Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What ingredients do you need if you're starting out? Lotions

I'm excited that you're thinking about making a lotion! They are such great products, and after you've made one for the first time, you won't be so scared about making it again!

I encourage you to follow the recipe and instructions exactly the first time you make it, and keep loads of notes so you know what you did this time and do the same again! I know it might seem tempting to change the recipe to include some exciting cosmeceuticals or extracts, but making it as written the first time out will give you an idea of how the emulsification works and how the lotion should feel on your skin. If you start altering it before you've even made it, you might end up creating an epic fail and you won't know where you went wrong!

If you've never made one before, may I suggest you check out this post - it's time to make a lotion! - which I wrote for newbies like yourself?

What ingredients do you need to make a lotion? There are four ingredients that are necessary to make a lotion.
  • Oil - it is called an oil-in-water lotion, after all. 
  • Water - again, it's an oil-in-water lotion. 
  • Emulsifier - this brings the water and oil together. 
  • Preservative - when we have water in a product, we need to have a preservative. 
That really is it. We add other ingredients to change the skin feel, increase the viscosity, offer benefits like occlusion or moisturizing, and so on. But these are the four you need to start off making a lotion.

Check out the post called Back to the very basics: What you need to know about making any product (part two), which deals with lotion making if you want to know more about these ingredients. 

If you want to make a lotion, you will need these four ingredients. But how to choose them?

Water: Get some distilled water from the local grocery store. Using distilled water means there is less chance for contamination and rancidity from metals we might find in our tap water. Some will argue that it's okay to use tap water; I don't think it is. It costs maybe $2.50 for 4 litres or a gallon of distilled water, and it lasts forever if you don't use it all today. It's a small price to pay to ensure your product stays uncontaminated.

Oils: You can choose from many different oils, but I suggest you get some small bottles - no more than 4 ounces of 120 ml of each -  of a few inexpensive oils to see which ones you like. If I had to choose for you, I'd suggest getting a dry feeling oil like macadamia nut oil or hazelnut oil, a medium greasy feeling oil like rice bran oil or sesame seed oil, and a greasy feeling oil like soy bean oil to give each a try. They aren't expensive oils, so you could get a bottle of each to play with!

You can substitute some of the oil amount for a butter, like mango butter, shea butter, or cocoa butter. You can choose any of these three butters, depending on what skin feel you would like. You don't need a lot for a lotion - for a 120 ml or 4 ounce bottle of lotion, you're looking at using maybe 10 grams, so only order the smallest amount you can, unless you might use them in anhydrous products like whipped butters or lotion bars.

Related posts:
Emollients section of the blog

Emulsifier: I recommend that you start off with Polawax. It is an emulsifying wax, but you should see it by the brand name at your supplier. Polawax is fairly foolproof stuff. I have only had one lotion fail when using Polawax, and that was completely my fault as I didn't have the two phases up to the same temperature.

Preservative: Preservatives are not optional. If you are making a product that contains water or might be around water, you must use a preservative. If you don't want to use a preservative, then stick to making non-water containing or anhydrous products. There are many preservatives to choose from, but for a lotion, you want something that is suitable for water containing products. I use liquid Germall Plus in my products, and I suggest this one to the beginning formulator as it's easy to use, fairly foolproof, and compatible with anything you'll make when you start out. Check out the preservatives section of the blog to learn about other preservatives that might interest you.

Related posts:
Why use a preservative?
Which contaminants can get into our products?

I would like to suggest an additional ingredient for your first lotion. Glycerin, which is a humectant. It draws water from the atmosphere to your skin, offering lovely hydrating powers to any lotion. You use it at up to 5% in the heated water phase of your lotion. It's an inexpensive ingredient, and it makes a huge difference in your products.

And packaging! We can't forget that you'll need containers to put your products into when completed. I like to use pump bottles for my lotions, but some people like tottle or malibu containers for this application. Get one or two of each and see what you like.

So what should your shopping list be for a first time lotion?

Distilled water - buy from the local grocery store or pharmacy
An oil or two - a small amount, like 60 ml to 120 ml (2 to 4 ounces)
Possibly a butter - small amount - no more than 60 grams or 2 ounces
Emulsifier - preferably Polawax, say no more than a 60 gram or 2 ounce container
Preservative - a small container, probably no more than 30 ml or 1 ounce
Glycerin - a small container, no more than 30 ml is necessary
A few containers suitable for a lotion, like a malibu or tottle and a pump bottle

This list will enable you to make quite a few lotions.

Related posts:


Gisele Paul said...

Thank you Susan. I have followed your blog for some time now. You're a great teacher. I am a beginner at making emulsions.Your blog has been very helpful.

La Prairie Lady said...

Hello Susan

Health - Happiness - Prosperity for 2015

I am running out of day cream. I do not wear make-up every day but I always put a foundation because I have white skin.
As I learned to make lotion and body cream this year, I was wondering if I could use as a base cream makeup.
As I sometimes extreme, I buy a lot of products this year and I do not want to buy more.
What kind of cream I do? I want a non-greasy cream.

I have some emulsifiers: Ewax- BTMS 25- Stearic Acid - bee wax
Humectant: Glycerin - Dimeticone - Cyclometicone
Hydrolyzed Silk Powder - Hydrolyzed Oat Protein liquid - AHA

I have to seriously make a list of all the products I have.


Goya & Fig said...

Hello and Happy New Year Susan!

I have a pressing question, after reading your post today. I always thought that, once a bottle of distilled water was opened, it was best to use it within 3 days (kept refrigerated), then throw out. Is this NOT true? Have I wasted dozens of mini bottles of water (well, I did drink the 3 day old water, so not a complete waste) through ignorance? I always thought it was a strange rule, as I keep my flower waters in the fridge for up to 6 months (though I do add LG+ to them...).
If you could confirm, the earth would be a happier place with less plastic (thrown out by me at any rate!).


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gisele! Thank you for your very kind words! I really appreciate them. I'm happy to help!

Hi Diane! Have you taken a look at my moisturizer recipes? I like this post as it's the start of a series of making moisturizers. BTMS-50 is a good emulsifier for facial moisturizers as they won't be too greasy, but BTMS-25 isn't emulsifying enough. I would suggest trying e-wax with your silicones in place of your oils and see how you like it.

Hi Candice! I used your question as a Weekend Wonderings. The short answer is that it seems to be okay to keep it after opening. The long answer is in the post!

As an aside, there is a lot nonsense out there about distilled water. Doing a search led me to all kinds of interesting places!

Nanette said...

Hi Susan,

I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from your postings. Your knowledge is incredible and I really enjoy your outlook and writing style. This blog now is open in at least two windows in my iPad, Kindle, iMac each. One of those is nearby when formulating which is almost daily now. My kids believe Mr. White has moved in.

That being said I have two questions. One is how to measure with powdered ingredients. Allantoin I've mastered but I am unsure with things like powdered panthenol and powdered extracts. Do we weigh these as we would their liquid counterparts? I'm concerned they are more concentrated and I'd be overusing.

The other is not so much a question as it is a concern or downright intimidation. ph values scare me to death. I have the strips and understand the scale and concept but I am terrified of adding something that may whack all out of balance. I'd love to begin playing with AHA's and BHA's but need to gain knowledge which, of course, is the enemy of fear and intimidation. Did I pass over or miss postings on this? I doubt you have not already thoroughly covered it.

Also, I have a suggestion for a water phase vessel. I purchased a few Erlenmeyer flasks, 1L, 500ml, and 250ml. These have significantly reduced evaporation in my water phases and are very inexpensive. Easy to clean with a baby bottle brush and sterilize by boiling or with stearamine tablets. Please let me know if there is a concern using these.

Lastly, just before you posted on ingredients for the newbie I had put together a list for a friend. Not that I'm an expert. Far from it. These were ingredients I found I really wanted and needed to have from the perspective of a newbie . Most I added a short explanation with as well. If you like, I could email that to you. I would not post that without your taking a look or permission. It is your blog! I've also found taking an inventory to be very helpful. This goes against my grain as I am not organized by nature. But, I got so tired of over ordering preservative!

Best to you!


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nanette! Thank you for your very kind words. Measure your powdered ingredients as you would your non-powdered ingredients, with a scale into the proper phase. Consult with your supplier to see what they suggest as the usage rates. (When I used powdered panthenol, the suggested usage rate was the same as the liquid.) Or read the posts I've written on the powdered extract to learn more about them.

Flasks are a great idea, and I wish I had some! Where did you get your flasks?

Send me your list. I'd love to see it!