Today we’re mixing up a sudsy and fresh Aloe Mint Hand Wash, made with peppermint essential oil and a lovely gentle surfactant blend. I’m loving the combination of crisp & cool peppermint essential oil, soothing aloe vera, and moisturizing vegetable glycerin as warmer weather sets in! It’s easy to make, easy to make in big batches, and you can switch up the essential oil for different versions. Let’s get sudsy!
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The surfactant blend is comprised of three different liquid natural surfactants; non-ionic Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, anionic Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, and amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine. It’s a lovely, gentle blend with medium lather and great cleansing. This blend ends up being pretty viscous on its own, which is very cool, but also means you won’t want to try this formulation in a foamer top bottle—it’ll be too thick to dispense well.
We get our pepperminty goodness from some peppermint essential oil, which the surfactant blend solubilizes into the formulation. If you’d like to use a different essential oil you can; I think the surfactant to essential oil ratio is sufficient for any essential oil, but make sure you’re researching your essential oil to ensure the usage rate is safe. You can also use a hydrosol instead; please refer to the Substitutions list at the end of the post for information on how to do that!
While I usually use aloe juice in my aloe formulations, this one uses some 200x concentrated aloe vera powder instead. What I usually do is use that 200x dried aloe concentrate to make my own aloe juice—this works well because at 200x concentrated, you really don’t need much of that highly concentrated powder at all, especially if you’re making a small batch of something! 20% aloe juice in a 50g formulation would work out to just 0.05g 200x aloe powder, which isn’t much at all and can get tricky to weigh—it’s much easier to just use 20g aloe juice in situations like that. Because I’m making this hand wash 250g at a time, though, I decided to just use the powder; 0.15% 200x aloe concentrate works out to 30% aloe juice in the overall formulation.
I’ve chosen Geogard Ultra™ to preserve this formulation, boosting its performance with a solid dose of water activity lowering vegetable glycerin. I’ve really been enjoying playing with this preservative and I’m finding it works well—it is, however, really quite slow to dissolve in water! I made a fully cold-processed version of this formulation earlier on and it took days for the Geogard Ultra™ to dissolve, so I incorporated a bit of heat in the version I’ve shared to speed that dissolving along.
When made as written, the finished handwash has a lovely skin and preservative friendly pH (right around 4.75) and a semi-viscous consistency that is well suited to pump-top bottles. That means you shouldn’t need to adjust the pH or viscosity—booyah! Nice and easy 😊 Let’s dive in!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Geogard Ultra in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Aloe Vera in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Surfactants chart
- Can I use soap instead of foaming surfactants?
- How can I substitute one surfactant for another?
- How can I make a pump-top surfactant formula work in a foamer top bottle (or vice versa)?
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- Preserving Botanical Formulations Naturally from Botanical Formulations
- Other handwash formulations:
Aloe Mint Hand Wash
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small sauce pan
Weigh the water and Geogard Ultra into small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Place the measuring in your prepared water bath and wait for the Geogard Ultra to dissolve.
While the water heats through, stir together the essential oil and Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside. Stir to combine. Add the Cocamidopropyl Betaine and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate and stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate. It’ll be surprisingly thick! Add the aloe and glycerin and stir; the mixture will thin out.
Once the Geogard Ultra has dissolved, remove the measuring cup from the water bath and let it cool down to room temperature. Once it’s cool, weigh it and add enough room temperature distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating.
Gently pour the water/preservative mixture into the surfactant mixture and stir gently to combine. Cover and leave for an hour or so to let everything dissolve.
When the mixture is uniform, it’s time to test the pH. Begin by creating a 10% dilution by weighing 2g product and 18g distilled water into a small bowl or beaker and whisk to combine (wondering why?). Check the pH with your pH meter (I have this one [USA / Canada]). Depending on the shape of your bowl/beaker you may need to tilt it in order to fully submerge the sensor on your pH meter. Please read this article to learn more about pH adjusting. If you made this hand wash as written the pH should come out to approximately 4.75, which is great for our skin and for our preservative!
Once you know the pH is suitable, all that’s left is packaging up the hand wash! I used a 250mL cube pump bottled from YellowBee. Use as you’d use any hand wash. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this hand wash contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 250g (approximately 250mL/8 fl oz).
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart. You could easily use Liquid Germall™ Plus instead, in which case you would not need any heat to make this formulation (remember to adjust the formulation as you will need half the amount of preservative!).
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to use a fragrance oil instead of the essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to use peppermint hydrosol instead of peppermint essential oil, simply replace the distilled water with peppermint hydrosol and add the 0.3% for the peppermint essential oil to the amount of hydrosol you use for a total of 33.85%.
- If you’d like to leave this hand wash unscented simply replace the essential oil with more distilled water.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page and read this FAQ. Please also look up the surfactants used in this formulation in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia for specific recommendations.
- You could also use a pre-blended surfactant product like STEPAN-MILD® BSB or Plantapon® TF instead of the blend I’ve devised.
- The amount of 200x aloe powder in this formulation translates to approximately 30% aloe vera juice; if you’d like to use aloe vera juice instead simply replace 30% of the distilled water with aloe vera juice.
- There isn’t enough room in this formulatino to use both aloe vera juice and peppermint hydrosol—we need at least one of those ingredients to be in its concentrated form.
- If you’d like this hand wash to be thicker, try reducing the amount of aloe powder. You could also incorporate some Crothix Liquid.
- You could try Propanediol 1,3 instead of vegetable glycerin.
The cube pump-top bottle was gifted by YellowBee.