So 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Hand-held Blender
- 2 glass measuring cups
- Plastic Condiment Bottle or Funnel
- 4 ounce pump bottle (preferably glass)
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:
- 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.
- Prepare your Oil Mixture by adding the emulsifying wax and oil to your glass pyres bowl.
- Prepare your Water Mixture by adding the 6 TBSP. of distilled water to the other glass pyrex bowl.
- 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!
- 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.
- Add your water mixture into your oil mixture.
- Using your stick blender, blend your mixture for at least 1 minute.
- Continue to come back every 10 minutes or so to blend for 30 sec.-1 minute for the next 45 minutes to an hour.
- Add essential oils.
- 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:
It’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:
- DIY Moisturizer with Shea Butter
- DIY Face Cream with Rosehip & Cypress
- Almond Cocoa Body Lotion
- Easy Hand Lotion
- DIY Eye Firming Cream
- Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream