Debug my shampoo formula

edited September 2020 in Formulating

Hi all, long time lurker of this website here. I’ve been searching highs and lows of the internet for info but cannot figure out what’s wrong with my current powder-based, mild shampoo. Would appreciate if you can tell me what’s possibly causing this:

Every time (2x/week) after I shower with the shampoo (no conditioner used after), the following happens. I have normal/dry hair.

- 1 hour later, hair still wet-ish is soft/feels great

- 3 hrs later, as hair dries, hair turns "poofy" (not static-y but looks puffy like a poodle) and feels straw-like/dry. Especially outer layer of hair, I can feel the “strands”.

- 5 hrs later + next day, hair becomes limp and soft again. The PH is ~4.5.


Cocoyl Hydroxysultaine 7%
SMCT (more potent powder form) 5%

SCI (powder form) 2%

Cationic Guar Gum 1.2%

Salt 1.8%

Total ASM is roughly 9. I thought SMCT and SCI used in my current percentages is supposed to be mild. Could be “poofing” be a result of over dry hair from the anionics?

Should I add another non ionic surfactant like decyl glucoside into the mixture to increase mildness?

Thank you all and bless your soul for dealing with newbies like me.


  • I'm confused, what are the remaining 83% of the formula? Do you mean that you add your powder to water before use so that water then equates 83%?

    I haven't used your specific surfactants myself, but I have found that each surfactant has a distinct effect on hair, and it's only testing that will give you a definitive answer on how different surfactants will work together.
    Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate or Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate for instance both make my hair sticky when used alone for a test, and they are said to be quite conditioning. Perhaps in a mix with your "poofy" formula you might yield a more conditioned/weighed down end result. That being said I haven't checked if they are compatible with the rest of your formula.
    I wouldn't bother with decyl glucoside myself, because it makes my hair distinctly dry, coarse and poofy, more than any other surfactant I've tried, so I can't imagine it helping. But if you have it there there's no harm in trying it and finding out for sure.
  • edited October 2020
    Yes, the remainder is water. I tried adding decyl glucoside yesterday to the surfactant mix and my after shower hair was poofier than ever while drying. And bit staticky too! My wrist also started itching. 

    Would trying another nonionic surfactant make my blend more mild? 

    So far I have 

    SMCT powder- anionic 
    SCI powder - anionic 
    cocoyl hydroxysultaine - amphoteric
    - add a nonionic surfactant?- like coco or lauryl glucoside?
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    You're obviously heading in the wrong direction. Your observations indicate that. And "My wrist also started itching" is a possible indicator of atopic dermatitis. You failed to mention any preservative.
    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.
  • edited October 2020
    I think I am allergic to glucosides.. But to make my surfactant blend more “gentle”, which nonionic surfactant do you suggest I use? I have virgin hair that tends to run dry. I also haven’t used a preservative because I put my shampoo in the fridge and use it up quickly. @Belassi  

    does using 2 or more anionics make shampoo more “mild” than 1 anionic alone? Since it’s all negative charge I thought it makes it more aggressive? Or is it the addition of amphoteric + non ionic that tames the anionic?

    Thank you in advance. I might give sodium cocoyl glutamate a shot.
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    It is best to use a surfactant blend. The whole is greater than the sum of the individual items. It is possible you're allergic to glucosides; I once tried an Emulgin emulsifier based on Decyl glucoside. After one try out I received a crop of whiteheads.
    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.
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