How to Make Lotion-An Easy Step by Step Guide

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How to Make Lotion-Step by Step Picture TutorialSo I was thinking about how daunting DIY skin care can be.  Especially when learning how to make lotion.  I think most of us are most intrigued and want to know how to make a creamy, fluffy moisturizer but are uncertain about how much ingredients are going to cost and then what if your DIY lotion doesn’t come out right? 

These are two very valid concerns. I’ve written this Lotion Making for the Beginner guide in the hopes that I can give you the confidence to dive in and make a successful DIY lotion!

On the most basic level, a lotion only needs 3 ingredients:

  • Oil
  • Water
  • Emulsifier (something that bind mix oil & water 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!

Basic DIY Lotion Ingredients:

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 like to 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.

Butters fall into the oil category too. Mango Butter is fast absorbing and shea butter can help restore collagen. Butter is optional but the addition makes for a lovely, rich lotion. Cocoa butter is also a fun option. It does smell like chocolate after all!

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. I have only used Mountain Rose Herb’s Emulsifier. After all these years of cream making, I’m still not through their (very affordable) 1 lb. bag! I need to try another brand so I can offer more options but for now, I can’t guarantee a successful lotion if you don’t use MRH’s 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. You can even use hyaluronic acid!


A preservative is 100% necessary when water based ingredients are involved in a recipe. Water tends to grow bacteria very quickly. Often times a preservative makes up about 1-2% of the entire recipe. 

For simplicity sake, we’re going to make a very small batch of DIY lotion 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 DIY 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)

How to Make Lotion:

  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 DIY cream will thicken over 45 minutes to 24 hours!

This recipe makes about 4 ounces.

Step By Step Picture Tutorial:

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!

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!

You might also want to check out my Troubleshooting Lotion Making post!

More DIY Cream Recipes:

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

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Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 7 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on living a natural lifestyle.

32 thoughts on “How to Make Lotion-An Easy Step by Step Guide”

  1. 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!).

  2. 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.

  3. 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!


    1. 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.

  4. 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?


    1. 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!

    2. 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.


  5. 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.


    1. Andrea-I’m afraid I’m no help here. I’ve never used either ingredient to really know. Go to 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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!

  9. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

  10. Hi
    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

    1. 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.

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