Sunday, July 10, 2016

Weekend Wonderings: How can I make this lotion thinner?

In this post, if you're new to lotion making, Ann asks: I have made a couple of lotions, each time increasing the water content to try and make them more runny. My last batch was 80% water and it is still quite solid. I was wondering if it is due to the mixing stage. How long do I mix the lotion for after I add the oil to the water, and the when I add the ingredients to the cool down phase?

51.5% water
28% aloe vera juice
2% glycerin

10% coconut oil
2% cetyl alcohol
4% Polawax

1% vitamin e oil
0.5% liquid germ all
0.5% lavender
0.5% frankincense

Thanks for sharing your recipe in percentages. I need this information to be able to offer help!

Here are a few generalizations about lotion making and viscosity...

1. A lotion with 80% water should be a more liquid one than one with 70% water or 60% water.
2. A lotion that contains fatty alcohols, like cetyl alcohol, which act as thickeners, will be thicker than one made without these ingredients.
3. A lotion made with a solid oil or butter, like coconut oil, will be thicker than one made with a liquid oil, like rice bran oil.
4. A lotion made with Polawax will be thinner than one made with Ritamulse SCG, the same as one with e-wax, and thicker than one with Lotionpro 165. In other words, the viscosity can be changed by changing the emulsifier.

These are a few places to start with how you can modify this recipe. You are using coconut oil, which contains solid fatty acids like lauric, myristic, and palmitic, which will thicken the recipe quite a bit compared to a liquid oil. My first suggestion is to switch the solid oil for something more liquid, like fractionated coconut oil, rice bran oil, and so on.

You could take the cetyl alcohol out and create a thinner product. Cetyl alcohol is lovely as a stabilizer for the product, and it offers a lovely silk and glide, but it will thicken the lotion quite well, which really isn't want you want. If you're removing it, though, consider increasing your Polawax by 1% to create more stability.

I would take the aloe vera out of the mix right now. Aloe vera is filled with electrolytes, which can mess with an emulsion. In general, I rarely go over 10% as that seems to be the ideal amount for my products.

Related posts:
Is water important or just a filler?
Electrolytes in our products

Here's how I'd alter the recipe:

78.5% distilled water
2% glycerin

12% liquid oil of some type
5% Polawax

1% vitamin e oil
0.5% liquid germ all
0.5% lavender
0.5% frankincense

When it comes to mixing, I generally mix for about 3 to 5 minutes after I add the heated oil and water phases together. Then I set it aside to cool. When it reaches 45˚C or lower, I add my cool down phase and mix again for another few minutes. Then I let it cool to room temperature before bottling.

As an aside, you really don't need an anti-oxidant in this recipe as you've written it. Your cetyl alcohol and coconut oil have at least a two year life span. You can use it if you want the skin benefits, but it's not necessary as an anti-oxidant for the oils.

I hope this helps. Thanks for the great question!

Related posts:
Formulating a light lotion (click "newer post" at the bottom to see more modifications of this recipe)
Lotions: Making a light lotion


Susan said...

Thanks for this post, Susan. I have some friends that would like their lotion thicker or thinner, and aside from playing with the water content, the insight on oils (solid vs liquid) and reducing or eliminating cetyl alcohol, is definitely something I will keep in mind the next time I play around with the viscosity of the lotion. Your point about Vit E great, especially with long shelf life oils. Thanks!

Ann Mcleod said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you so much for helping me with my recipe. I'll let you know how it goes!

Cheryl said...

Hi Susan!

I've been lurking for awhile, and decided to go ahead and comment after your post about really looking forward to readers' comments. ☺️
I've tried lotions a couple of times and was wildly excited when the first time actually resulted in a light fluffy cream. My recipe was:
65% water
15% oil
10% butter
6% cetyl alcohol
3% e-wax
1% preservative

Got too excited and didn't account for the evaporation but it turned into a real cream anyway. Mixed it with a spoon for about a minute then used a cake mixer which really fluffed it up.
Second time attempting for a more liquid lotion, with the recipe :

85% water
8% sweet almond oil
4% e-wax
2% ca
1% preservative

Added extra water when heating to account for evaporation, mixed in the same way, but it still fluffed up into a cream.
If I remove the CA, would the lotion become greasy? Because I remember that CA is supposed to make it slick. In another post, someone used a milk frother for mixing. I don't have one, would using a whisk to mix make the lotion more liquidy?