Make sure all utensils, containers, and work surfaces are fully clean. I like to run heat-resistant utensils and packaging through the dishwasher. You can also clean utensils and work surfaces with a disinfectant spray and wipe them down with a clean cloth before allowing them to dry. This helps sanitize your work environment and ensure a safer lotion.
Weigh out the aqueous phase ingredients in a small heat-resistant container. (You can also use a double boiler insert.) You should use either distilled water or freshly boiled filtered water to prevent adding any unwanted pathogens to your lotion. You can substitute floral waters or other distillates or hydrosols for the distilled water.
Weigh out the oil phase ingredients. This includes the oil(s) and/or any butters or waxes you choose to use. It also generally includes the emulsifying wax. (Check your emulsifier to see if it should be added to the oil phase or the aqueous phase.)
Heat both the water (or aqueous phase ingredients) and the oil phase ingredients to around 70º-75ºC/160º-170ºF. Both phases need to be around the same temperature so that the emulsification process can take place correctly. Make sure the emulsifying wax is completely melted before continuing.
Add the hot water to the hot oil mixture and whisk the ingredients together. Using an immersion blender will help ensure a more stable emulsion.
Allow the mixture to cool slightly. As the mixture cools, the liquid will get thicker and more opaque. Whisk the ingredients together again several times throughout the cooling process.
As it cools, test the pH of your mixture. (You can use inexpensive pH test strips.) You want your lotion to be in a pH range that is skin-friendly. (A pH of 5-6 is a good goal range.) The pH should also be in a range in which your preservative is effective.
If you need to lower the pH, add a few drops of lactic acid (or of a citric acid solution). Then, test the pH again. While less common, if you need to raise the pH of your lotion, you can use a solution of sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydroxide.
Once the mixture has cooled (to around 30ºC/85ºF) and thickened slightly, you can add the preservative and any delicate, heat-sensitive ingredients you want to use. Consider adding around 1g of an essential oil for fragrance.
Mix together all ingredients, and pour the mixture into the final containers.
Wait until the lotion is fully cooled to room temperature before capping. This is just a precaution to keep condensation from forming inside the container and floating on top of the lotion to prevent mold from forming. In any case, it's a good idea to shake the containers, once capped, to ensure any humidity from possible condensation is incorporated into the rest of the lotion.
Enjoy your lotion! Store it and use it for up to 3 months. Then, make a fresh batch!
I find that the best way of weighing multiple ingredients in the same container is to tare the scale between adding ingredients. So, tare the scale with the empty container. Then, add the first ingredient to the container until you reach the required weight. Tare again before adding other ingredients.
There are a wide variety of emulsifying waxes that you can use to make your homemade lotion! Some of my favorites are Montanov 68 and Olivem 1000. The emulsifier chosen will affect the consistency and texture of your lotion. For more information about emulsifying waxes, check out my guide to emulsifiers.
Heat and hold?
Some people advocate using a "heat and hold" method, where you heat both the oil phase and aqueous phase ingredients separately, and hold them at around 70º-75ºC/160º-170ºF for around 20 minutes before bringing them together. Some say it helps with the emulsification process. Others say it helps ensure killing off all possible pathogens. I personally don't use the "heat and hold" method myself, and until now haven't had any problems with lotions separating or going bad more quickly. This is a topic that would warrant a full post, but I don't want to go into it right now, so I'll leave you with this post with some arguments against it. If you are having problems with lotions separating after several weeks, it is something that you could consider trying.
If you are having issues with the emulsification process, there are several things you can try to make a more stable emulsion.
Use more emulsifying wax. (This will also thicken your lotion.)
Use a co-emulsifier. (This will also thicken your lotion. Try adding 1-2g of a co-emulsifier like cetyl alcohol or cetearyl alcohol.)
Use an immersion blender to fully blend the phases together.
Try the "heat and hold" method.
The mixture can also separate if the phases weren't at a similar, hot-enough temperature. This can be remedied by re-heating the mixture over a double boiler and whisking until the mixture is well emulsified.
I like to use 'airless' containersor silicone tubesbecause they allow you to dispense the lotion without putting your fingers into a container and contaminating the lotion.
I like to use natural preservatives in my product. They don't preserve the product for years at a time, but should give you a product that keeps for several months. Some of my favorites are Sharomix 705 and Euxyl K903. I have also used other preservatives like Cosgard, Rokonsol, and Leucidal in the past.Use the preservative at the recommended dosage for that preservative. (Most natural preservatives are used at around 0.8-1% of the product by weight. Leucidal needs to be used at a higher dosage, around 3-4%.)For more information about preservatives, check out my guide to natural preservatives.
Natural preservatives give the final product a shelf life of around 3 months. (It should keep longer than that if made with proper hygiene, but without doing microbial testing, it's best to err on the side of caution with homemade cosmetics!) I make lotion in small batches so that I use it up within 2-3 months. It's a good idea to date your containers so that you know when you should toss the remaining lotion and make a new batch. (Once you get the hang of it, you can easily make a new batch in less than half an hour, so this isn't really an issue!)
Recipe printed from Oh, The Things We'll Make! Blog. https://thethingswellmake.com/make-simple-basic-homemade-lotion-customize-skin-type/