Help Me Craft The Greatest Home-made Lotions Ever
November 14, 2012 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Homebrew Cosmetics Crew - tell me about your lotion/perfume/body butter-building experiences!

I'm getting into the realm of making my own lotions, perfumes and body balms/butters/batters etc. and want to connect with others in the Mefiverse who do the same.

- anyone doing this for dry-skin reasons
- great resources for online vendors
- tips and tricks for noobs
- formulary advice on how to marry different ingredients/incorporate great glide/slip/textural elements to your lotions
- keeping it as natural as possible. Not very interested in 8-syllable chemicals entering my stuff unless you can prove that they won't exacerabate skin issues/throw formaldehydes/etc.
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
As far as vendors, I use MMS. My lotions are just olive oil, water and emulsifying wax. Aside from selling everything you could possibly want to make your own, they have a lot of recipes.
posted by dogmom at 6:55 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: I make my own lip balms and salves, plus soap.

My basic balm recipe is:

1/3 beeswax
1/3 olive oil
1/3 coconut oil

I melt all 3 in an old tin can which I've crimped one edge into a pour spout, using a pair of pliers. Sometimes I'll pop a vitamin E capsule and put that in.

I've also experimented with almond oil and cocoa butter (using less olive oil for the almond and less beeswax if using cocoa butter). The best tip I ever got was to put a blob onto a piece of waxed paper, let it cool, then test for consistency. Once it's got the best lip feel/skin feel, I'll pour it into jars.

I tend to buy my beeswax locally, in chunks, then you can melt that and pour into say, smaller containers, double up cupcake foils, for instance, so you will have more manageable sizes when weighing.

You can get cheap jars and lotion bottles, etc. at Midwest Bottle.

Fancier stuff at ED Luce. I like their fancy flip-top mini canning jars for things like bath salts. Granted, it's glass, so use caution. But you can mix the essential oil of your choice with some almond oil, then pour on top of sea salt, and scoop into the jars for a nice exfoliating scrub in the shower (being careful not to slip, or sit down on the edge, then rinse).

For base oils, I like Soapers Choice, as they have really good prices. Try getting 7 lbs. of sweet almond oil for $25.00 at a health food store.

For other items, like essential oils and weird ingredients (such as emulsifying wax), I like Wholesale Supplies Plus.

Also, From Nature With Love has quite a few things, may be a bit pricey but good quality.

If you start getting into herbs and infusing, what I have done is take say, a cup or two of olive oil and pour it over a few handfuls of my herb of choice, like dried comfrey for soothing properties, into an old glass jar (instant coffee jars work great for this). Then I set it into a small pan of hot water and keep it at about 120 for a few hours, stirring with a clean chop stick. Strain, and use as normal in your balm and lotion recipes. Comfrey has allantoin, which is used a lot in cosmetics.

I've gotten bulk herbs at San Francisco Herb, but remember, dried herbs don't weigh very much, so get them locally at a health food store if you don't plan on using very much within a few months!

Sorry I don't have more lotion recipes, I mainly make soaps and then use leftover oils for balms. I did have some good feedback from people with dried cracked hands and heels using salve made from comfrey-infused oil, so try it! Happy making!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:00 PM on November 14, 2012 [21 favorites]

Oh yeah, if you want a really cheap supply of coconut oil for experimenting: look for LouAna brand at your local big box store beginning with "W." They may sell it other places but that's the only place I've found around here. It comes in a white plastic jar with a black lid.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:09 PM on November 14, 2012

For recipes and serious help, you are probably looking for The Dish Forum. There are great people there, and they can tell how to fix a recipe just by looking at the ingredients list.
posted by hmo at 6:36 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I make my own lotion, body butter, and solid perfumes. I buy nearly all my ingredients locally or at Mountain Rose Herbs. I've never made the exact same lotion recipe twice, but I always include shea butter, coconut oil, and jojoba oil. I get eczema from too much hand washing in the winter, and shea butter is excellent for preventing and healing. I like jojoba because it is nearly greaseless and my skin responds well to it.

This website has tons of information on formulating and ingredients (menus on the right). Here's a basic lotion primer (rrecipe in links) that comprehensively gives you the lowdown. For lotion, you'll need to improvise at least one double boiler, and you will need cooking thermometers in order to heat and hold both the water and oil phase. You will also need a scale, ideally one that measures in grams as it is much easier to calculate percentages in metric. A stick blender is *key* to blending the oil and water phases of lotion. Body butters have no water, so just one double boiler and a thermometer is what you need.

I start with the following lotion formula, and calculate percentages depending on how much I want to make, and what ingredients I feel like using that day:

75% distilled H20 (can include hydrosols)
13% oils (I like a majority to be jojoba, maybe 8-10%, if not all.)
3% butters (the harder the butter, the thicker the lotion. Cocoa is very hard, shea less so. I add coconut oil to this percentage, because it's fairly solid at room temp)
3% stearic acid (should be 2-5%)
4% e-wax (this should always be 25% of the total amounts of oils and butters)
1-2% preservative
fragrance at about 1% (I add this after I've made the lotion and put it into bottles, so I can have different scents. It probably is less than 1% in reality)

My lotion making kit includes:

emulsifying wax
stearic acid
germaben preservative (really important if you are giving lotion as gifts. Less so if you use them up in a month. Not needed for body butters, because they have no water).

the butters/waxes I like to have on hand are shea, cocoa, and beeswax. Don't buy a ton of anything that you won't use up in six months or so. Shea has a "nutty" smell that I don't particularly care for, so I either buy filtered or use it in small amounts.

the oils I have on hand are jojoba , castor, coconut, olive oil ( the last two from the kitchen). I like grapeseed but it goes rancid extremely quickly, so I buy it specially. I also have used avocado oil but don't care for it in huge amounts. It also goes rancid more quickly than I use it up, and is expensive.

I have a dozen or so essential oils that I mix up for different benefits (such as tea tree), or just because they smell good.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:46 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

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