Using decyl glucoside in our products: What is it?

There’s an increased interest in using decyl glucoside as a surfactant because of its reputation for being gentle to mild and because it’s considered a green ingredient (or at least ECOcert), so how can we use it in our products?

First, what is decyl glucoside? (Condensed from this post…) Decyl glucoside is a very mild non-ionic cleanser that works well as both a primary or secondary surfactant as it is a good foamer. It has an alkaline pH – 7 to 9.5 – 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. (Another data sheet states the pH is 11.5 at 20%! EEK!) It is about 48% to 52% active ingredients in the surfactant, and the suggested use is 4% to 40%. This is a great ingredient for a conditioning shampoo or body wash as it improves the cationic conditioning in your products, as well as offer foam stabilization. (Data sheet for Plantaren 2000)

Note that it is non-ionic, while most of our surfactants are anionic. It can be used with cationic or positively charged ingredients, like cationic polymers, to create 2-in-1 or conditioning products. This means it cannot be thickened with salt.

It is a good emulsifier, meaning you don’t need to add other solubilizers – like polysorbate 20 or 80 – if you want to add low levels of oils, fragrances, or essential oils. And it’s a good and stable foamer, although it’s not the best choice for something like a bubble bath as it isn’t a flash foamer. (Some people complain about the quality of the foam as being too thin, so the suggestion is made to use a secondary surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine.) It’s good as a secondary surfactant because it can help stabilize foam.

As an aside…I never solubilize my fragrances because all the surfactants have at least minimal solublizing abilities. I don’t suggest using anything to add your fragrance or essential oils to your surfactant based products because they can reduce foam. 

There are two big problems when using decyl glucoside in our products: pH and thickening. Join me tomorrow when we take a look at those topics!

And before you ask why your decyl glucoside is clear while mine is cloudy…it’s about the cloud point or titer point of surfactants. Mine has been kept in the cold, so I need to heat it before I use it in something so I can make it go back to its lovely clear colour. This what it should look like!

And if you want to know where to find it…check the FAQ section on suppliers to see if there’s one near you. I have purchased mine from Voyageur Soap & Candle (Surrey, B.C.), the Personal Formulator (America), and Ingredients to Die For (America).