Surfactant Experiment #2 – A Shampoo

After my less than successful attempt at trying one of the recipes on the making site, I decided to test my knowledge (what I have learned so far anyhow) and make my own surfactant based shampoo for my second time around.

I found some really good information on this blog over at “its all in my hands“.  She was talking about how to calculate the ASM (active surfactant matter) in your formula to formulate different surfactant products to be facial washes versus body washes versus shampoos and so forth.  I found this very helpful because I was missing that part of the equation.   (not that it should have mattered in my previous experiment because I was following a recipe there, but it was helpful in formulating my own recipe).

Anyhow, I am programming an excel tool  to do the work for me, so I will be putting these equations into it, to help me formulate “automagically” in the future.  More on that perhaps someday in the future.

I was able to make a “pretty good” (not perfect, but good) tool for formulating lotions in this manner, so I am going to try to recreate that for surfactants.  Since fine tuning my lotion making tool (formularium), I have not had any more lotion failures.  Maybe a coincidence, or maybe it just forced me to learn enough about lotion making so I could avoid mistakes. Either way, I use it for every batch of lotion I make and it has been serving me very well.

Back to the reason for this article though, my new shampoo… that I formulated. 🙂

The batch I made last night (per this blog entry here) was not a success.  When I looked at it today, I could see that it was separating and the pH was still very high.



I ended up chucking the whole bottle and moving on.

Today I formulated a new shampoo and so far it is working out.  I used it in the shower today to wash my hair and it worked at least as good as Johnson’s baby shampoo.  My hair was not dry, straw-like, or tangly.   When it dried, it was soft and felt “normal”. It was not as bubbly/foamy as I would like in a shampoo, but it seemed to clean my hair pretty well without stripping it.

I will have to work on increasing the bubbliness of it, but I consider this a successful first try at a shampoo.

I don’t feel confident enough to share the recipe because I don’t know how it will perform over time, but I can say that I used SMC Cocoyl Taurate, Coco Betaine, and Polyglucose as my surfactants.   I added PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (an ester) as an emollient and re-fatting agent, and I ended up using Liquid Crothix to thicken it because it was very watery.


You can click the above thumbnails if you want to see the pictures larger.

I included some goodies such as panthenol, hydrolyzed rice protein, and aloe vera liquid.  It has two humectants – glycerin and sodium lactate.

The pH initially tested a little high (around 6.7) so I added 1 gram of citric acid and mixed it in.  That brought the pH down to 5.10, which is perfect for a shampoo.

I scented it with Nurture Soap’s “Rosemary Mint”, which turned it a little cloudy, but I don’t care much about that.  (I am learning that there is such  thing as “polar” and “non-polar” fragrances, and that can have an impact on whether the fragrance clouds the mixture or not).

I added just 2 drops of green lab colorant so the color matched the scent.

I let it sit overnight, but today I ended up adding about 2 grams of Liquid Crothix to thicken it because it was still watery thin.  I tried 1 gram first, but that didn’t do it.  Even at 2 grams it was still a little bit thin (compared to Johnson’s Baby Shampoo).

I didn’t think it was very bubbly.  I tried it with a bath pouf as a body wash, but it didn’t make much lather.   On my hair, it lathered more than as a body wash, but not as much as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo does.   Still, it performs as well as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.  My hair felt clean, and even now, 12 hours later, it’s still clean and not greasy (even though I fried potatoes for dinner).

So, not bad for a first try at a self-formulation, eh?   I don’t think so.

With this success, I feel more confident and am trying another shampoo recipe tonight with some conditioning agents in it.   We’ll see tomorrow how that turns out. 🙂



4 thoughts on “Surfactant Experiment #2 – A Shampoo

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