thickening a shower gel

how do I thicken iselux /cocoamidepropyl betaine to make a thick shower shower gel (15,000 cps). I have notice in some formulations that use using Aqua SF or some type of copolymer.  Is there a way to do this with using those?  I want this to be as natural as possible.

Comments

  • DASDAS
    edited January 31
    Xanthan gum?. 
  • edited February 1
    Iselux SFS SB??? Then you can use Aculyn 22, although the literature mentions salt as well in small increments.
  • @Chemist77 will the iselux sfs sb thicken up with salt?  I am not stuck on iselux as a surfactant.  I am trying to make a natural ( as much as possible) shower gel by using a non sulfate surfactant system.  


  • in a sulfate free surfactant system do you need a rheology modifier to thicken it up?  Something beyond xanthan gum or HPMC?
  • No either or both are pseudo plastic however mainly the HPMC.Personally we prefer Carbopol SF -1 for both viscosity/Rheology.
  • I prefer Aqua SF-1, easy in handling.
    I've tried xanthan gum, but in a month it separated, based on my formula.
  • I use Aculyn 22 and it has worked great for me in my formulation based on Iselux SFS.
  • I don't mind using Aqua Sf-1. So how do you explain Aqua SF-1 not being "natural."  Did you have to neutralize the Aculyn 22 in your formulation? What was the final pH
  • The final pH stood around 6.2-6.3. Aculyn 22 is a 30% polymeric emulsion and so you need to neutralize it. In my case the pH was already neutral with surfactants so it was just a minor adjustment.
  • Copolymers are great for that purpose, way better that any gum. You already are using synthetics, actually there is nothing natural in your formula, so I don't see the problem.
  • Update...
    I am finding that trying to use salt to do any small thickening is next to impossible... doesn't work for me. 

    I also noticed when I try to adjust my pH (10% Citric Soln) toward 5.5 the viscosity thins down the system.

    when I add my premix it also thins the viscosity.  I a trying to keep this clear or as close to slightly hazy as possible.  Right about now I would be happy for any type of thickening and foaming.

    Will a sulfate free surfactant have the potential to get as thick as a SLS? 

    water-            54.4%
    Aqua SF-1 -     3.0%
    Glycerin-          4.7%
    iselux sfs -           30.0%
    Caltaine 35-     3.00%
    NaOH            -  0.5%

    Premix 
    tego 61-           5.00%
    sage oil -          0.1%
    Rosemary Oil-   0.4%
    Peppermint Oil-0.6%

    Ginseng Ext-     0.1%
    Cucumber Ext-  0.1%
    chamomile Ext- 0.1%
    preservative       0.6%
    Citric Acid - qs
    Sodium Chloride -qs



  • I have some experience with these, so I'll risk commenting:
    All that you describe is perfectly normal.  First, you have the recommended amount of SFS, 30%, in your system. The betaine looks on the low side to me. I suggest calibrating the betaine using a small amount (50mL) of SFS and titrating with the betaine to see what the optimum amount is to give high viscosity. That's your start point; use that as your surfactant blend. If you want some cationic effect you could use Dehyton AB as the betaine.
    Second: You have 1.1% of essential oils in there, and I doubt that is going to result in a clear product. That, plus the 5% solubiliser, is killing the viscosity and will also reduce foam. 
    OK are you still there?
    1. Try doing this without the SF1
    2. Get rid of the tego 61, there is quite enough surfactant to emulsify the EOs.
    3. Try going hot process and add 1% of polyethylene gel thickener to get better viscosity.
    4. Also you could try adding in the hot phase 1% cocamide MEA to get better foam and viscosity.
    5. If viscosity is STILL not adequate then add approx 2% (q/s) Glucamate VLT.
    6. If you end up with a hazy product (unsurprising with SFS in my opinion) then use 3% Quick Pearl to make a pearled product.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Frankly, I suggest you compare Plantapon LGC + sodium cocoamphoacetate + CAPB against your current formulation. I believe you will find the performance rather superior.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • @Belassi
    I like your suggestions. I was using the SF-1 to help thicken the system.  I have tried so many different ways to thicken it without the Sf-1. Honestly I have not produced a crystal clear product yet.  I am basically using products that are inhouse.  

    Is there a polyethylene gel thickener you could recommend?  What pH should I strive for?  I have seen formulations with pH 5.5 and as high as pH 6.4.



  • edited February 21
    PEG-150 distearate is what I use. You don't want more than about 1%, I'd say 1.5% max, otherwise you tend to get pseudo-plastic flow. Also with CMEA you don't want to exceed 1.5% or you'll find it begins to precipitate out at lower temperatures. Regarding pH, it's really a matter of what preservative system you're using. For instance potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate need pH <= 5.5 to be effective.
    When designing make one step at a time. EG, as I described, first find the optimum balance of surfactants prior to adding anything else. The problems arise when you add anything that modifies the electrolyte content; eg citric acid is an electrolyte and will thicken or thin depending on where the salt curve was prior to adding it.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • True, unless the oils turn it cloudy Tego only raises your cost. Also you could get rid of the glycerin, at that percentage it will reduce the foam and probably the viscosity.

    Most of the shower gels formulas I have seen don't have thickeners, I never had to use myself. I formulated with SLES, and used glycerin and laureth to reduce the gel-like that SLES+CAPB gives and make it more fluid. 

    For a shower gel I think you are short on surfactants, usually the active matter is higher, and it's best to cut the cost on thickeners and put it on surfactants for a better performance. 

    I like the suggestion Belassi made, more like a baby shampoo, mild, low irritation, foamy and no thickeners.
  • @DAS I am trying to be sulfate free.  I am happy to get rid of the glycerin.  
    I would be happy to change the preservative to mikrokil cos if I can have the pH a little lower than 5.5.  Everything seems to break viscosity going lower to 6.0


  • edited February 21
    There is a HUGE difference between "as natural as possible " and 100% natural according to e.g. Ecocert/cosmos.
    Polymers mentioned above like Carbomer Aqua / aculyn /Glutamate (VLT) are excellent and will all solve the "as natural as possible " thickening problem but not natural enough according to ecocert/cosmos.
    Furthermore you can make a 100% natural product and still use a sulfate (this is very often seen in Ecocert/cosmos certified products)


  • @David Thank you so much!  I am just trying to please the business folks that read all the consumer blogs about how horrible sulfates are for everybody. This project causing me to learn about sulfate free systems...


  • Ok this is my revised formula...

    water-63%
    caltaine-21%
    iselux-9%
    Decyl glucoside-3.5%
    Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride-0.2%
    Extracts-0.8%
    Peppermint oil=0.6
    Lemon oil-0.5%
    lavender oil-0.2%
    mikkrokil-1.00%

    My final pH was 5.5 and I noticed white specs that "salted out".  If I left the pH closer to 6.0 would that stop it?

    I noticed the product is stringy? is this normal with sulfate free systems?
    When I put this on 55C stability it started to separate.  At the 40C ok. I understand at higher temps in a shampoo this may happen but how do you tell if you formula is stable on stability?




  • Have you calculated the solids content? I suspect it is too low.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • I am not sure how to do that...at the risk of sounding silly...why is that important?
  • It's crucial to designing a product that works. Each type of product has its preferred range. If you're outside that range either the product will be too expensive to make or will not meet the requirement. As a SIMPLE example consider two surfactants: Akypo RLM45 and CAPB. Akypo has an active matter content of 90% so, if I want 20% active matter, I divide 20 by 0.9 to get 22.2% required. For CAPB the typical active matter is 30% so I would divide 20 by 0.3 to get 66.7% required. I will leave you to calculate yours...
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • I am not understanding the theory behind what you are saying.  Yes I understand the calculations and such but I am missing the theory in your explanation.  is there something I can read that would explain it better? Thanks for helping me.


  • Perhaps others can explain better. It is an important part of being a formulating chemist.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • So if my solids are too low... what does that mean.
  • If you're outside that range either the product will be too expensive to make or will not meet the requirement.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Regarding the solids confusion:

    Most surfactants are supplied as solutions. Solids = active material, the actual working components of the surfactant solution.
    As Belassi mentioned, CAPB usually comes as a 30% solution in water, i.e. 30% is active solid/dry matter.
    If you use 20% of this solution in your formulation, that counts as 6% solids overall (0.3x20).
    If the Iselux in your formulation above is appx. 80% active matter, then that 9% inclusion converts to 7.2% solids, the rest is calculated as water.

    So if your solids are too low, your active material is too low, and your product is 'weak' and, in Belassi's words, will not meet its requirements as a cleanser. If your solids are too high, the product will be more expensive than necessary.

    You would have to consult your TDS to determine the active matter of each surfactant (solids might also include residual sodium chloride).

    Also, include a chelating agent and ditch the essential oils until you have determined that your surfactant mixture is stable without them.
  • I got confused too, I also thought Belassi was implying salt as solid residues. 

    Here are a couple of formulating guides, check the relation of surfactants, active matter and viscosity and you will understand why we are saying you came up short.

    Check this

    http://www.stepan.com/uploadedFiles/Literature_and_Downloads/General_Lit/Personal_Care/StepanSulfateFreeSurfactantSolutionsGuide.pdf
  • Among all of this discussion I have to state that my final formula was all good, but there is something I feel is missing when the product is applied. The first feel of the body of the product and that foam profile no matter how high foaming the product is. Is it just me or there is actually no comparison with the regular formulations. 
  • Formulation of a surfactant combination for a given purpose may seem simple but in my opinion is one of the more difficult things to do.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Hello again...

    In calculating the actives to determine if a shower gel/shampoo etc meets a certain range...roughly over 10% (correct me if I am wrong)...

    Is the active content based on the main (primary) surfactant alone  or   on all the surfactants collectively?

    Is there some reading literature specifically on this calculation?  Seems like this it "tribal knowledge."

  • I don't know why there's this idea that co-surfactants shouldn't be taken into consideration. You must consider all surfactants in your formulation. I guess you can read analytical books about determination of surfactants. 

    10% is also low, you should consider reaching 20% for a good performance.
  • I calculate the secondary too.
  • Thanks for all the help!!!


  • http://makingskincare.com/surfactant-calculator/

    Above is a link to an active matter surfactant calculator which will do the math for you and also gives active matter ranges for different products.
    Jane Barber
    www.makingskincare.com & The Advanced Cosmetic Formulators Club 
    Formulation discussion forum (15,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
  • @MakingSkincare Thank you so much!
  • Just something worth trying.  Guar Gum aka Activsoft S or Jaguar S.

    It's Natural, its pretty electrolyte tolerant.

    I made the switch after a several attempts with Crothix.     The essential Oils I have been required to use have been tricky to keep stable.

    The Activsoft S should do you right.
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