A selection of craft information for artisans of the HFS.

    Lotion Making

    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir
    Dame Katrin Karlsdottir

    Posts : 28
    Join date : 2011-06-02
    Age : 51

    Lotion Making Empty Lotion Making

    Post  Dame Katrin Karlsdottir on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:43 pm

    The Basics

    Making lotion is really not as difficult as you may have thought. Lotion making is fun and easy once you get the hang of how it works. This is a brief overview of the things to keep in mind when creating lotions and creams. Certainly, it does take a knack to get it right. But once you develop a formula you really like, you will have an understanding of the way the materials work, and how far you can "tweak" them. Beginner’s luck is common, but please do not give up if your initial attempts do not yield the perfect emulsion.

    We will discuss lotion making for personal use. Of course, you can take these techniques and expand them to scale-up production, but that is not our focus. Our focus is to understand the basics, and make 16 oz. of lotion that is tailored to you, containing the oils and other emollients you really want.

    Lotions and creams are emulsions - they are either water in oil (w/o) or oil in water (o/w). A w/o emulsion means you
    have small droplets of water dispersed in a medium of oil. A o/w emulsion means you have small droplets of oil dispersed in water. So the first 2 key ingredients of a lotion/cream are the oil and the water.

    As you know, oil and water do not like each other and therefore will separate if you don't have the 3rd key ingredient - an emulsifier. An emulsifier is an agent that helps bind the water and the oil together in a formula so it will not separate. Emulsifiers have different strengths or HLB values (hydrophilic lipophyllic balance) and therefore you need to choose your emulsifying agent carefully. Emulsifiers with low HLBs (3-7) are good for water/oil creams or
    recipes that tend to separate slowly. A good example of a low HLB emulsifying agent would be a beeswax and borax combination. Higher HLB (10 - 18) emulsifiers are required when making oil/water lotions. Emulsifying wax, liquid or solid soap and polysorbate 20 are examples of high HLB emulsifiers and are
    necessary when trying to make lotions or recipes that separate readily.

    Vs. Lotions

    Creams are usually about 2/3 oil phase (oils, butters, waxes) and 1/3 water phase (all water soluble ingredients) while lotions are about 2/3 water phase and 1/3 oil phase. 5% beeswax is generally sufficient to give your emulsion body. These ratios can be adjusted according to your needs. The amount of emulsifier depends on what you are using but generally you will need about 5-10% if using an emulsifying wax or 15-20% if you are using polysorbate 20.
    Remember to add the preservatives to the correct phases before you combine phases. Water based preservatives should be stirred into the water phase and oil based preservatives should be stirred into the oil phase. The smaller phase should be added very slowly to the larger phase with constant mixing (mechanical mixing is recommended). The lotion/cream will change consistency
    somewhat as it cools so you may find that you need to adjust your recipe if it becomes thicker than you expected upon cooling.

    Preserving Your Lotion

    The last necessary components of your lotion or cream are the preservatives. Because your formulation contains both oil and water, you will need to protect both. Oils go rancid when they come in contact with oxygen and must be protected using an anti-oxidant. T50 vitamin E oil is a low alpha tocopherol suitable for this purpose. Rosemary oil extract is another. These can be used
    at .2- .5% and must be added to the oil phase. Water is susceptible to bacterial, fungal and yeast growth and must have an anti-microbial agent added to it. Paraben complexes and grapefruit seed extract are examples of anti-microbials. These should be added to the water phase at their recommended

    Oil Selection

    Chose your oils carefully according to the feel you want for your product. Heavy oils such as avocado and hemp are nice for winter creams but may be too oily for light formulas. Lighter oils are preferred for summer use such as grapeseed, apricot kernel, peach kernel, sweet almond etc. Fractionated coconut oil is both light and penetrating making it a good addition to many a formulation. It will help carry other oils deep into the skin and prevent them from sitting on the skin. Using fractionated coconut oil will reduce the greasy feeling of most oils and butters. Do not use the oil of anything you are allergic to!

    Thickening Agents

    Sometimes you will need to add a thickening agent to your lotions or creams to help attain the texture and spreadability you are looking for. Vegetable gums and starches are generally used to increase viscosity and improve the feel of the product. Look for easy to dissolve gums that do not require pH buffering.
    Xanthan gum can be used for this purpose.

    Hydrolyzed silk can be used to provide a silky slip to your
    formulation. Modified starches can be used at 1-5% to reduce the heavy greasy feeling of the oils and waxes.


    Generally, the first step in the process involves heating the oil phase - the waxes and solid fats. The water phase should be warmed too and both phases should be equal in temperature when the phases are combined.

    Coloring and Fragrancing

    Creams and lotions are easily colored with the use of liquid FD & C dyes as they readily mix with water. Insoluble colorants are not a good choice for lotions as they tend to settle to the bottom. Scent your lotions and creams once they have cooled slightly by stirring in your fragrance or essential oils. Do this sparingly. You can always add more fragrance oil or colorant but you cannot remove it once it has been added.


    Finally, make sure that all of your equipment is clean and sterilized. Use glass and stainless steel for mixing. Bottles can be sterilized ahead of time using a solution of water and alcohol or water and bleach. Use only distilled water not tap water. Avoid touching the batch with your hands during transfer.

    Selecting Your Ingredients & Equipment


    RULE #1: IF YOU

    To that end, all equipment used MUST be sterilized before using. Use a dishwasher that reaches over 150F or boil your equipment in a canning pot, just like you were making jams or jellies. Everything must be sterile, including utensils.

    What you will need:


    · A mixing
    bowl, preferably stainless steel or tempered glass

    · a cake mixer or a blender. You can sterilize the blender parts or sterilize the mixer's beater
    · a spatula and funnels. Plastic funnels work best
    · several measuring cups and spoons
    · a tempered glass bowl or a stainless steel pot for heating the oils & water
    · a microwave or a stove top (clean is good, sterile not necessary) · containers for the finished product. Glass or plastic bottles with pumps or squeeze attachments work best
    · bleach & water solution in a plastic spray bottle. I like a 20% solution (20% bleach to 80% water). You will use this for "touch-up" sterilization, when necessary. You could also use this bleach/water stock to sterilize everything with, if you are certain you have a clean water supply (ie, are on city water). If yoOur water supply is well-drawn, sterilize by boiling or heating.
    · Lots of clean
    towels (washed with bleach, and dried in the dryer) or paper towels.


    You can make a lotion or cream with any type of oil. I
    prefer vegetable and nut oils, but that is not to say these are the only oils
    to use.

    Take a look at any bottle of commercially prepared hand lotion. I've borrowed a bottle of Barbie Kid Care Body Lotion from my daughter. Here are the ingredients, listed in order of weight in the formula, from most to least, per FDA guidelines.

    Water, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Acetate, Stearic acid, Sesame oil, Dicaprylyl Maleate, Glyceryl Stearate, Fragrance, Cetyl alcohol, Dimethicone, polysorbate 80, sorbitan oleate, lanolin oil, acetylated lanolin alcohol, carbomer, triethanolamine, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea, disodium
    EDTA, benzophenone-4, D & C Red No. 33, FD&C Red No. 40

    What does this all mean?? Let's take these ingredients one at a time, determine what they do, where they belong within the formulation (ie, oil or water phase, or if they are the bridge that keeps them combined, known as the emulsification system) and if
    they are animal, vegetable, nut or mineral derived.

    Water --
    hopefully distilled or purified. (See Disodium EDTA, below.) This is the major ingredient. Water phase.

    Isopropyl palmitate - fatty acid ester of palmitic acid. Unknown derivation. Probably industrially derived from palm oil. Light liquid wax - oil phase

    Stearic Acid - fatty acid, probably animal derived - an emulsifier used in oil phase.

    Sesame oil - from the sesame seed. Oil phase

    Dicaprylyl Maleate - derived from maleic acid (which is made from catalytic oxidation of benzene over vanadium pentoxide). This is an inexpensive synthetic ingredient. A low molecular weight oil, it mimics low chain fractionated coconut oil (a natural oil). Oil phase.

    Glyceryl Stearate - variable proportions of glyceryl monostearate and glyceryl monopalmitate. Emulsifier. Oil phase.

    Fragrance – proprietary fragrance oil. Some essential oils are toxic! Be sure to use only oils that are skin safe also known as cosmetic grade.

    Cetyl Alcohol - Discovered by the French in 1813, it was then derived from spermaceti (whale oil) via saponification. AKA hexadecyl alcohol, this high chain alcohol is an emollient and emulsion modifier. Derived from a complicated industrial
    "secret process". Starting material is probably palmitic acid.
    Probably veggie derived. Emulsifier in oil phase.

    Dimethicone - silicone oil. Mineral derived. Increases absorption rate of the oils, and cuts greasy feel while adding to the slip property. Oil phase.

    Polysorbate 80 - an oleate ester of sorbitol (a sugar), co-polymerized with 20 molecules of ethylene oxide for each molecule of sorbitol. Could be vegetable or animal derived, most likely veggie derived. An emulsifier in the water phase. Water soluble.

    Sorbitan oleate - almost the same as polysorbate 80. Difference is it hasn't been reacted with ethylene oxide. Just a fatty acid ester of a sugar. Water soluble emulsifier. Water phase.

    Lanolin oil- sheep from sheep. Animal derived, for sure. No sheep are killed to obtain lanolin. The product is removed from wool shearings. The oil is a fraction (low end molecule weight) of the whole. Oil phase.

    Acetylated lanolin alcohol - Lanolin that's been reacted with acetic acid with a small amount of lye (as the catalyst). Emollient. Animal derived. Oil phase.

    Carbomer - a thickening agent. Most carbomers are high molecular weight homo- and co-polymers of acrylic acid crosslinked with a polyalkenyl polyether. Mineral derived. Water soluble. Water phase.

    Triethanolamine - aka TEA. Made from ammonia and ethyl alcohol. An organic base used to neutralize the carbomer. Water soluble. Water phase.

    Methylparaben - First made in 1867, this preservative is synthetically derived. It is highly bio-compatible (safe for use with humans) with very low toxicity. Oil phase.

    Propylparaben - First made in 1887, this preservative is also synthetically derived. Methyl & propylparaben are often used in tandem to increase the activity of the preservative system. Oil phase.

    Diazolidinyl urea - a broad spectrum anti-microbial of synthetic origin. Some reports of sensitization and allergic reaction have been documented. Completely synthetic. Water soluble, water phase.

    Disodium EDTA -chelating agent (designed to capture metals to help in the prevention of rancidity and to facilitate the use of tap water as opposed to the more expensive distilled or purified water).

    Benzophenone-4 - a UV absorber; also used as a fixative for heavy perfumes. Synthetic. Oil phase.

    D & C Red No. 33 - FDA approved colorant for drug and cosmetic use.

    FD & C Red No. 40 - FDA approved colorant for use in food, drugs and cosmetics.

    To recap, not all synthetic ingredients are our enemies. Some have very useful properties and are bio-compatible.

    Keep in mind that you absolutely need

    1) a preservative system in place in order to sell your lotions or other water-based solutions to the public

    2) A stable emulsifying system as the pivotal point of your lotion formula and


    Ingredients: Veggie and Nut Oils

    There are many fixed oils – both vegetable and
    nut – available to the soap and lotion maker. Use only food, cosmetic or pharmaceutical grade oils in formulations.

    Be sure the oils you use are fresh. Refined, cold pressed
    oils make the best soaps and lotions. They have longer shelf lives than unrefined oils. Refined oils can withstand oxidation far better than unrefined oils can. They have far less odor, if any, because they have been deodorized.
    They are perfect for making soaps and lotions because they do not have the odors associated with unrefined oils.

    Unrefined oils are highly flavorful and wonderful for
    cooking and seasoning, but they have very short shelf lives. And that’s fine for food preparation – most consumers expect to have to either eat or discard fresh food products within short periods of time.

    Consumers do not have the same expectations of skin care
    products. We expect our skin care products to last until they are finished up,
    even if that takes forever. The concept of tossing body care products and make-up 2-3 days after they are made is absurd to most people. Most goods would never make it to market before their stale date. Refined oils are an assurance
    to the toiletries maker that the oils you use are stable and will give longer shelf life to your finished goods.

    Store your oils in airtight containers in a cool, dark and
    dry place. Refrigerators are perfect places for all oils and butters. If your oil thickens and clouds up in the refrigerator, it will become clear and fluid once again at room temperature. You can freeze your butters, as well. Make sure
    they are well-protected and defrost and use within 6 months. Discard any oils or butters that smell rancid or “fishy”.

    Fruit and Vegetable Seed Oils

    Developed to satisfy modern consumers’ demands for
    low-cost, polyunsaturated oils, fruit and vegetable seed oils are fine, all-purpose oils. They work well in soaps and lotions, as well as a full line of other body care products.

    When choosing vegetable oils to use in soaps, be careful to
    pick those high in oleic, lauric and stearic acids, such as olive, jojoba or sunflower, coconut and palm, as your primary oils. Use lower percentages of oils high in essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as apricot kernel or hemp seed
    oils. These oils tend to be more fragile and less able to provide hardness or stability to the formula. Add them for their nutritional value, not for hardness or shelf life.

    Nut Seed Oils

    Sweet almond oil and is a longtime favorite of soapmakers.
    Macadamia and kukui nut oils are finding their way into the mainstream, as well. In general, nut oils are fine additions to most soap recipes, when used as less than 15% of the oil weight.

    Nut oil seeds work well in lotions, providing essential fatty
    acids which help moisturize the skin.
    When using nut oils, it’s a good idea to list your ingredients on the label. Certain individuals are allergic to nuts.

    Olive Oils

    There are many grades of olive oil ranging from extra
    virgin to pomace. The difference between each grade depends upon its place in a series of pressings made from the fruit of the olive tree. First pressings are generally done immediately after picking, and the best oils come from field
    pressings. This is considered extra virgin olive oil. Subsequent pressings yield grades such as virgin, grade A and pomace. The last of these, the pomace oil, is performed using a solvent which is removed before the oil is bottled.

    Vegetable Butters

    Most vegetable butters contain hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated
    oils are made by mixing a vegetable or nut oil with a precious metal catalyst,
    such as platinum or palladium on ceramic, under hydrogen pressure. The result is the creation of saturated fatty acids, such as stearine, which provides for a hardened mass, at room temperature.

    There are a few exceptions to hydrogenation, namely, aloe
    butter and Monoi or Polynesian Tiare oils, that are made by infusing the plant material into a solid vegetable oil such as coconut oil.

    Shea (aka Karite), mango and cocoa butters are made by
    extracting the vegetable or nut oil under hydraulic pressure. No other ingredients are needed, so we refer to these types of butters as naturally occurring.

    A Basic Lotion

    Yields about 8 oz

    Phase I

    1 cup distilled water, distillate or infused water

    2/3 teaspoon Cosmocil CQ
    1/3 teaspoon silk protein
    1 teaspoon panthenol
    1/2 teaspoon collagen

    Combine these ingredients and mix well.

    Phase II

    In a separate container combine

    2 teaspoons glycerin

    1/2 teaspoon vitamin E natural,

    Mix well. Add to water mixture and incorporate thoroughly.

    Phase III

    Now, we thicken. Warm the previous phases to 140F and slowly add 2-3 tablespoons of wheat gel. Add the wheat gel slowly and agitate constantly. Add 1 tablespoon of wheat gel, stir and then test to see if the consistency is where you want it before adding more wheat gel. Thickness increases with agitation, so be sure to stir until completely uniform.

    Allow to stand to a half hour and mix well again to ensure smoothness. This product is preserved using Cosmocil CQ and may be stored up to 1 year. You may add fragrance as needed to the finished products.

      Current date/time is Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:50 am