Surfactant problems! Any help would be so appreciated!

Attempting to achieve a rich, creamy foaming surfactant that can be rich enough to shave with, however I keep having issues with my formula, and would love some tips or insight! 

I have a lovely, gentle base blend of surfactants that perform beautifully, but when dispensed in a foaming pump, it just makes a nice foaming soap, however once I added the superfatting agent (Sucrose Cocoate),as well as the Abyssinian Oil (for its longer chain fatty acids..which is supposed to help with adding stability and richness) I got closer to a rich, creamy lather with a tight bubble structure...something like a hybrid high foaming soap/cleansing shaving cream (the kind that squirts out of a can) was still not quite rich or stable enough to be used for shaving, so I then tried adding a tiny amount of a rheology modifier for some skin slip and body to the otherwise very watery blend, and so tried many, such as Siligel at 0.1% and 0.2%, Vegel Plus at 0.1% and 0.2%, Ecogel at 0.1% and 0.2%, and Lecigel at 0.1% and issue now is inconsistency...sometimes one of these prototypes will turn out perfectly, but others are huge fails (even at the various %'s, there is still no consistency!) 

When it works, it's perfect...I get the tight bubble structure, lofty foam, and creamy richness that lingers long enough to get a close shave, but others are miserable fails that fall apart immediately upon trying to pump the soap. The failed ones quickly turn into a watery mess, without any foam whatsoever, and just dribbles out of the foaming pump when used. A very sad sight, indeed!

I am so frustrated, as I have been experimenting for many months now, and am wasting a whole lot of lovely surfactants and other materials, but I want the holy grail of foaming shower soaps...mildness, richness, a high, tight foam structure, great cleansing, and very, very rich texture and nice slip once applied...what am I doing wrong?! As close to a whipped cream like texture would be so lovely...alas, it eludes me!

I have tried hydrating my rheology modifiers well in my water phase before proceeding with the remaining ingredients, and at times this helps, but at others it does not, so I am thinking the fail is happening due to these various gelling agents...could it be they are used at too high a %? Or perhaps the particulate matter size that they are made up of is just too large for a foaming soap mechanism and it then clogs the pump? 

I added a small % of Abyssinnian Oil as the long chain fatty acids this oil is made up of are supposed to take a surfactant from just plain soap, to a very rich shave foam with the addition of just a small % of a longer chain fatty acid. I prefer a cold process, so am avoiding having to use a meltable long chain fatty acid, such as Stearic Acid.

Thanks SO much everyone! I hope someone can help me crack the code to this most maddening of projects! :-)


  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Without knowing what surfactant combo you are using it's impossible to comment, sorry.
    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.
  • OljaOlja Member

    You said, that sometimes you get the perfect outcome. Then just try and focus on that?
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