Basics of Making Lotions
Making your own lotions can
be fun, creative and can also address your special needs.
By Sherry Barker
Basically, all creams and lotions are termed as an
“Emulsion” - which is the “combination of an oil base and a water
base” to form an “emulsion”, by the use of an “emulsifier” to bind
the oil and water bases together so they will not separate.
It is the same principle when making mayonnaise,
which is an emulsion of a water and oil base using soy lecithin and
eggs as the emulsifier that binds the oil and water together while
blending in a blender.
There are generally at least 3 parts to
any cream or lotion. A = water base, B = oil base, C =emulsifier,
and you may add 2 additional parts; D = preservative if needed, E =
additives such as color, fragrances, Essential oils, Fragrance oils,
A cream or lotion “recipe” should be written
also as a formula with percentages of the whole, so you will
know the correct proportion of each part that makes up the whole. Plus
by using percentages, you can easily decrease or increase batch size
and all suppliers list usage rates in percentages.
Measurements for ingredients are expressed
in weight and not volume, and ingredients should be weighed on
a digital scale, for accuracy.
A preservative should be added to a cream or
lotion if you intend to “sell the product” or keep it for more than a
few weeks. Bacteria, mold and fungus can form in any product
containing water and therefore a” preservative” should be used as well
as an “antioxidant” for the Oil base of your lotion.
I prefer natural preservatives for personal
use such as Benzoin, Grapefruit seed Extract or Rosemary Oil extract,
however, the shelf life is still quite short. Therefore when you sell
a product you will need to add a synthetic preservative to ensure the
safety of the product for your customers. I prefer to use Germall
Plus Powder as a preservative because it is “paraben free” and less
likely to cause an adverse skin reaction. Usage rate is only 0.02-.05
% so you can still have a 95% natural product to sell. Vitamin E is
an excellent antioxidant and can be used at only 0.01 % of oils, and I
like to add Wheat germ oil to lotions and creams because it is
extremely high in Vitamin E and acts as an antioxidant for the oil
base as well as being beneficial to your skin.
It is fun to create and to “tweak” a basic
formula by using different oils, herbs and botanicals, essential oils,
additives, etc., much like you would tweak a recipe if you are
creating a different cake recipe! See the Variations after the basic
Equipment for creams and lotions:
Stick blender: to rapidly whisk the bases together
Digital scales: to accurately weigh your ingredients,
especially important when using a small batch of cream or lotion
Glass or Stainless Steel mixing bowls and pots [do not
use aluminum or Teflon coated equipment]
Thermometer: for testing the temperature of the bases
Rubber Spatula: for scraping cream or lotion out of
Med size Plastic bowls for measuring ingredients on
Lotion bottles or cream jars
Microwave or stove top burners can be used in the
Heavy Glass bowls for microwave or double boiler SS
pots for stove top.
For small batches I like to use the microwave and
Large Pyrex measuring cups due to ease of pouring.
Tall Glass or SS mixing bowl
I love to make
herbal/botanical lotions and creams for the wonderful healing
and soothing properties of these herbs/botanical. Infusing
herbs/botanical into oils and water is quite easy to do and adds many
skin benefits to your lotions and creams.
Before infusion, some herbs/botanical [rose hips] may
need to be “ground” before use, just place small amount into a coffee
grinder and pulse until finely ground.
Using Herbal Infusions or Hydrosols in Lotions provides
many beneficial vitamins and minerals, essential oils, and other
properties that help make a healthy lotion.
How to make Herbal/botanical Infusions:
1 part herb/botanical to 3 arts water. Boil distilled water and pour
over the herb/botanical, cover and steep for 1 hour. Stain through
coffee strainer to remove solids, and use the liquid in your cream and
“ground oatmeal” to 4 parts distilled water or herbal water. Add
oatmeal to the herbal water and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat
to low, and cook for 20 minutes, Strain through coffee strainer to
remove solids and use oatmeal-herbal water as skin softener-soother
and amino acids [protein] in lotions.
Oil Infusions-quick method:
1 part herbs to 2 parts oil. Add herbs to oil of choice, bring to
just below boiling point, cover and remove from heat, steep for 1
hour, strain through nylon stocking or jelly bag to remove solids and
use infused oil in creams and lotions.
To begin, here are a few basic formulations for Lotions
favorite herbs/botanical are Calendula , Rose and Lavender, because
they are so beneficial to the skin and are easy herbs to work with.
However, you can substitute any herb/botanical you wish for the
following formulations [recipes].
If you do not want to make your own infusions, you
can purchase ready made infused oils and hydrosols from suppliers.
Generally the water base for a lotion is about 80 % of
the whole, and the oil base is around 12-14 % of the whole, with the
other percentages made up with emulsifiers, preservatives and
additives for a total of 100 %.
Sherry’s Rose Lotion
Yield 16 oz
This Basic Formula can be tweaked for making many
other herbal/botanical infusions, and
other additives - see Variations at bottom.This
formula is an Excerpt from Sherry’s Cream - Lotion Spreadsheet and
New Natural Care Advanced book due out this winter or spring on CD
This basic formulation makes a moisturizing and
conditioning lotion that sinks in well and is very beneficial to your
skin. Use after bath or for a night lotion on body or face!
Part A - Water base
= 80 % of total
Rose Water 70% = 11.2 oz = 317.52 gr High in Vitamin C
Aloe Vera Juice 5% = 0.8 oz = 22.68 gr Healing agent,
Vegetable Glycerin 5% = 0.8 oz = 22.68 gr Humecant
Part B - Oil Base
= 14 % of total
Grape seed Oil 9 % = 1.6 oz = 45.36 gr Light oil,
Jojoba Oil 1 % = 0.16 oz = 4.536 gr Great
Oil of Evening Primrose 1 % = 0.16 oz = 4.536 gr Omega 3 oil
Cocoa or Shea butter 2 % = .32 oz = 9.072 gr Moisturizer
Wheat germ Oil 1 % = 0.16 oz = 4.536 gr High in Vit E
** Palm Stearic Acid 1 % if your using Liquid Germall Plus
see notes below Natural thickener
Part C = Emulsifiers
= 4 % of
E-wax NF 3% = 0.48 oz = 13.608 gr Self
Soy Lecithin 1 % = 0.16 oz = 4.536 gr Binding
Part D = Preservatives
Germal Plus liquid
Use Levels: 0.1 - 0.5%
synthetic preservative if desired for longer
shelf life of lotion
Total for percentages should always = 100%
Part E = Additives
[not included in total percentages above]
Geranium EO = 2.46 ml = 0.5 ts, = 0.08 oz = 2.36 gr
French Clay = 4.93 ml = 1 ts = 0.17 oz = 4.72 gr
Rose Powder or Mica for color [if desired]
1.23 ml = 0.25 ts = 0.04 oz = 1.18 gr
Procedure - Directions:
heating to 170 degrees kills any bacteria, mold or fungus present.
You will need to weigh each ingredient on a digital scale, in a
small plastic bowl to assure you have the proper proportions. Add the
bowl to the scale and then turn on the scale so that it will not weigh
the bowl too.
1. Combine Part A in large glass cup and heat to 170
degrees, holding for 13 min.
2. Combine Part B and Part C in glass cup and heat to
170 degrees and hold for 15 min.
3. Pour Part B/C into a tall SS or Glass Mixing bowl,
using rubber spatula to get all.
4. Place the
mixing bowl in a bowl of cold/ice water to cool it and immediately
Slowly pour Part A into in Part B/C while stick blending, and continue
until it is thick.
Thermometer and when lotion reaches 120 degrees or lower, add Part D and
blend in well. ** See Notes Below for how to
Geranium EO [using a dropper] to the clay and mix in well with a fork or
7. Add Part F
to lotion and stick blend until well incorporated and lotion is
thickened and creamy. Pour into bottles using a sterile funnel. Cover
tops of bottles with a clean cloth and wait until lotion reaches room
temperature before capping to avoid condensation from forming under
cap. Lotion will thicken more as it cools.
NOTES on Preservatives:
If using “Germall Plus Liquid,
you will want to add the Palm Stearic Acid to Part B as an added
thickener because of the “extra” liquid in Germall Plus liquid
preservative. And add the Germall Plus liquid to mixture as described
above and blend in well.
If your using Germall Plus
Powder, do not use the additional Palm Stearic Acid in Part
B, Add the Germall Plus powder to the lotion by “sifting” the powder,
using a small screen sifter, onto the top of lotion and blend in well
using the stick blender. I prefer to use the powdered form rather than
the liquid preservative.
You could also add 1/4 ts
Benzoin powder and 1 Tb
Grapefruit Seed Extract for a
natural preservative for personal use and store no longer than 1 month
Variations to Basic Lotion above
I love to infuse
Ground Oatmeal into my lotions which gives the lotion extra amino
acids, and is very soothing to the skin as well as providing extra body
to the lotion.
Once the you infuse with rose, use the rose water to also
infuse the oatmeal, as directed in the forward above. Use the
rose/oatmeal water as the water in the above formulation.
It is that easy! And feels wonderful on your skin - use
for a night lotion, after bath lotion.
Rose-Oatmeal-Rooibos Tea Lotion:
Rooibos tea is rich in Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium,
Sodium, Copper, Zinc,
manganese, and Iron which is beneficial to your skin and
this tea works well with herbal infusions for lotions.
Oh, and be sure to drink some regular
Rooibos tea while your making this lotion !
Use the rose water and infuse it with the
Rooibos tea [and Ground oatmeal if desired],
and strain through a coffee filter to strain out solids. Use the liquid
for the above formula.
For Problem Skin, Eczema, Mature Skin and Baby Lotion
Use Calendula petals
instead of the rose for water and oil infusions. Calendula is a great
healing herb and soothes the skin. I like to combine Calendula water
with oatmeal and
Jasmin Green Tea infusion for the
additional skin benefits. I do not use any EO or FO when making
Calendula Lotion so that it can be used for people with problem skin ,
for Mature skin and makes a great Baby lotion. Otherwise, Rose
Geranium EO works well with Calendula lotion but use sparingly - not for
You could also use
prepared Calendula Infused Oil, adding 1 part to 2 parts
Almond oil, as your oil base.
Using Other herbal infusions: “Tweaking” the basic formula:
You can infuse ANY herb/botanical of your
choice for the above formulation,
or use herbal combinations for the base such as Rose/lavender and use
Rose EO or FO, and Lavender EO for the
fragrances. Men love Peppermint,
Patchouli, Anise, Spearmint and use like kind EO’s.
You can also omit the herbal infusions and
just use EO’s and/or hydrosols in your
lotion for skin benefits and use FO’s for light scenting. You may
want to increase the EO to 3-3.5 ml if not using herbal infusions. I
would not increase FO because they can become an irritant if used at
Other Additives for healthy skin benefits:
I also like to add a little
Brewer’s yeast instead of the clay,
for Vitamin B or you can use Provitamin B
sold in supply stores, and use ˝ ts per 16 oz, added with the additives
in Part E of the above formula.
carrot powder also gives it Vitamin A as well as Beta
Carotene, and I use 1/8 ts per 16 oz, added in Part E of the above
rose hydrosol instead of infusing Roses into Water.
Above formulas are created and “copyright” to
Sherry A Barker
and all rights are reserved.
You can now
purchase Sherry's spreadsheets and recipes in her e-books which you can
Next time: Making Body and Face Creams