Thursday, May 9, 2013

Back to the very basics: Defining our terms for lotions

This week we're all about getting to the very basics, defining what we need to know about making any product - part one and part two - and what different anhydrous products are called and contain. You might be thinking to yourself that you won't be making lotions any time soon, but you really can make one without a ton of knowledge. Just be prepared to follow the process properly and exactly!

Newbie Tuesday basic first lotion instructions and recipe (PDF)
Basic first time lotion making (PDF)

Lotion: An emulsified product. It can be an oil in water mixture - meaning there's more water than oil - or a water in oil mixture - meaning there's more oil than water. (Note below...) We generally make oil-in-water emulsions. A lotion must have water, oil, an emulsifier, and a preservative. Without these things, you don't have a lotion. Lotions can be contained in a bottle with a disc top, a pump, a jar, and so on.

This isn't strictly true all the time, but it is a good starting definition. If you want to know more, I'll put up some links...

Body butter: Some people use this term to mean an anhydrous or not water containing product, while others use it to mean a thick lotion that contains quite a bit of butter. It can be both or neither. There is no real definition for it. Generally a body butter will be found in a jar.

Body cream or creme: An emulsified product. This term is generally reserved for a thicker product, like a body lotion or body butter, but there's no reason you can't call something really thin a cream or creme. There's no real definition of what a body cream or creme is compared to a lotion.

Facial moisturizer: An emulsified product. A lotion. It is generally a thinner product with things we associate as being good for facial skin, but there is no real definition of what a moisturizer is compared to a lotion.

Body milk or facial milk: An emulsified product. A lotion. It is generally a thinner product that could be sprayed. There really isn't a definition for this either.

Are you seeing a trend here? The reality is that a lotion is something we can define, but the rest of the names are all about the thickness or viscosity. In my template lotion recipes, I have a 60% water recipe - which could be a cream or a body butter, but could as easily be a hand lotion if you increase the oils and decrease the butters - all the way up to an 85% water recipe - which could be a body milk or facial moisturizer. Some of the names are meant to sound decadent or luxurious - body butters and creams sound so decadent! - and others are meant to convey some kind of purpose - a moisturizer! But they are all the same thing with different names!

Click here for a post on the topic of the different recipes on the blog and links to them.

Related posts:
The start of the learning to formulate series (hit "newer post" at the end of each post)
Making a basic lotion (70% water recipe)
Making a basic cream (60% water recipe)
Modifying 60% water recipes

Part of learning how to make products is understanding what you're making. You'll see recipes called "Fruit & Flowers Body Butter" and think that sounds amazing, but it turns out it's exactly like the ten recipes you saw before it with a few ingredients switched out for ones that are fruit or flower related. Or it refers to the fragrance. Or it means nothing, but the recipe writer thought it sounded nice. This isn't to say it isn't a good recipe, but if you can figure out what each ingredient does in the recipe - for instance, that's the oil, that's the emulsifier, that's the thickener, and so on - then you aren't beholden to buying all the ingredients you see, but modifying it to use what you have. (This is a more advanced concept, but there's no reason you can't start learning it now!)

If you're eager to learn more, I really recommend checking out the Newbie Tuesday posts on making lotion...and the posts that come before these (links in the posts).

Newbie Tuesday: It's time to make lotion! 
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a body butter! 
Newbie Tuesday: Let's make a thick cream! 

Join me tomorrow as we take a few days to take a look at defining the various hair care products we might make at home, such as shampoos, conditioners, and leave in products!


Carol Holmes said...

Hi Susan,i sent this comment awhile ago but can't remember where i put it so don't know if its been answered already. I used the "Basic First Lotion" recipe,(the one with 69% water). First let me say how absolutely impressed i was at how so few ingredients can produce such an amazing product. I used sunflower oil,mango butter,BTMS 50,cetyl alcohol,Optiphen Plus, and Neroli Oil for fragrance. Wow,the skin feel is fantastic. Absorbed quickly. At first it went on a little white but i read that this is called "soaping effect', not a big deal as it disappeared as i rubbed it in. My only concern is with the method - it took forever to reach 70 degrees C. Water in double boiler was boiling, I sat my 1 cup pyrex cups with their respective ingredients into the double boilers. I also made sure my thermometer was calibrated before use. I use the same thermometer as in your picture. Is it because of the small quantity not enough of the thermometer was able to be immersed into the ingredients? Carol Holmes

Carol Holmes said...

Hi Susan, I also just made a body butter, using just the very basic recipe. I used unrefined shea butter,borage oil and Ylang Ylang oil for fragrance and Vitamin E T-50 anti-oxident. I tempered the Shea butter first and it made a huge difference to the 'whippiness' and feel of the final product. In the past i've made body butter using shea and more oils,but didn't temper the shea butter first. Big mistake. I also used a piping bag to put the butter into the jar,what a neat idea,looked good enuf to eat. Carol Holmes

Anonymous said...

Susan, I've been following you for years! I love that you're going back to the basics! It's actually a great idea, even fir us with a bit more experience to stop-review - and think! I am forever learning alittle some thing new, here and there. Thank you!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Carol! I tried to answer your question in today's Weekend Wonderings, but the short answer is that I'm not really sure why you're having this problem!

Hi Merilyn! Thanks for the kind words. Any suggestions for other posts?

Anonymous said...

Newbie, want to make my own lotions etc. Just found your blog, read a couple of posts and already want to say:

I think I love you.

*cue David Cassidy music & puppy eyes*

Thanks! Leigh

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Leigh! Awww, thanks. David Cassidy was my first girly crush when I was 4, and I've loved long haired guys ever this means more to me than you think! :-)