Frequently Asked Questions About Making Creams & Lotions
Q: My cream feels gritty. What happened?
You likely didn't get all your emulsifiers fully dissolved. Don't worry, you can still save the batch. Simply reheat the lotion or cream in a double boiler until hot and ensure everything is fully melted, whisking continuously. Repeat steps for mixing until lotion is cool and ready to package. Note: When reheating a batch some of the effectiveness of the preservative used may have been lost. If you are concerned with shelf life add a little bit more preservative once lotion cools back below 40 degrees celsius.
Q: My cream or lotion is too runny. How can I fix it?
It is likely that too much water or not enough emulsifier was added. You can reheat your lotion in a double boiler until hot, add a small amount of extra emulsifier, Polawax or E-Wax, and stir until dissolved. Repeat steps for mixing until lotion is cool and ready to package. Since you have heated up your batch again, follow the same instructions as above regarding adding additional preservative. Note: Your lotions and creams will not reach their final thickness until fully cool, often taking up to 24 hours. Alternatively if you find your product to be too thick, simply thin using small amounts of luke warm water or hydrosol until desired thickness is reached while whisking continuously.
Q: My cream/lotion/body butter is lumpy, what happened?
If there is shea butter in your formula a good idea is to melt it first before adding it into the oils. This will ensure it is mixed evenly. If your oils are too cold the shea could solidify quickly and form lumps, so make sure all your oils are at least at room temperature. The lumpiness could also be a viscosity issue caused by Optiphen Plus preservative, refer to our All About Preservatives page for more information.
Q: My cream or lotion separated, what happened?
The most common cause of a cream or lotion separating is that emulsion was not maintained during the cooling stage. It is very important to whisk your cream very frequently (once every minute or two) to ensure that all the ingredients stay emulsified until it has fully cooled. Another common cause of a cream separating is due to the use of beeswax as an emulsifier. Here at Voyageur we have formulated beeswax lotions in the past but we have found that the results of using a vegetable emulsifying wax are far superior, so all of our current recipes use a vegetable wax, such as E-Wax, as a primary emulsifier. Beeswax lotions do have a tendency to separate, because we choose to use emulsifying waxes instead of beeswax we cannot provide troubleshooting tips.
Q: My cream or lotion feels greasy. What can I do to fix this?
A cream or lotion with a greasy skin feel could be from a few different causes. Take a look at the oils in your recipe: oils like Jojoba, Avocado, and Hemp are quite heavy and take longer to penetrate into the skin. Try substituting them with lighter oils such as Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel, or Coconut Oil Fractionated. If your recipe contains a high percentage of butters it could be contributing to a greasy skin feel as well. To eliminate this we have heard of customers using a small amount of tapioca starch at the end, but we have not tested this ourselves so we cannot vouch for its effectiveness.
Q: My cream or lotion feels waxy. How can I add more slip or glide?
A cream or lotion with a waxy skin feel is most likely due to the emulsifiers used. If you're looking for a smoother, more conditioning skin feel try decreasing the amount of stearic acid or emulsifying wax and add Incroquat TMS-50. You could also add Dimethicone or Cyclomethicone at their recommended usage rates to increase slip and provide a silky skin feel.
Q: My cream or lotion went MOLDY! What went wrong?
This is a common question we've received from customers over the years regarding surface mold on their lotions or creams. If you used a preservative, had clean packaging and production equipment, and the mold is not in every bottle, only some, and only on the surface and around the edges we can easily explain it. We've come to find through our own lotion and cream making that when your product is first packaged and the caps placed on, it is still continuing to cool in the hours that follow and moisture will evaporate out. This moisture will then sit on the inside of the cap and around the top of edge of your product. Within a short amount of time this moisture will cause mold growth because there is no preservative in the condensation. An easy way to prevent this from happening is to simply shake your bottle of lotion the day after making it to make sure any moisture is mixed back into your preserved lotion, or in the case of a cream simply uncap and dry off any moisture from the inside of the cap and give your cream a quick stir. Since there is nothing you can add to ensure that potential foreign contaminants will be killed, we recommend to err on the safe side and use cream spatulas when dispensing jar creams to minimize the introduction of bacteria from fingers dipping into the product.
Q: Why are your recipes done with percentages and weights?
We use weight measurements because it is more accurate and makes doubling a batch easier. Often volume measurement equipment can vary depending on manufacturers so the most accurate form of measuring a formula is by weight (in grams). Any scale that can measure in 1 gram increments is recommended. We offer a variety of digital scales on our website.
Q: Do I really need to use a preservative?
Some people choose not to use preservatives in their products and have had success, but here at Voyageur we recommend the use of preservatives for any product that contains water. Where there is water, bacteria can and will form, keeping in mind that even if you don't see mold on the surface of the cream there could be harmful microscopic bacteria inside. Your choice of preservative is very important, whichever one you choose should provide your product with broad to full spectrum coverage against bacteria, fungi, yeast, and microbial growth.