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.
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.
Emollients section of the blog
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.
Why use a preservative?
Which contaminants can get into our products?
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.