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May 29, 2019 4 min read

Surfactants P3: DIY Liquid Face Wash

Part 3 of our Surfactant Series is here and focuses on liquid face washes. Liquid face washes need to be ultra gentle for your delicate facial skin. So for our surfactant blends, we’re going to use small amounts of mild cocamidopropyl betaine and a glucoside or two for a balanced formulation. If you want an ultra gentle wash you can use the coco betaine on its own. It probably won’t foam as much but will still cleanse, and it is very gentle.

Like the previous entry on surfactants, DIY Hand Wash, face washes are also liquid but use surfactants in even smaller amounts. You will be looking for ASMs of 6 and below if you want to calculate your own formula, otherwise try out ours in the recipes below. In face wash formulations, we add in a couple of extra ingredients such as rich skin oils, honey and extra aloe vera and glycerine to make a mild wash suitable for delicate skin.

I like adding in extras to combat any dryness from the surfactants (they are mild but even natural cleansers can be drying for those with sensitive or dry skin). Those who live in a frigid-in-the-winter part of the country will know how harsh winter air can worsen dry or ezcema-prone skin, so any and all extras to combat the dryness are necessary! Here are some options to really jazz up your facial wash:

Oatmeal - gives a creamy, foaminess plus gentle exfoliating factor and makes skin feel soft.

Hydrolyzed protein for moisture balance and conditioning properties.

Honey - a natural humectant, ultra gentle and makes your skin glow!

Aloe vera gel - really soothing and moisturising. I highly recommend adding this in plus it is also a natural humectant.

You can also add in any powdered herbs and botanicals that your skin responds well to.

I really like using green tea as a skin wake-me-up in the mornings, but unfortunately teas will oxidise within 24 hours and lose their benefits so there is no point in adding it to this recipe (unless you’re going to remake it every other day). You can however, replace the water with a hydrosol if you wish.


Basic Face Wash Recipe

Phase A

70g water (distilled or boiled and cooled) or hydrosol

1g xanthan gum

10g veg glycerine

1-2 drops preservative such as Euxyl 940

Extras: 1 tsp honey and 1 T aloe vera gel plus any other extras you wish to add


Phase B

5g lauryl glucoside (you can substitute any of the glucosides for another glucoside but keep in mind the end result may differ in consistency)

2g decyl glucoside

4 drops essential oils - try rose, geranium, lavender or chamomile

1 tsp carrier oil - try argan, primrose oilprickly pear, walnut oil or another of your choice.

1 tsp Olive M 300


Phase C

6g cocamidopropyl betaine


Citric acid solution to adjust pH.

pH test strips


Hydrate the xanthan gum by stirring it with the vegetable glycerine. Then add in the water bit by bit, stirring well. Add in the preservative here too, and any extras such as honey or aloe vera gel. Gently heat the Phase B surfactants. Lauryl glucoside is very thick so heating it helps it blend easier. Add in the essential oils and the carrier oil if using. You may need to add in a half to a full teaspoon of OliveM 300 to solubilise the oils if they separate, but I also recommend using it to balance the surfactants and add moisturising properties. Then add the Phase A and Phase B together, stirring gently until combined. Give it a whoosh with an immersion/stick blender just to make sure everything is well mixed. Lastly, add in the coco betaine. Test the pH with pH test strips and add in a few drops of citric acid solution if necessary. You are looking for a pH of about 5.5. Pour your face wash into a pump bottle. To use, pump out a small amount and lather it on your skin, rinse off with warm water then follow up with your moisturiser as usual.




Ultra Gentle Gel Face Wash

I’m a big fan of gel cleansers because I love the way they feel on my skin and hands and they sort of warm up to the touch. This gel face wash is very gentle and uses only coco betaine as the cleanser, so you won’t even need to adjust the pH as it is already in a skin-friendly range.


Make up about ¾ of a cup of xanthan gum gel according to the recipe here. If you like, use a hydrosol in place of the water to make up your gel. Geranium hydrosol is lovely. Don’t make the gel too thick or it will have the wrong consistency for a face wash. Make it a nice pourable consistency.

Then blend in

¾ tsp cocamidopropyl betaine

1 T carrier oil of choice, try prickly pear, walnut oil or another good skin oil

¾ tsp Olive M 300

2 T aloe vera gel

2 drops preservative such as Euxyl 940

Add in any extras you wish - I added a dollop of honey to mine. You can also add in extra vegetable glycerine (it is a humectant and will help protect your skin from dryness).


Blend everything together and there you have it, as easy as 1,2,3! Store in a pump bottle or jar in a cool place. To use, pump out a small amount and lather on your skin then rinse with warm water. Follow up as usual with your moisturiser.


We hope you enjoy these natural face washes! Let us know if you tried them out.


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