Surfactants P4: DIY Body Wash

Surfactants P4: DIY Body Wash


Body washes are immensely enjoyable to craft, not only because they are relatively simple to make and flop proof, but because you know exactly what’s going onto your skin, you can customise them to a degree, as well as pick any fragrance you want!

In my recent testing sessions, I’ve discovered there are two primary ways to make a body wash. First you can make up the liquid body wash and then add in a small amount of xanthan gum to thicken it, or, you can make a xanthan gum gel and then add the surfactants to the gel. Both work equally well and I’ve tried and tested them in the shower. You need only a small amount of body wash on a shower scrunchie for an amazingly lathery wash.

The below recipes can be doubled or trebled to make larger batches. And as always with surfactant formulas, if you want to add in some additional carrier oil, aloe vera or even honey for sensitive or dry skin types, it won’t break the recipe. You can also add in additional xanthan gum or xanthan gel if you want a thicker shower gel type of consistency.

Below you can see both ways to make the body wash and decide which you find easier. I used pretty much the same ingredients in both recipes for simplicity’s sake. Grapeseed oil is what I had on hand and it is a nice versatile oil, but you can use any carrier oil, or even a blend of two oils if you are feeling fancy or want to craft a luxury body wash. Vegetable glycerine is important for its moisture-giving properties. Try playing around with different essential oils to suit your scent and skin needs too.


1st Method - Basic DIY Body Wash

3%  lauryl glucoside

5% coco glucoside

6%  OliveM 300

13%  rosewater or another  hydrosol

55% distilled or boiled and cooled water - can sub some water out for  aloe vera to make more an even gentler wash

6%  vegetable glycerine

1%  xanthan gum

6%  grapeseed oil or another oil of your choice

Essential oils of your choice. I’m currently enjoying a sweet, warming blend of  rosegeranium and  vanilla, and thinking some spicy  cinnamon would be really nice too!

4%  coco betaine

Citric acid solution to adjust the pH

pH test strips

1% preservative such as  Geogard 221


Blend the glycerine and xanthan gum together in a beaker to hydrate, then slowly blend in the water to form a gel. Blend the two glucosides together to form a paste (lauryl glucoside is a very sturdy paste already) and add then to the xanthan gum gel. Add in the OliveM 300 and rosewater and blend, then drizzle in the grapeseed oil and blend. Lastly, add in the coco betaine, add in your essential oils, adjust the pH with a citric acid solution, add your preservative and blend everything with your blender. Test with your pH test strips to make sure the body wash is around 5 to 6. 5.5 is ideal. Then pour into a pump bottle or a generic wide mouth bottle and enjoy. To use, pump out a small amount onto your shower scrunchie or loofah and lather all over.


With this second method (the xanthan gel method), I didn’t include lauryl glucoside as I found it wasn’t necessary to make the formula a good consistency. So this recipe may be slightly simpler for those who are new to working with surfactants.


2nd Method - Basic DIY Body Wash

12% xanthan gum gel - recipe here

5% coco glucoside

60% water - can sub some out for aloe vera and/or a hydrosol if you wish

2% vegetable glycerine

7% grapeseed oil or another oil of your choice

8% OliveM 300

5%  coco betaine

1% preservative such as Geogard 221

Citric acid solution to adjust the pH

Essential oils of your choice

pH test strips


Gently blend the coco glucoside into the gel. The gel may trap some bubbles but don’t worry about that. Then drizzle in the water (you are welcome to substitute some of the water for aloe vera gel or a hydrosol if you like), vegetable glycerine and OliveM 300. Blitz with a blender then stir in the carrier oil and blend again. Lastly add in the coco betaine, add your essential oils and preservative and balance the pH with citric acid solution. Test with pH strips to around 5.5, bottle up and enjoy!


Some scent ideas for your shower gel: Herby - thymerosemary and basil. These will also sharpen the senses, clear the mind and aid concentration, and help clear any congestion. Rosemary and vanilla - a classic shower scent! Rosemary heightens cognition while vanilla is soothing. Citrus and cinnamon - try any citrus oil such as sweet orange together with cinnamon for a warming spicy shower. Vanilla, honey and almond oil needs no introduction. Tea tree - tea tree is amazingly good for problem skin so adding it to your body wash is ideal. Or go with the simple but classic rose or lavender

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Hi Suzaan, unfortunately there is no substitute for OliveM 300 – but it is a wonderful ingredient and I highly recommend it!


Hi, any substitute for OliveM 300?

Suzaan Kotzé