Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Foot lotion becomes foot cream

Wanda's operation might have been a success in fixing her feet, but it did quite a number on her skin! Yesterday's foot lotion is a great product for someone with normal to slightly damaged feet, but when you've got peeling skin, you know you need some serious help! (As a belly dancer, Wanda usually takes very good care of her feet, so we need something quick and intense!)

What could we make for her? An anhydrous mixture full of really intense oils and butters with exotic oils and extracts thrown in - maybe something whipped? - might sound like a good idea, but we need the water content of a cream because her feet are really really trashed. So a cream or lotion is the way to go here. I'm thinking a cream might be our best choice.

So what's the difference between a lotion and a cream? A lotion tends to have more water than a cream, and I usually use stearic acid instead of cetyl alcohol so it feels thicker and stays on the skin longer. I will increase the amount of oils we've been using and decrease the amount of water.

Let's take two approaches to this - today we'll modify our lotion to be more like a cream, tomorrow we'll look at modifying our basic body butter to be more foot friendly!

Here's our recipe from yesterday...
35.5% water
10% aloe vera
10% peppermint hydrosol
3% glycerin
2% sodium lactate, sodium PCA, hydrovance
2% hydrolyzed silk protein
0.5% allantoin

15% rice bran oil
5% mango butter
3% stearic acid
6.5% emulsifier (I like Polawax in this recipe)
3% menthol

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
0.5% eucalyptus essential oil
0.5% camphor essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
1% Vitamin E

So how do we make this more cream-y and less lotion-y? And how do we do it keeping the goal of making Wanda a very intense, very moisturizing foot lotion?

We want a few things in here for sure. We need barrier protection, repair of skin's barrier protection, and serious moisturizing. A little conditioning wouldn't hurt, so I think I'm going to add a bunch of really nice conditioning agents to this. And to make it more of a cream, we want to reduce the water based ingredients.

Humectants: We live in south-western B.C., which can be a very humid place, so humectants are our friends! I want to increase the glycerin in this recipe to 5%, keep the sodium lactate at 2 to 3%, and add some honeyquat or condition-eze 7 at 3% for more humectant-y goodness and to condition.

As a note, if you live in less humid climates - like Arizona - humectants might not be your best friend. Some people report feeling less moisturized when using large amounts of glycerin. You'll have to figure out how you like your lotions - I am formulating for a very humid climate and those are the weather conditions I consider when I'm creating something new.

Oils and butters: I like yesterday's choices of rice bran oil and mango butter, but we want to increase the oil and butter amount to make it more of a cream. So let's add 5% more butter to make it 10%. Should we increase the mango butter or add another one? Originally I was thinking about aloe butter, but I can always increase the amount of aloe in the water phase, so what about a little shea butter? It's nice and moisturizing, and has occlusive properties. It might feel a little greasy, but a good foot lotion should feel like it's working for you!

And what about adding something like evening primrose or borage oil? The GLA is a great skin barrier repair ingredient and can increase skin hydration and flexibility as well as reducing transepidermal water loss. Borage oil contains ferulic acid - a great anti-oxidant with soothing and moisturizing qualities - which reduces itching and inflammation. The ellagic acid can help increase skin cell regeneration and thickening of the skin, both of which are good things for damaged feet. Borage is a drier oil, so it might compensate for the greasiness of the shea and rice bran oil. (I know it's not a cheap oil, but this is for my best friend!!!)

So let's reduce the rice bran oil to 7.5%, add borage oil at 7.5%, keep the mango, and add 5% shea butter for a total of 25% oils or butters.

Emulsifiers: We've increased our oil phase to 36% of the total recipe (increase of 10% from the oils and butters), so we need to modify our emulsifier. We want to use 25% or 1/4 the amount of emulsifier as the oil phase, so we'll need 9% emulsifier in here! Which one to use. Polawax seems obvious, but why not use BTMS for a more conditioning, slightly drier feeling? So let's use that at 9%. (If you make conditioners, you know 7% makes for a thick conditioner. This will make a very thick mixture.)

If BTMS is so awesome - adding all that conditioning stuff - then why don't I use it all the time? Because of the powdery feeling. I'm not a fan of it in a body lotion, but in a foot lotion I'm not that worried about it. Besides, we have quite a lot of oils and butters in here, and I don't notice the dryness.

But wait! BTMS contains cetyl alcohol already and it's going to thicken up very well, so I think I can leave out the stearic acid amount. Which means I've reduced my oil phase to 33%, so I can reduce the BTMS to 8% of the recipe. So I'll have two conditioning agents - 3% honeyquat and 8% BTMS. Remember, if you use Tinosan to preserve your products, you'll have to find another preservative as this is now a cationic (positively charged) lotion. (Normally lotions are non-ionic or neutrally charged.)

Water based ingredients: I'm keeping the aloe vera - heck, I think I'll increase it to 20% of the water phase - but I'll get rid of the peppermint as it's probably a waste with all that menthol in there! I like the cromoist at 2% and I like the allantoin at 0.5%, so both of those remain the same. But we'll reduce the water level to compensate for the extra oils, butters, and humectants we've added. So we only need 25% water for a total of 45% water (aloe at 20%, water at 25%).

Hold on! We have 45% water? Doesn't that make it a water in oil lotion instead of an oil in water lotion? Yeah, kinda sorta, not. Although we have a low amount of actual water in our water phase, our actual water phase is 59.5% (57.5% in the water phase, 2% panthenol), which means we still have more water based ingredients than oil based ingredients. So it's still an oil in water emulsion. So we can use our regular emulsifiers for this application!

So let's take a look at this recipe now...

25% water
20% aloe vera
5% glycerin
2% sodium lactate
2% hydrolyzed protein (I like cromoist)
0.5% allantoin
3% honeyquat

15% oils - 7.5% rice bran oil, 7.5% borage oil
10% butters - 5% mango butter, 5% shea butter
8% Incroquat BTMS
3% menthol crystals

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
0.5% camphor essential oil
0.5% eucalyptus essential oil
1% Vitamin E

I'll throw in a lovely package of minty foot salts and a foot scrub bar, and send her good foot healing thoughts!

100 grams Epsom salts
20 grams baking soda
10 grams citric acid
1 to 2 ml peppermint essential oil

Mix. Package. Rejoice.

As a disclaimer, my best friend makes all this stuff with me, so instead of packaging it all up and giving it to her, we'd actually go have a super happy fun girly afternoon eating chocolate covered cherries and singing at the top of our lungs while marvelling at the wonders of emulsification. But when she was hobbling around, I had to create on my own. Sigh.

Join me tomorrow for modifying a body butter to be a foot cream.


Anonymous said...

What about using peppermint tea in place of water for an extra zip? Any concerns?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

In this recipe, I don't think you'll notice peppermint tea or hydrosol with all that menthol, so it's probably pointless. I do worry about brewing teas and infusing things ourselves as these kind of concoctions can be very welcoming to microbes if they aren't strained or treated properly.

Anonymous said...

That's what I was wondering... thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Arlene. Thanks for the comment. Thought you might be interested in this post - Free Advertising, my way - as my response.

Magia said...

Soap Queen does a really nice tutorial vid on infusing your own oils here.

As she's infusing in oils, rather than making a tea with water, the nasty microbes and things are going to be far less of an issue.

You wouldn't have to use your infused oil for lip balm like Anne Marie does, you could probably use it for almost anything. In fact I'm trying to design a cream for people with eczema and psoriasis at the moment, so planning to replace the 7.5% Rice Bran Oil with 7.5% infused Jojoba Oil in my own recipe.

I think it this is a nice way to take your lotion making on a step. I'm getting pretty good at making creams now (thanks for all the great info on your site Susan... indispensable!) So will be really good to be able to include my own infusions in oil. (If I'm going to put oil in a cream anyway, I might as well infuse it with something nice! Also, I go and research a bunch of stuff for conditions or benefits, and then can pick the stuff I want to infuse to make my own special infused oil, which I really like!)

Brandi Yates said...

This foot cream made the callouses on my feet go away. I used optiphen and it separated but Im still using it and my feet feel great!

Lynae said...

This was one of my very first lotions. Thank you so much for teaching me and many others how exciting it is when you pour an oily jar into a watery jar and beautiful clouds of white billow up!

I made foot lotion to experiment because I figured if I screwed it up, it would still be good enough for my feet... and I did screw it up! lol I didn't yet understand that there were 2 kinds of btms and I used btms-25, which has a lot of cetearyl alcohol in it and 8% of it makes for a VERY thick cream. The lotion mixed up fine and is still stable (I went and checked my sample shelf) but it is a bit like smearing minty lard on your feet.

You describe BTMS as having a "drier feel" I don't feel like btms makes a lotion feel less greasy when you spread it on than ewax or other emulsifiers, it only changes how your skin feels once the lotion is absorbed -- thats when you get that drier, powdery feel. Because this lotion absorbs so slowly, putting it on is kind of slimy for my taste. Because of that slow absorbtion, you also need to be prepared to slip your feet into socks and then bed if you use it... It will make your feet feel lovely in the morning. But putting shoes on or walking around barefoot isn't pleasant after using this foot cream.

I now make my foot creams using a variation of the Body Butter Bliss recipe from Lotioncrafter that you talked about more recently, using Lotionpro 165.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lynae! Thanks for the review! Email me at to claim your e-book! Please let me know which one you want.

Bob Nelson said...

Hi Lynae! Thanks for the review! I think it this is a nice way to take your lotion making on a step.