making lotions (and creams)
making lotion is a simple process, a matter of combining the water phase (i.e. water and other water soluble ingredients) with the oil phase
(i.e. oils waxes, butters, and any other oil soluble ingredients) into
an stable mixture with the use of an emulsifier. (items like
preservative, fragrance, silk, etc are referred to as the miscellaneous phase.)|
lotions and creams are emulsions. emulsions are [mainly] either o/w (oil in water) with the lesser portion of oil dispersed in the greater portion of water, or w/o (water in oil). most [commercially available] lotions and creams are o/w emulsions. the major different between a lotion and a cream is the consistency; lotions -- usually with an oil/butter content ranging from 10% to 25% -- tend to be lighter in feel, while creams -- usually with an oil/butter content above 25% -- tend to be denser and greasier. although lotion usually has a thinner consistency [than cream], it can be made very thick by using more butters (solid at room temperature) and less oil (liquid at room temperature) and by using [more] thickening agents (e.g. stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, etc.).
you customize the lotion by the selection of the oils (and other ingredients) to suit your particular specification. [some of] the various ingredients (and the reason for their inclusion) are listed below. "oil" would entail any [carrier] oils and/or butters you desire, that decision being based on personal preference. see "
below, in additon to the basic lotion making procedure and ingredients list, and my recipes, i include a "lotion calculator" to aid in the formulation of lotion recipes. i also address the use of the "hlb emulsion system" and the use of [natural] "sunscreen for spf protection".
|• basic lotion ingredients|
• my recipes
|you'll notice that many of the suppliers [of lotion
ingredients] carry a lot of synthetic and natural-but-modified products
used to affect the texture and feel of lotion. i personally aspire to
produce a natural product, so i try to restrict the use of these
ingredients to a minimum. but as you try to "improve" your product,
you'll find there are some of theses additives that are necessary (e.g.
preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners), and some you'll use to improve
the "feel" (e.g. silicone oils), and some that are beneficial to the
skin (e.g. allantoin, oats, silk). what you don't want -- (or rather what i don't want)
-- is a lotion with an ingredients list that reads like some of the
commercial products, which don't actually contain any "real" oils or
butters but use combinations of synthetic emollients.|
formula #1: this produces an ultra thick, emollient, heavy-duty lotion that absorbs quickly and is excellent for moisturing hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
formula #2: this produces a full-bodied, moisturizing, quick-absorbing, all-shea formula lotion. this is a great for dry rough areas needing special attention like hands, feet, knees, elbows, etc.
formula #3: this produces a moisturizing, quick-absorbing, all-shea formula lotion, identical to formula #2, but lighter in feel and texture. this spreads easily and makes a wonderful all purpose lotion but is especially good for hands that get washed many times during the day and require the constant re-application of lotion.
formula #4: this produces an ultra light non-greasy formula that moisturizes without leaving any residue. it's excellent as an all-over body lotion and even a facial moisturizer.
see "formula #4" for additional notes on this formula.
formula #5: in this formula, i wanted to increase the percentage of emolience. the all shea formulas (#2, #3) performed very well so without decreasing the amount of shea butter, i simply added the emu oil. i also added goat's milk. because of the increased oil, i added 2% natrasorb (a modified wheat starch used to counter greasiness). i've started using cosmocil cq as a preservative instead of phenonip because, (in addition to having no parabens), it has no odor to cover up ...so the fragrance is optional. this produces a thick full-bodied lotion comparable to formula #2.
formula #6: formula #5 performed so well, i decided to make the same modifications (emu oil, goat's milk, natrasorb, cosmocil) to formula #3.
cold cream: is a w/o emulsion and has been used for centuries as a cleansing (wipe-off) and a softening (leave-on) cream. use any combination of soft (liquid at room temperature) oils -- i use equal portions of jojoba, olive, and shea oils. melt the oils together with beeswax and vitamin e. dissolve borax into heated water, add glycerin and preservative, and add this to the oils.
(using an electric mixer with wisks or beaters), blend thoroughly; continue to beat as mixture cools. when cooled, incorporate fragrance if desired, and if using a heat-sensitive preservative, add it at this point. spoon into container.
it is not necessary to beat the mixture "continually", but it is imperative to beat it well throughout the cooling process, or else it will set into a thick mass, not at all the creamy texture you want. the thickness of the cream is controlled by the amount of beeswax. for a "denser" cream, increase the beeswax accordingly. emollients that are solid at room temperature (e.g. shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, etc.), will produce a thicker product, so if used, they require a proportional reduction in the amount of beeswax.
for more, see "all about cold cream".
note on citric acid / allantoin: the recommended usage range [for citric acid] is .25% to 1%. i had been using 1%. however, as of 9/06, i reduced the amount of citric acid to .25% (in all formulas) to account for a slight irritation i was detecting.
i had noticed, when first applying the lotion, a momentary, albeit very slight, irritation. i had [erroneously] attributed this to excess citric acid. i first reduced the citric acid to .5%, and then to its minimum, .25%. however, i was concerned about this because the preservative works best in an acidity environment (5.5 to 6 ph) and my lotion was registering 6.5 to 7 ph. i also noticed no decrease in this irritation. eventually it was determined that the irritation was coming from the "grit" of the allantoin, which i was using at a rate of 1%. so, i've increased my citric acid back to the 1% [the amount i started with], and reduced the allantoin to .5% -- (the msds for this item states it is soluble @ .5%). some skin types, however, may still require a decrease in the citric acid.
note on preservative: cosmocil can be substituted for the phenonip in all of the above formulas allowing for the difference in the recommended usage amount (phenonip - .5% / cosmocil - 1%).
note on shea butter: mango butter can be substituted [in part or all ] for the shea butter in any of the formulas since the two are very similar in their properties and characteristics ...although mango butter does seem to be a bit less greasy in texture. no other modifications to the formulas are necessary.
note on silk: there are different silks (varying by supplier). some are heat sensitive (to be added post process) while others are not (can be added to the water phase), and each has it's own recommended usage amount. check with the particulars of the silk you are using to determine when to add it and how much to use.
note on sodium lactate: sodium lactated (nal) is a humectant derived from whey and, when substituted for the glycerin in the lotion formula, [allegedly] out performs the glycerin in drawing moisture to the skin. your own personal experience will either support or disprove this claim. in any event, when used, it does leave the lotion with a less-tacky feel.
note on vitamin e: vitamin e is an excellent antioxidant for preserving lotions (and oils) from oxidation and rancidity. as of 9/06, i've incorporated this into all the formulas. .5% would be adequate for this task, however, i'm increasing this to 1% so that the lotion will impart the antioxidant properties to the skin (in its defense against free radicals). the type of vitamin e needed here is alpha-tocopherol, the form most easily absorbed by the body ...(not acetate).
note on infusions: white tea/calendula: the cosmetic industry has been showing a lot of interests in white tea, which is highly regarded for its antioxidant properties. since i drink white tea anyway [and have it on hand], it was a logical segue to eventually include it in my lotion formulas. i simply make a strong brew and substitute it for the water portion of the lotion formula. the slight coloration and aroma of the tea has no perceptible effect on the end product.
likewise, calendula flowers make an excellent infusion to be used in this same manner. calendula is a renowned healing herb, wonderful for toning and promoting blood supply to skin tissue and is a natural antiseptic. it, however, does have its own aroma and color, which will impact the end product. other botanicals (e.g. chamomile, lavender, etc.) can be used in the same way.
body butter: although neither an o/w emulsion nor a w/o emulsion, this "
• mixing instructions
|* phenonip is an oil-soluble substance and it is widely suggested that you dissolve the phenonip in the hot oils. phenonip is also soluble in water, however, it has a stronger affinity for the oil. if it were added to an oil and water mixture, the phenonip would dissolve in the oil.|
|according to the manufacturer, when phenonip is dissolved in the water first, (before combining the water phase with the oil phase), it is more effective at retarding bacterial growth. it's a good practice to divide the phenonip between the water and oil phases.|
|cosmocil is all added to the water phase.|
if you want to go beyond the recipes and processes to learn more about the specifics of lotionmaking and the ingredients used, "snowdriftfarm" has an extensive tutorial which contains a wealth of information about the craft.
"lotioncrafter.com", which is another excellent source of lotion-making ingredients, has a "resource / technical" section which offers an abundance of information on [many of] the various lotion making ingredients (e.g. preservatives, emulsifiers, humectants, thickeners, etc.).
• lotion factor chart
chart is helpful in formulating recipes and for calculating quantities
of ingredients needed to produce a given amount of lotion. it is,
however, just a [convenience] device; it's not intended to be some rigid
format to which a lotion formula must adhere. from the wide latitude in
the [percentage] ranges and the omission/inclusion of other
ingredients, you can imagine the myriad combinations possible. in the
end, it's all up to you and what you want.|
even though the ingredients are pre-listed, you can enter any ingredient you desire. see the "help" doc for tips on using this calculator.
• emulsion systems
|to talk about the emulsion system, you have to talk about hlb (hydrophilic/lipophilic balance). to put it simply (and the operative word here is "simply"), every oil, butter and wax has a required hlb. every emulsifier has an hlb value. through calculation, you determine what the required hlb is for your particular combination of oils/butters/waxes. by combining emulsifiers -- and it's best to use a combination of two or more -- in such a way to achieve the necessary hlb, you can create an emulsifying system for your formula that better suits you needs.|
|it's necessary to experiment with different combinations of emulsifiers since different combinations [of emulsifiers] produce different results (i.e. feel, texture). although the emulsifying wax (included in the basic ingredients list) is a convenience, it leaves the product with a characteristic "waxy drag". this isn't significantly unpleasant, but with an alternative emulsifying system, this aspect can be diminished.|
|• see "emulsions and the hlb system" for a more complete explanation on how to use this system to create an effective emulsifier -- this is a .pdf document (originated by "convergent cosmetics") which can be downloaded or viewed online.|
|• a note on the hlb values of silicone oils: in an attempt to obtain the hlb values of silicone oils, (in particular cyclomethicone and dimethicone), an extensive search of the web failed to produce any results except to say that silicone oils have an hlb range of 8 - 12. i contacted a chemist who informed me that the 8 - 12 range is correct; the cyclomethicone should be about 8, the dimethicone about 9 - 10. the higher the cps, (which is the measure of viscosity), the higher the hlb value. the cps of cyclomethicone is 4, dimethicone is 350, some thicker silicone oils have a cps as high as 8000. for relative comparison, water has a cps of 1 - 5. for my purposes, (and reflected in the above recipes), i use an hlb value of 8 for cyclomethicone and 9 for dimethicone.|
• sunscreen & spf
commercial sunblocks, and products boasting sunblock protection, use
chemical sunscreening agents that are not readily available to the
general public or home lotion crafter. it is, however, possible to
incorporate suncreen portection into your lotion using natural minerals,
but it's not as simple a process as adding x amount of ingredient(s) to
achieve x amount of suncreen protection (spf). |
"suncreen & spf" explores the use of these natural minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) as sunblocking agents, how they may be used to add an element of sunblocking protection to your product, and the caveats regarding spf claims.