Although I love a good homemade product, there have been many products I just can’t seem to successfully create at home. A few of these products include: dishwasher soap, mascara, eye shadow, adult shampoo and conditioner, and liquid foundation. I’ve tried countless times to make these products, but time and time again my efforts result in nothing but failure, at least when you compare them to the store-bought versions.
Through my failures, I’ve come to the realization that it’s okay to not make everything from scratch! In fact, sometimes it’s better for both my sanity and the strangers I must stand next to in public to actually buy certain products. Store-bought shampoo is a prime example–it’s good for my sanity and the stranger standing next to me in the Target line. You’re welcome, Mrs. Stranger.
Just a note here…For the products I still purchase, I try to choose the best options available, meaning the products with a minimum amount of bad stuff.
Two years ago, I was overjoyed to discover homemade body wash.
Homemade body wash is super easy to make, and in my opinion, it works just as good if not better than the store-bought alternative. It’s a home run win! I’ve received many comments asking various questions about how to create a thicker consistency.
For a number of months now I’ve been working quietly behind the scenes of Live Simply trying to figure out how to create a thick and creamy body wash, almost more of a shower gel. I’ve tried numerous methods to thicken my current recipe, but every effort resulted in DIY failure. Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided to start from scratch and create a brand new recipe in hopes of achieving a thick, moisturizing shower gel. And guess what?
To create my successful homemade version of shower gel, I used: shea butter, glycerin, a nourishing oil, water, castile soap, and the secret ingredient…xanthan gum! Of course, the point of today’s post is to share my homemade shower gel with you–it’s dreamy, my friend! Trust me, you’ll never go back to store-bought shower gel.
Before I share, let’s take a look at each ingredient:
Shea Butter: This ingredient is one of my absolute favorite DIY products. Shea butter is an amazing moisturizer and contains healing properties (thanks to the Vitamin A). Shea butter is also super versatile. It can be used to make everything from homemade lotion to lip balm to shower gel.
Nourishing Oil: Since oil dissolves oil, it’s only natural to add a nourishing oil to a cleansing shower gel. The nourishing oil also adds moisturizing properties to this gel. I’ve used jojoba, grapeseed, and good ol’ olive oil with great success.
Castile Soap: One of my favorite multi-purpose DIY ingredients. Castile soap is a concentrated vegetable-based soap with easy to recognize ingredients. I use castile soap for everything from homemade laundry detergent to body wash and hand soap. I recommend using either the Baby Mild Castile Soap or Tea Tree Castile Soap for body-care products.
Glycerin: Glycerin adds nourishing moisture without weighing down the shower gel. This ingredient also helps dissolve the xanthum gum, which makes it absolutely necessary–sorry, no substitutes this time. Glycerin sounds like a fancy ingredient, but most drug stores sell it in the beauty or medicine departments for a fairly low price.
Xanthan Gum: This is the secret ingredient that’s absolutely necessary for creating a creamy shower gel! Xanthan gum is sold in the baking aisle (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand) and is often used to help thicken and stabilize foods, particularly gluten-free foods. This next part may gross you out, but I think it’s important to know the details about the products we use on our skin (and in our body)….
“Xanthan gum is a sugar-like compound made by mixing aged (fermented) sugars with a certain kind of bacteria.” (source) Yes, I’m asking you to put a bacteria on your skin, but rest assured, this is a perfectly safe ingredient. Hey, I also asked you to drink a colony of fermented bacteria, so…
Xanthan gum is expensive (around $15 per bag) and you only need a very small amount of it to make this shower gel. This means one $15 bag will last quite a long time.
And without further ado, I present to you a creamy and moisturizing homemade shower gel. Lather up!
Homemade Moisturizing Shower Gel
- 2 TB shea butter melted
- 2 TB jojoba oil or grapeseed, and extra virgin olive oil with good success.
- 1 TB vegetable glycerin
- 1 tsp xanthan gum or guar gum -If you're using guar gum try 1/4 tsp for starters since some readers have reported the gel is too thick with 1 tsp guar gum
- 1/3 cup castile soap I like to use Baby Mild.
- 1/3 cup warm water Distilled water for long-term use. The water doesn't need to be hot
- 10 drops lavender essential oil optional
- Add the melted shea butter, jojoba oil, and glycerin to a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top. Allow the gum to rest for 1 minute. During this time the powder should sink into the liquid. After 1 minute, use the immersion blender to dissolve the gum into the oil mixture--pulse the immersion blender for 1 minute. Add the castile soap and warm water to the bowl. Place the immersion blender at the bottom of the bowl. Blend the mixture with the immersion blender for 1-2 more minutes, pulsing up and down. The mixture should turn into a creamy lotion-like consistency during this time.
- Pour the shower gel into a soap dispenser. I found my container (pictured) at Target.
- While the mixture won't separate, I recommend giving the container a gentle shake before each use. When you introduce water into a product without a preservative you always run the risk of introducing bacteria, so use water-based products quickly.
More DIYs You May Like:
Homemade Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion (without coconut oil)
I made your shower gel. It felt great, but it was too thick and frothy to go into a disk cap bottle.
Do you have any suggestions on how to make it more liquified to go into a disk cap bottle.
Hello there. I made your shower gel. It came out frothy, like cool whip.
I like the feel of it. But it is too thick. Can’t put it in a regular bottle, it won’t go down such a little opening.
Suggestions on how to make the consistency flow better into a normal disk cap bottle?
Hey Jodi, I apologize for the delayed comment. There’s been an issue with comments going to spam. You could try adding more water.
Will it work okay and be safe to use orange essential oil instead?
Hey Rachael, Yes, you can use orange essential oil.
Hii Kristin! can I use gelatin instead of xanthan gum?
Hey Smirthi, I wouldn’t.
I am so happy I found your blog and I absolutely love this.
So glad you’re enjoying the shower gel.
I simply wanted to write down a quick word to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips and hints you are showing on this site
How long does this shower gel last? Like what is the shelf life? I’ve read that diy water based soaps have a short shelf life and/or can grow bacteria quickly.
Ashley, yes, you’ll want to use it very quickly, within a few weeks. Here’s a safety post:
I just made this for the 2nd time and love it. Thank you so much for putting all your research, information and recipes on here…I sure appreciate finding one that actually works! The immersion blender works wonders!! I’ve actually watered mine down quite a bit as I find it’s still plenty soapy enough and we use it for body wash and hand soap. I love how soft it leaves your hands! Again, thank you so much.
That’s great, Cathy! So happy you love it.
I would love to try this. Do you happen to know the p.h. Level of the body wash?
I do not, im sorry.
The shower gel separated. Any suggestions.
Hey Deb, Separation is normal in a natural product. Usually gently shaking should resolve the issue.
Homemade Moisturizing Shower Gel, I really like this recipe. I’ve made it once successfully, My new batches haven’t been as successful more thick not thin creamy. I added more warm distilled water and now get air bubbles and foam when mixed. Does mixing more cause thicker vs creamy? How can I get this thing smooth and creamy? Thanks
Can arrowroot be substituted for guar gum? If so, would it be mixed the same way?
Hey Desi, I don’t think it would thicken the mixture in the same way.
I made the prescribed batch and it was awesome but too thick and goopey. I added a little more water and castile soap to make a bit thinner. i also added lemon juice and some active whitening ingredients like SEPIWHITE, GIGAWHITE and KOJIC ACID for whitening effect. is that okay? thanks for sharing.
Hey NGkool, I can’t speak to what you added since I don’t have experience with them. Good choice to add more water and castile. Enjoy!
I have tried out this recipe and it creates a great shower gel! There’s just one problem I have with it: when washing it off, the skin becomes kinda sticky, my hand can’t glide smoothly over my skin. This is only when still in the shower, as soon as I’m dry it’s fine.
I have tried several variations, leaving out the shea butter, leaving out the jojoba oil, leaving out glycerin… while it’s a bit less sticky, it’s still not a great feeling. I guess the main culprit is the Bronner Baby soap? Do you have any idea how to improve this?
Hey Andy, Hmmm, I’m not quite sure what would help.
Do I use 2 tbsp of jojoba oil and 2 tbsp extra virgin oil, or 1 or the other?
One or the other.
I love this recipe and have been using it as hand soap to prevent dry, red skin during our Wisconsin winters. However, I’ve noticed it seems to be yellowing our towels where everyone dries their hands. Do you have any ideas what could be causing the yellowing and what I can do to prevent it/remove it? Thank you!
Hey Stacy, I honestly have no idea. Maybe the shea butter?
Do you not need to add a preservative to this because of the water, otherwise it will mold?
Hey Jody, You can if you’re not going to use it quickly. Here are my safety rules: https://livesimply.me/2016/09/02/my-safety-tips-for-making-and-using-natural-products/
can i ask , this will be emulsified , or the oils will be separated after few days ??
Hey marwa, The mixture should emulsify. You may have some separation over time, but nothing substantial that can’t be quickly shaken.
I made a batch of body wash last week using honey. I love the beneficial properties of honey but not the smell (and adding EO’s to it didn’t mask the scent). So I was looking for a “non-honey” alternative and found yours. I have all ingredients except the xantham or guar gums. I do have arrowroot powder though from another DIY. Could I use that instead?
Great Recipe. Just made a batch and this is by far the best recipe I have used on the internet. I used my blender instead of immersion stick and it created a thick creamy gel-like consistency which I love for the shower. Did forget to add the essential oils thought! 🙁 Next time!