How to formulate a Face Wash – with Recipe

Now that we have studied the theory of Surfactants (here and here) and we have the values of some of them it is time to finally formulate! 😀

The recipe of today is for a very delicate Face Wash which helped me when I used to suffer of a mild but annoying and constant (meaning that my skin wasn’t covered in pimples completely but I did have a few all the time and this lasted over two years) form of acne. I should make a post about this! I used to be quite aggressive with my skin: I was scrubbing, using alcoholic toners, applying aggressive creams… but nothing was helping (on the contrary…).
Then one day I decided to give a break to my skin, I stopped scrubbing crazily, I stopped attacking my skin and I started concentrating on eating more healthy food and… TADAAA it did the trick 😀 I simply found out that all my skin needed was to be treated gently.

DIY Face Wash - Recipe

This is how the formulation was done:

I wanted a very gentle face wash, so I opted for a 6.5% ASM (if you don’t know what I am talking about, just go here)
I also wanted the surfactants to be gentle so I chose the surfactants accordingly:
– Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (anionic – ASM 29%) (this would be the “first surfactant”, the one in higher amount in the recipe)
– Cocamidopropyl Betaine (amphoteric – ASM 32%) (I picked it because, when combined with other surfactants, specially with an anionic one, it makes it more gentle)
– Lauryl Glucoside (non-ionic – ASM 52%) (I decided to add this one, even though in very low percentage, because I like to use all the three kinds of surfactants in my detergent. I feel the result is more balanced and complete).
– Coco Glucoside and Glyceryl Oleate (non-ionic – ASM 55% but refatted by the glyceryl oleate so the result is extremely mild)

I tried with these values:
Sarcosinate 10
Betaine 6
Lauryl Glucoside 3

The calculation to see what kind of ASM I would obtain with such values is here:
Sarcosinate : 10*0.29 = 2.9
Betaine 6*0.32 = 1.92
Lauryl Glucoside 3*0.52 = 1.56
Total : 6.38

6.38% is the total ASM of our face wash and, having planned to make it 6.5, I am satisfied so these are the surfactants I have chosen and their percentage in the recipe! 🙂

Now to the overall formulation of the detergent [If this is the first post you read, notice that my recipe is in grams and the value next to each ingredient is the ingredient value “percent”; “water to 100” means that the water added to this recipe is 100 minus the sum of all the amount of the other ingredients]


Phase A: 
Water to 100 (explanation HERE)
Glycerin 3 
Xanthan Gum 0.5 (I always like to add xanthan gum when using sarcosinate because the chances it becomes too liquid are very high. Of course if you don’t have xanthan gum or if you don’t mind washing your face with water-liquid detergent… you can feel free to omit this ingredient!) 🙂
Preservative (water-soluble!) 0.6 (this is the amount % I have to use of my water-soluble preservative: you add the amount needed with the kind of preservative you are using 🙂 some need to be added up to 1%, some at 0.4%… so add enough of what you use! 🙂 )

Phase B:
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate 10 
Lauryl Glucoside 2 
2 drops Lavender EO 
2 drops Sage EO 

Phase C:
Betaine 6 

Check the pH and adjust to pH 5, using few drops of lactic acid or citric acid solution 🙂 (this is to make the Sarcosinate become dense 😉 )
If you want you can add one drop of water-soluble food coloring! Just to make it more fun 🙂

In the becher of Phase A add glycerin and xanthan gum. When the xanthan gum looks hydrated add slowly all the water and the preservative. Set aside.
In the becher of Phase B add the first two surfactants and mix very well (Lauryl Glucoside is dense at room temperature so microwave it for few seconds until it becomes more liquid and then add it to the Sarcosinate). Add two drops of lavender essential oil and two drops of sage essential oil. Mix slowly in order to not create any bubbles.
Now it is time to add Phase A to Phase B, pouring and mixing slowly until everything looks smooth and even.
The Betaine is left in the end because if added too early it might cause the other surfactants to “melt down”, adding it in the end sometimes works in keeping the detergent more firm… doesn’t always work with me though 😀 but I don’t mind that much! 🙂 ).

Now it is time to check the pH of your face wash.
Lower it to pH 5 using one drop at a time of lactic acid or citric acid solution (do it one drop at a time and check the pH often, because if it goes lower than 5 the Sarcosinate won’t become dense at all anymore) 🙂

For the final touch, if you like, you can add one or two drops of water-soluble food colorants 🙂

DIY face wash

Your Face Wash is done 😉

For more recipes click HERE 
To learn how to formulate cosmetics click HERE
For a list of online cosmetic ingredients suppliers click HERE 

Let me know if you have any question… and please send me a picture of your face wash if you try to make it!!! 🙂 I am very curious 🙂

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

13 thoughts on “How to formulate a Face Wash – with Recipe

  1. Mitzi says:

    I’ve made this recipe a few times and I love it. I follow your instructions carefully, but the only thing I have trouble with is the xantham gum clumps like crazy when I add it to the glycerin. What is your method for getting rid of the clumps? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It's all in my hands says:

      Yes! After you add the xanthan to the glycerin you should stir until it makes a thick paste, then add a little water and stir, let it become a hard gel and add a little more water. Eventually it becomes smooth, but it does form clumps if you add the water all at once or too much at a time!
      Hope this helps 🙂


  2. Fernanda says:

    I really enjoy your blog because it is so didactic and clear! I just have one specific question: did you use the coco glucoside and glyceryl oleate in this recipe? Because they are listed among the surfactants but not included in the formulation. Also the concentration of lauryl glucoside is 3% in the ASM calculation, then changes to 2% in the recipe. Did I miss something? Thanks a lot!


    • It's all in my hands says:

      Hello Fernanda!
      Thank you for the comment. I wrote 2 by mistake and there was 1% of the pre-combined coco glucoside and glyceryl oleate. It doesn’t enter the ASM calculation because it is already superfatted. 🙂
      I will adjust the formula, thank you!


  3. kem says:

    I used coco glucoside, and decyl glucoside with oils but i noticed that they surfactants separated from the oil. How can i stop my oils separating from they these two surfactants ?


    • It's all in my hands says:

      Then you put too much oil. It needs a very small amount!
      You measure the surfactants and add the oils directly to the surfactants. It might be helpful to heat up the mixture a little.
      However you can start adding 0.5% oils and if it is still too aggressive the next time you try adding 1%…
      However, IF separation happens you can still use the detergent, it just won’t be good looking.
      Make a very small batch (100 grams or 200 max) so you can improve your formula easily each time around! 🙂


  4. Adrianna says:


    Thank you so much for your site.. it’s been so helpful to me…,
    In a previous post you mentioned the ASM for intament care detergent/for personal hygiene should be 5, then on the next post you said


    • It's all in my hands says:

      Hi Adrianna I didn’t understand 🙂
      Do you mean intimate detergent (for lady parts)?
      Anyway the ASM is just “ideal” around 5. What is important is that the detergent is very very mild, even milder than a face wash 🙂


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