This wine-coloured Black Currant & Roses Natural Body Wash has a gorgeous runny honey-like consistency thanks to a gentle self-thickening surfactant blend—no gums or Crothix required! I’m in love with the fresh, juicy scent and plentiful bubbles of this body wash, and it could hardly be easier to make. Let’s get sudsy!
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Our surfactant blend is a mild, sudsy one that’s very easy to pull together as it’s all pre-blended surfactant products. Plantapon® SF NA forms the bulk of our surfactant blend; this sulfate-free amphoteric/non-ionic/anionic blend is made from Sodium Cocoamphoacetate (and) Glycerin (and) Lauryl Glucoside (and) Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (and) Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate. I’ve added a bit of re-fatting goodness in the form of Lamesoft® PO 65; a blend of coco glucoside and glyceryl oleate.
The viscosity of this Black Currant & Roses Natural Body Wash comes from some really fun interplay between two of the surfactants and the pH of the formulation. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate + Lauryl Glucoside + acidic pH = thickening! You can learn more about this here. I came across that article back in 2020 and had a lot of fun making pH-powered surfactant putty before shelving the idea until some later date, which ended up being when Voyageur Soap & Candle sent me some Plantapon SF NA and my research into it reminded me of the self-thickening fun! I’ve been working on this formulation since last September, re-visiting it when I needed more body wash.
My original plan with this formulation was to drop the pH with the preservative, Geogard Ultra™. That worked reasonably well, but I ended up wanting a thicker/more acidic product. Rather than using more preservative than I really needed, I added a bit of 90% lactic acid. The final pH of this body wash comes out to about 5.55, and it has a nice drizzle-able runny honey sort of viscosity. If you prefer a thicker body wash, simply make it more acidic!
The black currant, rosy goodness comes from two ingredients. A wine-coloured black currant extract gives this body wash its beautiful hue, and a natural Natural Black Currant, Rose, & Vanilla fragrance oil makes it smell fantastic. This natural fragrance oil smells floral, fruity, fresh, and juicy—yum! If you don’t have it you could easily use something else instead, just be sure to work within IFRA guidelines for a rinse-off body product.
Making this is very simple; combine, stir, and wait. The Geogard Ultra™ is pretty slow to dissolve, so I recommend mixing this up before going to bed or at some other time when you can leave it to do its thing for a few hours while you do other things. You can speed it along by heating the Geogard Ultra™ in the distilled water until it has dissolved and then go from there (Geogard Ultra™ is heat stable), but I usually can’t be bothered.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Geogard Ultra™ in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Plantapon® SF NA in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Lamesoft® PO 65 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- pH meter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Surfactants table
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- How to adjust the pH of your cosmetic products from Skin Chakra
- Other body wash formulations:
Black Currant & Roses Natural Body Wash
36g | 15% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
4.8g | 2% Black Currant Liquid Extract
3.6g | 1.5% Geogard Ultra™ (USA / Canada / UK / NZ / Aus / South Africa)
1.2g | 0.5% 90% lactic acid solution (USA / Canada)
96g | 40% Plantapon® SF NA (USA / Canada / Germany / Greece / Cyprus)
4.8g | 2% Coco Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate (Lamesoft® PO 65) (Canada / USA / NZ / EU / UK)
1.2g | 0.5% Natural Black Currant, Rose, & Vanilla fragrance oil
92.4g | 38.5% distilled water
Gently add the water, stir, cover the mixture, and leave it for about five hours to allow the Geogard Ultra™ to dissolve and the pH of the formulation to settle.
Once the Geogard Ultra™ has dissolved you will have a dark red, moderately viscous body wash. Hooray!
Up next, we’ll test the pH. If the body wash has a consistency similar to that of runny honey it is probably around 5.5 (so it’s not super essential to check), but if you have a pH meter it’s a good idea. To test and adjust the pH: create 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. The pH should be around 5.5–5.6.
If you’d like a thicker body wash you can achieve that by adding more lactic acid to lower the pH. I’d add 0.1–0.2% lactic acid at a time, stir, cover, and leave the body wash for at least an hour to ensure the viscosity has fully developed/adjusted. Be sure to check the pH as you go as well; I wouldn’t go below pH 4.5 (though I don’t think you’d need to, viscosity-wise).
Once the body wash is done, package it up! I used two 100g (3.5oz) soft squeeze tubes from YellowBee (gifted) for this 240g batch.
Use as you’d use any body wash. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body 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 formulation 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 240g, which will fill an 240mL (8 fl oz) container nicely.
- 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’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.
- I recommend Iselux Ultra Mild as the easiest alternative, though you won’t need as much. I’d drop the amount to 30%, increasing the water by 10%. You’ll need to check and adjust the pH and I’m not sure how the viscosity will come out—it should generally work, but I haven’t tried this formulation with this swap.
- Plantapon® TF is not the same thing as Plantapon® SF NA. I do not recommend using TF instead of SF NA for this formulation.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the Lamesoft® PO 65, but please read the encyclopedia entry for ideas if required.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart. If you use a different preservative you will need to test and adjust the pH.
- You could use citric acid instead of lactic acid to lower the pH; you will have to test and adjust as required.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- You could use a different extract and/or fragrance oil.
The soft squeeze tubes and glycerin were gifted by YellowBee.
The Plantapon SF NA, Lamesoft PO 65, black currant extract, and natural fragrance oil were gifted by Voyageur Soap & Candle.
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