How to make shower jelly (not only LUSH-like)
I did my usual “recipe cracking”, searching for resources, then some experimenting and this is what I came up with (… and I consider it pretty good!)…
As usually, I discuss here some concepts and also show you not only the successful, but also all unsuccessful versions (so that you know what does not work…) 🙂
Deciphering the LUSH shower jelly recipe
When trying to duplicate a product, you need to do the following:
1. Buy the product – so that you get the feeling of it – I did this some time ago and remember LUSHs Whoosh very well…
2. Find the INCI ingredient list and understand the importance/role of each ingredient –
this way you know which of them are a must, which can be omitted and if/how they can be substituted – let’s face it, how many times you have all the ingredients at home…
3. Search for other clues that can help you decide on the proportions of ingredients and the how to do it best: the best is to find patent applications, recipes of similar products, and understand the basic concepts (in this case on how to make a jelly in general!)
The INCI ingredient list
There are two lush jellies, let’s take the Woosh:
Glycerine, Honey Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Carrageenan Extract, Perfume, Fresh Organic Lemon Juice, Fresh Grapefruit Juice, Fresh Organic Lime Juice, Grapefruit Oil, Rosemary Oil, Geranium Oil, *Citral, *Geraniol, *Citronellol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Colour 42090, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
The principle of making a jelly
… is easy. Mix water with some jellying agent and voila – the jelly is made! 🙂
To make it foam, use liquid soap instead of water, or add a surfactant to your water.
You might know that gelatin is mixed with liquid soap in many homemade recipes to get a shower jelly, however, I am a vegetarian so this is not really an option to me.
Moreover, based on my experiments with agar agar (see below), the vegan substitute for gelatin, I think that such a jelly can disintegrate very fast upon using!
Knowing these basics, we can start to decipher role of the ingredients in the LUSH shower jelly…
- Glycerine – the role of it will be explained below, necessary
- Honey Water – the water phase, necessary
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate – makes it bubbly, necessary
- Propylene Glycol – the role of it will be explained below, optional
- Carrageenan Extract – makes it jelly, necessary
- Perfume – makes it smell well, optional
- Fresh Organic Lemon Juice – adjusts pH, brings some goodies, optional
- Fresh Grapefruit Juice – adjusts pH, brings some goodies, optional
- Fresh Organic Lime Juice – adjusts pH, brings some goodies, optional
- Grapefruit Oil, Rosemary Oil, Geranium Oil – essential oils, make it smell good, bring goodies, optional
- *Citral, *Geraniol, *Citronellol, *Limonene, *Linalool, – these are naturally present in essential oils
- Colour 42090 – makes it blue!
- Methylparaben, Propylparaben – preservative
Three ingredients arise questions:
- What is the role of glycerine and propylene glycol?
- Can we use other gum instead of carrageenan?
Next, I checked the LUSH’s How it is made video, to get an idea on the quantity of ingredients and maybe other clues:
I saw that carrageenan gum is mixed with glycerine, which was quite interesting. First I thought it was to help the carrageenan dissolve more easily and this is what led me to the idea of using glycerine to dissolve Xanthan gum (see my post on How to dissolve Xanthan gum).
I performed a series of experiments to find whether carrageenan can be substituted for other gum and which percentage of gum is necessary to get the best consistency. I played with glycerine, too, to find out if it is necessary.
Deciphering the consistency
I tested xanthan gum, agar-agar and carrageenan and tried different quantities of glycerine and used sodium coco sulfate in pellets as my surfactant (SCS).
Xanthan gum results
– Top left: 20% glycerine, 10% sodium coco sulfate (SCS), 6% xanthan gum, 64% water. Not transparent, spreadable
– Bottom left: 50% glycerine, 10% SCS, 4% Xanthan gum, 36% water. Not transparent, spreadable.
– Top right: 50% glycerine, 5% SCS, 8% Xanthan gum, 37% water. Not transparent, elastic
– Bottom right: 43% glycerine, 5% Xanthan gum, 52% water. Not transparent, elastic
To get better idea of the consistency, see the video I made:
It appeared to me that glycerine makes the consistency more elastic, however, even very high proportion of xanthan gum (8%) did not result in a jelly.
Agar-agar & carrageenan results
I tried these two simultaneously – both are making a jelly. They are both seaweed extracts, however their jellies have different consistencies. The jelly of agar agar is less elastic.
Given the recommended % for each gum, I understood that a double quantity of carrageenan is needed to get the same consistency as agar-agar.
When working with different gums to thicken / gel your product, you need to know how are they used, as it is very different. Xantham gum, for example, thickens immediately, without the water needed to be warm, while agar agar and carrageenan need to be bring to boil and mixed well.
|1.||99.5%||0.5%||not firm enough (decomposes upon touch), transparent|
|2.||99%||1%||not firm enough (decomposes upon touch), not transparent|
|3.||99%||1%||firm enough, but cracking, not elastic, transparent|
|4.||98%||2%||firm enough, but cracking, not elastic, not transparent|
|5.||49%||50%||1%||firm and elastic, slightly transparent|
|6.||48%||50%||2%||firm and even more elastic, not transparent|
This test definitely confirmed the importance of glycerine in the consistency – it makes the jelly elastic!
After I did the experiment, I found online multiple LUSH patents, and the one named Cosmetic Product Comprising a Seaweed Extract, in Particular Carrageen.
Here we can learn about the importance of glycerine and propylene glycol:
The inventors hereof have discovered that the inclusion of monopropylene glycol, mixed with the glycerine, has a remarkable effect upon the consistency of the jelly, resulting in the jelly having a durable and almost rubber-like texture. The jelly is much firmer than a conventional jelly and readily holds a shape imparted to it, for example by moulding.
I found the propylene glycol unnecessary to make a firm, moldable elastic jelly that is well used in the shower.
The recipe (s)
These are very simple recipes that work. Both agar-agar and carrageenan are usable, however the carrageenan gives a more resistant and elastic jelly.
5% Sodium Coco Sulphate (SCS)
Heat water and SCS until SCS dissolves. Mix glycerine and carrageenan and mix in the water and SCS. Bring the to boil and stir well. Than add colorant, preservative and fragrance and pour in the mold. Let harden.
The is its consistency:
This is how it foams
5% Sodium Coco Sulphate (SCS)
Mix glycerine, water and SCS – heat and let SCS dissolve. Then mix in agar-agar, bring to boil and stir well. Than add colorant, preservative and fragrance and pour in the mold. Let harden – attention – if you put it on a soap, it will disintegrate where it touched soap, because agar-agar does not work in alkaline conditions.
This is its consistency
And this is how it foams:
Other possible recipes
These recipes I did not try, but should work as well:
1. Substituting liquid soap (synthetic surfactant, not real soap based!) for SCS + water portion in both agar-agar and carrageenan recipe
2. Substituting liquid soap (the real soap!) for SCS + water portion in the carrageenan recipe (this is because real liquid soap is alkaline and agar-agar does not gel in alkaline solutions)
3. I have seen later recipes using only 5% of glycerine, 59.5% water, 30% of surfactants (SCS), 2% fragrance, 2% carrageenan, 1% preservative, 0.5% color. I think this might work as well, and be actually even more foamy 🙂