How to make a Natural Gel Scrub

2016-09 Formulate a natural gel scrub

Every other month Formula Botanica runs a formulation challenge for its student and graduate community – this month we launch our natural gel scrub challenge. Our students submit their photos and formulations for products that they’ve made, using our guidance. In the past we’ve covered formulation challenges such as: 

This month we’re teaching our students how to make a gel scrub. A gel is a colloid (consisting of fine particles dispersed in a medium) that can either be soft, solid or solid-like. A gel scrub contains exfoliating particles which are suspended in the gel.

What is a gel scrub?

Gums such as Xanthum, Acacia, Tragacanth, Carageenan, Sclerotium and Konjac are commonly used in cosmetics to form gels. They are hydrated in a medium such as glycerine before dispersing in a liquid to form a gel. Gels can be pretty to look at especially if you are formulating body gels, hair gels, aftersun gels and even gel scrubs.

Gels can also be infused with botanical plants such as Beetroot or Butterfly Pea to add natural colours to the product. Most often gels do not contain any lipids such as carrier oils but may contain essential oils which are dispersed into the product fully with a natural solubiliser such as Symbiosolv XC. Gels offer a refreshing and cooling sensation during application.

When you add exfoliants to a gel, you create a gel scrub. Particles such as exfoliants and flowers may also be added to make the gel look even more attractive.

Our Sample Formulation: Butterfly Pea Blue Gel Scrub

Here I have made a gel scrub that is infused with Butterfly Pea flowers for that gorgeous blue tint. Biodegradable jojoba beads are used as the exfoliants for a gentle facial polish. Jojoba beads have a spherical shape and do not cause excessive abrasion to the skin. Gel scrubs are easy and fun to make.

I love the blue imparted from Butterfly Pea flowers. It lends a beautiful colour to the product and possibly addition of some polyphenols antioxidants too. This is a simple gel scrub that is rich in Vitamin C (from Kakadu plum extract) and pineapple extract offers enzymatic exfoliation in addition to the physical polish from Jojoba beads. The gel scrub also has a relaxing scent that I love.

Phase A

  • 79% – Butterfly pea infused in lavender hydrosol
  • 2% – Pineapple extract
  • 2% – Kakadu plum extract
  • 0.5% – Panthenol
  • 0.1% – Dermofeel PA-3

Phase B

  • 2% – Xanthum & Acacia gum blend
  • 0.3% – Scelorotium gum
  • 5% – Glycerine

Phase C

  • 5% Disodium/sodium cocoyl glutamate
  • 0.1% Lavender essential oilPhase D
  • 1% – Euxyl K903Phase E
  • 3% Jojoba beads

Natural Gel Scrub


Step 1. Infuse Butterfly pea flowers into pre-boiled lavender hydrosol for 30 minutes.

Step 2.  Add phase A ingredients into the Butterfly pea infusion.

Step 3. Hydrate gums in glycerine in another beaker.

Step 4. Blend phase C ingredients together and set aside.

Step 5. Slowly add phase B into phase A and gently stir well with each addition of gums + glycerine.

Step 6. Add phase C into A+B and blend gently to prevent forming excessive foam.

Step 7. Check the pH of the mixture. In this case, the pH was around 5.5.

Step 8. Add your preservative and check the pH again in case the preservative has changed the overall pH. In this case, the pH was around 5.1 which is still fine for a natural gel scrub.

Step 9. Lastly, add Jojoba beads to the mixture and mix well. Fill into a cosmetic tube and enjoy!

Now it’s your turn. We are looking forward to seeing your amazing creations.


If you are a Formula Botanica student or graduate, the Formulation Challenge for Sep/Oct 2016 will soon be emailed to you and posted in our online classroom. If you’re not a Formula Botanica Community member, leave us a comment below and tell us your experiences in formulating a natural gel scrub!

Today’s blog post is by Teresa Foo, Tutor at Formula Botanica. Teresa is the Founder and Manager at Balm Kitchen, a gorgeous Singapore-based natural skincare brand. Teresa runs our bi-monthly formulation challenges in our classroom. Follow Balm Kitchen on Facebook or Instagram

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Lorraine Dallmeier

Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.


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