This is part four of the tutorial on making your own lotion. Please go back and read the introduction, preparation, and lotion making equipment posts before proceeding with today’s lesson, which is acquiring the ingredients you will need.
There are four basic parts to a lotion recipe: liquid phase, oil phase, emulsifier (which is added to the oil phase), and heat-sensitive additives such as the preservative.
Liquids – The obvious choice would be distilled water. However, you could also use aloe vera juice (not gel), and/or hydrosols. This will be about 70-80% of your total recipe. Distilled water is the easiest to acquire and works wonderfully for a starter recipe – or even an advanced recipe. I discovered after making several test batches of facial moisturizer that sometimes a simple recipe is better than a complex one. Fewer ingredients means fewer possibilities for negative skin reactions.
Emulsifier – Again, I recommend polawax (emulsifying wax), or possibly BTMS (behentrimonium methosulfate) which was the favored emulsifier in Anne-Marie’s lotion making class at the Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild this year. Recommended usage: 4-5%
Oils & butters – Soapmakers can use their imaginations on this one, unless you are a three-oil (coconut, palm and olive) only soaper. Then you might have to branch out. Shea and cocoa butters make nice lotions, as well as avocado oil, apricot kernel oil, jojoba oil, etc.
A few things to keep in mind when choosing your oils and butters:
1. Color – For example, if you want a nice, white lotion, you should choose clear jojoba over golden.
2. Texture/Solidity – Refined shea butter may cause graininess in your lotion; unrefined is a better choice. Also, the thicker the butter, the thicker the lotion. If you use a brittle butter such as cocoa, it will make your lotion thicker than using shea butter.
3. Vegetable sources are best – This is purely my own opinion. I have actually heard that lard lotions can be quite nice, but I just can’t imagine what it must smell like!
4. Research the oils that will provide the nutrients and skin benefits you are wanting.
Recommended usage: varies depending on the amount of solid ingredients, but somewhere in the 10-15% range.
Additives – This includes all your heat-sensitive ingredients such as preservative, fragrance, vitamin E, extracts, etc. Always use the manufacturer’s recommended usage rate for preservative; fragrance could be synthetic or natural essential oils, but should always be skin-safe, usage rate 0.5-1%; vitamin E and extracts are minimal amounts, usually 0.5-3%.
Resources for Ingredients:
If you didn’t find everything you need from Lotioncrafter in WA or The Herbarie in SC, here are some other places that offer quality ingredients: Formulator Sample Shop in NC, Majestic Mountain Sage in UT, From Nature With Love in CT, Brambleberry in WA, Wholesale Supplies Plus in OH, or Texas Natural Supplies, located in – you guessed it – Texas. I’ve probably left out several other quality suppliers, but these are the ones I’ve either used myself or have heard good things about. It helps to order from a company that is closer to where you live so that you can save money on shipping.
I might add, if you are looking for a total DIY kit option, be sure to check out the one at Moose Creek Bath & Body.
Next lesson: Formulating a Recipe