Plantapon® SF NA

What is it? Plantapon® SF NA is a pre-blended sulfate-free surfactant product made by BASF Care Creations as part of their “Plantapon®” range of surfactant products.
INCI Sodium Cocoamphoacetate (and) Glycerin (and) Lauryl Glucoside (and) Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (and) Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate
Appearance Yellow liquid
Usage rate The manufacturer of Plantapon® SF NA suggests usage at 20–50%.
Scent Characteristic; detergent-y
Active surfactant matter 30%
pH 6.5–7.5
Charge Plantapon® SF NA contains amphoteric, non-ionic, and anionic surfactants.
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Plantapon® SF NA works as a lovely and very easy-to-use primary surfactant blend in our cleansing formulations. It is gentle and produces a beautiful, rich lather with nice rinse-off.
Do you need it? No, but it is a nice “shortcut” surfactant product.
Refined or unrefined? Plantapon® SF NA only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Plantapon® SF NA is an easy-to-use blend that functions nicely as the sole surfactant blend in formulations, though you can also blend it with other surfactants. If you don’t want to invest in a lot of surfactants it’s a good option for easily creating a variety of gentle foaming/cleansing products.

Due to the presence of both Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate and Lauryl Glucoside you can thicken formulations made with Plantapon® SF NA by lowering the pH to approximately 4.7–5.8; precisely what works will depend on what else is going on in the formulation. Learn more here!

Weaknesses I find it can be pretty strong when used at the rate suggested by the manufacturer.
Alternatives & Substitutions Iselux Ultra Mild is a pretty good alternative as it is also a blended surfactant product that thickens in lower pH environments.

Broadly speaking, another blended surfactant product like Plantapon® TF or STEPAN-MILD® BSB would be a decent place to start. If you are counting on the interplay between Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate and Lauryl Glucoside + an acidic pH to thicken the formulation you will need to thicken the formulation another way.

If you have a collection of anionic, amphoteric, and non-ionic surfactants you could also create your own blend, but that’s starting to get pretty far into re-formulating territory. Have fun!

How to Work with It Include it with the surfactant and/or water phase of your formulation. Plantapon® SF NA can be hot or cold processed.

BASF recommends a final pH of 4–5.5 for products made with Plantapon® SF NA.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Plantapon® SF NA should last at least one year. Plantapon® SF NA does not contain an added preservative.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks There are quite a few products in the Plantapon® range, so make sure you’re purchasing the correct one!

BASF lists Plantapon® SF NA as “good” for salt thickening.

Recommended starter amount 250mL (8 fl oz)
Where to Buy it In Canada, you can purchase Plantapon® SF NA from Voyageur Soap & Candle. Making Cosmetics (USA) sells a product they call “Coco Glucose” with the same INCI; I suspect it is the same product (though they list the active surfactant matter of their product at 42–52% vs. the 30% stated by BASF). I’ve also found it for sale in Germany, Greece, and Cyprus. It seems to be pretty widely available!

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super-useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use Plantapon® SF NA

Lamesoft® PO 65

What is it? Lamesoft® PO 65 is a blend of Coco Glucoside and Glyceryl Oleate manufactured by BASF. It’s primarily a natural lipid layer enhancer/re-fatting ingredient for surfactant products, though Skin Chakra says that it’s also useful in lotions.
INCI Coco Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate
Appearance Cloudy viscous liquid
Usage rate 1–5%
Scent Characteristic; detergent-y
Active surfactant matter Solids content is 64–68%, water content is 32–35%.
pH 3–4 (5% solution)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Lamesoft® PO 65 is a simple and effective way to make our surfactant formulations gentler as glyceryl oleate is a great re-fatting ingredient. If a formulation is leaving to skin or hair feeling too clean, try adding Lamesoft® PO 65!

Lamesoft® PO 65 also boosts viscosity in surfactant formulations, though given a maximum recommended usage rate of 5% it’s not an amazing thickener. You will almost certainly need some other sort of thickener if you’re looking for a typical liquid shampoo/shower gel consistency.

Do you need it? I highly recommend it if you like making liquid surfactant products, and especially if you want to make natural liquid shampoos.
Refined or unrefined? Lamesoft® PO 65 only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Lamesoft® PO 65
Weaknesses I can’t think of any. It’s useful!
Alternatives & Substitutions I primarily include Lamesoft® PO 65 in my formulations for the re-fatting benefits of the glyceryl oleate rather than the foaming brought by the Coco Glucoside.

If you can purchase the component ingredients separately, that can work. Making Cosmetics sells glyceryl oleate on its own, and coco glucoside is pretty easy to get. I’d start with a 60/40 blend of coco glucoside and glyceryl oleate.

Depending on the formulation, you may be able to use Plantapon® TF instead as it is basically Lamesoft® PO 65 + Decyl Glucoside (and) Polyglyceryl-10 Caprylate/Caprate.

You can also try other liquid re-fatting ingredients like Olivem 300 and Cromollient SCE (Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate), adjusting the overall surfactant blend to account for the loss of the coco glucoside.

How to Work with It Incorporate Lamesoft® PO 65 as part of your surfactant phase; it can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Lamesoft® PO 65 should last at least one year.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks BASF says a formulation containing 5% Lamesoft® PO 65 will add 1.7% active surfactant matter to the overall formulation from the coco glucoside content. Assuming an active surfactant matter of 55% for coco glucoside, that means Lamesoft® PO 65 is approximately 61.7% coco glucoside and 38.3% glyceryl oleate.
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8 fl oz)
Where to Buy it Canada / USA / NZ / EU / UK

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super-useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use Lamesoft® PO 65

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

What is it? Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is a mild anionic surfactant. Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is not the same as Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, though I believe you could use either in most applications. The laureth version is produced with ethoxylation, while the lauryl version is not.
INCI Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
Appearance Pale semi-viscous liquid.
Usage rate Cosmetics Info does not list a maximum allowable usage rate. I’ve seen supplier recommendations ranging from 4–40%.
Texture Slippery, detergent-y
Scent Characteristically detergent-y
Active Surfactant Matter 30–35% for the liquid version, though this can vary so be sure you check with your supplier for what you have.
pH 5.5–6.2 (10% solution in water)
Charge Anionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is a lovely cleansing, foaming surfactant. I love it in all kinds of washes—face, body, hand, shampoo, etc. It can be used as a primary surfactant or as part of a blend.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is a good mild cleansing surfactant with good foaming/lathering properties. It’s also inherently acidic, which makes it easier to make acidic cleansers.
Weaknesses Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is not considered natural—this isn’t an weakness to everyone, though.
Alternatives & Substitutions You’ll want to look at other anionic surfactants; liquid ones will be the easiest. Sodium C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate (Bio-Terge AS40) would be a pretty simple swap as the active surfactant matter (ASM) is close, but the pH is higher, so you’ll need to test and potentially adjust the pH of your finished product. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLeS) could also work, but be sure to compare active surfactant matter values as different Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLeS) can have very different active surfactant matters.
How to Work with It Include Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate in the water phase of your formulations; it can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks I’ve found some sources that say Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is natural/ECOCERT, but I think they’ve likely confused it with Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate. Because Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is produced with ethoxylation it isn’t considered natural.
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate

Cocamide DEA

What is it? Cocamide DEA is a liquid non-ionic liquid surfactant made from coconuts. It helps boost foam, thicken surfactant blends, and condition the hair.
INCI Cocamide DEA
Appearance Pale yellow liquid
Usage rate “The CIR Expert Panel concluded that Cocamide DEA was safe as used in rinse-off products and safe at concentrations of less than or equal to 10% in leave-on products.” (source)
Scent Characteristically detergent-y
Active surfactant matter Varies by product; mine is 85%
Approximate Melting Point Liquid at room temperature
pH 8.5–11 at 1% (varies by product)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Cocamide DEA helps boost the foam in our formulations, thicken surfactant blends, and condition the hair.
Do you need it? No.
Refined or unrefined? Cocamide DEA only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Good thickener and foam booster.
Weaknesses Harder to find, depending on where you live.
Alternatives & Substitutions I’d try a different non-ionic liquid surfactant, like one of the glucosides. This may result in a thinner product, depending on the formulation, so you may have to adjust the formulation to get the desired final viscosity.
How to Work with It Include Cocamide DEA in the surfactant/water phase of your formulations. Cocamide DEA can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry,
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Cocamide DEA and Cocamide MEA are not the same.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon. Mine is from Mystic Moments.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super-useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use Cocamide DEA

Decyl Glucoside

What is it? Decyl Glucoside is a gentle non-ionic surfactant made from coconut oil and sugar.
INCI Decyl Glucoside
Appearance Semi-viscous yellowish liquid
Usage rate The CIR has not noted a maximum usage rate. Let the desired total active surfactant matter of your end product be your guide.
Texture Slippery, detergenty
Scent Characteristically detergent-y
Active Surfactant Matter 51%
pH 11–12
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Decyl glucoside can be a good primary or secondary surfactant, contributing foaming/cleansing to an end product. It has a really rich, dense lather that is lovely in our formulations.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? Decyl Glucoside only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Decyl Glucoside is a relatively easy to source “natural” surfactant with lovely lather.
Weaknesses It has a fairly high pH and isn’t a great solubilizer; I tend to choose Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside over the other glucosides.
Alternatives & Substitutions I tend to prefer Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside in any recipe that calls for decyl glucoside, though the lather of Decyl Glucoside is richer + thicker, so I might blend Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside and Decyl Glucoside to get some of the solubilizing powers of Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside and the lather of Decyl Glucoside.
How to Work with It Include it in the water phase of your formulations; it can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Decyl Glucoside should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Realize Beauty has a great article on glucosides that’s worth a read!
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use Decyl Glucoside

STEPAN-MILD® BSB

What is it? STEPAN-MILD® BSB is a gentle pre-blended surfactant product featuring anionic, non-ionic, cationic, and amphoteric surfactants. It creates products with gorgeous, rich lather and a really lovely conditioned skin feel on rinse-off.
INCI PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Quaternium-15
Appearance Yellow liquid
Usage rate I haven’t found a maximum usage level; 10–40% works well for most products.
Scent Characteristic; detergent-y
Active surfactant matter ~42%
pH 6.5–7.5
Charge Anionic, Nonionic, Cationic, and Amphoteric
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? STEPAN-MILD® BSB can be used to quickly and easily create surfactant products like body washes, hand washes, and shampoos. It’s a great way to start working with surfactants as you can use it as the sole surfactant product in a formulation.
Do you need it? No, but it is a nice “shortcut” surfactant product.
Refined or unrefined? STEPAN-MILD® BSB only exists as a refined product.
Strengths STEPAN-MILD® BSB is an easy-to-use blend that functions nicely as the sole surfactant-type ingredient in a wide variety of formulations.
Weaknesses I haven’t found it for sale outside of Canada yet.
Alternatives & Substitutions The easiest substitution would be a different pre-blended surfactant product, like Iselux Ultra Mild and Miracare Soft 313. Different surfactant blends do create different feeling finished products, but it’ll still cleanse. Depending on what you’re making you may need to do your own experiments to get a finished product you’re happy with.

Otherwise, you’ll need to create your own surfactant blend featuring different charges and prioritizing choosing mild surfactants. I recommend checking out this table, this FAQ article, and this series of posts to learn more.

How to Work with It Include it with the surfactant and/or water phase of your formulation. STEPAN-MILD® BSB can be hot or cold processed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, STEPAN-MILD® BSB should last two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Thickens well with salt (NaCl).
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8 fl oz)
Where to Buy it  As of July 2020 I’ve only found it for sale at Voyageur Soap & Candle and Windy Point, both in Canada.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super-useful surfactants table!

Some Formulations that Use STEPAN-MILD® BSB