Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a lotion!

I'm starting this series I'm calling Newbie Tuesday! It's time to stop reading and get into your workshop and make something awesome! Think of it as a lotion-along...maybe not. I'm not happy with that compound word. I'll find something else for future posts.

Here's how I think this is going to work. This week we'll choose a basic recipe and assemble our ingredients and supplies. To give those of you who have to send away for supplies more time, we'll spend next Tuesday (January 17th) taking a closer look at the process of making the lotion. I'll post the visual tutorial for making the lotion on Tuesday, January 24th - if I have time, I might try making a little video of it, although I'm not sure how gripping the 20 minutes of heating and holding will be (ha ha ha!). We can review how you did on January 31st, celebrating the successes and troubleshooting the epic fails! We'll make 100 grams of lotion - this is enough to make something we can use for a while if it's great and not too much to throw out if it isn't. And just think, by the end of January, you'll be able to say that you finally made a lotion!

We'll continue this into February when we'll make a body butter (the 7th) and a cream (21st). So buy enough supplies for each of those projects!

Does that time frame give everyone enough time to order and receive supplies and find a two hour window to make a lotion? Let me know! And you don't need to be a newbie to play along! 

Which recipe should we choose? I think we should go with a 70% water recipe that can be used as a body, hand, or foot lotion. (Click here to see the original post and why we're using each ingredient!) We'll go with a body butter recipe for the 7th - click here for that recipe - and modify it into a cream by adding stearic acid February 21st - click here for that recipe. We'll be making 100 grams of each product.

  • a scale that can weigh 1 gram (available at supply stores or places like London Drugs in the culinary aisle)
  • 2 heat proof containers - one for your oil phase, one for your water phase - Pyrex jugs are good for this purpose, and a 2 - two cup Pyrex jugs would be ideal. 
  • a double boiler (make one up on the stove with a pot with warm water)
  • a thermometer (a candy thermometer works really well here)
  • spoons (metal ones...)
  • mixer (with beater attachments) or a stick blender
  • a notebook and pen/pencil. Print out the lotion recipe and make extensive notes while you craft!
70% water
15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

  • an oil - at least 100 grams. I'm going to suggest a low cost oil like olive, sunflower, rice bran, or soybean oil. If I had my way, we'd all be using soybean oil, but I know some of you will to use what they have in the workshop. Feel free to get something from the grocery store instead of sending away for something. (I'd get two oils - one that's described as less greasy and one that's normal greasiness). 
  • a butter - at least 100 grams, although again, get more if you think you might like to make a whipped butter, lotion bar, or other anhydrous product. I'm going to suggest either shea butter (greasier) or mango butter (less greasy). Remember that most homemade lotions are less greasy in general than storebought lotions and the point of this is to learn about lotions! 
  • an emulsifier - at least 50 grams. I'm going to suggest one of two emulsifiers - Polawax (not e-wax, but actual Polawax as it's less faily than e-wax and it's the same around the world) or Incroquat BTMS-50. If you can't get either of these for whatever reason, then use something else, but this series will be tailored to these emulsifiers. 
  • cetyl alcohol - at least 25 grams. Yes, this is a tiny amount, but it really does make a difference to the product. 
  • stearic acid - at least 25 grams. Again, it's a tiny amount, but you don't turn a body butter into a cream without it! 
  • a preservative. I like liquid Germall Plus, but you can choose whichever one you want with two things in mind - preservatives are never optional, and Optiphen can curdle a lotion if you don't follow the procedure just right! 
  • distilled water - it's about $2 for 4 litres where I live (a gallon), and you don't want to be using tap water. 
  • a container of some kind - get a nice bottle to house your lotion. Something pretty. Oh, go on. Splurge and buy that really lovely frosted one for $1.50! I'd get a pump bottle for the lotion and cream, and a jar for the body butter! 
If you really want to read more about lotions, click here for the start of the Creating Products series I wrote a few months ago. But it really is time to stop reading and get into the workshop!

Join me next week to review the process of making a lotion!


Lise M Andersen said...

Thanks for another great post Susan.

How about
'put the lotion into motion Tuesday'?


Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan for posting about how to compensate when using for less products.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
Sounds like you are talking to me because that's all i've done, read, read, save, and print. i still need to get my thermometer and when it comes to preservative, i have the PARABENS from personal Formulator. It is supposed to be added to the water at 60C, how i am going to do this? Have anybody used th Parabens? Any tips? Sorry for asking so much, but honestly i am afraid to create my first lotion.

Anonymous said...

i have also been reading along for a while, and this series is making me take the plunge to make my first lotion!! i'm so excited!! gathering/ordering supplies now :-D

Anonymous said...

Again, thanks Susan for taking the time to answer our questions and to teach us, especially me. I haven't done anything, but i've learning a lot, now i am always reading the ingredients on my lotions, pepper sauce, and so on...
You are a blessing.

HB said...

LOVE love this idea! Not sure if a week is enough time to get supplies since I'm just starting. Could you give us a basic shopping list, items that we need to have in our "pantry"? It's more economical so I'd prefer to place one big order instead of two smaller ones a week apart. THX

Anonymous said...


Can anyone suggest what size the heat proof containers should be? Is a 2 cup measuring cup large enough?



Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this series - I'll be following this very closely!

Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm said...

Love it! Thanks so much!!! I am probably going to attempt "my" lotion formula for the 3rd time before your class, but at least it's not a total loss. It's usable just not perfect YET! Cetyl alcohol IS in my order that's due to arrive this week, so I should be set!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rosi. The preservatives are all listed in the list called preservatives. There's quite a bit on parabens in there. I would check exactly what you have, though, because I don't know if you have a complete preservative here, based on the listings at the Personal Formulator.

Hi Alex. Yes, if you have 2 - two cup Pyrex jugs plus something to pour the lotion into when you're mixing it (a big plastic bowl should do nicely), you're good!

Hi HB. The shopping list in the post is what we need for the three projects we'll be doing in the series (I've updated it - take a look!) and this, to me, is the basic shopping list you should have for a lotion. I'd suggest getting a humectant - glycerin is a good one, as is sodium lactate, but you can go with honey in a pinch - and possibly aloe vera. But otherwise, I think it's a good list!

I'm excited that you want to play along!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this.It really a good idea and I plan on playing along.

Leman said...


This is a great series! Just what I need, you are awesome as always thank you! I have been doing a lot of reading as well, however, I tried to create your FACIAL MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN and failed twice :-( so hopefully I will know what I've done wrong by following this series..

KD said...

I can't use fragrances, what do I replace the 1% with to keep 100%? The water or butters?

What an awesome blog! I've been reading every chance I get for two days now!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi KD. Always increase the water amount when you change the ingredients. If you add more oils, you'll have to increase the emulsifier!

Anonymous said...

How will the lotion come out if I leave out cetyl alcohol?

What alternatives do you recommend?

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. If you read the post on cetyl alcohol, you'd see that it thickens our products and offers a little more slip and glide. You'd lose those qualities and end up with a thinner lotion. There aren't a lot of alternatives for cetyl alcohol. Using stearic acid will make this a lot thicker and will reduce the slip and glide. Using cetearyl alcohol will make it feel more waxy. Using behenyl alcohol will make it feel more powdery. All of those fatty alcohols will thicken the product. Click on the ingredients list on the right hand side of the blog to see what each of these ingredients brings to the party! Have fun formulating!