Thursday, November 7, 2013

Six ingredient lotions: A great way to learn what you like!

There's a concept I like to call the six ingredient lotion, and I encourage you to try it if you're new to the fantastic world of lotions! It's a really great way to learn what each ingredient brings to the product while making something awesome.

Here's why I'm suggesting that every homecrafter from the never-made-anything-before beginner to the most experienced formulator try making a less complicated lotion from time to time. Every lotion requires three (four) things. Oil, water, emulsifier - these are the things that are essential. Everything else is just a lovely bonus! So what if we made a lotion that only contained the things we really need instead of those things that catch our fancy? We'd have a lotion that would really showcase the oil or butter we chose to use.

Please note: There are actually four essential parts of a lotion - oil, water, emulsifier, and preservative. The preservative isn't essential for the chemistry of creating the lotion but it is essential for the chemistry of keeping it from growing horrible nasty things. When we use water, we have to use an effective broad-spectrum preservative. Not sure what this means? Click here for more on broad spectrum preservatives

So here's what I'm proposing...When you get a new oil or butter or new ingredient, make yourself a six ingredient lotion! Water, preservative, fragrance or essential oils do not count towards the six ingredients, but everything else does (including hydrosols or aloe vera that you might substitute for the water portion). You can make type of lotion you wish - body butter, creams, hand lotions, moisturizers, and so on - but you may only use six ingredients. Use any ingredients you like, just make sure you have an emulsifier in there. 

In the following recipe, we aren't considering water, liquid Germall Plus (preservative), or the fragrance as part of the six ingredients, although you can, if you wish. I'm considering the aloe vera, glycerin, shea butter, soy bean oil, sesame oil, and BTMS-50 as my six ingredients. 

39.5% water
20% aloe vera
3% glycerin

10% refined shea butter
10% soy bean oil
10% sesame oil
6% BTMS-50

0.5% liquid Germall Plus
1% fragrance oil (Clementine Cupcake)

Weigh the heated water phase in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Weigh the heated oil phase in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Heat both phases until both reach 70˚C and hold for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and mix. When the lotion reaches about 45˚C, add the liquid Germall Plus, and fragrance and mix well. Bottle, and rejoice

I'm posting this idea for a few reasons. The first is that we'll be taking a look at a few six ingredient lotions next week to see what my new oils bring to the party. The second is that I want to encourage you to try the awesome power of the simple lotion recipe instead of stampeding towards something really complicated. And the third is that I want you to know your ingredients. 

Knowing your ingredients means you can take a recipe and make a reasonable guess about the skin feel and viscosity of the product. I can look at this recipe and know that I'm making a medium thickness lotion that will feel about medium greasy on my skin. I don't have any thickeners in this lotion, but I know shea butter makes products thicker and I'm using 10%, which is a decent amount. I know the soy bean oil and shea butter offer some serious greasiness, and the sesame seed oil is about medium greasy, but the BTMS-50 will offer that powderiness to the product that will bring all the greasiness down to the medium level. I know that if I alter one of the oils, I'll alter the skin feel and I might alter the viscosity. 

Let's say I decide to use macadamia nut oil instead of soy bean oil, will I have a product that's less or more greasy feeling? Will it change the viscosity of the product? Or let's say I decide to go with mango butter - that it will be low greasiness and I don't like that, so I won't do it. If I change the emulsifier, what will be the result? What would be the skin feel of Polawax compared to Incroquat BTMS-50 and can I even use Ritamulse SCG here? (The answer to the latter question is no, Ritamulse won't work with over 25% oils!) 

I've learned how to know my ingredients by making batches of products like this and I encourage you to do the same. Let's regroup on Monday with this topic and see what we can learn by using our new oils in some six ingredient lotions! 

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Rahy said...


Just curious, do you have to use preservative if making a hair oil serum for example a blend of oils and silicone or just oils?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rahy. Welcome to the blog. Why don't you do a search for one of the ideas in your question? For instance "hair serum" or "silicone" or do I need to use a preservative in a product that doesn't have water in it? You're sure to find an answer as it's something I seem to write about every week.

succeswoman said...

Hi Susan i'm really glad with your blog i'm learning a lot thank you.

I made this lotion and at the first it was really hard bcos it was the first time i worked with BTMS-50 i know normal the emusifiers and thickeners clarify in the hot oil but the BTMS-50 kept the oils cloudy and it looks like the oil where cooling instead of heating so i was fighting with this.

But i kept doing my thing and the result was nice i really like the lotion. The next day i try to make it again and it was faster this time to make.

My question does BTMS-50 stay cloudly when heating up?

Thnx and keep the good work

Anonymous said...

Is the aloe vera in your six-ingredient lotion recipe the gel or aloe vera juice>