Simple DIY Lotion

Grapeseed Oil and Shea Butter Lotion with Eucalyptus and Lavender

When I first started making creams for my skin, I was all about the oils and butters. I made a whipped body butter and it was perfect for my body, and it helped combat dry skin from the winter weather. But, I found that it was a little thicker and oilier than I wanted on my face, and even on my hands (especially when using touch screens). Enter: water-and-oil lotion recipes!

The science:

Water- and oil-based lotions are actually really cool. Water and oil typically repel each other, so to create a lotion something has to be added that ‘forces’ them together: an emulsifier. An emulsifier is a molecule that has two ends: a hydrophilic head that likes  and binds with water, and a hydrophobic end that likes and binds with oil. So, when you mix the oil, water, and an emulsifier together, you end up with an emulsion that is also your lotion! Emulsions are also more common than you would think: for example, mayonnaise is an emulsion that is oil and vinegar bound together by the proteins in eggs. Many salad dressings are also emulsions.

The Recipe (%)

Keep in mind: you can personalize this recipe with the oils / essential oils that you want! This is just what I used, but half of the fun is choosing your own ingredients. 🙂

IngredientPercentage
Function
Heated Water Phase
1. Distilled Water65.75Water Base
2. Glycerin2Humectant
Heated Oil Phase
3. Grapeseed Oil13Oil Base
4. Shea Butter10.75Oil Base
5. Emulsifying Wax6Emulsifier
Cool-down Ingredients
6. Otiphen1Preservative
7. Lavender Oil0.5Scent / Calming
8. Eucalydptus0.5Scent / Cooling
9. Vit E / Tocopherol0.5Antioxidant

To see exact amounts to make 0.5 oz / 39 g of lotion, visit the recipe!

Ingredients used in this recipe.

Equipment:

There are a few things that you’ll need to make your batch of lotion:

  1. Two heat resistant cups for your heated water and oil phases. If you aren’t sure if your glasses are heat-resistant, you run the risk of them breaking when they are heated. However, if you are willing to take that risk, you may be able to use cups with thicker glass. You reduce the risk of the cups breaking if you place them into the water before it heats up, and let them heat up with the water. (This is what I did when I first made the lotion!)
  2. A pan or pot that can hold 1 in / 3 cm of water, as well as the heat-resistant cups.
  3. A container for your lotion when it is finished.
  4. A mini blender to mix together the ingredients. It is also possible to mix by hand with a spatula or small whisk (with a little extra effort).
  5. A scale accurate to 0.01 g.
  6. A thermometer. This is optional but recommended. The heated ingredients mix optimally between 70-75° C / 160-170° F, and it is best to avoid overheating/scorching, but you can get away with not having a thermometer if you keep an eye on the progress of the melting of the emulsifying wax. Furthermore, the cool-down ingredients can break down at higher temperatures. In particular, Otiphen needs to be added when the temperature is cooler than 140° F. You can also get away with not having a thermometer if you are patient and simply wait until the mixture feels cool to the touch before adding the cool-down ingredients.
The setup.

Preparations:

Before mixing anything, we need to prepare our equipment:

  1. Sanitize the lotion container. If your container is heat-resistant, you can sanitize it by boiling it for 10 minutes in water. Otherwise, use some rubbing alcohol to wipe it down. If you want, you can even soak it in the alcohol for 10-20 min.
  2. Set out and clean two heat-resistant cups.
  3. Grab your pan or pot and fill with 1 in / 3 cm of water.
  4. Sanitize 1-2 small spatulas.
  5. Sanitize your mini blender.
  6. Have several clean droppers handy for accurately measuring small quantities of liquids.
  7. Have a sanitized spoon for measuring emulsifying wax.
  8. Optionally, have a clean towel to rest the equipment on.

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the water bath by bringing adding about 1 in / 3 cm of water to the pot or pan. If you have heat-resistant cups, you can start heating the water over medium heat.

2. Weigh the heated water phase ingredients into one of the small heat-resistant glass measuring cups. Weigh the heated oil phase ingredients into the second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. If you haven’t yet, start turn the burner on medium heat. Aim for the water to have a temperature of 70-75° C / 160-170° F.

Heating the water( left) and oil (right) phases in a water bath.

3. After about 20-30 minutes, everything in the heated oil phase should be completely melted. The heated water phase should also be thoroughly dissolved. (If either of these isn’t true, monitor and continue heating until melted/dissolved). Remove the water bath from the heat, and pour the heated water phase into the heated oil phase. Gently incorporate the two phases with a small silicone spatula.

The heated phases are ready to be combined.

4. With short bursts, use the mini mixer / blender to begin blending the lotion. Be careful since the lotion is still very liquid at this point. Do this for about a minute, and then leave the lotion to cool for ten minutes. After ten minutes, blend again for 1-2 minutes, and let cool some more. Repeat this cycle until the lotion is cool enough to add the cool-down ingredients / almost room temperature. You can speed up the process by placing the cup in a water-ice bath.

5. Add your cool down ingredients (T < 140° F) and blend again to incorporate them. Once incorporated, add the lotion to a container of your choice.

The completed lotion.

The Result

I’m incredibly pleased with the resulting lotion. It feels lighter on my skin than my original creams, and is still thick enough for the dry, winter weather. The lavender adds a pleasant scent to the lotion, and I find that the eucalyptus leaves a refreshing, cooling feeling on my skin just after it is applied. Plus, it was incredibly simple to make!

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