VIDEO OF THE LOTION MAKING PROCESS
It’s confusing trying to learn how to make a lotion. There is a lot of contradictory information on the internet. Some sites give incorrect information, for example vitamin E/benzoin/rosemary extract are preservatives or that you can put your oils and water in the same pot or instruct you to use a milk frother and not to bother heating and holding each phase for 20 minutes. See: http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/make-your-own-bath-body-products.html. (Yes you can use the old fashioned method of using beeswax/borax (beeswax on its own is not an emulsifer) as an emulsifier however your lotion will be thick and heavy (good if you have very dry skin), but the ph very high (borax is very alkaline) and it might separate after only a few months.)
So how do you know who to trust and who is knowledgeable in this area? Well, there is a lady in Canada called Susan who is a renown expert – very knowledgeable, well researched and respected in the industry – even cosmetic chemists are a fan (including the teachers on my Cosmetic Science Diploma). Her blog http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/ contains all you need to know about making lotions, body butters, lip balms, scrubs, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, make up etc. She has also has free tutorials (scroll down to the links under the heading “Free DownloadablePDFs” on the right hand side) and some ebooks.
This tutorial will walk you through the equipment, ingredients, method and provide you with recipes and tips so you can make your own lotion, cream or moisturiser.
WHAT DO I NEED IN A MOISTURISER?
- Barrier to block water escaping from the skin eg shea butter
- Humectants, which are ingredients that attract water to your skin eg glycerin, panthenol
- Emollients – eg oils to hydrate your skin.
- As oil and water do not mix an emulsifier helps combine the oil materials with the water eg emulsifying wax
- Thickener (otherwise your lotion will be water thin) and this also gives it stability eg, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol and Stearic Acid or a gum like xanthan or guar.
- Preservative – this really isn’t optional, I’m afraid – see below.
Cosmetic formulators use the weight measurement of grams instead of ounces, cups, teaspoons etc. To help with conversion, there are 28.3495 grams (g) in an ounce (not fluid ounce). 453.592 grams equal 1 pound. 1000 grams make 1 kilogram. It’s also handy for converting from percentages because if you’re making 100g of a lotion then 1% of an ingredient weighs 1g. If you want to make 600 grams of lotion then multiply everything by 6 so an ingredient which is 2% becomes 12g. An ingredient which is 10% becomes 60g. Grams (a weight measurement) is similar to millilitres/ml (a volume measurement) as 100g of water is the same as 100ml of water but this isn’t accurate for all liquids – oil weighs less than water so 100g of oil might only measure 80ml.
- SCALE – Unfortunately you can’t use ordinary kitchen scales as usually they don’t weigh in 0.1g increments. If you live in the UK – this jewellery scale goes weighs to 0.1g increments and measures up to 1kg – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001L9CHP0/ref=oss_product (If you live in the US here’s a good jewellery scale - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001RF3XJ2/ )
- DIGITAL TEMPERATURE GUAGE – I love this one: In the UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00046YFHE/ref=oss_product In the US – http://www.amazon.com/CDN-Digital-Programmable-Probe-Thermometer/dp/B00046YFHE/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1344677650&sr=1-2&keywords=CDN+Thermometer as you can leave it in the saucepan but when reading it lift it so its not touching the bottom of the pan otherwise you will l be taking the temperature of the bottom of the pan and not the contents. (Non-digital thermometers tend not to be accurate and laser/infra-red thermometers take the temperature of the surface of the mixture rather than the actual mixture).
- STICK BLENDER for lotions over 300g eg http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-HR1363-Blender-Chopper-Accessory/dp/B000LYSSWW
- MINI-MIXER – for lotions under 300g. For those of you in the UK - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Norpro-Deluxe-Cordless-Mini-Kitchen-Drink-Mixer-Frother-Cappucino-Latte-NEW-/281141188383?ViewItemNext= If you live in the US you have some options:- http://www.lotioncrafter.com/minipro-mixer.html or http://www.brambleberry.com/Mini-White-Plastic-Mixer-P4721.aspx or http://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/ProductDetail.aspx?CatalogID=1&GroupID=683&CategoryID=2227&ProductID=8882&ProductName=Mini+Mixer+-+Cordless. (Please note, a milk/coffee frother or whisk will put air into you lotion and compromise your emulsion)
- TWO CONTAINERS – one for your heated oil phase and one for your heated water phase – If you are in the UK use a plastic beaker from betterequipped.co.uk (their one is autoclavable and made from graduated & high density polythene). If you’re in the US – use the tri-corner beakers from lotioncrafter. You can also use pyrex glass jugs but they are more expensive than the above options. If you put the ingredients directly into a saucepan you risk burning them so I use a double boiler/bain marie – http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/question-how-do-you-define-double.html. Place each beaker inside a saucepan which contains some water so it doesn’t have direct heat. The beaker will need to sit on top of a metal trivet/ring eg http://www.brambleberry.com/Double-Boiler-Maker-Double-Boiler-Maker-P3796.aspx (you can use a empty tuna or sardine can or cookie cutter if you can’t find a trivet/ring) so the beaker isn’t touching the bottom of the saucepan. See the video at the top of this page so you can see how the double boiler was created.
- JUG to hold your cool down phase ingredients.
- STERILISER – I usually sterilise all my equipment and actually everything that touches my ingredients/lotion including bottles/jars before I make my lotion. If you live in the UK you can use Milton (fluid version is better than the tablets or wipes) which you can get from pharmacists – it’s used to sterilise baby bottles – I usually sterilise the day before to give enough time for everything to dry. If you live in the US you can use instead isopropyl alcohol (walgreens and walmart sells).
In the UK you can buy all the ingredients from www.gracefruit.com (if you prefer to use the “natural” preservative which has ECOCERT instead you can buy that from www.aromantic.co.uk (Preservative Eco).
In the US – lotioncrafter, theherbarie, thesage.com, wholesalesuppliesplus (Brambleberry also sell lotion supplies but they do not sell liquid germall plus so buy Phenonip preservative instead – use 0.5% both the heated water phase and 0.5% in the heated oil phase.). Lotioncrafter and theherbarie sell the widest range of lotion supplies and lotioncrafter, wholesalesuppliesplus and brambleberry sell a handy mini-mixer. Thesage and brambleberry and wholesalesuppliesplus only sell some of the ingredients listed under the heading OTHER INGREDIENTS below.
Be aware of the shelf life of the oils you buy – some only last 3 months and some can block pores – the ones I’ve listed in this document last at least 1 year.
For a basic lotion/moisturiser I would recommend the following (I have also listed which phase the ingredients should be added):-
- Preservative – essential, not optional. My favourite is liquid germall plus – 0.5% cool down phase. Why is it essential?? – see http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/when-should-you-use-preservative.html. Vitamin E, benzoin, Rosemary extract, grapefruit extract are anti-oxidants NOT preservatives – they will help with oxidation of oils only and do nothing to help prevent gram positive and negative bacteria, yeast and mold which grow in anything containing water.) If your lotion is unpreserved it will last as long as milk eg up to 10 days. (You can’t rely on your vision to check whether your lotion is OK because bacteria and spores are microscopic and can’t be seen by the human eye.) If you aren’t going to use all your lotion within 10 days (refrigerated) then please use a preservative so you don’t get a skin infection or allergic reaction. The ideal preservative is broad spectrum meaning it guards against off bacteria, mould, yeast and other fungi. Swiftcraftymonkey’s favourite preservative (very easy to use and effective) is liquid germall plus. (Note: Optiphen can de-stabilise your emulsion.) (If you are buying from brambleberry they do not sell liquid germall plus so a good alternative is Phenonip but this goes in the heated phases – 0.5% both the heated water phase and 0.5% in the heated oil phase) If you prefer to use a “natural” preservative which has Ecocert, a good option is mikrokill ect/preservative eco/geogard ect/Plantaserv M. In the UK Aromantic sell it under the name of Preservative Eco. Use 1% in the cool down phase.
- Emulsifying wax – (note: many recipes on the net state that beeswax on its own is an emulsifier – this is incorrect – http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.ca/2011/03/asidebeeswax-is-not-emulsifier.html). Please use emulsifying wax instead as it will give a stable emulsion which will not separate later. There are various different kinds of emulsifying wax (aka ewax). The ewaxes from the suppliers I listed above (gracefruit’s NF version, lotioncrafter, theherbarie, the sage, and brambleberry) are stable. Do check the emulsifying wax you use as some are more stable than others – see http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/question-about-ve-and-mf-emulsifiers.html. Ewax is needed so the oils and water will not separate – add at 25% of the total of the oil phase plus the oil soluble ingredients in the cool down phase eg oils, butters, vitamin E, fragrance/essential oil, cetyl alcohol, silicones (cyclomethicone, dimethicone). If you have oily skin then BTMS-50 is a good one – and use it in the same was as ewax. The emulsifier goes in the oil phase.
- Butter (eg shea, cocoa) – Great for dry skin. Use up to 15% in the oil phase.
- Sodium lactate – a great non-sticky humectant (draws water to the skin) – more powerful than glycerin and is found in our skin’s natural moisturising factor – 2%. It goes in the water phase.
- Glycerin– a slightly sticky humectant (draws water to the skin)– use between 2% and 7% water phase depending on how dry your skin is – add more the drier your skin. Although 6% might feel sticky to some. Glycerin is made as a result of the soap making process.
- Cetyl alcohol (not to be confused with cetearyl alcohol) – (note: brambleberry and wholesalesuppliesplus don’t sell cetyl – stearic acid is an alternative – it’s similar but stearic tends to be thicker and waxier). Stabilises and thickens your lotion (otherwise it’ll be as thin as water) and makes your lotion glidy. (It’s made by heating coconut oil with a strong base. This process is the same process used to make soap (saponification)). 1-4% – oil phase. The higher % you use. the thicker and more moisturising your lotion will be.
- At least 2 oils. You can include these carrier oils in the oil phase from 0-20%. Do take a look at this website for info and also note the shelf life http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/oils-short-guide.html I usually choose at least 2 different oils in a lotion – preferably a light one and a medium one which is suited to your skin type. If you are in the US you might be able to find these oils in the supermarket, but you can buy these oils from the suppliers I listed above also.
- if you have v. oily skin then these oils are great for you: squalane, jojoba, hazelnut, macadamia
- rice bran oil – good medium oil suitable for all skins (In the UK this oil is sold in a supermarket – alfa one brand costs £2.20 for 500ml).
- apricot kernel oil or fractionated coconut oil – these 2 are good light oils suitable for all skins
- refined avocado oil, olive oil and meadowfoam oil – good for dry skin (In the UK you can buy regular olive oil from a supermarket)
- Vitamin e – antioxidant and extends the life of your oils and butters but note that it is not a preservative– use 1% cool down phase
- Fragrance oil or Essential oil. Do check it is cosmetic and skin safe. This is added at up to 1% (do check supplier’s recommendations for maximum usage) – cool down phase but take note that some essential and fragrance oils can be allergenic.
(note – add EITHER fragrance or essential oil – not both).
- Deionised/distilled water. Water phase. In the UK – from http://www.reagent.co.uk/distilled-water Second best is deionised from a petrol station or halfords which is much cheaper or purified water from your local chemist. If you live in the US, you are lucky as you can buy cheap distilled water easily from any supermarket. About 55-80% of your lotion will be water. The more water, the thinner your Lotion. BUT please add an extra 10% because you will lose some water through evaporation. (Note: if you use tap water instead of deionised/distilled the trace metals and contaminants in the water will shorten your lotion’s expiry date.)
Do keep all your ingredients in the fridge so they last longer. You can also freeze the oils/butters but I would advise against freezing the other ingredients.
How long is the shelf life of your lotion? Note the expiry date of each of your ingredients – the shelf life for your lotion will be that of the ingredient which will expire first.
If you decide to make lots of cream you will need some jars, bottles etc to put them in – this company in the UK do cheap ones:- www.naturallythinking.com
Note: You only need to preserve products which contain water or water phase ingredients.
RECIPE AND HOW TO MAKE THE LOTION/CREAM/MOISTURISER
I love this calculator – http://makingskincare.com/recipe-calculator/ converts the %s below into grams. But it’s easy to calculate it yourself – if you’re making a 100g lotion 1% equals 1g so if you have an ingredient eg, glycerin which you want to add at 2% then 2% is 2 grams. If you want to make a 500g lotion then multiply the ingredient’s percentage by 5 eg 2% glycerin will be 10 grams. For a 700g lotion multiply by 7 so 2% glycerin will be 14%. Easy.
Here’s a basic recipe:-
WATER PHASE – water soluble ingredients
??% de-ionised/distilled/purified water (but add 10% extra to make up for evaporation caused by heat). The % of water is whatever amount is needed to make the recipe up to 100% but don’t forget to add 10% extra
2% sodium lactate
2% glycerin (increase this amount up to 6% if you have v. dry skin but it might be a little sticky)
OIL PHASE – oil soluble ingredients
??% emulsifying wax/BTMS-50 – (add at 25% of the total of the oil soluble ingredients (including those in the cool down phase) eg oils, butters, essential oil/fragrance, vitamin E, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, cyclomethicone). Note – some ewaxes are more reliable than others – see above.
8% – oils – choose 2 or 3 depending on your skin type (if your skin is dry then you can increase the oil amount so it totals up to 15%).
2% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid
???% butter – If you have dry skin you could add some shea/cocoa butter here (up to 15%)
COOL DOWN PHASE – this is where the heat sensitive ingredients go
0.5% liquid germall plus or 1% mikrokill ect/preservative eco/geogard ect/ Plantaserv M (if you are using phenonip preservative then add it instead 0.5% in the water phase and 0.5% in the oil phase instead).
1% up to essential oil or fragrance
1% vitamin E
Cosmetic formulators use grams rather than ml or ounces or teaspoons for accurate measurements. Note: 100ml is not the same as 100g but they can be the same/similar. For example 100ml of water is the same as 100g but some ingredients weigh more or less than water, oil for example weighs less. You can use the calculator here http://makingskincare.com/recipe-calculator/ to convert the percentages above into grams.
We need three things to emulsify our lotion properly:-
- Chemical emulsification - choosing a good emulsifier will save you from having lots of failed batches.
- Heat emulsification - we have to heat our ingredients up to a place where they are happy to emulsify.
- Mechanical emulsification - we have to blend our ingredients together using a hand or stand mixer or stick blender (a coffee/milk frother or whisk isn’t great as it puts air into the lotion and can destabilise it).
First sterilise containers, countertops, equipment – see under the equipment section above.
1. Weigh your water phase into your container (if the container is a pyrex jug put the pyrex jug into a saucepan which has some hot water in it. Sit the jug on an empty tuna can which is placed the bottom of the saucepan so the jug isn’t in direct contact with the saucepan.)
2. Weigh your oil phase into your other container (if the container is a pyrex jug put the pyrex jug into a saucepan which has some hot water in it. Sit the jug on an empty tuna can which is placed the bottom of the saucepan so the jug isn’t in direct contact with the saucepan.)
3. Heat both phases to 75˚C/165f and hold for 20 minutes. Most emulsifiers form micelles. As these micelles decrease in size the theoretical stability increases. Your oil phase and your water phase will be more fluid/lower viscosity at higher temperatures. This fluidity does two things to help emulsification. First, it makes it easier to break the oil phase into very small droplets. Second, it makes it easier for the emulsifier to migrate to the oil-water interface, which is where it needs to be for a stable emulsion. (This is part of the emulsification process – the heating part of emulsification.) Note: 70C for 20 minutes can’t be counted on to sterilize a product. It will likely reduce microbial levels by killing some of the non-endospore-forming bacteria, but it will probably not kill all of them
4. When both phases reach 75˚C/165f, slowly pour the water phase into the oil phase and mix very well with a stick blender. Try not to let the stick blender (a milk/coffee frother or whisk isn’t suitable) go above the mixture as otherwise it’ll put air into your lotion. But don’t worry if it does – you can get it out afterwards. Mix for 3-5 mins . Mix periodically as the temperature drops.
5. When you reach 45˚C/110f, add your cool down ingredients and mix very well. You will notice it will start to thicken up quite quickly and will continue to thicken up over the next hour or so.
6. Allow the lotion to come to room temperature before bottling. If you have air bubbles then you can fold over the lotion with a flat blade (eg knife) – fold it over and over again and you will see the bubbles disappear.
- Not heating and holding for 20 minutes at 75˚C/165f. I know there are people out there who tell you you don’t have to do this but this is the biggest indicator of success or failure when making a lotion.
- Putting the ingredient into the wrong phase. The water goes in the heated water phase along with the water soluble ingredients. The oil, butter, cetyl alcohol, and emulsifier go into the heated oil phase. The preservative, vitamin E, liquid panthenol and the fragrance/essential oil go into the cool down phase.
- Not adding 10% to the water amount to replace the water that evaporated during the 20 minute heat and hold phase.
HOW TO TAILOR THE ABOVE BASIC RECIPE TO YOUR SKIN TYPE
|Moisturisers – Type of skin||Humectants/Water Phase – add water to make the total up to 100%.||Oil Phase||Cool down phase|
|Slightly Oily skin||2% sodium lactate||3% squalane, 3% jojoba/macadamia/ hazelnut, 2% cetyl alcohol, 2.5% emulsifying wax/BTMS-50||Preservative|
|Normal/combination (doubles up as a body lotion too)||2% glycerin, 2% sodium lactate||10% oils – squalane, apricot, rice bran, 2% cetyl/stearic, 3.5% emulsifying wax||Preservative, 1% Vitamin E, up to 1% Essential oil/fragrance oil|
|Dry (doubles up as a light body butter)||4% glycerin, 2.5% sodium lactate||12% oils – apricot, rice bran, olive, refined avocado, meadowfoam, 4% shea/cocoa butter, 2.5% cetyl alcohol/stearic, 5% emulsifying wax||Preservative, 1% Vitamin E, up to 1% Essential oil/fragrance oil|
|Very Dry (or body butter/foot or hand cream)||6% glycerin, 3% sodium lactate||Same as for dry skin but add 6% more butter and 1% more cetyl/stearic and 1% more emulsifying wax||Preservative, 1% Vitamin E, up to 1% Essential oil/fragrance oil|
OTHER BENEFICIAL INGREDIENTS YOU CAN INCLUDE
(Note: In the US lotioncrafter and theherbarie sell virtually all the ingredients below. Thesage, wholesalesuppliesplus and brambleberry only sell some.)
I have indicated below which UK suppliers sell the ingredient and which US suppliers do NOT sell the ingredient.
- Hydrosol/hydrolate/floral water to the heated water phase (up to 40%) – see http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/2010/03/hydrosols.html. Do check it is preserved before you buy it. In the UK the only supplier I’ve found who sell preserved hydrosols is fragrantearth. They sell a variety which are unpreserved but only 2 of them are sold in both preserved and unpreserved forms – rose and lavender. (In the US – thesage’s are unpreserved and Brambleberry does not sell them so the best option for a preserved hydrosol is Lotioncrafter or theherbarie).
- Dimethicone – This silicone is a barrier ingredient to help keep our skin moisturised and protected by forming a light film – 2 to 4% (4% for very dry skin). Cool down phase. Don’t forget to include this when you calculate the 25% for ewax. In the UK gracefruit and soapkitchenonline sell it. In the US brambleberry and wholesalesuppliesplus do not sell it.
- Cyclomethicone – This silicone offers slip and glide with detackification of the oils and butters – usually added at 4% or less. Makes your lotion feel very silky. Cool down phase. Don’t forget to include this when you calculate the 25% for ewax. In the UK Gracefruit sell it.
- Hydrolyzed oat protein (or other protein such as silk amino acids or wheat) – humectant, emollient and film former, silky. If you are in the UK try ofasimplenature’s silk amino acid powder.
- Aloe vera do check it contains a preservative unless it’s in powder form or immersed in oil. Soothing, anti-inflammatory – heated water phase. In the UK Gracefruit sells a concentrated powder version. In the US it comes in either water and oil soluble formats: thesage do not sell. Brambleberry’s extract is a good choice rather then their unpreserved liquid version – use 5% oil phase. Use wholesalesuppliesplus’ powder version at 0.4% water phase. Lotioncrafter aloe vera juice – water phase up to 30%. Theherbarie’s gel liquid – water phase up to 30%.
- Hyaluronic acid – (not the SLMW version) very moisturising and film forming – prevents trans epidermal water loss and holds water (cocoa butter and dimethicone also do the same). You only need tiny amount – eg 1 gram for 3kg (3,000g) of lotion. In the US Brambleberry, wholesalesuppliesplus and thesage do not sell. In the UK gracefruit sell. In order to use the 1g powder first make up a 1% solution of hyaluronic acid containing the 1 gram powder and then use that mixture for future lotions. Place in a pre-sterilised container the following:- 98.5% deionised/distilled water, 0.5% liquid germall plus and mix together. If you live in the US you can buy a mini mixer from lotioncrafter, wholesalesuppliesplus and brambleberry to make it much easier for you to mix (In the UK http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Norpro-Deluxe-Cordless-Mini-Kitchen-Drink-Mixer-Frother-Cappucino-Latte-NEW-/281141188383?ViewItemNext= ). Next, sprinkle 1g of the hyaluronic powder v slowly into a vortex, hopefully with no clumps whilst mixing with the mini-mixer. Takes a while to mix in the HA particles so they aren’t clumped (you can also squash the gel against the side of your jug with a spoon to help get rid of lumps too). I usually use 1-3% of the finished mixture in the cool down phase of my lotions – 1% for normal skin and 3% for dry skin.
- d-panthenol or panthenol – (the “magic” ingredient in Pantene Pro Vitamin) non sticky moisturising humectant (vitamin B5), good healing properties – add at 2 to 3% cool down phase if it’s liquid, otherwise if it’s in the powder form it goes in the heated water phase. In the UK soapkitchenonline and gracefruit sell. In the US thesage and wholesalesuppliesplus do not sell it.
Q: My lotion is too thin. A: add 2% more cetyl alcohol
Q. My lotion is too thick/heavy. A: did you add 10% to the water to account for evaporation? If yes, delete 2% cetyl alcohol and reduce the butters.
Q: My lotion is too greasy. A: reduce/remove some of the heavy oils/butters (especially shea butter, olive and coconut) and add between 3-5% isopropyl palmitate (IPM) to the oil phase.
Q: My finished lotion has bits of oil floating in it and/or has separated or doesn’t look mixed. A: Take a look at the instructions about how to make the lotion and check you followed the exact procedure. Also check you are using the right % of emulsifying wax and that you bought the ewax from either – In the UK Gracefruit, In the USA: wholesalesuppliesplus, thesage, lotioncrafter, brambleberry or theherbarie and not from a different supplier. Also these pages should help: http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/question-can-i-save-separated-lotion.html and http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/question-can-you-re-heat-failed-batch.html and http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/question-why-did-this-lotion-fail.html
Q: My lotion feels sticky. A: remove some of the glycerin and any gum you included.
Q: My lotion is not moisturising enough. A: increase the oil % and add heavier oils eg olive oil and also shea/cocoa butter. For very dry skin on top of this you can add dimethicone and hyaluronic acid and if you’d like it thicker add 2% more cetyl alcohol.
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