We’re getting all kinds of sudsy today with a pearlescent and bubbly Ice Palace Body Wash! If you’re generally a fan of creamy body washes, this one is just the thing—it kicks off heaps of fluffy bubbles, smells wonderfully refreshing, and looks a bit like a liquid ice palace. I’m also a bit extra in love with the opaque, lustrous appearance of this body wash and I now want to pearl-ize all the things 😂
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The most Ice-Palace-y attribute of this body wash is its lovely pearlescent white appearance, and that comes from the inclusion of some glycol distearate. If you’ve formulated with surfactants a decent amount you’ll know that adding oils and butters to surfactant products suppresses lather—more fat means less lather. That’s why products like cleansing conditioners don’t bubble much—they’ve got a decent amount of oil, and not much in the way of foaming surfactants. This makes them lovely, gentle cleansers, but you aren’t going to be luxuriating in mountains of lather from your cleansing conditioners. If you’ve used creamy-looking cleansers in the past that still kick out tons of fluffy bubbles, chances are very good the creamy appearance of that formulation came from 2–4% glycol distearate. You can learn all about it in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia, but to sum it up—a small concentration of this groovy ingredient gives surfactant products a luscious, creamy, pearlescent appearance without seriously dampening lather. I know not everyone has glycol distearate, so I have provided a guide on using Glyceryl Stearate SE instead in the Substitutions list at the end of the post + further information in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia entry.
Our surfactant blend is a beautifully bubbly one; a blend of anionic Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate (also known as Bio-Terge® AS-40), non-ionic decyl glucoside, and amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The total active surfactant matter (ASM) of this body wash is 18%, which I find works beautifully for a body wash—it’s got enough surfactant-y kick that one drizzle on a shower pouf goes a long way!
As both Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate and decyl glucoside have fairly basic pH values (8–9 and 11–12 respectively), I’ve included a small amount of citric acid in the formulation to bring the pH of the final product down into the mildly acidic range. When made as written, the pH of this body wash is around 4.75.
After the surfactants and the pearlizer, there isn’t much else to talk about. Some silver-white mica increases the lustre of the product, glycerin brings some humectant-y goodness, and water is our solvent, ensuring everything is used at appropriate levels. I’ve used Liquid Germall™ Plus (INCI: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate) to preserve the formulation. Crothix™ liquid thickens, and I’ve built that right into the formulation so you don’t have to fuss with it at the end (there’s now a Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia entry for that ingredient!).
For fragrance—I used a fresh and cool Salty Sea Air fragrance, but if you want to use an essential oil I think peppermint or spearmint would be a lovely choice! You could also use peppermint hydrosol instead of distilled water. If you want to leave the end product unscented you could replace the fragrance oil with more distilled water, but I do generally recommend adding some sort of scent to surfactant products as they don’t tend to smell very nice on their own. Something to remember, though—different fragrance oils and essential oils can dramatically impact the viscosity of a surfactant product, so you may need to adjust the amount of Crothix™ liquid if your nice-smelling-thing of choice really changes the viscosity of this body wash.
Since the glycol distearate needs to be melted, there is a heated phase for this project, but the whole making part is pretty darn simple. Heat the heated phase in a water bath, top off any lost water, and cool in an ice bath while gently stirring. Add the cool down phase, and you’re done! Package it up in a tottle type container, and you’re done. Enjoy!
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Ice Palace Body Wash
18g | 15% vegetable glycerine
0.36g | 0.3% citric acid
24g | 20% Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate (Bio-Terge® AS-40) (USA / Canada)
18g | 15% decyl glucoside (USA / Canada)
12g | 10% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
3.6g | 3% glycol distearate
3g | 2.5% Crothix™ Liquid (USA / Canada)
0.6g | 0.5% silver-white mica
39.84g | 33.2% distilled water
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a 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 cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
After about 20–30 minutes the glycol distearate should be completely melted. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh; add enough distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating. Stir gently with a flexible silicone spatula or small wire whisk to incorporate.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly, until the body wash has cooled to room temperature and noticeably thickened.
When the body wash is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of body wash on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of body wash, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then gently stir all of that back into the master batch of body wash. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I used a soft squeeze tottle, and that worked brilliantly.
Use as you’d use any body wash. Enjoy!
When made as written the pH of this body wash is approximately 4.75, which is a great pH for a body wash.
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 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 120g.
- 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 (Crothix™ liquid) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can try propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- 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.
- You can use a different acid to adjust the pH of this body wash, but that means you’ll need a pH meter to test and adjust.
- For the glycol distearate: you can use Glyceryl Stearate SE instead, but you will want to reduce the Crothix™ liquid to 1%, including an extra 1.5% distilled water to keep the formulation in balance.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.