good application for it?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Christopher. I'm so sorry I missed your comment. Yeah, I think it's possible the company underwent the research as I can't find much easier. Having said that, I've been using it for almost a year, and my anecdotal comments are that I can really feel the difference on my skin. I don't get greasy by the end of the day any more, but I do when I'm not using the honey matte. (This is only my opinion...)

Hi Sara! Again, sorry I missed your comment. Thank you for your kind words.

Hi Harmonynme! Are you making an oil based or water based serum?