Lotion Making for the Beginner…. 3 ingredients-2 of which are in your kitchen!

Homemade Lotion

So I was thinking about how daunting DIY skin care can be.  Especially making lotions.  I think most of us are most intrigued at making lotions but are uncertain about how much ingredients are going to cost and then what if your cream does come out right?  These are two very valid concerns. I’ve written this Lotion Making for the Beginner post in the hopes that I can give you the confidence to dive in and make a successful lotion!

On the most basic level, a lotion only needs 3 ingredients-oil, water, and an emulsifier (something that will mix them together).   That’s it!!  That’s all a lotion is-the water is meant to be suspended in an oil so that both can penetrate the skin, delivering moisture!

Now, let’s begin by choosing an oil.  I’ve spoke often of my love for Olive Oil.  I love it in my food and I love it on my skin.  Olive Oil really brings home the phrase-“If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!”.  It’s a wonderful moisturizer for the skin with it’s high antioxidant levels and fatty acids.  Of course, you want to buy organic, extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil-Basically, this ensures there are no pesticides, and very little processing which helps retain all the beneficial properties.  I always use THIS brand.

You can also use coconut oil but I find that it is not as moisturizing as olive oil.  If you are needing more healing then moisturizing, coconut oil might be your best choice.

Don’t be fooled by ingredient labels of creams-You don’t have to use 5-9 different oils for one recipe!  One is just fine!  I tend to keep things simple and I think my skin appreciates that.  Other nourishing oils to consider besides olive oil are Sweet Almond Oil, Hazelnut Oil, Jojoba  etc.

The next ingredient is an emulsifier.  Everyone knows oil and water don’t mix.  You’ve got to use something that will mix them, like emulsifying wax.

The third ingredient is water.  Now, this really needs to be distilled-this cuts down on bacteria and fungal growth.  No one wants to make a cream with bacteria/fungus already in it!  If you would like to get fancy, you can use other watery ingredients like aloe vera, witch hazel, glycerin or rose water instead of or in combination with distilled water.

For simplicity sake, we’re going to make a small batch so that we can skip the preservative.  This cream will last 1 week in room temperature or 2 weeks in the fridge.  Consider THIS or THIS preservative if you’d like to make a larger batch and preserve it.

Most DIY skin care recipes are in percentages.  For example, a typical lotion is 70% water, 20% oil and 10% emulsifier.  To make things more simple, I will translate this in cups and tbsp.  If you want to make a bigger batch, just double the recipe!

Equipment You’ll Need:

3 Ingredient Lotion:

  • 3 tbsp. Oil (1.5 ounces)
  • 6 tbsp. distilled water (3 ounces)
  • 3/4 tbsp. Emulsifying Wax (.5 ounces) *1 full tbsp. makes the cream too thick to get out of a bottle-if you like your cream really thick, you’ll need to put it in a jar.
  • 1/2 tsp. preservative (optional)
  • 10 drops of essential oil (optional)


  1. Create 2 double boilers by getting 2 medium sized pots, filling them about 1/2 way full of water, then placing a glass pyrex spouted bowl inside the water.
  2. Prepare your Oil Mixture by adding the emulsifying wax and oil to your glass pyres bowl.
  3. Prepare your Water Mixture by adding the 6 TBSP. of distilled water to the other glass pyrex bowl.
  4. Heat both mixtures, but remember, oil heats faster then water.  This is the tricky part.  You must make sure the emulsifying wax is completely melted.  You might have to remove your oil mixture from the stove while your water mixture catches up or vice versa.  Don’t walk away from your stove-this part can seriously drive you nuts if you don’t keep your full attention on your mixtures!
  5. Heat both mixtures to around 160 F., try to keep both mixtures around this temp for 20 minutes.  This will help kill bacteria and will also help your cream emulsify properly.
  6. Add your water mixture into your oil mixture.
  7. Using your stick blender, blend your mixture for at least 1 minute.
  8. Continue to come back every 10 minutes or so to blend for 30 sec.-1 minute for the next 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. Add essential oils.
  10. Transfer to pump bottles.

Your cream will thicken over the 45 minutes to an hour!

This recipe makes about 4 ounces.

How to make DIY lotionHomemade Lotion PicMonkey Collage 2DIY Organic CreamIt’s really easy-not rocket science at all.  You just gotta try it-it’s still so rewarding to me to make a cream!  I still get giddy when my mixtures emulsify and thicken!  Just by adding essential oils, you can make your cream unique and work perfectly for your specific skin type!  Sky’s the limit!

Remember-the shelf life of anything that contains water is about 2 weeks and it’s best to keep it in the fridge just to be safe.  I used to hate adding preservatives to my cream, but it really does make sense.   You just really don’t want to be slathering bacteria and mold all over your skin!  The preservatives I have researched only make up about 1-2% of your cream so you shouldn’t be apprehensive about preservatives.  With the preservatives I approve of, you can still call your cream organic and paraben free!  But, for today-making a small cream with minimal ingredients, effort and money will ease your mind that making a cream is extremely doable and FUN!

xx, Jenni


P.S. Don’t forget a cute label!  I use THESE labels, upload my design to HERE and print!!

DIY Lotion


DIY Lotion Tutorial for Beginners

Jennifer Phillips
Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the natural skin care blog, Jenni Raincloud.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Fiona
    September 9, 2015 / 7:04 am

    Hi Jenni, could I use thayers witch hazel to replace water in this recipie and by doing this can I omit the preservative altogether?

    • September 12, 2015 / 4:56 pm

      Fiona-I’m almost 100% positive that the preservative in witch hazel would not be strong enough for a cream. I wish! I’m actually going to do more research on this though to make sure. Great question and clever thinking!!!

  2. Ashlynn
    September 9, 2015 / 11:04 am

    This is wonderful! Thank you for this post! I have been looking for a cream to make that I could mix my mineral foundation with (your recipe minus the kaolin) to make a cream “foundation.” I am really interested in the NeoDefend preservative, I would really love to know more about preservatives (safe ones of course!).

  3. Mish
    September 11, 2015 / 1:35 pm

    Hi Jenni,
    You have such a fun bright colourful website, it’s addictive!!
    All the DIYs are so interesting, I wonder if I may request a DIY? I absolutely love the graphics on your photographs and wondered what program you used to create them and if you would consider doing a DIY of that? The fonts, the colours, the placements on the photos both on the blog and on Instagram are so catchy. Would love to know how they are done.

    • September 12, 2015 / 4:49 pm

      Hi Mish! This is one of my favorite parts of blogging-editing pics! I use PicMonkey to edit. I google “free fonts” and download the ones I like into PicMonkey. As far as graphics, I buy packages on http://www.CreativeMarket.com. Thank you so much for such a great compliment!

  4. Lauri
    November 14, 2015 / 8:22 am

    Hi Jenni,
    I’m very excited to try your ‘recipe’! My one concern is heating the essential oils too high. Won’t that cause them to lose their effectiveness? Educate me please!


    • November 15, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Hi Lauri! You’re right but that’s why we put them in after the cream has cooled down quite a bit. I never add them while they oils are on the stove. First (once your water and oils are at the right temps) mix your water with your oil and blend. Wait until your bowl with your cream is just warm, not hot, then add your essential oils and vitamin E if you’re adding that.

  5. Barbara
    December 16, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    What about Avocado oil? I have a huge bottle to use up.

    • December 17, 2015 / 9:29 am

      Barbara-I LOVE avocado oil! It’s excellent for dry skin-use it on this!!

  6. Kayla
    December 16, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    What preservatives do you use?

      • kayla
        December 20, 2015 / 11:41 am

        Thank you

  7. Cara McEvoy
    March 30, 2016 / 11:57 am

    Hi Jenni,

    Might be a stupid question, but while you are mixing for that one hr, I’m assuming it’s still on the heat?


    • Jenni
      March 30, 2016 / 6:42 pm

      Cara-No, you’ve removed it from the heat once you combine the 2 mixtures. It doesn’t need anymore heat. Once it cools you can add essential oils. Thanks for bringing this up-it would be helpful if I specify! Thanks!

    • March 31, 2016 / 4:24 pm

      Thanks for getting back to me!

      one more question – If I wanted to add vegetable Glycerin in for that extra humectant quality, at what ratio would you recommend based on your recipe above?? Do you also recommend NeoDefend for this? I intend to give to friends and family.


  8. Andrea
    August 10, 2016 / 10:04 pm

    Hello Jenny,
    I’m new at this but got ahead and ordered another preservative. It is phenonip. Can I use this instead? Would it be the same measurement. Also, for emulsifying wax I got cetyl alcohol. Is that ok?
    Thanks!! All your recipes look amazing. Can’t wait to get started.


    • Jenni
      August 26, 2016 / 4:41 pm

      Andrea-I’m afraid I’m no help here. I’ve never used either ingredient to really know. Go to lotioncrafter.com and look those ingredients up-they have a facts sheet and suggestions on what percentages to use in recipes. They should be a big help.

  9. Priya
    September 19, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    Hi Jenni!

    I love this recipe and can’t wait to try it. I was wondering where did you get your pump and bottle that you had in the image? I know the one you linked is to amazon, but I don’t like those type of pumps but rather the one you had on the image at the top of the page.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Jenni
      September 20, 2016 / 2:19 pm

      Priya-Hi! It came from a bottle of rosehip seed oil that I purchased on Amazon! I know what you mean about pumps. You might look up “treatment pumps” because I believe that’s what this one is called.

  10. Melanie Schroder
    October 3, 2016 / 11:37 pm

    I am a little confused. How do I keep both mixtures at 160 degrees for 20 minutes? Wouldn’t the 3 ounces of water start to evaporate in that amount of time?

    • Jenni
      October 4, 2016 / 6:28 am

      It calls for constant monitoring. I find the water evaporates a little-not enough to be of any concern or throw the lotion off.

      • Melanie Schroder
        October 4, 2016 / 10:23 am

        Ok, thank you!

  11. Katie
    April 29, 2017 / 1:56 am

    Hey there! If I was to use a preservative, how much longer would that make my cream last? Thanks!! And thanks for a wonderful recipe, I’m about to try my first ever DIY with it!

    • Jenni
      May 3, 2017 / 8:14 am

      Katie-With a preservative, your cream should last around 2-3 mos. You are so welcome!!!

  12. Donna Schafer
    October 22, 2017 / 6:05 am

    Do you use the 3 ingredient cream as a lotion after cleansing? Is it best morning and night?

    • Jenni
      October 25, 2017 / 2:19 pm

      Donna-You can use this recipe after cleansing morning and night. You can also use it as a body lotion if needed!

  13. Aimee
    November 21, 2018 / 6:26 am

    Hi there!
    I know this is an older post but I’ve been preparing to try out this recipe for weeks now and finally did it today! I used a mixture of almond and rosehip oil for the oil part and substituted distilled water for rose water with a part of homemade hibiscus glycerite. I’m going to be adding both essential oils and natural preservative too, just waiting for the lotion to cool down enough to do that. I was hoping the hibiscus glycerite would turn it pink but my rosehip oil is such a vibrant orange color that it showing a soft orange/peach color so far. I’m so excited to see the result! Thank you for this great recipe that leaves so much room for personalizing it to my skin’s needs. I’m going to see how this batch performs and probably try some more ingredients next time. My skin loves aloe so I can’t wait to use that 🙂

    • Jenni
      November 27, 2018 / 9:10 am

      Aimee-Hi!! Thank you for sharing your combos! I really tried to make this so simple because making a lotion is so rewarding! I have never heard of hibiscus glycerite, I’ll have to look into it! Good luck!

  14. Amarello
    October 11, 2019 / 3:40 am

    What is the difference between emulsifier wax and beeswax pellet ? Can I replace beeswax instead of emulsifier wax??
    Can I use tea tree essential oil instead of the preservative??

    Thank you

    • Jenni
      October 17, 2019 / 4:21 pm

      Amarello-Emulsifying wax will bind water and oil to make a cream. Beeswax thickens oils to make a balm. It is very unreliable to try to use beeswax with water and oil however it can be done. Tea tree oil will not preserve a cream enough. You need a legit preservative unfortunately.

  15. Pooja
    December 13, 2020 / 2:02 pm

    Hi Jenni,

    The oil and the water mixtures did not mix for me. Please advise.

    Thank you,

    • Jenni
      January 4, 2021 / 11:11 am

      Pooka-Did you use the emulsifying wax from Mountain Rose Herbs? I’ve never used any other and have not had a problem. Perhaps you need more mixing too?

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