March 26, 2013

Home made lotion

We are pushing further ahead on our mission to make cosmetics and personal products at home. The latest project is making moisturizer, which is frankly quite an interesting product when you get down to the details. Typical lotion is around 70% water, 25% oil, plus some other important ingredients. This mixture would separate and go bad quickly if not for the magic of modern chemistry.

Anything I might appear to know on this subject I have learned by reading Susan Barclay's excellent blog on cosmetic making at home. If you are interested in this subject, I highly recommend spending some time reading the wealth of relevant articles there. She is refreshingly scientifically oriented, while still having a fun and experimental approach.

After reading up at the Point of Interest! blog, especially the article on basic lotionmaking, I ordered some supplies. I took a look at the ingredients of my favorite commercial lotion, Avalon Organics Unscented Aloe Vera. This product has:

Water phase:

  • Water
  • Aloe

Oil phase:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Fractionated coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Cetyl alcohol

plus a bunch of other stuff; in fact it has a surprisingly long ingredient list. The above is just the highlights.

Two key ingredients allow lotion to exist and be useful. A chemical emulsifier allows the oil and water phases to form a stable emulsion. And a preservative keeps bug growth down, which apparently is very rapid in such emulsions if not inhibited.

So based on Susan's document, I picked some oils to try: fractionated coconut, sesame oil, and mango butter. These two oils are non-staining, with fractionated coconut offering a fairly non-greasy feel and sesame oil being a medium to lightly greasy oil. I also bought some cetyl alcohol to improve glide, thicken the formulation, and provide some co-emulsification. For preservative I opted for liquid Germall Plus since it seems to be Susan's go to compound. For emulsifier, I chose BTMS-50, which has the potential for making a very non-greasy lotion in conjunction with choice of oils. If it turns out I like it greasier, I can always use greasier oils with BTMS-50. I also picked up half a kilo of aloe vera liquid, since I didn't think I could cut much more off my plant for the time being after using some of it for the hard cider aftershave experiment.

I couldn't find a website with all of these things in small quantity, so I ordered from both Lotioncrafter and From Nature with Love.

Ok, with all ingredients at hand, we arrayed our tools and supplies on the counter, with a printout of the PDF on basic lotionmaking from Point of Interest!.

We made up 200g of the following lotion:

Water phase

  • 50% aloe vera liquid
  • 19% water
Oil phase
  • 15% sesame oil
  • 5% mango butter
  • 3% cetyl alcohol
  • 6% BTMS-50

Cool down addition

  • 0.75% liquid Germall Plus  (note: this should have been 0.5% or less, adjust for next time)
First we tried the mango butter on our skin. It was pretty nice, but very solid and kind of grainy at room temp, so it took a minute to rub it in. The sesame oil felt a bit greasy, but we didn't test anything else to compare it to at the same time. 

Next we did the experiment of mixing sesame oil with water. Nope, won't mix, even with agitation.

Then we weighed out our ingredients in a beaker and a pyrex measuring cup. We recorded the weight of the water phase plus beaker, to allow us to make up lost water after the heat and hold phase.

Both of these were put in a water bath consisting of a cake tin over a low burner. We monitored the temp of the bath first.

Next came monitoring the contents of the two vessels. After they got up to 70C, we started the timer for 20 minutes, tweaking the heat to keep it in the 70-80C range during this period. 

The water phase had lost about 16g, so we made this up with water heated in the kettle.

Finally, the two phases were combined and we watched the cool chemical emulsification which happened as they were poured together. We helped it along with a few minutes of low rpm stick blending, then waited for the temp to drop to 45C. Violet had to do a test immediately of course.

Millie added 1.5ml preservative (measured in the pipette) to the batch, and we blended it some more. 

It was loaded into a 500ml mason jar, which I recently got a pump top to fit.

The result is beautiful and very creamy!

Everyone wanted to try it out.

This lotion feels quite dry while applying it. It does start to soak in rapidly, which doesn't give a ton of time to distribute it around. It leaves a dry-ish feeling but still oily layer which takes longer to soak in. I think the dry feel makes me want to compensate by putting on too much since I am not used to it. There is also a very slight odor of something vaguely like fish... this would have been easily overpowered had we added any scent. Not sure which ingredient this came from, but I did not notice it when we were measuring and did notice it slightly during heat and hold. Its a little thicker than I'm used to as well, probably cutting down a little on the cetyl alcohol might thin it out a touch. 

I used it on Sunday to moisturize my face after shaving. Now I have a completely home made shaving kit!

I'd like to do the same recipe but with fractionated coconut, then one with olive oil, for comparison. This project was easy and fun, and I think we'll start making all our own lotion. I can certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to try it. Its a little more involved than making lip balm, but less involved than making soap.


Ken Mitton said...

Is it time to silver a mirror?

IrishMolly said...

I have noticed that BTMS from lotion crafter has a fishy smell. It is easily masked with essential Oils and FO. I have not noticed it in the lotions I make - maybe because I scent it as soon as it hits 40C in the cool down stage?) However I definitely notice a heavy fishy smell permeating from the conditioner bars I make. I have to scent them heavily which is OK because the EO's do not trigger my Asthma like the FO does at 2% of the formula.
The BTMS 50 I bought from The Chemistry Store seems to not have that heavy fishy scent like the BTMS-225 does. The BTMS 50 DEFINITELY holds the emulsions in lotions and hair products much better than the 225 from lotion crafter. I have to use much more 225 to hold the emulsions stable. Since the Lotion Crafter 225 is cheaper than the 50 I tend to use half and half in the solid conditioner bar recipes. I do not think it would work in the lotions though. If you cannot get past the fishy smell try LotionCrafters ECOMulse for lotions. Its really neat - glides on beautifully, makes a fantastic thick lotion and is very stable. I have found that 8% makes the most stable lotions. Although acidic ingredients and cationic ingredients can cause separation in ECOMulse lotions.

Beautiful lotion you made - I did the same thing, it soaks in so quickly I wanted to use more but like you said a little goes a long way.

Holly Gates said...

Thanks for the tip IrishMolly!

I'm still using this batch of lotion, and the fishy smell is not a big problem. I do notice it for a few seconds after I put it on my face, but not every time and only transiently. Next time it would be better to not have it, though its not bad enough to prevent me from using up the rest of my current BTMS. Maybe I'll try the ECOMulse when I run out.

IrishMolly said...

Also - this is just an observation but why 1.5g or 1.5% of germall Plus? Usually one uses .5% in a formula and you had 200g in your formula. The max recommended use level is .5%. 200g times .5% or 200g times 0.005 comes out to be 1g for 200g product. Be careful going over the recommended levels I have had severe skin reactions by adding too much Germall Plus - it was a 100g formula and the LGP was supposed to be .5g and I added .8g - the reaction was pretty severe after 10 min of having the lotion on.

This is the one you bought correct?
Liquid Germall® Plus

A convenient, easy to incorporate version of Germall Plus dissolved in a base of 60% propylene glycol. Can be used in surfactant based systems such as shampoos and body/shower gels, conditioners and other high water content products. Ideal for water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions, creams and lotions, make-up and other highly pigmented products. Not for use in products intended to be aerosolized.

Recommended Use Levels: 0.1 - 0.5%
Appearance: Clear viscous liquid

INCI: Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

Holly Gates said...

Oops, should have said 1.5g instead of 1.5%, which is still 0.75% of a 200g batch. As you point out, this is in excess of the 0.5%. Not sure why I did that...

Ah well, so far it hasn't been a problem, but I'll drop it down slightly to the recommended range next time.

yatin said...

hi,... i want to make lotion & cream on my own with all natural ingredients( no synthetic chemical) , i have a following doubts-)
for lotion, cream which BTMS is required (btms 50 or btms 225 or 25)?
is btms emulsifier?
do we need to act other coemulsifier with btms?
what is approximate percentage of btms in our final product
is btms is fully natural?
if you know pls suggest any natural emulsifier?
please i request you to answer my query

Holly Gates said...

yatin - well, one of the problems with lotion as we know it is that the use of some synthetic chemicals is pretty much unavoidable, in the form of emulsifiers and preservatives.

BTMS - as I said in the post, I used BTMS-50 and it emulsified like a champ. I'm not familiar with other BTMS grades but I'm sure you can turn up some info on the web. No other emulsifier was used besides BTMS-50. Look at my post for the % used. BTMS is not "natural".

If you want a moisturizer without these synthetic chemicals, try using an all oil phase formulation like the Cat Shaped Grease Bars I made (put in the search bar to find).

My wife has recently started just using straight up coconut oil from a jar for all moisturizing needs. Handy in the kitchen too, and just having one all purpose jar of grease around has it's advantages.