I find I’m quite delighted with hand washes recently, though for a rather odd reason: I use quite a lot of them, so I can make them frequently. This rapid make-test-make-more process means there’s lots of room for trying new things and learning what happens when I use one thickener instead of another, or a new surfactant blend. Make one, reflect on it for a few weeks as I use it up, and make another! Compared to lip balm, where rapid iteration can quickly leave you with four lifetime’s worth of product, this process seems quite sensible with hand wash (and hasn’t drowned me in hand wash… yet…).
This hand wash is a bit of a hybrid of a couple things I’ve done before. The surfactant blend (SCI, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and Coco Glucoside) is one I’ve used in other hand washes, while using glycol distearate and guar gum as part of the thickening is something I used in last month’s Silky Volumizing Conditioning Shampoo. I really enjoyed the slip and suds of the surfactant combination in my Green Tea Foaming Hand Wash, and I loved the creamy feel of the conditioning shampoo—and so a hybrid is born.
Because this hand wash features less surfactants and a larger water phase the glycol distearate and guar gum didn’t do all the thickening; a touch of salt wraps that up. I did try a version with no guar gum and all salt thickening, but found all three to be necessary to get the texture I wanted. If you prefer to use Crothix you can do that as well, dropping the guar gum and the salt (or just the salt) as you please.
Our essential oil blend is a bright, herbal-yet-sweet combination of calming lavender and crisp spruce essential oils. You are certainly welcome to use other essential oils, or a fragrance oil, but I do quite like the lavender spruce blend and it fits this hand wash in nicely with the other lavender spruce projects we’ve been making.
I sped the making of this along with my MiniPro Mixer from Lotion Crafter—it made the biggest different incorporating the surfactant paste into the water phase. It definitely created some lather, but it also meant the hand wash was done in a fraction of the time. That trade-off was more than worth it for me, but if you don’t have one it’s certainly not a deal breaker. Simply leave the surfactant paste in the water phase to soak and soften, covering it to keep the water loss to a minimum.
The finished hand wash is decidedly creamy, beautifully silky, and quite gentle. It has the loveliest slip and I find I’m sniffing my hands a lot more than usual to catch extra whiffs of lavender-sprucey goodness. Yum!
Lavender Spruce Creamy Hand Wash
12g | 6% Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) (USA / Canada)
18g | 9% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
6g | 3% Coco Glucoside (USA / Canada)
140g | 70% distilled water
4g | 2% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
4g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
8g | 4% glycol distearate
4g | 2% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
2g | 1% guar gum
Cool down phase
0.4g | 0.2% lavender essential oil
0.6g | 0.3% spruce essential oil
1g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada) (or other broad spectrum preservative of choice at recommended usage rate [why?])
Salt, (NaCl) as needed (I used 4g)
I opted to make this over direct (low!) heat rather than using a water bath as I’ve had difficulty in the past melting SCI and BTMS-50 in water baths. You are certainly welcome to use a water bath if you like, and if you join me in doing this over direct heat, PLEASE keep that heat low, and keep an extremely close eye on your concoction as you work! Direct heat is nowhere near as forgiving as a water bath and you can burn things if you aren’t paying attention.
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 SCI and Cocamidopropyl Betaine into a small saucepan. Weigh the water phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or beaker, and weigh the oil phase into a second small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or beaker. Place the water phase and oil phase in your prepared water bath to warm them up and keep them ready for action.
Place the saucepan with the surfactants over low heat and stir as they soften, melt, and become uniform. Once you have a smooth, white paste with no visible bits of SCI, add Coco Glucoside. Stir to combine. Once that mixture is smooth and uniform, add the oil phase. Stir to combine. When your mixture is uniform, add the water phase. At this point I used the MiniPro Mixer from Lotion Crafter to blend it all together (more on that here). By keeping the blending disc below the surface I was able to prevent too much lather from working up, and the mixer sped up the dissolving process immensely! If you don’t have a small blender or mixer you can just leave the mixture over low heat until the surfactant paste softens up and dissolves (I recommend covering the mixture to reduce evaporation).
When the heated mixture is uniform, remove it from the heat and stir it as it cools—somewhat constantly initially, but as it gets cooler you can reduce the frequency. Once it has reached room temperature, stir in the essential oil and preservative. Stir in the salt, one gram at a time, waiting a minute or two between additions, until you’ve reached a consistency you like. I found 4g was great; 6g was a bit much.
Decant into a pump-top bottle. 200mL would be ideal, but 240mL (8oz) is easier to find. 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 is likely to 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 200g.
- A different liquid non-ionic or anionic surfactant would work in place of the coco glucoside
- I wouldn’t recommend xanthan gum in place of guar gum—it’s quite boogery
- If you don’t have glycol distearate or guar gum you can leave them both out, replace them with more water, and thicken the entire lot with Crothix
I like reading your recipes, always so informative. I have some amateur questions lol what’s the reason for the BTMS-50 / Glycol distearate here? How comes the guar gum didn’t go in the water phase?
Can this recipe be used for a face wash? I tried to make a foaming face wash with water, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate and panthenol and it really doesn’t cut through my greasy face.
Guar gum will clump if added straight to water; incorporating it into oils or glycerin first helps avoid that.
Glycol distearate is for thickening and also gives an opaque, pearlescent effect.
BTMS-50 functions as an emulsifier, adds some cationic conditioning, and helps make the end product more gentle 🙂
You could use it as a face wash if your face likes it 🙂 If you’re struggling with quite a lot of grease you may have dehydrated skin, though—what hydrating steps do you have in your skin care routine?
Would it work to not thicken it and use in a foamer bottle instead ?
Not really; the entire recipe is developed to include three thickeners/thickening ingredients (glycol distearate, BTMS-50, and guar gum). Creamy hand wash + thin enough for a foamer bottle don’t go together in this situation. If you want a foamer bottle wash with this scent combo I’d recommend choosing a foamer bottle recipe and switching up the EOs 🙂
I second Gracie’s question about the BTMS-50… is it so the hand wash has a bit of a lotion-y feel? Or maybe for BTMS’s oil-free conditioning properties? What is its purpose here? This got me very curious and I’ll have to try it coz I wanna “feel” what BTMS brings to this recipe. I have no guar gum so I guess I’ll thicken with Crothix (don’t you love how glycol distearate makes everything pearly? I made a Tuscan blood orande hand wash with g.d. and added a titch of bronze mica… OMG it looks awesome!)Anyway, do u know the ph of the final product? I read somewhere that coco glucoside has a pretty high ph, much like decyl glucoside, but I have a huuuge bottle of it, untouched, simply coz I have no ph strips or a meter. Any info would be appreciated!
It’s both for conditioning and to make the final blend a bit milder 🙂 The pH of this is around 5.5/6—the coco glucoside is used at a very low amount. SCI forms the bulk of it (Amphosol CG and Coco Glucoside both contain a lot of water, while SCI is much more concentrated as it is solid) and it is acidic (a 10% solution is pH 4.5 to 6.5). Happy making!
BWHAHAHAHAHA! “I wouldn’t recommend xanthan gum in place of guar gum—it’s quite boogery”
I so need to find a use for this phrase, it’s quite boogery, today. Must be used!
Sometimes “boogery” is the only descriptor that will do!
Hi Marie! Looks lovely. I was wondering if the SCI/Amphosol mix you suggested making to keep on hand in the freezer was the right proportion for this. ie, could I just thaw out and use 30 grams of that?
Also, how much Crothix to use or is it just keep adding a bit until it’s thick enough for my liking?
Studio is looking great, by the way.
Yes and yes—just go slow with the crothix 🙂
Hi Marie, can you tell me any substitute for amphosol sg?also can I go ahead with only Coco glucoside and SCi? Also I have sci on powder form. Is that ok with your recipie?
Finally I would just want to thank you for this amazing pool of information you have on blog.
Any substitute for the Amphosol CG really needs to be amphoteric; neither of the surfactants you’ve listed are. I’d recommend giving this FAQ a read 🙂
Happy making and thanks for reading!
Is any amphoteric surfactant needed to stabilize SCI in the water or make BTMS compatible with SCI?
I think my skin doesn’t tolerate conditioning effect of amphoterics. It’s strange – they don’t sensitize me or irritate just after washing, but after a dozen or so days using CAPB in shampoo/face wash and even faster when using Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate. The second one is considered to be milder, but I read it’s stronger in conditioning.
Could you please advice me what can I do with it? I’d really like to use SCI in my cleansers, because it cleans well and doesn’t irritate my skin like other anionics do.
Is any way to prevent amphoterics (without making a cleanser alkaline) from binding with the skin?
Will ASM ratio 1:1 SCI:amphoteric or >1:1 (more anionic) prevent it or make it less adsorbing?
What an interesting conundrum—hmm. I have found Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) does need to me melted into something if you want it to play nicely in liquid products like this one—you could try something non-ionic, perhaps helping things along with an immersion blender to create a smooth solution before continuing. You might also look at something like foaming silk (Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Silk Protein) that is both gentle and liquid, so it doesn’t need to be dissolved in something else first. Or, perhaps, try creating a solid cleansing bar with the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)? This book might be helpful—it is all about shampoo bars, but I can’t see why you couldn’t adjust some of the formulas for facial use. None of the recipes use Cocamidopropyl Betaine. My understanding of the charge of amphoterics is it depends on the pH of the system; in basic environments the charge should no longer be cationic. Best of luck!
Dear Marie. I am a big fan of you work and I have tried some of your recipes with enthusiasm and pleasure. I always learn so much from you! Just wanted to let you know that I have been hoping for a shampoo/body cleanser and that I have decided to try this recipe as such. As I didn’t have all the ingredients, like the glycol and the xantham gum, I made a modification, I used 2% of Btms 25 (can not find Btms 50 in Portugal), 2%almond oil and increased 5 grams each of the 2 liquid surfactants. It turned out a lovely textured, similar to dove cream shower gel, but thinner, with lots of bubbles, nice on the hair and on the skin. Could never done it without you. Just wanted to share. Thank you so much!
I’m so thrilled you’ve created something you love! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Can I substitue Glycol Distearate with Ethylene Glycol Monostearate (EGMS, as called in India) – INCI Name : Glycol Stearate.
Will the proportion be the same ?