Article by: Perry Romanowski

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Body Wash

Body wash is a product designed to remove dirt and odors from skin. They have taken the place of bar soap in many markets and typically require a wash cloth or poof for application.

What body washes do

Body wash is a liquid product that is applied to a wash cloth or poof which is then moved over the skin surface. As it is spread around it generates foam and helps lift dirt and oils off the skin surface. When rinsed away, the product takes dirt and oil with it leaving skin clean and feeling soft and smooth.

How body wash works

The functional ingredients in a body wash are detergents (surfactants). Generally, anionic surfactants are used. These ingredients are composed of molecules that have portions which are compatible with both oil and water. The oil loving (lipophilic) ends orient themselves with the oil particles while the water loving (hydrophilic) ends orient towards teh water. Oil particles are then surrounded by surfactant molecules and lifted off the surface where they can be rinsed away.

Secondary surfactants are also used to impact the foam characteristics along with the viscosity of the formula. They can also make the formula less irritating.

Examples of ingredients that make body washes work include Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Cocamide MEA

Body wash formula

Body washes are typically solutions and most often clear. They are slightly thickened liquids with a pH around 6-7. Other ingredients are included to impact the aesthetics of the product.

Below is an example of a typical body wash formula.*body_wash_formula


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  1. Md. Nasir Uddin

    I would like to know the percent of use zinc pyrithione in shampoo

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

  2. Neha Dalal

    i want to prepare handwash using natural ingredients please let me know which surfactant should i use

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Most people use Alkyl Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  3. Gulshan

    Hi perry good evening
    I want to know formulation of HAND WASH . I spent one year on hand wash making. But i am fail. Because i dont know how to do use thickner. Sir please suggest me.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See the formula for body wash listed above.

    2. Saf

      hi Gulshan,
      thickener addition is critical, i will suggest you to add thickener powder in water and give it a mixing until all lumps disappear, then add the balance chemicals according to your formulation.

  4. Rocky

    chemist corner is very good gave us a lot of knowledges and ideas.I really appreciate your web.

  5. Isabella

    Hello Perry,
    I make bathing soap (tablet), I add Hydroquinone to it but it discolours soap brown, and it eventually turns almost black. What do I do to stop this reaction when I use Hydroquinone.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You should post your question in our forum. But you’ll find that there is no way to stop this browning reaction.



    2. franck

      just sodium metabisulfite it will stop the oxidation

    3. Mehroz Kalim

      You should add sodium meta bisulphide , which is an antioxidant and highly water soluble ingredient.

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  7. syed

    hi perry
    i have problem in my liquid soap that after some months its color change to pad though we use EDTA while the Ph.6—7.5.plz help me

  8. April hand

    I make my own lotions and creams and wanted to try my hand at creating liquid body washes. I’m new to all of this so forgive me if this a stupid question but Is it possible to make a pH balanced liquid body wash? I’m very confused because from what I’ve read most body washes and soaps tend to be alkaline. My favorite all natural store bought foaming face wash is pH balanced and has a pH of about 5.5. How is that possible? What do I need to do to adjust the pH and still get a decent foam and cleanse? The most important thing to me is that it doesn’t leave a residue on the skin or dry it out. Just like that icky feeling your skin has after using liquid castile soap. Yuck! Thanks in advance!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      pH balanced is just a marketing term and doesn’t really have any meaning. Formulating a cleanser to a pH of 5.5 is good but there is nothing “balanced” about it. The anionic surfactants used to create liquid soaps naturally have an acidic character so they will tend to be lower in pH than soap. The key is to use non-soap, anionic detergents like Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

    2. Ajay Patel

      pH balance means our skin pH is 5.5 so whose product pH 5.5 or near by its pH balance formula.

  9. Angus

    Hi Perry

    Could u recommend some sort of beads or decoration to add to a body wash? For visual impact and possible cleaning benefits.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Usually people add gelatin beads.

    2. Ajay Patel

      There are two type beads available in market one type is gelatin beds with active material / only decorative & other is scrubbing type hard beads.

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  11. beatrice boafo

    Kindly help me to make a Good hair shampoo for tropics

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our post on shampoos

  12. shafi

    Hello perry
    Can u please give me a liquid dish wash formulation

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our post on free cosmetic formulas.

  13. Jake

    Are water-soluble products also soluble in surfactants or only water? What liquid emulsifiers would you recommend? Thanks for the science!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      It really depends on what the materials are. Cetrimonium chloride is water soluble and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is water soluble but you can’t mix them together.

      I can’t recommend a liquid emulsifier without knowing what oil you want to emulsify and what your application would be. I’d suggest you post a more specific question in our forum.

  14. Said

    hello perry
    Thank you for your help
    Need some information about Anti druff Shampoo? may be formula is different?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You need to include an anti-dandruff active ingredient but the formulas can be the same as a standard shampoo (plus the ingredient)

  15. Roy

    Hi Perry..I am working on all natural shampoo for dogs..want the end product near white vs all clear..electricity is expensive here..7x looking for tips on how to make suitable thick, white colored shampoo using least far have made clear..and perfected but too costly for commercial prodn..and three small batches using coconut, glycerin, castor with KOH process..3 hours..any suggestions will really help..thx..Roy

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You could add something like Glyceryl Stearate or Cetyl alcohol to get the product to be more white.

  16. bushra

    I wish to know the formula for hair removing creaming with quantities.

  17. Eileen

    I’m a consumer looking for a low viscosity shampoo and/or body wash which can be used in an electronic soap/shampoo dispenser put in my shower. It must be a product available for purchase in retail stores. Your website came to my attention when I was searching for such a product. Apparently, hands free dispensers, which receive their power from batteries, do not have enough power to dispense thick fluids, such as cream shampoos. I’ve seen ads for dispensers referring to a viscosity range of between 1000 and 5000 MilliPascals per second (whatever that means!). How do I determine which products meet those specs? Since the dispenser will be placed in a guest shower which is rarely used, the product does not need to be used for a specific reason such as dandruff, detangling, etc. I deduce, after reading your article, that a shampoo or body wash can be used for both hair and skin. Any information, or direction, you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure but you could get a standard shampoo or body wash and add salt (table salt). If you add enough it will reduce the viscosity and may work.

  18. Larry

    I used Shea butter (600g) and coconut oil (300g) together with SLES (15kg) and Coco betaine (6ltrs) for my cold process body wash but they became lighter after 5 days, I added 200g of CMC but experienced the same result. What emulsifier should I use to prevent separation and lighting.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure. You should try reducing the level of oil. Or use a nonionic surfactant like polysorbate 80 or PEG to emulsify the oils.

    2. Ajay Patel

      you can add peg 150 1 – 2 %

  19. mifarooqi

    I am looking to formulate a body wash. How do I go about creating the formula?

  20. koubida

    I want what products are more needed by young girls and boys??

  21. koubida

    hello Perry!
    I need your help in the development of a range of cosmetics products for youth.
    what are the products of perspective depending on your point of view?

    1. Perry

      I don’t understand your question “what are the products of perspective”. Could you explain more?

  22. Beejal

    Extracts of GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA (Liquorice), might help you eventually.

  23. koubida

    hello! what about the arbutine??

    1. Perry

      It’s hasn’t been clinically proven to work.

  24. koubida

    Hello! Perry thank you for your help!
    i consider naturals ingredients all actifs that we can extract from herbal products, without chemical modofication!

    1. Perry

      There are no active ingredients that would meet your definition, especially for skin lightening. There is just no effective “natural” skin lightening ingredient.

  25. Beejal

    We are in the process of formulating soap-based products with suspended beads. can you please suggest me some good suspending agents which do not hinder product clarity.

    Thank you.

    1. Perry

      You can use Carbomer to suspend beads and keep it clear.

  26. kris

    thanks very much Perry…

  27. kris

    hei perry…do you recommended…when I use CMC for thickener in liquid body wash ?thank

    1. Perry

      I don’t understand the question. Please rephrase.

      1. Perry

        Ah, Carboxymethylcellulose. Yes, this is a good thickener for body washes. Or you might try HPMC (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose). Or you can try just adjusting the system with Salt (NaCl)

        1. kris

          Perry for yout answer… Perry possible or not when we make body wash, without hot process?for example…room temperature ?… Like, when we make liquid dish soap? ( ussually we make from : L ABS,Sod Laureth Sulfate,Caustic,salt,and Glyserine ?)..Thanks very much…

          1. Perry

            Sure, you can make it at room temperature as long as all the ingredients are either liquid or soluble in water.

          2. kris

            Perry..thank for your answer…..When we mix water + citronella oil and add emulsifier…after we mix all…several of emulsifier make the solution look like a white milk ,..but another emusifier make the solution clear like a water…could you explain me about this phenomena? When i need the solution become look like a milk,..what kind of emulsifiers ( type of emulsifier ) i need…thankyou Perry

  28. kris

    can you tell me ..which one better…cocamidopropyl betaine and coca amide DEA…thank…GBU..

    1. Perry

      It depends on what you mean by better but you should probably go with Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The industry moved away from using DEA containing products.

    2. kris

      perry..CMC mean Carboxy Methyl Cellulose…thx

  29. Dandollars2

    Thanks perry.
    Please, i would like to know the differences between shampoo and body wash since they perform similar function (i.e cleaning).

    1. Perry

      There really isn’t a difference. In fact, some companies sell the same product as body wash and shampoo.


    Ola Perry, poderia me dizer como deixar sabonete de glicerina
    mais secos apos o derrete e derrama? os meus ficam depois de
    secos meios grudentos.

  31. Shalini

    Hi Perry,

    can you help to check what better thickener to use in underarm whitening cream. viscosity drops as soon as i add AZP.
    please help. thanks.

    1. Perry

      @Shalini – the question is too vague to answer definitively. You could increase the level of fatty alcohol but it depends on the formula.

  32. mani

    k sir thanks i will try it

  33. mani

    hello perry can u help me to formulate the hand wash and face wash

    1. Perry

      @mani – what more help do you need?

  34. Mich

    I have been searching for a formulation for a facial gel that isnt using laponite or a carbomer…. and im having a difficult time. I can create a basic gel by using xantum gum, but i am truely looking for a gel formula to use for an acne spot treatment
    any help would be great… thanks

    1. Perry

      You could probably make a gel using some Cellulose material like HPMC or HEC.

  35. Perry

    Hello Koubida,

    It’s difficult to answer because I don’t know what you consider natural ingredients. There really aren’t any effective skin lightening ingredients that would be considered “natural”

  36. koubida

    Hello perry!
    I’m trying formulate an after-shave balm and a lightening cream. I need your help in choise of more effectivs natural ingredients and an optimal procedure. thank’s.

  37. koubida

    Hello Perry!
    thank’s for information about body wash.

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