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Surfactants: Alkyl polyglucosides or polyglycosides

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Some non-ionic surfactants are not only emulsifiers or solubilisers but foamy detergents. The alkyl polyglucosides are new surfactants derived from reacting cornstarch with fatty alcohol to produce a highly biodegradable that is highly tolerant to electrolytes like salt (which means it can't be thickened well with salt). You can find low ethoxylated monoglycerides - like PEG-7 cocoate - and alkyl polyglucosides - like decyl glucoside, and caprylyl capryl glucoside . Some are foamy surfactants - like the decyl glucoside - and some are means as solubilisers, like the caprylyl capryl glucoside or PEG-7 cocoate.

Alkyl Polyglucoside picture

The Alkyl polyglucosides known as apg surfactant are good emulsifiers, good foamers, and good wetters. They have excellent chemical stability in neutral and alkaline pH. These are great co-surfactants as they can reduce the irritation potential of other surfactants, thicken mixtures, and improve foam volume in the presence of hard water or sebum. Some, however, aren't very foamy at all; instead, they are used to enhance the qualities of other surfactants.

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate picture

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate is a non-ionic, low ethoxylated monoglyceride that can behave as an emulsifier, emollient, foamer, and skin conditioner in our products. It is a thickening polymer, meaning it will thicken your surfactant mix when used with anionic surfactants. It is emollient, which means it will reduce skin irritation from other surfactants and will re-fatten your skin when you are bathing or shampooing. It can make the foam feel slippery, which a beautiful ice thing in a body washes. It's not a detergent type surfactant - you'd never use it as the primary or even co-surfactant because it's meant to boost the qualities of your surfactant mix. Use it at 2% to 10% in cleansers and shampoos.

Decyl glucoside picture

Decyl glucoside is a very mild non-ionic cleanser that works well as both a primary or secondary surfactant as it is an outstanding foamer. It has an alkaline pH 7.5 to 12.5 - so you'll have to bring your pH down with citric acid or another acidic ingredient to ensure it reaches the right pH for skin and hair. It is about 48% to 52% active ingredients in the surfactant, and the suggested use is 4% to 40%. This is an excellent ingredient for a conditioning shampoo or body wash as it improves the cationic conditioning in your products, as well as offer foam stabilisation.

caprylyl capryl glucoside picture

caprylyl capryl glucoside is a non-ionic solubiliser, much like polysorbate 20, and it can be used in surfactant systems to help emulsify oils or in a lotion as a high HLB emulsifier. It is not a foaming surfactant, but a surfactant enhancer. It is very compatible with surfactant systems, which means if you want some oils in your shampoo, this is the product you can use. The Herbarie recommends it for makeup removers and facial cleansers because it is such a mild cleanser. The suggested use is 1% to 10%.

These surfactants are excellent for all skin types as they will moisturise skin without oils and offer gentle to mild cleansing. The downside is the pH in the decyl glucoside must be altered, or it will not work well with our skin.

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