I know that making homemade lotion can be daunting so I wrote an extensive beginner’s guide to homemade lotion making with only a 3 ingredient recipe. Lately, I’ve been on a lotion making kick on a mission to make a thick, super moisturizing lotion that I need for my legs and heels. I’ve discovered a few new tricks and befriended an expert in making skin care that let me pick his brain on getting the perfect homemade lotion!
First things first, if you’re new to making lotions, let me explain the basics.
In order to make lotion you will have 2 phases.
First is a water phase that contains water based ingredients such as distilled water, hydrosol, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera etc. plus a natural preservative I use Neodefend).
The second phase is your oil phase that contains oil based ingredients such as oils, butters as well as emulsifying wax.
Both of these phases must be heated on the stove top separately and reach the temperature of around 170F degrees before they can be combined. Once you pour one phase into the other phase, you must blend with a blender or immersion blender on and off until the lotion begins to thicken.
How to Avoid Watery Lotion:
I’ve had a few of you mention that your homemade lotions are too watery or that they did not stay emulsified. I’ve never had that problem until last week which prompted me to reach out to the in-house formulator at Noble Roots. Despite using a new ingredient, cetyl alcohol, which helps thicken lotion on top of my usual amount of emulsifying wax, I had the most watery lotion ever. It truly made no sense. After talking to him, we realized that it came down to the whisk attachment I used to mix the water and oil phase. I usually use the emulsion blender attachment but decided to see how the whisk worked. Turns out, the whisk was not fast enough or aggressive enough!
“The amount of energy put into the formula at this point has an effect on how small the particle size of the two phases are. The smaller/tighter the better. Energy can by thought of as heat and mixing speed/aggressiveness.”
In conclusion, use THIS type of emulsion blender and ditch the whisk attachment. Be sure to mix your lotion thoroughly. I typically mix for 1 minute straight then come back in 5 minutes to mix again. Then I continue to mix for an hour or so until I notice the lotion thickening up.
Watery Lotion Fix:
I decided to experiment with the already made watery batch and reheated it thoroughly and added another tablespoon of emulsifying wax. I have told readers that this might thicken their mixtures up but I’ve never tried it myself. Low and behold, it works! Once the wax had thoroughly melted, I removed from the heat and used the proper blender attachment. Within 30 minutes, my lotion was thick and fluffy and has stayed that way! No need to throw out watery batches!
I typically get my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs but Noble Roots, another ingredients supplier, offers 2 products I can’t get from MRH-cetyl alcohol and natural fragrances.
New Homemade Lotion Ingredients I’m Loving!
Cetyl Alcohol is a plant-derived fatty alcohol used as an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. While its primary function is emulsification, it also adds softness and conditioning effects to skin and hair care products. My lotions have turned out thicker yet fluffier with this new addition! You should know that cetyl alcohol does not contain the type of alcohol that is harsh and dries out the skin.
As an emollient, cetyl alcohol has the ability to soften and smooth the skin. It helps to reduce rough, flaky skin. Emollients are also occlusive agents, which means it provides a layer of protection on the skin that helps prevent water loss from the skin.
I also tried out a few natural fragrances! NobleScent™ Natural Fragrance oils are unique whole plant extracts containing both the essential oil and the extract portions of the plant. They are 99.9% natural with most of them containing 10% essential oil.
I love using these natural fragrances and even add my favorite lavender essential oil to them for an even better scent!!
I hope this post helped if you enjoy making homemade lotions but tend to run into frustrations. As I was writing, it kind of felt like this was a very random post but hopefully it was helpful to someone. I definitely wanted to share that I was able to salvage watery lotion because nothing is more defeating then throwing way a batch of expensive ingredients!
Early next week I’m posting a new lotion recipe that is the best one I’ve made yet and the best smelling one too!! Stay tuned for that!
You said, “I continue to mix for an hour.” Is that for one minute, rest for 5 minutes and continue over the course of an hour’s time?
Hi Kathy! I knew my wording was awkward-Yes-I don’t mix for 1 hour straight, I mix really thoroughly when I add the phases together but after that I keep an eye on it and periodically return to mix more. Sometimes you’ll see your mixture separating so you’ve got to mix until no separation or the cream begins to thicken. Hope this helps!
Thank you! You saved my lotion! I’ve never had it finish so runny, but… It did. Your remedy worked great!!
Kelly! I’m so glad!!
I would usually just make my lotions with my ewax, water, fragrance, butters and oils and that would be fine. Today though it just would not thicken. It’s the same stick blender. Same oils, only I the deoderized cocoa butter but I can’t see that being the problem. Can I still save it?
Leona-Sorry to just now respond to this question. Did your lotion turn out? I’ve noticed that sometimes my lotions thicken up quickly and some thicken up over a few days. I’m hoping yours was just taking it’s time. I have ended up with a watery lotion and ended up reheating the entire lotion and adding more emulsifying wax, allowing it to melt and then blending again. That will thicken it up more.
You are a lifesaver! I ran into this issue and looked everywhere for a solution. Most solutions were related to the formula so I didn’t think for a second it might actually be the equipment. I saw your post and decided to give this a shot. So I ran to the store and got an immersion blender, started up a new batch and it totally thickened up within seconds! THANK YOU
Amy-I love hearing this! Glad to be of service!
When you said you already made a watery batch and reheated it thoroughly then added some emulsifying wax–was the batch you made, a finished batch with all the oils and water combined? My finished batch is already in jars. I made it two days ago. It is very runny because I used regular beaters rather than an emulsion blender (which I normally use). Can I empty those jars back into a mixing bowl and reheat the whole batch– if so, to what temperature? Do I then heat the emulsion wax to the same temperature or just put it in the finished batch to heat? If the latter is true, it has to get pretty hot for that emulsion wax to heat–approx. 159-170 degrees. Will that high of heat hurt the finished batch? Thanks much!