Making a Simple Face Lotion is easy and inexpensive
Learn how to make simple face lotion using just a few ingredients including liquid oil, water, Emulsifying Wax. and essential oils for scent.
I’m pretty sure that most people would be shocked to know just how easy it is to make lotion. All it’s made of is water, a bit of oil, an emulsifier, and a few extra ingredients that give scent and prolong shelf-life. Mixing them together is easy and very similar to making mayonnaise if you’ve tried that before. If not, trust me when I say it’s easy.
The other thing people might be shocked to know is just how much water is in your average bottle of lotion — between 70-80%. So all that money you’re spending on the latest potion is really just paying for something that’s free.
Simple Face Lotion Recipe
Makes about 100g — approx. 120ml / 4.1oz
75g / 2.6oz Water — use tap water, bottled, or distilled depending on preference
1.5g / 30 drops Essential oil (optional) — I’m using 20 drops Rose-Geranium and 10 drops Frankincense
Antioxidant (optional) — I’m using 0.5g Vitamin E oil (1/8 tsp)
Broad Spectrum Preservative (optional) — I’m using 1.5g / 0.05 of Geogard Ultra. Another one to use is Leucidal
Measuring & Temperatures
When it comes to measuring ingredients for making lotions, it’s very important to use a digital kitchen scale. You can use a pocket scale for small batches like this one or a larger one if you’re making bigger batches. Digital scales keep your recipe far more accurate than using volume measurements — cups and spoons, etc.
Temperatures are something that you’ll see other lotion recipes say is very important. It’s really not. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want your water phase to be hotter than your melted oil phase. The rationale? You don’t want your oils or emulsifying wax to solidify when you add the oils to the water.
You might have read in other recipes that you must ‘Heat and Hold’ your water and/or oils to make sure that bacteria and pathogens are killed. This idea is a myth so you can generally ignore any part of a recipe that advises you to do so. You can read more about this myth over here and exceptions to the rule.
Step 1: Heat the Oil Phase Ingredients
Though we’re just using liquid oils in this recipe, the Emusifying Wax is solid at room temperature. Melt this wax into your oils using a double boiler — essentially a pan sitting inside another pan filled with boiling water. Using a double boiler keeps your oils from getting frying pan hot and this is important in helping to maintain the beneficial properties of the oils and waxes going into your lotion.
Though I’m leaving this recipe open to you to use whichever liquid oils you’d like, the ones I’m using are Jojoba oil and Rose-hip Seed oil. Jojoba is technically a plant wax but what makes it special is that it’s similar to the oil our skin naturally produces. I’m using Rose-hip seed oil because it’s great for rejuvenating mature, damaged, and dry skin and my face really needs some TLC right now.
Emulsifying Wax is the ingredient you use to get the oils and the water in your recipe to bind — it also helps to thicken the recipe which makes it great for creating rich creams and thicker face lotions. There are various types of Emulsifiers out there but some are more difficult to work with than others. Using a standard Emulsifying Wax — also called Polysorbate 60 or Polawax — makes lotion-making easy.
Step 2: Heat the Water Phase
When your oil phase is looking thoroughly melted, heat your water. You can boil it in the kettle or in a pan but make sure to bring it up to a full boil. Then without letting it cool, measure the water you need into a heat-proof jar or container.
Step 3: Mix the Oil & Water Phases
Now pour your oil into the water. Use a spoon or milk frother to mix the oil, water, and Emulsifying Wax until the lotion is opaque. It will still be runny but will thicken as it cools.
Step 4: Mix in the Cooling Phase Ingredients
Allow the lotion to cool for about 10 minutes — technically you’re aiming for about 45C / 113F. Now mix in your optional ingredients including essential oils, vitamin e, and the preservative. Stir well and then spoon into pots or containers. I like using airless pump dispensers since they’re more hygienic and easy to re-use.
I mention that a preservative is optional. It kind of is and kind of isn’t. If you’d like to bottle up lotion and leave it at room temperature for more than a week then it’s not optional. Without a preservative your lotion will begin to grow bacteria, fungi, and other nasties, even if you can’t see them. If you’d like to refrigerate your lotion and use it within a week then a preservative is optional.
Depending on which preservative you use, your lotion can have a shelf-life anywhere between 12 and 36 months. Also note that many preservatives will need to be dissolved in water before you add it to your lotion. Use some of your remaining boiled water to do so. Read the preservative’s instructions though since it might have different instructions for being put into your handmade beauty creams.
The antioxidant I recommend using in lotions is Vitamin E oil. This is not a preservative, contrary to what many people think. What it does is help the oils in your recipe from going rancid. It does not stop pathogens from setting up shop.
Essential oils can be used for scent but some are also helpful for skin. I love the scent of Rose-Geranium essential oil but Frankincense oil is used to combat the signs of aging. It’s an astringent so helps to tighten skin and reduce signs of wrinkles — sounds good to me.
I told you it was Easy
Once your extras are mixed into the lotion you can spoon or funnel it into clean, dry, and sterilized containers. Make sure to let the lotion cool before screwing on lids or you might get condensation.
That’s it. Use your homemade lotion to your heart’s content! Once you have the hang of it, then you can start adding all sorts of wonderful natural additives including herbal extracts and solid oils.
Do also check out my other recipes for lotions and creams — you can find them over here.