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Basic Instructions For Making Creams & Lotions

If you're new to making creams and lotions it might look a bit daunting to try to make them yourself. Rest assured, it's easier than you think! Here are the basic instructions and what you'll need to make a cream or lotion.

Key Components:

  • Water-

    Water is key to hydration, which goes for the skin as well! in most lotions the water content will be around 70-75%, in heavier creams it will be about 60-65%. Also called the water phase, this portion of the formula will include hydrosols, water-based proteins, preservatives, and extracts.

  • Oils

    Oils lay down a thin protective barrier on the skin and deliver important nutrients. Oils will generally make up between 10-20% of the formula. Also called the oil phase, this portion of the formula will include butters and oil-soluble proteins.
  • Emulsifiers

    Since oil and water do not mix, you need something to pull these ingredients together. Emulsifiers are usually vegetable waxes that when heated evenly distribute the molecules of water with oil and prevent separation. Common emulsifiers are E-Wax, Polawax, Stearic Acid, Incroquat TMS 50, Cetyl Alcohol, and Beeswax. The percentage of emulsifiers in a recipe is usually around 5 - 10% and you can use a combination of emulsifiers to create an optimal skin feel since each one will greatly affect the look and feel of the end product.

Key Components:

  • Scale that measures in one gram increments
  • At least two heat-resistant bowls (glass and stainless are best)
  • A microwave or double boiler
  • A whisk for mixing and a spatula for scooping
  • A thermometer
  • Bottles to package your product into

Step 1: Measuring and Mixing

  • Weigh out your water phase and your oil phase respectively. Your oils should be at room temperature or slightly higher, cold oils can potentially affect the cream negatively. Slowly add the smaller phase to the larger phase, whisking continuously and slowly. After a couple minutes of continuous stirring all the solids should be melted. If you are still seeing flakes or beads of wax, your lotion requires more heat. You can put the mixture into the microwave for 10 second increments, or you can heat the mixture in a double boiler, whisking constantly until the solids are full melted.

Step 2: The Cool-Down

  • Once your mixture is a smooth milky consistency it can begin to cool down. Take it off heat and whisk very frequently (once every minute or two) until it starts to thicken visibly, keeping your thermometer handy.

Step 3: The Final Additions

  • Once the lotion has reached 40 degrees Celsius add in your preservatives, proteins, and vitamins. Most of these are heat-sensitive and their properties would be damaged if added at a higher heat.

Tips and Tricks

  • Try colouring your lotions with Liquid LabColours or Mica for a shimmery look.
  • If you are having difficulty packaging your lotions into small-necked bottles try pouring the mixture into a large freezer bag, snipping the corner off, and piping the lotion into the bottle like icing! If you are making large batches of lotion you can also pour it into a 4 litre jug and pump the lotion into smaller bottles.