This week ask yourself this question: What is making you nervous when you think about making a lotion?
Are you scared of making a failed lotion? What's the worst thing you think could happen if you fail making a lotion? You'll waste supplies. You'll waste your time. You'll get your hopes up and have them dashed when you see that it's failed. You'll suck and be a bad person. (I don't believe this, but this is the kind of weird thing our brain believes!)
What's the best thing that could happen if you make a lotion and it works? You won't have wasted supplies. You'll be happy that you made a lotion and perhaps do a little dance (that the neighbours may or may not see). You'll post a picture of it on your favourite forum or perhaps tell the keeper of a blog you like to read about it (and send her a photo). How 'bout we focus on that part of the lotion making process!
Yep, you might fail. But that's one of the ways we learn. Keep notes throughout the entire process. Write down what happens in every phase so you can make the product again if it's a success, or avoid everything you did the first time with failures.
Let's take a look at the lotion making process and where people tend to make mistakes so we can avoid them next week! I'm breaking the lotion down into 4 phases - the prep phase, the heat and hold phase, the cool down phase, and the packaging phase.
THE PREP PHASE
This is the time when we get all our supplies and equipment ready for lotion making. Clean the surfaces in your workshop with a good cleaner, and ensure all your containers and stirring implements are clean. I like to use Pyrex jugs in my double boiler, and I tend to use metal spoons I bought from the restaurant supply store to stir. I fold a paper towel and put it near the double boiler so I can have somewhere to rest the spoons, but you can use any sort of spoon rest you like.
Mistakes that can be made:
- Not having a clean surface, which could lead to contamination. Fix this by cleaning your surfaces before starting.
- Not having your supplies ready. Fix this by buying your supplies in advance and making sure you have space for all your supplies.
A note on cleaning your space: I know a lot of people are worried about not cleaning their spaces well enough for fear of contamination, which can lead to scary things growing in lotion. Clean your space well, but don't obsess about it. I clean my space with alcohol - sprayed - and clean my heating and mixing vessels and utensils. Don't let the dog lick your utensils, wear gloves, put your hair back, and follow general cleanliness rules. This isn't to say we have to be lax about cleaning, just that we don't need to make this is the reason we don't make lotions!
Put everything from the heated water phase into the heated water phase container. Weigh your container and write the number down so you can replace the water that evaporates. Put everything in the heated oil phase into the heated oil phase container. Put both containers into a double boiler and watch until it reaches 70˚C. When it reaches 70˚C, start your timer for 20 minutes!
After 20 minutes, remove from the heat, weigh the water container again and replace the evaporated water, then pour the water in the oil phase or the oil into the water phase. Mix!
Mistakes that can be made:
- Not heating and holding for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Please do this. I know there are people out there who tell you you don't have to do this. I will tell you to heat and hold because this is the biggest indicator of success or failure when making a lotion. If a lotion doesn't fail because of a poorly written recipe, it fails because the maker didn't heat and hold! (There are exceptions here, but not many!)
- Putting the wrong thing in the wrong phase. In this lotion, we put the water in the heated water phase. The oil, butter, cetyl alcohol, and emulsifier go into the heated oil phase. And the preservative and the fragrance/essential oil go into the cool down phase.
- Not replacing the water that evaporated during the heat and hold phase. Boil up some water and let it cool down. After the 20 minutes of heating and holding, weigh the water phase again, and add enough to total the original amount. Now add the water to the oil (or the oil to the water) and mix well.
After you mix the lotion well (click here for more information on possible mixing techniques), monitor the temperature until it reaches about 45˚C, then add the cool down ingredients. In this case, that would be your preservative and your fragrance/essential oil. Mix again. Leave to cool to room temperature.
You can't really make any major mistakes here, except for adding things to the cool down phase that shouldn't be here and not waiting for it to get to 45˚C. Just watch your preservative - some can cause the lotion to curdle.
This one's easy. Wait until it reaches room temperature, then put into a jar or bottle. I use a piping bag to get mine into the bottle, but there are loads of ways to do this. The only way to mess this is up is to re-use an old, unclean bottle.
So what is holding you back from making lotions? Let me know! And get ready to make it next weekend! By January 31st, you won't be able to say you've never made a lotion!