Today we’re continuing our “soothing” series with a super-simple Soothing Foaming Hand Wash. I wanted to be sure to include a hand wash in this series because our hands take a ton of abuse in the winter. Frequent hand washing is great for preventing the spread of the cold and flu, but it’s also great for drying out hands, leaving them feeling tight and irritated (or worse—cracked and bleeding). This hand wash features a gentle blend of surfactants and some soothing ingredients to help you keep your hands clean and happy as we seem to inch towards peak winter dryness.
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Let’s start with our surfactant blend; it’s a combination of amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine and anionic Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate (Bioterge AS40). We combine surfactants with differing charges to create a milder blend, which is always good! Both our surfactants are derived from coconuts, and come together to give our end product a total active surfactant matter of 4.35%—nice and gentle. They’re also both liquid, which makes them really easy to work with.
I’ve included lots of vegetable glycerin to add some moisturizing goodness to this hand wash, as well as some soothing panthenol (vitamin B5). If you compare the ingredients in this recipe to the other recipes in our soothing series you’ll find I’ve dropped a lot of the more expensive ones (there’s no hyaluronic acid in here!) because this is a wash-off product. There’s no need to waste pricey ingredients on something that goes down the drain pretty darn quickly—let’s save those for leave-on products where you’ll get more bang for your buck!
Our scent comes from a bit of cucumber distillate. I find it to be a really strong scent, so I just used 7% and I find that’s more than enough for a hint of cucumber-y goodness. You could also include some chamomile hydrosol if you like—it’s up to you! Some aloe vera and water round out the mixture, along with our preservative.
Since nothing in here needs to be heated it comes together super, super fast. I’ve even made versions of this straight in the bottle! The lather this recipe produces is decadently light, soft, and creamy—I’m kind of obsessed 😄
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Soothing Foaming Hand Wash
Add the vegetable glycerin and panthenol, stirring to combine. Now is a good time to break up any clumps with more vigorous stirring—since there’s not much water in the mixture yet you won’t work up a bunch of later.
Add the remaining four ingredients one at a time, stirring between additions.
That’s it! Decant into a 250mL/8fl oz bottle fitted with a foamer top (you need the foamer top!). I used a 250mL bottle with a purple pump from Windy Point—I love the variety of coloured pumps they have!
To use, dispense some foam into your palm and use that to wash your hands as usual.
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.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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 you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- 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. The three key characteristics to look for are the format (you’ll want liquid for this recipe), active surfactant matter, and charge.
- The pH of this hand wash comes out at about 5 if made as written; if you are making changes (especially to the surfactants) be sure to test and adjust back to around 5 if required.
- You could replace the panthenol with more vegetable glycerin
- You could use a different hydrosol or distillate instead of cucumber for a different scent. If you do use a different one you may want to use more (using less distilled water to keep the recipe in balance). I find the cucumber distillate to be pretty strong, so I didn’t use much, but you might want to use more of whatever hydrosol you use instead.
- You could replace the aloe vera juice with more distilled water or a hydrosol.
- If you’d like to include a fragrance or essential oil you will need to incorporate a solubilizer as well. Remove 4% from the water and add 4% polysorbate 20; I found that will solubilize about 0.5% fragrance or essential oil well. Blend the polysorbate 20 and fragrance together in a small dish before incorporating into the rest of the project.
The cucumber distillate was gifted by Essential Wholesale.