Best natural surfactant? Should I make my own or buy base?

sainthilsainthil Member, PCF student
edited March 2015 in Hair
When formulating/making shampoo, is it best to make my own surfactant, or buy a ready-made base? Also, what is the best type of natural surfactant? I use a product now that includes the ingredients below. I really like this shampoo and want something similar, but more moisturizing. 

Ingredients:

purified aqua (water), decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, Coco Coco Protein, Ascophyllum (seaweed) extract, herbal infusions of: Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot), Stellaria media (chickweed), Urtica dioica (nettles), Equisetum arvense (horsetail), Ulmus fulva (Slippery Elm), Althaea officinalis (marshmallow root), Symphytum officinale (comfrey root), Calendula officinalis (marigold) blossoms, Chamaemelum nobile (chamomile) flowers & Avena sativa (oatstraw) kernel; Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) C02, Essential oils of: Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), Cedrus atlantica (atlas cedar), Citrus reticulata (red mandarin), Citrus Sinensis (sweet orange) oil & Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary); Citrus × paradisi (grapefruit) seed extract

Thanks!
Tagged:

Comments

  • Can't resist jumping in here because I think I have some relevant experience.

    1. This looks like the kind of product I would see on ETSY made by an individual. Why? One reason: the "preservative" (grapefruit seed extract). It is not a proper preservative. The real reason why the product doesn't go "off" is almost certainly that the other components are supplied in a preserved state.

    2. This is a sulphate-free formulation. I do not see any thickener in there. Either the LOI is incomplete or the shampoo is like water.

    3. No idea what "coco coco protein" might be.

    4. All those extracts are a waste of money in a rinse-off product. Better in the conditioner.

    To answer your questions:

     is it best to make my own surfactant, or buy a ready-made base?
    - if you want a sulphate-free shampoo you will probably have to design and test your own, it depends to a large degree what surfactants you have available in your area. For instance I have a local Kao Chemicals distributor who also is one of my fragrance suppliers, so I use a Kao product as my primary surfactant. 

    There are bases available I believe, but none in my country for sure. One item I found of probable interest to you was Plantasil Micro. (Dicaprylyl ether, decyl glucoside and glyceryl oleate.) the oleate gives a refattening action. There's also Plantapon LGC Sorb (alquil glucoside). I have that and it's OK but I don't use it because I have better-performing surfactants available. 

    If you don't necessarily need a sulphate free formula then I highly recommend Plantarem APB an ALS/ALeS/lauryl glucoside and DEAL all-purpose blend. Very mild indeed and terrific foam and easy to thicken. An alternative, similar, Texapon KD SO3. It's great for shampoos, body wash and hand soaps.

    "More moisturizing" - add glycerin or Glucam E20
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    edited March 2015
    All surfactants (even soap) are made by chemical reactions, and frequently by a series of them. The decision to make/blend your own surfactants depends mostly on five or six things:

    1) the volume of product you will be making (and selling)
    2) the market (and profit margin) you will be shooting for
    3) your level of chemical knowledge and competence
    4) the type, kind, and quality of the processing equipment that you have
    5) the level of analytical chemistry support that you can access.
    6) (possibly) The availability of commercial quantities of surfactants where you live, and the availability of the raw materials to make the surfactants with.

    Surfactants, even natural surfactants, are ubiquitous in most of the industrialized world. The companies that make them have a huge cost advantage. 90% of the people in the cosmetic industry worldwide buy their surfactants from a specialized surfactant manufacturer - the other 10% make traditional soap from scratch.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Which is the best foaming non-sulphate ingredient, please?
    I have access to buying: decyl glucoside, coco glucoside, and lauryl glucoside.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    You really should test them yourself and find out. "Foaming" has many different parameters, and means different things to different people.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • heraklitheraklit Member, PCF student
    edited March 2015
    I have tried these glucosides, and the answer is:  decyl glucoside.


  • Bob is absolutely correct. "Foam" - fluffy, creamy, large bubble, small bubble, flash, long-lasting, cushion ... many different parameters.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • braveheartbraveheart Member
    edited March 2015
    Thanks for the comments.

    By foam, I meant large bubbles. I hope that helps.

    (Yes, @Belassi, I guess this is your specialty non-sulphate surfactants - what do you say?)
  • Well, I think I already said as much as I can ... 
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Thanks.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    "Large bubbles" is still not specific enough.  Do you mean large bubbles like the ones made by a kids bubble making toy?  Do you want foam like a shaving cream foam?  Is Pantene shampoo foam your target?  

    In reality, you wouldn't make a formula with a single ingredient so asking what is the best ingredient for foaming doesn't exactly make sense.  You probably want to know what is the best system for foaming.  Typically, this will require water, a primary surfactant and a secondary surfactant.

    For example, the best foaming system I've ever tested was made with Water, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    As to whether you should make your own surfactant or not.

    If you want to make cosmetics (personal care products), you should buy your surfactants already made.  Focus your efforts on creating the best formulation you can.

    If you want to make surfactants to sell to people who are going to use them for other purposes then you should make surfactants.

    Unless you have no access to a surfactant supplier I see very little reason for any formulator to make their own surfactants. 
  • Since the "large bubbles" issue was raised by braveheart in a thread sainthil started about making shampoo, I'll ask, do you mean large bubbles in shampoo?  If so, why?

    Large bubbles don't seem to be any advantage in shampooing.  Hair tends to break large bubbles down into fine lather, anyway.  Ingredients commonly used to stabilize foams in, for instance, bubble bath are unnecessary in shampoo.  Any tendency a solution has to foam is going to be brought out in the process of washing hair, so every surfactant is going to seem more lathery in shampoo than in other uses.  Some of the ingredients that function as foam stabilizers in liquid shampoos are actually there to make the solution more viscous coming from the bottle.

    As far as making your own surfactants, as Bob & Perry said, the economies of scale for all but the easiest surfactant synthesis (soap) so favor the big mfrs. that very few makers of finished products synthesize their own.  (Even Procter & Gamble has for several years farmed out the making of Ivory soap to a company that specializes in running their old plant!  I don't know if this contractor makes the rest of their soap stocks and/or other surfactants too.)  So if you're interested in making $, buy from them; if you're interested in recreational chemistry, prepare to do something more complicated than making soap or even biodiesel.

Sign In or Register to comment.