I’m loving this simple, glossy, honey-and-sunshine scented facial cleanser right now. It uses a new product that Windy Point has recently started carrying—a surfactant blend called Iselux Ultra Mild. Pre-blended surfactant products makes creating foamy/lathery things really easy, and I love the lather this particular blend produces (it’s really dense and fine—super luxurious!) so I thought we could make a few things with it. I’ve also provided plenty of alternatives later on in the post, but if you’re new to surfactants, a product like this is a fantastic place to start. We’re also continuing our sweetgrass theme using the stunning sweetgrass hydrosol from Plant’s Power, so you roll with the sweetgrass wonderfulness or easily make this cleanser differently (or un-) scented really easily.
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
When working with surfactants we blend different charges (anionic/negative, non-ionic/no charge, and amphoteric/varying charge) to create a milder product. You’ll usually include at least two surfactants in any given product for this reason, and for anyone new to working with surfactants this can be a bit irksome as you need to buy at least two or three different surfactants to get started. This is where a pre-blended surfactant product like the one we’re using today can be super dang useful. Iselux Ultra Mild (INCI: Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidoapropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco-Glucoside) is a blend of anionic, amphoteric, and non-ionic surfactants. It’s liquid, and it’s already nicely blended, so it’s crazy easy to work with. The recommended usage rate is 25–30%, but I’ve found it to be perfectly effective at lower usage rates.
If you don’t have Iselux Ultra Mild there are plenty of other pre-blended surfactant products available that you might want to look into if you’re new to working with surfactants but looking to dip a few toes into the sudsy fun. Two others are BSB Liquid Surfactant and Miracare Soft 313. What you’re looking for is, at a minimum, a combination of an anionic or non-ionic surfactant and an amphoteric surfactant. One (or more) of each is also great, but you want at least one amphoteric surfactant (usually Cocamidopropyl Betaine) and something else anionic or non-ionic. You’ll also want to look for products marketed as being mild.
If you’ve already gotten fully into surfactants and have a collection of your own you can use that, too! I would try a blend of anionic 2.5% Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI), 12.5% amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and 5% non-ionic Coco Glucoside instead of 20% Iselux Extra Mild. That results in a total active surfactant matter of 8.6%, which I find to be reasonable for face washes. You’ll need to melt the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine together first before adding the coco glucoside, and the whole mixture will need to be gently heated with the water and hydrosol to fully disperse. You can also look at creating your own blend based on your personal collection; I recommend checking out this table, this FAQ article, and this series of posts to learn more.
Once you know what you’re doing for the surfactant part this is incredibly easy to make. It’s a cold process stir-et-voila sort of thing. You will need to pH test and adjust, but that’s the only semi-tricky thing and it’s really not tricky at all—I promise. You’ll see in the video that it’s easy-peasy. I hope you love the luxurious lather and simplicity of this Sweetgrass Facial Cleanser as much as I do; happy making!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Sweetgrass Facial Cleanser
6g | 10% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
0.6g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
12g | 20% Iselux Ultra Mild surfactant blend
1.2g | 2% hydrolyzed rice protein (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
21.9g | 36.5% distilled water
18g | 30% sweetgrass hydrosol
Weigh the glycerine, panthenol, Iselux Ultra Mild, hydrolyzed rice protein, and liquid germall plus into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Stir to combine. Add the distilled water and hydrosol and stir gently until uniform.
Up next, let’s get set up to adjust the pH. As made I find the pH of this face wash is around 7, and we want it to be in the 5.5–6 range.
Be sure to read this great article on the importance of diluting solutions when pH testing them—we’re doing that here! Prepare at least two small bowls by weighing 9g of distilled water into them (you’re going to want a scale that’s accurate to 0.01g for this). To make your citric acid solution, weigh 5g of citric acid into a small beaker and add 5g of distilled water. Stir to combine; you’ll probably a couple quick microwave bursts are required to get the citric acid to dissolve as this is a pretty concentrated solution.
To test the pH, add 1g of product to one of the bowls containing 9g of water to create a 10% dilution, and pH check that. If necessary, add a drop of the citric acid solution to the parent batch, stir, and re-test. Continue until the pH is in the 5.5–6 range. Please watch the video to see this in action!
Once the pH is where we want it, thicken the face wash with Crothix™ liquid. For a 60g batch I’d add 1g at a time, stirring between additions and waiting five minutes or so before adding more. Crothix™ liquid can go very quickly from “hmm, not thick enough” to “whoops, just made sudsy flubber”, so err on the side of slower additions!
When you’re happy with the viscosity you’re done! Transfer to a container; I used a 60mL (2fl oz) squeezy bottle with a disc top. To use, lather up with a bit of water between your palms and use to wash your face.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this face 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 60g.
- 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 I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try propanediol instead of vegetable glycerin
- You could use more hydrolyzed protein instead of panthenol
- You can use a different mild surfactant blend instead of the Iselux Ultra Mild. Suggestions include BSB Liquid Surfactant and Miracare Soft 313. Read the post for more information, there’s lots!
- You could use a different hydrolyzed protein, like oat or quinoa, instead of hydrolyzed rice protein
- You can use a different hydrosol in place of the sweetgrass hydrosol, or simply use more water. This will alter (or eliminate) the scent.
- If you don’t want to thicken this face wash you can leave out the Crothix™ liquid and package it in a foamer bottle instead.