How to make lotion, an overview of ingredients

Learning how to make lotion and homemade products is really fun.

However, before you can begin getting creative, you need to think about the ingredients you will be using in your products.

Otherwise you could end up running into problems, and you may end up with a lot more waste then planned.

Join us here tomorrow for step 3 and notes on designing your own formulation.

How to make lotion

Before we begin the lesson on how to make lotion, let’s look at the key ingredients you will require.


Common additives in skin care include Vitamin E oil and Rosemary Extract.

It is important however, to not make the mistake of thinking that preservatives and antioxidants do the same job!

For more information on antioxidants follow this link.


The claims you read on a skincare label, are from the active part of the product.

These are the additives, whether that is treating ageing skin, pigmentation, skin conditions or facial rejuvenation.

The list of additives and their benefits are endless! Some of which are natural and some that aren’t!

Some we have written about in great detail, check out our article on German Chamomile.

If you’re new to formulating, we recommend holding off on using these ingredients, until you are more knowledgeable about them.

You certainly don’t want to waste these wonderful ingredients, as they can be expensive!

Botanical Oils

There are many oils to choose, from depending on the skin type you want to formulate for, and the desired consistency of your home made product.

We have written a complete glossary of botanical oils, which you can read about here.

Basically thicker oil such as avocado or olive oil, will create a heavier moisturising lotion; whilst a lighter oil such as fractionated coconut oil, will create a lighter lotion.


Lovely butters such as Shea and Cocoa will make such a difference to your formula.

We won’t go into detail about butters, because you can read all ingredients and making homemade body butters by following the link.


The type of emulsifier you use when you make your own lotion,  will come down to personal preference.

Ideally you want to think about the kind of texture you want to create,

For instance Olivem 1000 creates a nice creamy formula, whilst BTMS is a conditioning emulsifier, that will produce a nice light lotion.

Some emulsifiers have to be combined with another emulsifier; this is because they have more than one component and need to be balanced with another emulsifier.

For some, you can use two thirds emulsifying wax and one third conditioning emulsifier, for others you can use one emulsifier one thickener.

So get to know the different types of emulsifiers available and experiment with a few, until you get the desired texture.

In the beginning we recommend using a standalone emulsifier, until you get more confident, BTMS is a great choice.

Essential oils

One of the biggest reasons someone is attracted to a product is the smell.

Remember that some ESO’s and fragrances can cause sensitivities, so don’t use over 1% of your total formula.

Essential oils in products we have write about here, if you would like further information.


Some of these water loving ingredients, we have written about,

We advise you to start here, where you can learn all about glycerine.


Use your preservative according to manufacturer’s instructions,

Make notes of recommended temperatures and percentages, as they do have a flash point.

If you are going down the route of using natural alternatives, I am going to be devil’s advocate here, and ask do you really want to create a formula that may harvest microbes, bacteria and fungi?

Do you wanting to create a product that has the potential to go off quickly?

Whilst there are some natural preservative becoming available, you must make your choice wisely,

Ensure you get scientific evidence from accredited sources before you begin, especially if you want to go commercial one day.

The bottom line is if it doesn’t pass a laboratory challenge, then stick to a commercial preservative

The article what are parabens, goes into greater depth about the use of preservatives.


These include stearic acid, which creates a thick texture

Cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol will give your formula more slip and glide

Xanthan gum and guar gum will thicken a lotion.

Thickeners will help to stabilize your lotion and make it a thicker consistency,

However if you plan on making a runny lotion we recommend not using a thickener.


Obviously the amount of water used will determine the thickness of your lotion.

If you use 80% water expect to be formulating a very thin lotion, use 65% and your into formulating a cream.

This doesn’t have to be just water it can be hydrosol or aloe, all manner of things.

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