More marketers are trying to develop
mild cleaners that are free of sulfates.
This article explains how to do it.
By Shoaib Arif
PilotCCinhceim nnic aa til, COoH.
THERE ARE many different
formulas to cleanse hair
and skin, but there are only
a few price points. The three
categories that classify sulfate-free formulas for personal cleansing products
such as hair shampoo, body
wash, liquid hand soap and
facial cleanser are:
• Economy formulas based on alpha
• Medium grade formulas based on
The information contained herein is
provided in good faith as a starting
guideline to formulators and is based
on the study in Pilot’s laboratories
and the work of others. Pilot
Chemical Company makes no war-ranties, expressed or implied, as to
the accuracy of the information contained herein. Nothing contained
herein grants or extends a license or
permission in connection with patents
of Pilot Chemical Company or others.
sulfosuccinate, betaine and/or amine
• Premium formulas based on higher
priced specialty surfactants.
Economy sulfate-free formulations can
use sodium C14-16 alpha olefin sulfonates as a primary surfactant. It is a
low cost, high foaming anionic surfactant. These formulations can also incorporate alkanolamides and betaines as a
secondary surfactant to provide mildness, foam stability and viscosity-building characteristics.
A simple and economic starting formula for a plain shampoo can be as follows.
Formula 1: Shampoo
Water q.s. to 100
Sodium alpha olefin sulfonate 30.0
Cocamide DEA 4.0
Sodium chloride 4.0
Preservative, perfume and dye q.s.
Citric acid to pH 5. 5
Viscosity: 3200 cp.
Cocamidopropyl betaine can improve
the mildness and also the viscosity of
the product. A desirable viscosity in the
range of 7000 cp to 28,000 cp can be
achieved by adding various amounts of
betaine to this shampoo formula, while
reducing the corresponding amount of
water to keep the formula as 100%. An
addition of 3% betaine to the formula
will increase the viscosity to about 7000
cp., 5% betaine will take the viscosity to
14,000 and 10% will raise it to about
Formula 1 uses sodium chloride to
increase viscosity. Ammonium chloride
tends to build higher viscosities in most
AOS based formulas than sodium chloride. The pH of the product must be
lower than 7.0 in order to minimize the
chances of ammonia release. Whereas
4% sodium chloride used in the shampoo formula with 10% additional
betaine will give a viscosity of 28,000
cp., 4% ammonium chloride added in
place of 4% sodium chloride will boost
the viscosity to about 40,000 cp.
Let us also compare the viscosity
building performance of the three commonly used alkanolamides, namely