How to add better foam or lather to your homemade products
If you’re just starting out making your own soaps and cleansing products, you might be wondering how to get a lather as good as in the store-bought products you’re used to. DIY cleansers, effective as they are, don’t always produce quite as much foam… But we love a light, creamy lather that makes soaping up a pleasure! Homemade products CAN lather up great, though: it’s just a matter of formulating your recipe so that they do. If you’ve been disappointed in the foaming power of your DIY solid shampoo or homemade soap, you’re not alone! We’ve received a lot of messages recently asking us how to get a great lather without resorting to harsh chemicals. So, we decided to dedicate a whole article to the topic! Today, we’re sharing our natural alternatives and easy tricks with you.
Whether you’re an expert or just starting out in DIY, this article will help you make your homemade products foam up fabulously.
Before you begin
Keep in mind that for each of the following tricks you’ll need to carry out tests with your specific recipe. This is a great way to check the effectiveness of the final product, make sure your skin does not react to it, and confirm how it lathers up. Divide your recipe by two or three to create a sample size before scaling up.
Lather is not a direct indicator of your product’s effectiveness. Many solid shampoos and shower gels that don’t foam up clean your hair or skin perfectly. So, pursue those beautiful bubbles all you like, but keep in mind that they’re not a measure of your recipe’s effectiveness.
What is foam anyways?
Foam, most often referred to as lather in soaps and shampoos, is created thanks to the action of surfactants. When combined with water, surfactants create air bubbles, and foam is formed. The foaming power of your product depends on the type and the quantity of the surfactants you use. Natural surfactants, while just as effective, often have less foaming power than chemical ones. But if you’re a lover of lather and natural products, not to worry, there ARE solutions!
Tips for getting a great lather
Cold process soaps and glycerin (melt-and-pour) soaps
Whether your passion is cold process or glycerin soaps, it’s good to know that some ingredients will yield more foam than others. Here’s a little list of our favourites:
1. Coconut oil (cold process soaps only)
When you want a bar of soap with a rich, creamy lather, coconut oil is your go-to. Not only does it provide abundant lather, it yields a soap with strong cleansing power.
Usage: coconut oil should make up no more than 20% of the total fats (oils and butters) in your soap recipe because it’s such a strong cleanser. This usage rate is recommended so that your soap is balanced and gentle on your skin.
2. Sunflower oil (cold process soaps only)
While sunflower oil itself doesn’t directly produce lather in soaps, it plays a crucial role in stabilizing the foaming power of oils and butters that do. By combining it with the right fats, your soap will have the texture and properties you need, as well as a long-lasting lather.
Usage: We recommend that sunflower oil make up about 5 to 15% of the total fats in your soap recipe. If you exceed 15%, your soap may be too soft.
3. Castor oil (cold process soaps only)
Castor oil is mostly made up of ricinoleic acid. It yields a very creamy lather when used in combination with oils rich in lauric acid, such as coconut oil.
Usage: We recommend that castor oil make up 5 to 10% of the total fats in your cold process soap recipe. If you use more than 10%, your soap may be soft and rubbery.
4. Clays (both cold process soaps and glycerin soaps)
Certain clays are an excellent alternative when you want a soap with lots of creamy foam. These clays contain saponins, which are released when the clay comes in contact with water and provide your product with both strong cleansing power and creamy foam. They include pink clay, red clay, and ghassoul clay.
Usage: Use 1 to 3% of clay relative to the total fat in your cold process soap recipe and up to 5% for melt-and-pour glycerin soaps.
5. Sugar (cold process soaps only)
Sugar is often used in cold process soaps to increase their lather. It’s a natural foaming agent that enhances the quality of the overall lather of your soap.
Usage: Add sugar to your water before adding the sodium hydroxide or to your soap batter at trace. But careful, sugar will speed it up! We recommend working at light trace or increasing your water to sodium hydroxide ratio to help delay trace.
All other solid and liquid foaming care products
If you’re looking for cleansing products that foam up nicely, we have a few tips for you. These tips will work for a variety of cosmetic, care, and household products that generally produce foam, including shower gels, shampoos, liquid hand soaps, facial cleansers, or even dish soaps.
1. Sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) or sodium coco-sulfate (SCS)
Add sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) or sodium coco-sulfate (SCS) to your recipe to increase the foaming power of the final product. These two anionic surfactants are powerful and will yield abundant lather.
Usage: Dissolve your desired amount of SCI or SCS in hot water until it forms a paste. Add to your preparation and mix well until homogenous. Neither SCI nor SCS should exceed 80% of your total recipe. Both can irritate your respiratory tract, so be sure to wear a dust mask or work under your oven hood.
2. Coco betaine
You can give your DIY products more foam by increasing the proportion of coco betaine in your recipe. This gentle surfactant is derived from coconut oil and is often used in combination with other surfactants for its cleansing and foaming properties that help form lather.
Usage: Coco betaine should not exceed 40% of your total recipe.
3. Use less water
You can often get a thicker foam by slightly decreasing the quantity of water in your recipe and replacing it with a surfactant such as SCI, SCS, coco betaine, or decyl glucoside. This technique will yield a more concentrated product with better foaming power.
4. Vegetable glycerin
Vegetable glycerin is another great addition! It can increase the foaming power of your product and make your lather creamier and longer lasting.
Usage: Add 1 to 10% vegetable glycerin relative to the total weight of your recipe.
5. Opt for a foaming container
Our foaming pump bottles are perfect for generating a dense, creamy foam. Available in 250 ml and 50 ml, they’re suitable for a variety of products including liquid hand soaps, facial cleansers, and body washes. They’re a great way to easily create more foam without having to alter your recipe at all.
Creating homemade products with a perfect rich lather can be a challenge. We hope our techniques and tips and tricks will help you make the foaming products of your dreams. Give them a try and let us know how they worked out for you!