Saturday, March 26, 2011
If you're new to lotion making: Which ingredients should you buy?
Okay, the liability waiver's out of the way, so let's get to some ideas for ingredients.
If you're new to lotion making, I think the basic ingredients required are a few oils and at least one butter, a thickener, an emulsifier, a humectant, and a preservative. Let's take a look at each of these ingredients.
I know I've mentioned it before (find the post here on choosing oils), but I'll repeat it again. For the most part, you can substitute one oil for another in any recipe you see. You don't need to have a ton of oils to make great recipes, but using a different oil will result in a different skin feel, which is okay because you're starting out and you want to try different recipes to see what you want in a lotion!
Choose a few you like and use those in your recipes. Consider what types of lotions you want to make (and I am warning you right now, you will want to branch out to make lotions for every part of your body!) and what skin feel you want. My favourites are fractionated coconut oil (very light), soybean (light), rice bran (medium), and olive oil (heavy), with a few others I might use for specific purposes like foot lotions or facial products.
Click here for all the posts on our emollients.
I recommend getting a thickener, either stearic acid or cetyl alcohol, or both. They're not expensive - somewhere around $3.00 a pound - so you can have both on hand. Stearic makes thicker, draggier creams and cetyl makes thinner, glidier lotions. It's good to try both to see which one you prefer.
When it comes to emulsifiers, you have a few choices. If you're just starting out, I'd recommend Polawax or Incroquat BTMS-50 for good, low chance of failure type emulsifiers. Incroquat BTMS-50 is a good choice if you like drier feeling lotions and want to branch out into hair care products. Polawax is a great emulsifier that works really well at 25% your oil phase. (I have nothing against emulsifying wax NF, but I find suppliers carry all manner of things called emulsifying wax NF and when you're starting out, you want to use the most stable emulsifier you can find). If you're choosing something other than these two emulsifiers, see if they require a thickener or some other ingredient or process to remain stable.
humectants. I like both sodium lactate and glycerin for my products. Both are inexpensive and both are great humectants. I use sodium lactate when the stickiness of glycerin could be annoying and I use glycerin when I was a great humectant that won't make me sun sensitive. (And I combine the two in hand lotions because my skin is surprisingly dry right now!)
And we come to the preservatives. You can choose from many different preservatives, but check to make sure when you add it to the product (heated water, heated oil, or cool down phase) and ensure your recipe is compatible (for instance, not using positively charged ingredients like BTMS-50 with Tinosan).
As the addiction grows, you'll want to add other ingredients to the mix, but these are what I consider the essentials for lotion making. Oh, and don't forget to order a few bottles and jars! You'll need something to contain your lotions, and those re-used Mason jars aren't your best choice (plus fancy packaging makes the lotion look more awesome).
You'll find a few more hints and tricks in this post on basic lotion making.