Can you recognize a good shampoo? pt.2

Hello there!
Here we are at the second part of the “Can you recognize a good shampoo?
We have learnt the basics of understanding a shampoo based on ANIONIC surfactants and, in the specific, based on the combination SLES and Cocamidopropyl Betaine, but there is so much more we need to learn! 😀


So today we learn about another surfactant-combination we easily find in shampoos: combination of glucosides!

The glucosides are a wide variety of NON-IONIC (this means they don’t have “electric charge”) surfactants which are usually easily biodegradable; therefore many bio-shampoos contain this combination of surfactants.
The most common glucosides which you will find in an INCI are: Lauryl Glucoside, Decyl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, and Caprylyl/Capric Glucoside.

They are considered to be not aggressive on the scalp (but you always need to bear in mind that this is not a defining thing: an aggressive surfactant found in a shampoo which is well formulated won’t result in making the shampoo aggressive… and a not so aggressive surfactant used in a badly formulated shampoo, can result in making the shampoo aggressive! 😀 ), Non-ionic surfactants are also good solubilizers, some more than others (for example the Caprylyl/Capric Glucoside) and this is why they are normally used when the formulation contains oils.
The fact that they are non-ionic makes them more suitable for delicate scalps. For this reason and also for the fact that usually they have a “natural origin” (compared to the synthetic origin of many other surfactants), they are normally used in products intended for kids and babies.
The glucosides are less conditioning than the SLES+betaine combination, however this can be easily helped by adding some conditioning ingredient in the shampoo.

In an INCI of a shampoo made with these surfactants, we simply expect to find at least a few of them (just because usually the more the number of surfactants, the milder the result); most of the shampoos with these surfactants are eco-friendly.
If a brand decides to use a combination of glucosides in a shampoo, it is probably because they want to point to attract the eco-friendly consumers. In fact using SLES would be generally cheaper and it would give a good result more easily (with a more simple formulation).
Let’s check some INCIs now 😉

We can also find glucosides in formulations to mild down anionic surfactants (SLES for instance). In this case the base surfactant (the one used at the highest concentration) is anionic and the non-ionic surfactants are used only to make the shampoo milder.

Now to some examples! 😀

INCI: Water, decyl glucoside, cocoglucoside, glycerin, cocamidopropyl betaine, cucurbita pepo extract, cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed extract, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, urtica dioica (nettle) extract, sodium lauroyl glutamate, sodium chloride, cinchona succirubra bark extract, serenoa serrulata fruit extract, achillea millefolium extract, vitis vinifera leaf extract, menthol, capsicum frutescens fruit extract, humulus lupulus (hops) extract, malva sylvestris (mallow) flower/leaf/stem extract, olax dissitiflora root oil, malaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil, alcohol, fragrance, maltodextrin, ethylhexyglycerin, phenoxyethanol, lactic acid
[This seems to be a good shampoo! two glucosides followed by the betaine, pumpkin extract and pumpkin seed extract (I don’t know how much extract a shampoo can contain 🙂 I would guess not that much), disodium cocoamphodiacetate is another surfactant (a delicate one), plant extract, sodium laurel glutamate (another delicate surfactant), salt (probably to thicken the formula or make the shampoo more “washing”), and so on… It looks like a very mild formulation to me! 😀 ]

INCI: Water, Disodium Cocopolyglucose Citrate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Yucca Schidigera (Yucca Vera), Betula Alba, Urtica Dioica, Rosmarinus Officinalis, Chamomilla Recutita, Acetum.
[This seems to be a very simple and good shampoo: there is a good combination of surfactants, all of them are easily biodegradable and mostly they are very mild. In this INCI I it is not clear what kind of extracts are used. This shampoo has no “bad” ingredients but it won’t work for everyone: it might not have enough wetting ability and it might not be enough conditioning for people with thick hair. 😉 ]

INCI: Aqua, Coco Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Glyceril Oleate, dicaprylyl Ether, Arctium lappa extract, Moringa pterygosperma extract, Dextrin, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, Glycerin, Mel, Citrus medica limonum oil, Cedrus atlantica oil, Eucalyptus citriodora oil, Pelargonium graveolens oil, Melaleuca alternifolia oil, Lavandula hybrida oil, Thymus serpillum oil, Lactic Acid, Polygliceryl 2-Dipolyhydroxysearate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Limonene, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol.
[Another simple shampoo! 😀 On the fourth position we find the Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, which is eco-friendly as well. Glyceril Oleate is also used to make the shampoo even more mild. There are many ingredients for label appeal, for example honey (which I never understand how they can preserve or stabilize it) as well as some good essential oils to try to regulate the sebum production of the scalp.]

I don’t seem to have been able to find a bad bad INCI with these surfactants, so, please, if you find a shampoo which seems to have a bad INCI and contains these surfactants please let me know 🙂 I will be happy to check!
However, I am still checking and I might update this post later 😀

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

Any question?

10 thoughts on “Can you recognize a good shampoo? pt.2”

  1. Firstly, I just discovered your website and I absolutely love it! It’s so informative, I feel like I will be making better decisions after reading through your posts
    My question: can you give us a list of all the bad ingredients and why they are bad? Even if you don’t like them due to personal opinion (like the PEG ones), please let us know why it is an undesired ingredient. Please and thank you!


    1. Thank you for your comment Ani! 😀

      My third post about recognizing a good shampoo is going to be about all the extra ingredients and I will of course talk about group of ingredients trying to give you all the “tools” to make a choice for yourself 🙂
      I was thinking of explaining why some people dread this or that ingredient and so on (I am not so black and white 😀 for example I add little bit of silicons in my shampoo sometimes 😀 ) but I will definitely explain why I don’t like certain ingredients! It will be done! 😀

      Thank you again!
      – C


  2. Great articles. I do have lots of Decy Glucoside and CAPB around lolz. However I also find that Decylglucoside doesnt have good wetting capabilities lke SLES and thus it does not give good feeling on hair. What do you think about this and a combination of Glucosides & Cap Betaine only?


    1. That’s it!
      How you said it 🙂
      However… Using always sles based shampoos tends to irritate my scalp after a while so I tend to switch sles-based and glucosides-based.
      The “problem” sometimes is how to thicken them up (sclerotium gum maybe?) or how to make them more performing.
      In this case you could add ingredients that help the feel of the shampoo (for example polyquaternium 7 or 10) 🙂 try to find things that will make the shampoo more comfortable and all will be well 🙂


  3. There are also some surfactants to add as an “extra” that help with this 🙂
    So in conclusion: formulating a shampoo is not that difficult… Formulating a great shampoo is a bit more complicated and it takes a lot of trial and error… But this is also the beauty of it! 🙂
    So try and enjoy 🙂 you will be happy!!


  4. Hey! Thank you so much for your wonderful blog 🙂 I have learned so much from you and frequently refer readers to your site!

    I read in your guide to formulating a detergent that non-ionic surfactants “are usually not used in shampoos because they don’t leave a comfortable feeling on the hair (it makes them feel dry) unless they are included in the formulation in small amount (and therefore they work more as foam stabilizers)”, but here we have quite a few shampoos that use non-ionic surfactants as the primary surfactants in the surfactant blend, and you’ve analyzed them favourably. I was hoping you could elaborate 🙂 Cheers!


    1. The most comfortable shampoos do contain non-ionic. For example I have never found for my long hair a good eco-friendly shampoo from the point of view of their performance… But they were “good” from the point of view of the INCI.
      It all depends on your hair and on your priorities 🙂 however this is an old post and NOW there are non-ionics surfactants which are good too so things are not so black and white anymore! 🙂


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