My goal this year was to learn how to make lotions. I don’t know about you, but I like to research things thoroughly before I jump in. When I was learning to make soap, I spent quite a bit of time (weeks!) reading and studying anything related to soap before I was brave enough to jump in and try batch of my own. I like to be prepared :)
In this case to prepare myself, I purchased and read Susan Barclay-Nichols’ e-book on lotion making, Lotion Making 101. Then I decided to jump in by trying out 3 lotion kits, so that I could see the difference in consistency between the creams and lotions and to see which ingredients I liked before investing in bigger quantities. These particular kits are from Nature’s Garden and came beautifully packaged with the instructions and recipes in a spa bag, and each kit included the necessary ingredients, and even included the jars for packaging.
I chose to start with the Facial Night Cream kit, because that is the one I need the most. I am getting tired of putting stuff on my face that I can’t read the ingredient list for. I want to know what it is I am putting on my skin. Calendula infusion? Cocoa butter? Vitamin E? Avocado oil? Those are words I understand and feel good about putting on my skin!
At its most basic, lotions and creams are simply oil and water mixed together, but of course oil and water don’t mix. So, you need something to emulsify them (BTMS or emulsifying wax, for example), so that the oil and water will mix and stay combined.
Lotions and creams are prepared in 2 phases; the Water Phase and the Oil Phase. The water phase can be water, milks, flower or herbal infusions, aloe vera, glycerine, etc. The oil phase will be your oils and butters, emulsifiers, vitamin E, thickeners, etc. As per Susan’s e-book, both oil and water phases should be heated to 160F degrees and held for 20 minutes to kill any bacteria; when recipes call for ‘heat and hold’, this is what they are referring to. The water and oil phases should also be fairly close together in temperature when you combine them.
To start, I needed to gather some basic equipment:
2 Candy thermometers
Scale (I have 2 scales; one that measures by 1g and another that other measures by 0.1g)
Cooktop (portable or stove)
Pots (to make a double-boiler) and Pyrex measuring cup
Cleaning and sanitizing your work space and equipment: The most important part of the lotion making process is to have a clean work space and sterilized equipment. There are different methods for sterilizing, Heather from Winberg Bathworks covers the bleach method here: http://winbergbathworks.blogspot.ca/2012/10/cream-pictorial.html and Amy from Great Cakes Soapworks has additional information here: http://www.greatcakessoapworks.com/handmade-soap-blog/index.php/preparations-for-making-lotion/
I ran my equipment through the dishwasher and then sanitized with rubbing alcohol and clean paper towel. The dishwasher may have been enough, but I wanted to be extra cautious. I spritzed the insides of the jars and lids with rubbing alcohol and let them air dry.
To avoid contamination, it is recommended that you wear disposable gloves and have your hair tied back or in a hair net while preparing lotion.
Let’s get started!
Preparing the Water Phase:
Measure out calendula flowers into a coffee filter and set aside:
Place distilled water in a small pot and heat and hold for 20 minutes:
Place the coffee filter filled with calendula flowers inside of a bowl and pour the hot distilled water over top, so that the infused water runs through the coffee filter. Allow to steep and then remove the coffee filter, so that all you are left with is the Calendula infused water. Then, mix the vegetable glycerin into the infused water.
Preparing the Oil Phase:
Use a double boiler to melt the together the cocoa butter, avocado oil, castor oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, emulsifying wax and stearic acid. Melt until the temperature reaches 140F degrees, I held the temp here for 20 minutes, same as I did for the water phase.
Pour the calendula infusion/vegetable glycerine into the oil phase mixture and mix:
Take the temperature, and once it reaches 120F degrees, you can add the preservative. Use a stick blender to thoroughly mix until the consistency is that of a thick cream.
Allow to cool completely to room temperature and then package into jars.
I can’t see myself ever buying store-bought lotion again….I’m in love!
I also want to give a huge shout-out to Tina (hi Tina!), who took the time to share with me her lotion making technique along with some valuable hints and tips. You really gave me the courage to jump in and try it, and I appreciate your kindness in sharing your information with me! :)
Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you all have a great week!