INGREDIENTS · Surfactancts

Scratching the Surface with Surfactants: SCI, SLSA, SCS

If you want to get to know Polysorbates then Scratching the Surface with Surfactants: Polysorbates 20, 60, 80 is going to be very useful to you.

Today, I would like to dive into the world of solid and powdered surfactants. Knowing your ingredients, what they do, how they perform, how they play with other ingredients is crucial when it comes to creating formulas for bath and body products.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

What are surfactants? The term comes from “surface active agent” word combination.

Surfactants are molecules that spontaneously bond with each other to form sealed bubbles. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, or dispersants

In our case, we are going to speak about surfactants that are foaming and bubble agents. They come in different forms such as powder, flakes, noodles, and liquids.


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I would like to concentrate on solid surfactants today because that’s what we mostly use in bath bombs, bubble bars, shampoo bars, sugar scrubs, bath truffles, whipped soaps, foaming bath salts, and more.

The surfactant I see people use the most in their bath bombs and bubble bars is SLSA.

SLSA (INCI NAME: Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate)

SLSA (also called Lanol, SurfPro™) is a mild, gentle surfactant derived from coconut or palm oils with excellent foaming, bubbling, and lathering properties. This ingredient is water-soluble and can be used as a primary or secondary surfactant in shampoos, shampoo bars, bubble baths, bubble bars, foaming bath salts, bath bombs, bath truffles, and more.

 Recommended usage rate: 1%-50%, and in solid products up to 70% (!!!) (Source – LotionCrafter.
pH – 5 – 7.5

Pros: it’s a mild, gentle surfactant, creates crazy long-lasting bubbles and foam, it’s plant-derived and sulfate-free.
Cons: its price. SLSA is an expensive ingredient so it makes sense to buy it in large quantities. SLSA could be irritating to people with sensitive skin.

I used it in bubble bars, bath bombs, and shampoo bars and it always performed great. However, since I am not selling my products and my budget is very limited I can’t buy SLSA in bulk, and that’s why I don’t use it in my products anymore. I still recommend SLSA to other creators who can afford it though.

SCI – (INCI NAME: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate)

SCI (also called Baby Foam, SurfPro™) is a very mild, gentle surfactant with elegant, creamy leather that is mild enough for baby products. SCI can be used in all kinds of foamy and bubbly products such as shampoo bars, solid body cleansers, facial cleanser, baby shampoos, bath bombs, foaming bath salts and foaming milk baths, bath truffles, whipped soaps, and sugar scrubs, and even bubble bars! SCI is a coconut-derived ingredient and as far as I know, it’s green and biodegradable but you should always check with your supplier.

Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate pdf
Amended Safety Assessment of Isethionate Salts as Used in Cosmetics pdf

How to Make Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Bath Bombs with SCI

Recommended usage rate: 2% to 50%
pH value: 4.5 to 6.5

Pros: it’s gentle, mild, biodegradable, has a great skin feel, it’s less likely to cause skin reactions. SCI is easy to source and it’s not as expensive as SLSA, for example.
Cons: it’s really personal, but I wouldn’t use it as a primary or the only surfactant in solid bubble bars because it doesn’t produce as many bubbles as SLSA or SLS or SCS would.

It’s one of my favorite surfactants of all times and I used it in facial cleansers, shampoo bars, bath bombs, bubble bars, foaming bath whip base (RECIPE), bath truffles and I love love love SCI and I’ve never run into any issues with this ingredient. I highly recommend it.


SCS is a solid surfactant that is derived from the fatty acids of coconut oil. It produces excellent lathering, thickening, and conditioning properties and is perfect for substituting most anionic surfactants. Sodium Coco-Sulfate creates rich foam and fluffy bubbles making it a great ingredient for bubble bars, shampoos, body cleansers, bath bombs, etc. SCS is NOT the same as SLS and is considered to be a gentler and milder agent than SLS.

Recommended usage rate: 1%-15%, 1%-90% (I’ve seen different information on different websites so you might want to check with your supplier)
pH value: 7.5-11

Pros: it’s considered to be a “natural/green/clean” ingredient. It’s an excellent cleanser especially in shampoos for oily hair type. SCS performs well in bubble bars, bath bombs, shampoo bars and creates super fluffy rich lather in your products.
Cons: it has a high pH value so you’ll need to adjust the pH of your final product (shampoos, shower gels, liquid bubble baths). It could be irritating to people with very sensitive skin.

I’ve made so many bubble bars with SCS and I liked its performance so far. I always add a liquid surfactant to my bubble bars because not only it improves foam and bubble action, it also increases the mildness of your final product. You can always substitute SCS for SLSA if you have a problem with this surfactant.

Powdered Surfactants in Bath Bombs

SLSA – creates bubbles, slows down the fizz. I would is it at 1-2% in my bath bombs but you can always experiment and tweak things to your liking.

SCI – creates creamy foam and slows down the fizz. I use it at 1-2% in my bath bombs and bath truffles and it’s my to-go surfactant for shampoo bars and foaming bath whip base.
How to Make Luxurious Bath Truffles. Two Recipes

SCS – creates bubbles, slows down the fizz. I would is it at 1-2% in my bath bombs but you can always experiment and tweak things to your liking. I also add it to my shampoo bars and exfoliating body bars.
Shampoo Bar for Oily Hair Type. Basic Recipe

  1. Lavender (with salts and ground lavender buds)
  2. Coffee (sugar +ground coffee)
  3. Orange (with orange peel powder)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about surfactants and that your questions about what to use in your foamy, bubbly body treats are answered.

Using Airtable to Track Your Supplies and Sales. My Organizing System
Using Spreadsheets to Calculate Your Recipes
Festive Bath Truffles. Formulation #1: Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey
How to Formulate Foaming Sugar Scrubs. Free Recipe Included

2 thoughts on “Scratching the Surface with Surfactants: SCI, SLSA, SCS

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