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:
- 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:
- 50% aloe vera liquid
- 19% water
- 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.