9th February 2022


By Aisha Nuhu, Development Chemist, Alchemy Ingredients

If you are unfamiliar with the term, co-washing is the act of washing your hair with conditioner only or low surfactant based systems. Although not a new concept, co-washing has gained popularity with the rise of consumers embracing their natural hair texture. Traditional shampoos can be too harsh for curly hair, stripping it of its natural oils leaving hair dry, frizzy, and unruly. The co-wash pudding developed by Alchemy ingredients combats this. Designed particularly with curly hair in mind, this gentle co-wash not only cleanses the hair, but leaves it feeling nourished and moisturised too.

Oil-in-water emulsions are a common base for co-wash products. A desirable characteristic of an oil-in-water emulsion is a fine, smooth texture, and this can be achieved by obtaining a small oil droplet size. A smaller, more uniform droplet size leads to a finer texture, reduced coalescence and increased stability.


An emulsifier system that works well in oil-in-water emulsions is Sucragel® AP V2 (INCI: Glycerin, Water, Sucrose Laurate) from Alchemy Ingredients. This emulsifier effectively emulsifies high levels of oil and produces a small droplet size due to the unique shape of the Sucrose Laurate molecule, which allows tightly packed micelles. To obtain optimum texture and stability a special method must be followed when using Sucragel® as an emulsifier. Firstly, the oil phase must be incorporated into Sucragel® to make a gel, this forms a concentrated emulsion where the oil phase is approximately 85% and droplets are around 300nm in size. The second step involves dilution of this gel with water to increase the size of the external phase and make the emulsion. The degree of dilution can be varied depending on the level of oil required. The viscosity of the emulsion will remain low regardless of the amount of oil, however it can be manipulated using rheology modifiers in the diluting external phase. The puddling like texture in this formulation was achieved by using the rheology modifier Sucrathix VX (INCI: Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum).

When the emulsion has been formed the next stage is to add the surfactant plus any other actives to the system. A low level of Cocamidopropyl Betaine was used to provide a gentle cleansing agent, that can remove dirt, soils and product build up from hair without stripping it of natural oils. We have used several actives - Wavemax (INCI: Water, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract) is a natural haircare active used for its curl retention and conditioning properties; ProShine 3R (Castor Oil Propanediol Esters) is a 100% plant-based ester which increases the shine of hair and KeraPlant Z NPNF (INCI: Water, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein) is a vegan keratin alternative which enhances the protein integrity of the hair and helps to repair the damage caused by thermal and mechanical treatment. The final step is to add colour, fragrance, and preservative to the system.

This co-wash is perfect for consumers looking for a sulphate, silicone and PEG free product for fresh, soft, and manageable curls.