A Boutique GMP Factory That Makes Handmade Natural Products. Formulated By Pharmacist


Formulating Shower Oil (The Final Formula)

Hi guys.. after months and months of trying to figure out this formulation; i finally almost got it!

If you havent read my previous three entry about me trying to make shower oil inspired by Loccitane’s Almond Shower Oil; then you may read it here. Part 1part 2, and part 3

So it started like this; i first bought the Loccitane Almond Shower Oil; and tested it out. It was nice, foamy, not super cleansing so i wouldnt use it as my main soap (not in Malaysia of course! We sweat like A LOT!) but i didnt like the scent. 

Everytime i smelled almond like buttery smell it makes me wanna puke. Its probably coz when i had my Skin pharmacy i used a lot of buttery smell in the pharmacy (loved it that time) and when i closed the business; it reminds me of failure:-( Plus i was in my first trimester during that time; loads of morning sickness creating that whole scent memory wanting to puke thingy. I dono)

So anyways; back to this formulation; as you know; i first checked out the ingredients; and of course some of the main ingredients like Mipa Laureth Sulphate was not available in Malaysia and so i had to look for the alternative.

Oil In Water or Water In Oil?

And so the first thing i did was to determine wether this shower oil; was it Oil in Water Emulsion, or Water In Oil Emulsion?

A quick experiment such as the one below made me realise it was indeed water in Oil emulsion.

Now why did i do that? 

Its because most of the ‘shower oil’ sold in the market is actually an oil in water emulsion. Which means its actually more water based rather than oil based; and so by right; it shouldnt be called as shower oil; coz its more like shower gel or shower i dono what; but if the main ingredient is water, or any hydrosol or anything else; its not a shower Oil.

But this wasnt the case for this shower oil. It was indeed a shower oil whereby there is very little ‘water’ content and more oil. Thats why when adding water into the shower oil; it created cloudiness. 


What Is The Hydrophilic Lipophilic Balance (HLB) Value?

So the next thing i did was then to determine the HLB (hydrophilic lipophilic balance value) of this shower oil.

For something to be oil soluble; the HLB has to be low; while hlb thats high its usually water soluble.

Now one of the problem i had with coming up with the formula is because i needed something thats foaming and most foaming surfactants are high HLB.

The lower the HLB, usually it doesnt foam; it probably just turns creamy which is not something i wanted.

So that was the issue; the surfactant. 

In the original shower oil; they had used mipa laureth sulphate. Its an oil soluble surfactant. 

However; its not found in Malaysia therefore i had to find an alternative. 

Besides that; i wanted to formulate something that was sulphate free and so i tried to find out what the HLB value of Mipa Laureth Sulphate was. Unfortunately i couldnt find one.

Why Find Oil Soluble Surfactant?

Because if its not oil soluble it would be water soluble. 

And since i wanted this shower oil to look like oil, i needed an oil soluble surfactant. If i had addeda water soluble surfactant; the product will look creamy (like moisturiser) instead of lookinmg like an oil.

Then i wont be able to call it shower oil. Ill have to call it a shower cream or something. Again; its purely for aesthatic reason:-0)

Second Surfactant/ Solubalizer 

The next ingredient to find was Laureth 3. 

Similarly; it wasnt cost effective to use it in my formulation (because again cant be easily found); and so since the HLB value for this is similar to glyceryl cocoate; ive used that instead.

This is a second surfactant in this formula which would turn the oil into creamy/ foam when touches water. 

The reason this is added is because its a much lower HLB value; creating a ‘nicer’ looking clear product. 

But by itself; it doesnt cream or foam much. 

Therefore its best to mix it with a primary surfactant.


Next; was to use grapeseed oil; since its the main ingredient in the original shower oil; i decided to go with it. 

Alternatively; if you wanted to use a cheaper alternative oil; i would go with soybean oil or sunflower oil as they are equally light weight.

Sweet almond oil is also used in the original shower oil (but very little). 

I decided to go with argan oil instead coz over the years as a pharmacist ive come across quite many people with nuts allergies and to be safe; i would avoid almond or macademia oil. 

So thats left with argan or avocado oil for similar oil profile (medium oil); and i went with argan just coz its more luxurious :-D.

So that was it; and i just played around with it; trying to create a clear water in oil emulsion.

My requirement was:

  1. It must be clear/transparent (i didnt want it to be creamy coz then i cant call it shower oil. Its shower cream:-D)
  2. It must be easy to apply (liquid. Not thick paste)
  3. It must be easy to remove with no oil residue. Also; must be easy to clean so that the floor is not oily when using this. Dont want people to slip and fall now do we:-(
And so; everything goes back to the surfactant.


Since most surfactants are high HLB; it was quite difficult to find one thats perfect. I got sample for every surfactants i could find in Malaysia. 

And finally for testing out the formula; i choose sodium laureth sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate.

Why? Because they were the only one with high amount of active matter.

Now i know its long due that i talk about surfactants but thats another topic.

In summary; most surfactants that are liquid has % of active matter. The rest is water. 

Now in this formula; i dont want to introduce water because it will make this water in oil solution cloudy.

And so the alternative was to use something with the least amount of water. 

However; the surfactant thats powdered (almost 99-100% active matter) is not soluble in oil; so i cant really use them. So finally it was either SLES (about 70% active), or carboxylate (about 60% active).
Powdered surfactant doesnt mix with oil

Both when mixed with gycerly cocoate (a lower HLB surfactant) gave a nice ‘clear’ mixture. And finally; after titrating with the grapeseed oil and argan oil mixture; i found the perfect balance of the shower oil formulation.
Perfect clear shower oil!

Then i tested to make it again. And it went cloudy:-(
Cloudy shower oil

So the rough formulation is as below:
  1. Grapeseed Oil & Argan Oil mixture qs to 100%
  2. SLES or carboxylate 30-40%
  3. Glyceryl cocoate 20-30%
If you were going to make this; you will have to do a lot of trial and error as its almost impossible to get the same clarity in the shower oil.

Just remember this:

  1. Too much of SLES/ carboxylate; it causes cloudiness
  2. Too much of glyceryl cocoate: it causes ‘kesat’ and dryness
  3. Too much oil: it reduces the foam/ creaminess to remove.

So play around with it until you find something you are happy with;)

But for now; im quite happy with formula.

Its not so oily, it can be removed easily, and its moisturising.
My perfectly transparent shower oil ❤️

The only issue; i cant get it to foam as much as the original shower oil.

So the journey countinues for me to find the best oil soluble surfactant. 

But until then, im happy with this creamy shower oil:-) if i wanted something foaming, i would use a liquid soap, and if i wanted something thats deep cleansing; i would use a scrub:-)

This shower oil; its purely for my night shower just before i head to bed, after my main shower 😁😁
(Yes i shower 3-4 times a day! Its so hot!!😅😅)

Tq for reading;

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