If you have ever made a mayonnaise for a salad, then you are already familiar with the basic process involved in making body lotions. Home made body lotions are essentially emulsions of oil and water, with added ingredients to provide fragrance and longer shelf life. This week I set aside time to restock my bathroom cupboard with hand creme, face moisturising creme, body oil, and soap.
I use simple equipment – two Pyrex jugs, a large saucepan filled with boiling water, kitchen thermometer and measuring jugs which have the ability show 10ml gradients. One Pyrex jug holds the oils and waxes used in the lotion. This includes the primary oil or oil blend, along with emulsifying wax. The second Pyrex jug holds a measure of water or hydrosol, along with preservatives such as a citrus seed extract and vegetable based glycerin. A hydrosol is the watery liquid which remains after an essential oil has been created from fresh flowers, herbs, bark or roots. It retains some of the properties of the essential oil, but is not highly scented.
Both the oil mix and the water mix are heated to a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Celsius, and then combined by pouring the water into the oil and stirring. At this temperature, the emulsifying wax is able to hold together the oil molecules and the water molecules, and the mix becomes very creamy. Depending on the quantities involved, specific stirring techniques are required.
When the mix cools somewhat, the essential oils which give the lotion a fragrance are added, and the lotion can be decanted into sterilised jars.
The jars I use are cobalt blue Boston jars, which I sourced from New Directions – a company that also sells a range of essential oils and cosmetic ingredients. If you are interested in making your own cosmetics, I highly recommend using Carolyn Stubbin’s book “Do It Yourself Pure Plant Skin Care” which is a clear and simple guide to the basic information you will need.
In addition to the hand creme, I also made a moisturising face creme, two different body oils, and six cakes of soap. This will last me for quite a while!