Formulating a liquid hand soap with sophorolipids - Guide formulation.

What is a Biosurfactant?

Biosurfactants are amphiphilic compounds typically produced by yeasts and bacteria, which are secreted into the aqueous fermentation media in which the cells are growing. Biosurfactants possess the characteristic property of reducing the surface and interfacial tension, using the same mechanisms as chemical surfactants.

In short, biosurfactants are a class of surfactants that are produced by yeasts and bacteria via fermentation.


Sophorolipids are a class of biosurfactants that give a formulator a range of performance properties in formulations over a pH range from 2 to 10, which is the standard range for the majority of cleaning, cosmetic, agriculture and oil and gas formulations. Sophorolipids provide improved wetting properties in comparison to other biosurfactants and are created by naturally occurring yeast found in honey, unlike other biosurfactants that can come from either genetically modified organisms (GMO) or pathogenic organisms.

SLES and Palm oil Free – liquid hand soap

Utilising HoneySurf™ in personal care formulations using the INCI names “Rapeseed Sophorolipids” is a great way to a 100% natural bio-surfactant into your formulations. The Removal of SLES and other traditional surfactants gives the formulator a new set of ingredients, to help formulate greener more sustainable bio-products.

Figure 1 example SLES and Palm oil Free liquid hand soap formulated with HoneySurf™

How to formulate

  • Order of addition is Critical in this formulation:
  • To the vessel add 1/2 of the Water - warm to 30⁰C
  • Add Citric Acid and Sodium GLDA until dissolved
  • Add Betaine (coconut oil sourced) and HoneySurf™ HF and LF stir until dissolved - this may cause the solution to become cloudy, but it will clear after 5 mins of stirring
  • Add the rest of Water
  • Heat to 40⁰C and coconut oil and stir until dissolved
  • Add PQ7,sodium benzoate, and perfume
  • Adjust pH to 4
  • Finally add colour and perfume/dye as desired
  • using the correct mixer, stir in the xanthan gum until desire thickness is achieved

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All guide formulations provided by Holiferm are for information purposes only, and are not designed for commercial use, as such Holiferm takes no liability for their use. These are designed to create a spark for the creative mind of other formulators.