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 than planned.

How to make lotion

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


Common additives in skincare include Vitamin E oil and Rosemary Extract.

However, it is important not to make the mistake of thinking that preservatives and antioxidants do the same job.


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

These additives, whether they are for 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 aren’t.

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.

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

Basically thicker oils 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 butter such as Shea and Cocoa will make such a difference to your formula.

We won’t go into detail about butters here, as this article on body butters coves all you need to know.


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,

Some emulsifiers have to be combined with another emulsifier 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.

Essential oils

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

It is important to remember that some essential oils and fragrances can cause sensitivities, so don’t go overboard your formulas. Essential oils in products you can read about here if you would like further information.


This is, of course, an essential part of making skincare.

Use your preservative according to the manufacturer’s instructions, make notes of recommended temperatures and percentages, as they do have a flashpoint.

If you are going down the route of using natural alternatives, or preservative-free – we will be devil’s advocate here, and ask do you really want to create a formula that is harvesting microbes, bacteria, and fungi? Or are you wanting to create a product that has the potential to go off quickly?

While some natural preservatives are becoming available, you must make your choice wisely and 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, our 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.

Thickeners will help stabilise your lotion and make it a thicker consistency if you plan to make a runny lotion avoid 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 a hydrosol.

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