Sunday, January 10, 2010

If you're new to lotion making...

Since a lot of what I'll be writing about for the next few weeks - at least - will be about lotion making, I thought I'd link back to some posts on lotion making. (If you're interested, I've put together all the these posts in a downloadable PDF format here...) If you want the posts on the various oils, butters, and so on, please consult the right hand side bar for those downloads.

The chemistry of skin.

1. Weigh your water phase into a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

1a. Weigh your total water phase on a scale - jug and all - so we can compensate for the lost water before mixing. And set some water in a separate container to heat. A pot with water on the stove or boiling up the kettle works well. You don't need to boil it the whole time - bring it to boiling now and you'll have some less-than-boiling water for step 3a. 

2. Weigh your oil phase into a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

3. Heat both phases to 70˚C and hold for 20 minutes. This ensures both phases are the same temperature when we mix them together. (This is part of the emulsification process - the heating part of emulsification.)

3a. Remember how we measured the water phase in step 1a? Measure it again - zero your scale and measure the jug and all. Add enough of the warm water to get you to the total weight from step 1a. 

4. When both phases reach 70˚C, pour the water phase into the oil phase and mix very well with a stick blender or hand mixer (or Kitchenaid if you're a lucky person!). Mix periodically as the temperature drops. (Why do we add the water to the oil phase? It's called phase inversion, and you can find a post on this topic here...)

5. When you reach 45˚C, add your cool down ingredients and mix very well.

6. Allow the lotion to come to room temperature before bottling. If you are using jars, just glop in what you have made. If it's a lighter lotion, you could probably pour it into the bottle with a funnel. For thicker lotions, I have found using a piping bag (disposable, from the cake or chocolate decorating store) is the easiest way to get things into bags.

Here are some bottling tips! And some tips on how to choose the best bottle for your product.

7. Always label your bottle with the ingredients and date so you can replicate it or throw it away when the shelf life expires.

Here's a post with another argument for heating and holding - critical micelle concentration, phase inversion, and solubility all lead to increased emulsion stability.

And here's a post on why we heat and hold our phases separately.

And here's a post on epic lotion failures and why that happens!

Here are a few things to keep in mind. We can never be truly sterile in the home environment, but we're going to try our best!

Heat and hold your ingredients in the water and oil phases for 20 minutes at 70˚C. This not only ensures the two phases are at the right temperature for emulsification, but the heat will destroy icky things in the water.

Use distilled water. Although tap water is fine for drinking, it might contain metals and other things that might lead to contamination of your products. It's not expensive - $2.00 for 4 litres or so - and it's easy to store in your workshop.

Don't worry about sterilizing your bottles. If they were stored properly and are from a reputable supplier, they are already clean. And don't re-use bottles or jars. I know this seems wasteful, but you can never get them truly clean. And the rancid smell of oil ruins the next product in the jar!

Choose your containers well. Some bottles can't handle high amounts of fragrance oil, for instance, or others will suck the fragrance out!

Use only body safe fragrance oils and ingredients. A candle oil might smell nice, but if it's not approved for body use, don't even think about it!

If you are planning to sell your products, get them challenge tested at a lab. Yes, this costs money, but it's better than sending out contaminated products. And don't make claims about your products. And watch your language! I know use the word "soothe" for some ingredients, but you can't make that claim on a body wash or lotion you might sell.

Here's an example of my recipe sheet. I have the second column to make notes while I formulate - what if I'm out of aloe vera? - and a section at the bottom to make notes about fragrances, oils used, and so on with dates on those modifications. If I've changed a recipe more than twice, I'll go back to the computer and update the recipe entirely and re-print it for my binder. I can't say it enough - write everything down!

Keep a separate folder on the computer for your recipes - I have one for recipes I've made, one for recipes I'd like to try. I keep all my printed notes in a binder in plastic covers. I write on them with grease pencil as I'm working in the workshop, then update the recipes afterwards.

Cleaning up is easier if you're using a d-Limonene based cleanser (something with "orange oil"). It really does break down grease. Make some for yourself using a dishwashing liquid and 10% d-Limonene and 10% polysorbate 20. I squirt this into my washing tub in the sink, then I throw the dishes in as I'm using them. I wash them, then they are suitable for the dishwasher without the greasiness!

Buy spoons! I went to a restaurant supply store and bought a ton of spoons! You'll need them. And visit the dollar store for funnels and bags and other things!

Get a good scale. I realize this should have been the first note, but I didn't think of it until now. A good digital kitchen scale - I use Escali - that can weigh to 1 gram is great, and one that measures to 0.1 grams is greater. (I use these for mineral make-up.)

Pyrex jugs are your friend! I have a few in each size - 1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cup, and 2 litres - and you will always want more!

Well, that's it from me. If you have some ideas, please contribute to this post in the comments section because I know there are some very experienced lotion makers out there!


Lalla said...

This is a very good post. I've never used distilled water (I save it for photography) because I thought that heating the water killed all bacterias.

I bring the water phase to 80°C for 20 mins. Do you think that 80°C is too hot?

Tara said...

Do you disinfect your equipment (Pyrex, spoons, thermometers, etc) before use, or how do you go about this?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Before I go into the workshop, I run all my stuff through the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. I clean my workspace with a mix of alcohol and d-Limonene (to get rid of potential grease), and I spray those things I might have forgotten (like spoons or funnels) with alcohol. I use a lot of disposable things in my workshop - pipettes, plastic cups and spoons, or piping bags - which I know isn't the most environmentally friendly practice, but it keeps away the ick and I do put them all in the recycling.

I assume any containers I get from my suppliers are clean, so I don't do anything special with those except keep them in a closed bag or box until I'm ready to use them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan.

I've got a question on the heat and hold. Do you just heat to 70C and keep it above that temp, or do you hold at 70C during the 20 minutes?

I made some lotion today. I placed my water phase and oil phase in a pyrex cup. Then placed each in a pot of water. I found it somewhat difficult to keep at the temp without going above. Also, by the time I completed the 20 minutes, even after adding a little extra water, I had less than I needed for my recipe.

Just wondering if you have any suggestions. Do you cover your pyrex cups/bowls (whatever you use to hold your phases in the double boiler)?

By the way...LOVE your blog! I've ordered up all the supplies to make a toner, cleanser and moisturizer. Looking forward to trying some new facial products!

Thank you

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Michele. Thanks for the kind words.

Heat up to 70˚C and hold it there for 20 minutes. If you are getting well over 80˚C, turn down your double boiler! I have found it's hard to get an oil phase over 80˚C in a double boiler. The water phase can get over that at times, so just keep your eye on it and turn down the heat, if necessary.

I use an electric fondue pot and I love that I can control the temperature - I start out at a higher temperature, then move it to about 200˚F or the "keep warm" setting. This works well for me. (Mine is a Rival fondue pot and was about $40 Cdn at London Drugs, Zellers, or Home Outfitters. It's worth every penny to me!)

I use Pyrex jugs and I cover them with a plate or a bowl or a piece of transparency paper (hey, I have a lot of it around) to ensure I don't get a ton of water loss. This also serves to increase the pressure in the container because the steam can't escape, which makes it easier to get to higher temperatures. (Do vent it every now and then - you'll want to do this to check the temperature anyway.)

In an ideal world, we'd all have Erlenmyer flasks - they make our formulating look even cooler, but the tapered top will help with reducing condensation. I've used small mouth Mason jars. Anything you have that has a smaller top than bottom will help to reduce condensation.

I suggest having some distilled water simmering nearby when you are lotion making to make up for the condensation. Weigh your water phase after heating (I write down what it weighed beforehand with the weight of the container included) and add the water you need back up to the right amount. Then add it to your oil phase and make lotion!

Matt said...

Hi Susan

First off, I love your blog, it's very informative. I have a couple of questions in regards to the heat and hold phase.

I usually incorporate various kinds of hydrosols to the water portion of my formulations but have never held the 70°C for more than a few minutes because I am afraid of losing the beneficial properties with too much heat. Is this a valid concern or am I just being paranoid?

Also with the oil phase, wouldn't exposing certain oils to 70°C for 15-20 minutes cause them to degrade or go rancid more quickly?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Matt. I don't worry about heating my hydrosols - they can handle it. And yes, increasing the heat on our oils will increase the oxidation rate of those oils, but not enough to make them go rancid any more quickly than those that haven't been heated. For instance, your olive oil will have a shelf life of a year in a lotion whether it's heated and held or not. It sounds like a lot to heat our oils to 70˚C/158˚F, but it's not a lot for an oil. You might lose a few days on that lotion compared to one that wasn't heated and held when it comes to rancidity, but you stand the chance of losing a lot more if you don't heat and hold as you could have greater contamination rates and the chance of increased emulsification failure.

Here's a post on another reason to heat and hold - phase inversion and emulsification. I'm going to update this post with that information now because I think it's so important!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't use a fondue pot that has been used for cooking for food prep. However, if a fondue has been cleaned and disinfected can it be used to make hair care and lotions products? a woman offered me a fondue pot that she doesn't use anymore and hasn't in quite some time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I kind of have the same question as Lalla who posted the first comment. Can emulsification happen at a higher temperature than 70°C?

juanita said...

Hi there
Thanks for all the info, I know you said you mainly use Germall plus, but it has propylene gycol in it, What about using Leucidil?

Grasi said...

does anyone knows some information about the percentage of Methylchloroisothiazolinone in a recipe?
I read the percentages Susan recommends but I dind't find about Methylchloroisothiazolinone specifically, and I've been reading about it and it can be an irritant and is used at 15 to 8 ppm(wikipedia) which seems to bt too low concentration. Can anyone help me?

Anonymous said...

Hello Susan first I want to commend you on your blog it's really good and you are doing a tremendous job God bless you. I am an industrial chemistry student in a Nigerian university and I came across your blog while surfing the net for information on soap and lotion making I would love to get your books but I Dont know how and I don't have any family members in the united kingdom pls could you provide me with the necessary info required in getting your books on soap making and lotion making and if there are any other books available for purchase I would be happy thank you very much ...............Joan

Justin kane said...

I followed everything to the T, but I used beeswax instead of the waxes you suggested... Is this where I went wrong? It definitely looks like lotion, creamy and white. But it separates easily and forms a crust on top.

Would you be able to make a lotion and recipe guide for beeswax? If Burts bees can do it, why can't I? Lol

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Justin. Beeswax isn't an emulsifier. You will never make a successful lotion with beeswax. You need to invest in some emulsifying wax.

Melanie Tiongson said...

Hi susan! Can u help me choose ingredients for my first lotion. I've never tried make lotion before but i want to try your recipe. I live in a country that only nas limited access to raw materials on making lotions so i only have few options. In emulsifier we only have glycol monostearate and ceteareth 20& cetearyl alcohol. And in preservative, phenoxyethanol and some paraben mixture (i hadnt try to ask the seller yet). I hope you can help me choose the ingredients. Thank you so much. (Sorry for my poor english)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Melanie. Have you done a search on the blog for those ingredients? I've written quite a bit about using that combination as an emulsifier in the sections on HLB and have a few recipes there. Take a look at the preservative section for parabens - you'll see they can work well as a broad spectrum preservative. Phenoxyethanol does not work well on its own - it needs something else with it. I'd go with the parabens.

Melanie Tiongson said...

Hi susan. Yes i've done some research on your blog and on other sites about emulsifier. And i learn about HLB, i found out that glycol monostearate has a low HLB so it needs to be paired up with high HLB. i also read that a combination of glycol monostearate and ceteareth 20 is good one, but can i combine it with the ceteareth 20 if it has combination of cetearyl alcohol? The seller where im planning to buy doesn't have ceteareth 20 alone.

I also read in a combination of glyceryl stearate and polysorbate 20. Do think it would be a good emulsifier?

About the paraben mixture of preservative, i already ask the seller on what's in it. They say its a mixture of 5 parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, Ethyl, and Iso-butyl Paraben) and Phenoxyethanol.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Melanie. You can use a combination of GMS and whichever high HLB emulsifier you wish. I have heard the skin feel of GMS and polysorbate 20 isn't the greatest, but I encourage you to get both and see which one you like. And it sounds like a good preservative!

HeidiL said...

First, I want to thank you for this blog. I am in the middle of you're downloadable book Lotion Making 101. It is truly, truly fantastic. Everything so far seems if not quite straightforward, then at least certainly comprehensible. And your writing style has somehow managed to 'dumb it down' enough that a non-chemistry person like me can understand it, yet still get the depth and knowledge I would have expected from something much less readable. Not an easy task to manage, and you've done it so very eloquently.

But I can't mentally get past this one super basic concept... I understand the idea of heat and hold, I get the mechanics of double boilers. But how on earth do I control the temperatures of the water and oil phases? You list the minimum temp, but what is the max each phase can get before we start to see degradation of the beneficial properties of our ingredients? (I do of course realize that will vary based on exactly which ingredients I choose, but I'm hoping for a basic rule of thumb). I think you may have said 85 degrees somewhere, but does that apply to both phases? Then, I know the two phases need to be about the same temp when we combine them, but how close is close enough? I keep imagining having these 2 pots constantly on and off the heat, in and out of the water baths, stove on, stove off, as I frantically try to achieve and maintain a specific even temperature for 2 pots simultaneously. I can't help but imagine this horribly comical juggling act! Is there a trick to it, or is the reality of it just not as difficult as this frantic scenario I've built in my head?

One more question. I currently make an oil based body butter. Basic recipe is more or less: 50% butters, 25% coconut oil, 25% liquid oil. Any thoughts on how I'd determine the specific melting point for the finished product? I Originally thought I could take the temp at which each ingredient liquifies and the % of the total solution and come up with a simple formula, but the liquid oil does not seem to have a temp at which it becomes solid available from reliable sources. When I plug in the figure I've gotten from the sources I have been able to find and then do the logical math, the calculation I come up with is clearly inaccurate. Thoughts?

Thanks again for your wonderful blog, and for writing such a kick-but book!


HeidiL said...

Oops, forgot to subscribe to the thread! Please excuse me, I'm new to this!

Jay Sy said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks so much for a great guide to lotion. I'm glad that after 2 failed attempts, I came across your blog and discovered where I was going wrong!

One question. When you are adding the water phase to the oil phase, are you blending the oil phase and slowly pouring the water phase into the mix? Or are you literally just pouring the water phase into the oil phase, inserting the stick blender, and then blending away?

Thank you!!!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Heidi! I've answered both your questions in longer form in today's Weekday Wonderings. The short answer is that you are worrying too much and that you can't figure out the melting point by doing math!

Hi Jay! I've answered your question in today's Weekday Wonderings. The short answer is that I pour oil into water then mix!

Irene said...

Hi swift,

thanks for this post, it helps me so much. I make a 100 gram of body lotion, I have add water to replace the evaporation in water phase, but somehow when I weigh my lotion, it is less than 100 gram. Then I try to make another one to find out what's wrong and I realize that I lost some part of oil after hold and heat process. Do oils also evaporate? I hold the oil phase for 20 minutes when it reaches 70 degree celcius, but it fluctuates around 70-75 degree celcius. Thanks, Swift.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Irene. Oils don't evaporate. Things like cyclomethicone or other volatile esters might, but not oils. I'm not sure how to explain the difference in weight except that you might have forgotten to add something to the mix? That fluctuation is okay - just don't let it get to 80˚C or higher.

Irene said...

Thanks for your reply, swift. I will make another one and put notice on oil phase. Will let you know the outcome :)

Irene said...

Hi swift,

it's me again. I have done another experiment with lotion. Yes, you are right, oils don't evaporate. I weight all of the steps. Oil phase is okay, water phase is okay. It turns out that some grams lost after I mix oil and water phase. Everything is ok until the mixing phase. I can't figure out what's wrong in my process.

If my total ingredients are 100 grams, the lotion I make should be 100 grams, isn't it?

Thanks in advance.

Irene said...

Hi swift, to make it clear, I loss the grams (around 5-10%) in the cooling phase when I wait the temperature down below 45 celcius. I have done step 3a (basic instruction for making a lotion) before mixing oil phase and water phase. Thanks.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Irene. Is it possible you are failing to clean the container completely of the mixture or that you're leaving a bunch on the beaters? Or is there a difference in weight between the container in which you heated the oils and the container in which you're mixing it? There is no reason that you should be losing any weight in your containers to evaporation at these stages - as I mentioned above, oils don't evaporate - and the only explanation is that you are losing lotion to the beaters and lack of scraping the containers.

Jones Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victoria said...

What do you think about this self preserving idea?
"fungi require a water activity of at least 0.7 and bacteria require above 0.9. So, if the water activity of these Lush products is below 0.6 or so, pretty much nothing will grow in them and they don’t need to add preservatives."

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Victoria! The idea of water activity is interesting - check out this post from the FAQ on the topic of water activity - but I wouldn't trust it for a few reasons. One is the question of how we would test to make sure it is below 0.6 if we were to do this at home? (I'm sure there's a machine that Lush could use...) The second is whether water will be introduced in some way, through wet hands or a wet bathroom. The third is the question of whether a lotion - for instance - that has more oil than water feels nice on our skin.

When it comes to Lush, though, I have to be honest that I don't know if I trust them. They seem a bit sneaky when it comes to matters like preservation. There are products they advertise as being self preserving in some countries that contain preservatives in others. I've written about this in this post from a while ago.

Jay Sy said...

Hi Victoria and readers,

I was wondering if I could ask for some advice as to what happened to my batch of lotion/cream. I have been using it for months and I've really liked what I made. However, the other day I had the cream in my car and it must have got pretty hot because it melted. But it never resolidified (waiting for days and put it in room temperature + cold temperature). My cream is a very runny and soupy mess. Is there a stabilizer that can be added to lotion or cream to prevent this from happening?

Thank you!

ps. The cream is 60% water and 40% oil.

Vidyut G K said...

Thank you for this fantastic blog. It is really a superb resource and I read it often (far more than the comments you see :D )

I wanted to ask about the heating and holding. I often like to use things like honey, aloe vera gel and hydrosols (I noticed you aren't worried about the hydrosols, but then they are a product of distillation, so heat probably won't bother them much beyond possible loss of fragrance/whatever), but with things like aloe vera gel or honey, I have heard that they lose beneficial properties when heated. What can/should be done in such a case? Both are ingredients that could be used liberally, depending on product. Or do you just go ahead and heat everything for 20 minutes?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Vidyut! Thank you for your kind words! I've seen your name around the blog lately, and I'm happy you're here!

I heat honey and aloe vera all the time because they can handle heat. There's this idea out there that some of our ingredients need to be treated gently. This isn't the case. There are a few ingredients that need to be added at our cool down, like preservatives, powdered extracts, and panthenol, but most other things can be heated without concern. If your supplier says the ingredient can handle heat, then heat it!

Bayan Almahfoodh said...

I made a 500g lotion last night and used 1.8% Optiphen Plus as preservative. This morning, I found out that the usage percentages for this preservative are 0.5% to 1.5%.
So, I have 0.3% (1.5 gram) extra in my lotion.
Is it possible to create another small batch of the same lotion without preservative and add it to the over preserved one?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Bayan. Yes, it is.

Oracle Equipments said...

Thanks for making the effort to describe the terminlogy to the beginners!
water bath manufacturers

Sarah Adigba said...

Hey Susan how would you hold your water and oil phases? What method do you use to keep them at 70deg C?

Ann Mcleod said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for your blog. It has great reading and fabulous information.

I have made a couple of lotions, each time increasing the water content to try and make them more runny. My last batch was 80% water and it is still quite solid.

I was wondering if it is due to the mixing stage. How long do I mix the lotion for after I add the oil to the water, and the when I add the ingredients to the cool down phase?

the recipe is
51.5% water
28% aloe Vera juice
2% glycerin

10% coconut oil
2% Cetyl alcohol
4% poly wax

1% vitamin e oil
.5% liquid germ all
.5% lavender
.5% frankensence

Thank you for all your help

Ann :-)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ann! I've reviewed your recipe and (I hope) answered your questions in today's Weekend Wonderings. Take a look and see what you think!

ProudKinky said...

Hi Susan,

I made hair milk with the recipe below (from you) but my coarse African hair did not enjoy it. I want something more moisturizing that defines my coils and that gives more slip.
I think if I add Cetearyl Alcohol, and Polysorbate 60, it may do the trick. What do you think and how can I add these 2 ingredients without messing up the entire product?

65% water

6% e-wax
8% soy bean oil
7% sweet almond oil
3% cocoa butter
3% shea butter
2% apricot kernel oil
1% beeswax
1% jojoba oil
1% wheat germ oil

1% Vitamin E
1% preservative
1% fragrance

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Proud Kinky. I'm afraid that's not my recipe as I don't use e-wax for hair and I don't use a bit of this oil and a bit of that oil. I also don't use 1% preservative as liquid Germall Plus's maximum usage is 0.5%. And I would never call anything with 65% water a milk - it'll be a decently thick lotion. This looks familiar though...I think I saw it somewhere else recently, but I can't remember where. Hmm...

For hair, we use cationic or positively charged emulsifiers that condition our hair and emulsify our oils. You can read more abut hair products in the hair care section of the blog.

If I might reflect, there's no use using a bit of this oil and a bit of that oil. Coconut oil is a great oil for hair, whereas the oils you're using aren't. There's no value in adding a titch of this and a titch of that when it comes to oils. 5% to 10% should be your goal.

Adding cetearyl alcohol will make this lotion waxy feeling and will add drag. Polysorbate 60 is a solubilizer and will feel sticky. There's no reason to add a solubilizer when you have an emulsifier. I have a feeling you've been reading quite a bit of information from other blogs as I would never make these suggestions to add slip and glide. Not that you can't read other blogs, but I'm completely at a loss where this recipe and any of these suggestions might be from as there's nothing here that I would encourage you to use or do for a conditioner.

My suggestion is to start from scratch by creating a conditioner with a positively charged emulsifier. If you make one and still want to add more slip and glide, do a search for "adding slip or glide" in a conditioner or look at the hair care section as I have tons of posts there on this topic.

Let us know how it turns out.

Harmony Prizeman said...

Hi Susan,

Im trying to download your formulating spreadsheet when and others that links to the dropbox however the links aren't working. Could you please repost the link?
Thanks in advance!

Harmony ☺

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Done! Sorry for the broken link. Dropbox is so annoying!

Destiny international said...

Thanks for sharing such a useful information with us …. I like the way you describe the post with us. Many thanks
industrial oil cleaning machine

martacat said...

Dropbox gobbled up your example of "my recipe sheet." I (and most likely others) would very much like to see. Would you post it again when you have a chance? Thank you.

Naeem said...