Simple Face Cream Recipe + Video Instructions
How to make simple face cream using just a few ingredients, including liquid oil, water, emulsifying wax, and essential oils for scent
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What we want from a simple face cream is moisture, skin-beneficial oils, a lovely scent, and a creamy feeling. A lot of us will have our favorite brand, but as you know, skincare can cost quite a lot, especially over time. Amazingly, it’s pretty easy to create your own lotions from the comfort of your kitchen and for a fraction of the price. The active time to make this face cream recipe is only about an hour, and aside from a thermometer and pH strips, you won’t need any specialist equipment.
Not only is this simple face cream recipe easy to make, but it comes with a video that shows you many of the steps. The final product is rich enough for a body cream but feels great as a moisturizing skin cream for normal to dry skin. You can view my other recipes for lotions and creams over here.
Simple Face Cream Ingredients
A large part of any lotion recipe is distilled water. We use distilled because it has a neutral pH and is free of heavy water minerals, microorganisms, and contaminants. The other main ingredient is liquid oil. The ones in this recipe are jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. Jojoba is a plant wax similar in properties to our skin’s natural oils. Sweet almond is light in feeling and great for all skin types. If you’d like, you could use sweet almond oil infused with comfrey, lavender, calendula, or another skincare plant. These won’t add scent, so that’s where the essential oil comes in.
Emulsifying wax is the ingredient you use to get the oils and the water in your recipe to bind. 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.
Natural Skincare Recipes
Measuring & Temperatures
When it comes to measuring ingredients for most lotions, it’s important to use a digital kitchen scale. You can use a pocket scale for small batches or a larger one if you’re making bigger batches. Using volume measurements, such as teaspoons and cups, is generally not accurate enough for making cosmetics.
Temperatures are important for a couple of reasons, so make sure to have a digital thermometer. First, you don’t want your oils or emulsifying wax to solidify when you add the oils to the water. It would just separate. Secondly, some ingredients, such as the preservative, can be heat sensitive.
Use a Preservative
A broad-spectrum preservative is necessary if you’d like the lotion to last more than a few days. Without it, the lotion will grow bacteria, fungi, mold, and other microbes, even if you can’t see them. Without a preservative, the lotion is only good for five to seven days if refrigerated. At room temperature, it will likely spoil in half that time. Broad-spectrum preservatives can protect your lotion against all microorganisms for up to eighteen months.
Simple Face Cream Recipe
- Glass jar with lid
- Large saucepan
- 70 g Distilled water 2.47 oz
- 10 g Emulsifying wax NF 0.35 oz
- 5 g Jojoba oil 0.18 oz
- 15 g Sweet almond oil 0.53 oz
- Broad Spectrum Preservative*
- 10-20 drops Rose Geranium essential oil Optional
Prepare the Oil & Water Phases
- Sterilize your equipment by running it through the dishwasher. Wash your hands thoroughly, and consider wearing disposable gloves while making the face cream recipe. Microbes on your hands and equipment can make their way into your skin cream and spoil it.
- Measure the ingredients of the oil phase into one heat-proof glass jar. Measure the distilled water amount for the water phase in a second jar. Next, place both jars in a large saucepan, and fill the pan with an inch of hot water.
- Bring the water to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. You're ready for the next step when the contents of both jars are 75°C/165°F. Take the jars out, and place them on a kitchen towel on the counter.
- Next, pour the heated distilled water into the oil-phase jar. You'll see it immediately turn an opaque creamy color. Gently stir with a spoon for several minutes, then let it cool. Leave the spoon inside the jar since you'll need to return to it five minutes later to give it another stir.
- As the face cream cools, it will thicken. Return every five minutes to stir gently.
- Once the cream is 45°C/110°F or slightly cooler, add the preservative and essential oil. If the preservative you use comes as a powder, mix it with a small amount of distilled water before adding it to the cream.
- Now we need to test for pH. Stir a half teaspoon of cream in 1-2 tsp distilled water. Dip one of your pH papers into liquid and then compare the color to the ones on the pack. Skin creams need to match the pH of your skin, or they can be irritating and affect the effectiveness of preservatives. If the pH is between 4.5-5.5, you're spot on. You can make the face cream more acidic (lower the pH) up by adding tiny amounts of lactic acid or citric acid dissolved in a small amount of warm, distilled water. Make it more alkaline (increase the pH) with triethanolamine or by dissolving a small amount of L-Arginine or bicarbonate (baking soda) in water and adding it. Pass it through the sieve and into the lotion. Take the pH reading again and adjust again if needed.
- Using a rubber spatula, spoon the face cream into a dark glass container and seal it. You can begin using it immediately.
After I added the Geogard at 130 Fahrenheit, my lotion separated. It was looking so beautiful before that. Might you know why? The emulsifier I used was Olivem 1000.
Would it be safe to use it anyway even if it is a little weird?
Hi Barb, I recommend sticking to the exact ingredients in skincare recipes since issues like this can arise. Olivem 1000 has a different usage rate (2-6%) and can be tricky to work with. Many formulators use it as a co-emulsifier, along with a second type of emulsifier. As for using separated skin creams — no, I don’t advise it. The preservative will probably fail and it likely won’t be an enjoyable experience anyway. If you’d like to make a recipe with your Olivem 1000, I have this aloe skin cream recipe that you’re welcome to try :)
Great recipe! I used this recipe to make my own face lotion for the first time. I modified the ingredients by adding Glycerin and Aloe Vera juice concentrate (5 gr each and reduce the amount of distilled water to 25 gr). I also used Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Palm free E-wax and Euxyl PE 90 for my preservative. The mixture looks nice (just like a normal face lotion) after mixing the oils and the water. However, it separated after I put in the preservative. The temperature was around 40C when I did this, so I tried to mix the mixture for some time. It didn’t look great at the beginning as it still looked like the mixture doesn’t want to combine so I left it as I thought it failed. However, I was surprised that it turned out well after I left it for 10 mins. The mixture looked as a normal lotion texture (it was well combined at the end and not separated). Yay! Maybe it took time to properly emulsify. I may try to reduce a little bit of the E-wax next time to make it feels less greasy. Thanks for this recipe! :)
Absolutely! Putting body lotion on your face once or twice probably won’t cause any lasting harm. All the same, body lotion isn’t meant for facial skin, so it could make some skin concerns worse.
I would like to add almond flour to the recipe. How much can I add?
I think the biggest question would be why are you trying to add almond flour to skin moisturizer?
Great Recipe. I changed the oils around and added more emulsifier as I wanted a thick cream with a JoJoba base. I’ve tried it out and it’s perfect – Thank you.
You’re very welcome :)
How much olivem did you use? I’ve been playing around with ratios and I can’t find the sweet spot. So far I’ve either had too much water or too much oil. I’d love a thicker emulsion, with a good skin feel.
I’ve tried the original recipe above, and altered the emulsifier from 10g to 9g and the consistency is absolutely perfect. Silky and non-greasy.
Thank you so much for this simple recipe!
We love all of your recipes!
You’re so welcome, Ryan :)
This is great!! I know everyone is asking how to make it thinner… what if i want it thicker?? Thx
You could use a little more ewax or you could thicken it using an ingredient such as xanthan gum.
If I want to make a face cream/moisturizer (or body) with coconut milk, how would I come about it? I use coconut milk on my skin and love it but I’m a bit tired of always worrying about how long to keep it in the fridge and then freezing/thawing out before using it.
Hi, can I bees wax as emulsifier ?
Hi Rosemarie, on its own, beeswax is not a stable emulsifier. If you used it, the lotion would hold for a bit, but would separate over time — meaning the water would separate out. To use beeswax as an emulsifier, it needs to be used in conjunction with borax. However, borax is no longer recommended for skin use as it’s been shown to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). It is far better to use safe cosmetic-ready emulsifying waxes such as the type I list for this recipe.
Hy, I am so excited to try this recipe and just wanted to find out, if the ph is too high, how much citric acid and water should i mix together and how much should i add to the cream to higher the ph or bicarb and water if opposite, lower
Hi Shamim, for a small-batch recipe such as this you will only need the tiniest amount. 1/32 of a tsp of either dissolved in a teaspoon of warmed distilled water. Generally, when I’m adjusting, I begin with a 1/4 tsp of the solution, pouring it through a sieve into the lotion and stirring it in well. Then I take the pH again and adjust again if necessary.
Thanks so much Tanya
Thank you Tanya, I made the recipe with the Geogard Ultra preservative. It is wonderful! Thank you for sharing the recipe.
I tried this recipe many times and LOVE it so much! I have been using this lotion as face and body moisturizer. My question is, am I able to keep this at room temperature? If so, would it shorten the shelf life of it?
Hi Shelley, if you use a preservative, you can keep it at room temperature for around 18 months (time depends on the particular preservative). Without a preservative, the lotion is only good for a few days to a week refrigerated.
Hello, I loved the recipe. My mom is super happy with it. I bought Geogard ultra in powder but im having problems with the measures. How much powder should I use in one teaspoon of hot water?
Thank you so much!!!
Hi Connie and thanks! The volume measurements (if applicable) are listed in the ingredients area. In the case of geogard ultra, it’s 1/2 tsp.
What if your oils and water reach 165 in 10 minutes in the stove. Do I cook for 20, let them get super hot then let cool until they reach 165?
Heating and holding is seen by some skincare makers as unnecessary, especially if you’re using a broad-spectrum preservative. The point of it is to kill bacteria, but the preservative does that anyway. My advice would be to get both of your water and oil phase to the right temperature (no matter how long it takes) and mix :)
I would like to add glycerine. How much would you recommend for this recipe?
I made this today and all was well until I messed up the ph. I’m not discouraged though. I was really close! I’ve ordered some citric acid to have on hand. I did substitute a couple of oils but all else was good. I’ll drop the wax slightly. Question: could I add cosmetic grade vitamin c powder to this recipe and if yes, how? Thank you!!
Hi Kris, vitamin C is unstable in lotion recipes, and above a pH of 3.5. That means that most forms of vitamin c (such as ascorbic acid) degrade quickly and don’t add any skin benefit. If you want to give your skin the benefits of vitamin c in a recipe like this, use ascorbyl palmitate. It’s oil-dispersable, stable at a neutral pH, and you can use it at up to 1% of a formulation.
Hi Tanya, i love this recipe, its makes my skin feel amazing, would i be able to use Aloe Vera juice instead of the Distilled Water please.
Experiment with it and find out if you like the recipe using a full replacement. Do keep an eye on the pH of your final product though and ensure that it meets the range for your preservative :)
Hi there, I decided on your recipe as it looked the most nourishing and professional. I am full trying to use as many natural products as possible and fed up of paying a fortune for natural ones and wasting plastic and packaging. I have all the ingredients except the preserative, do you think you would be able to use Potassium sorbate instead?
Hi Gillian, potassium sorbate can be used as a cosmetic preservative, but not on its own since it’s not good at killing bacteria. It needs another preservative in order to be able to offer broad-spectrum protection and special formulation with that other substance and within the lotion itself. As a hobby lotion maker, I’d recommend that you stick with a simpler ready-mixed broad spectrum such as the one in this recipe.
Great thankyou! Have ordered, looking forward to trying, thanks again
I loved making this recipe and I’m thrilled with the result. I have dry skin however found the cream too slow to absorb leaving a greasy residue on my skin for at least an hour after application. Am I able to adjust the recipe to resolve this?
Hi Sue, you could use less emulsifying wax — reducing the amount down to about 7 grams. If the consistency is too thin after emulsifying, you could add a tiny amount of natural thickener such as xanthan gum. Hope this helps :)
Is there something easier using essential and carrier oils?
It seems like a lot of work.
I see the oils being used online. Not sure which to use.
If you want to make anything from scratch, you begin with ingredients and a detailed process. If it seems like too much work, there are plenty of all-natural lotions that you can buy ready-made :)
I am huge fan of Lovely Greens, and I tried to do the lotion but it is not getting ticker as I want this to be, instead the oils are separating from the cream, I am not sure how to fix it.
Any advice would be quite helpful.
Your lotion did not emulsify properly — the emulsifier didn’t bond with the water and oil to make lotion. This happens if the lotion isn’t mixed enough, that there wasn’t enough emulsifier, or if there was a big temperature difference between the oil and the water phases. Try making it again, making sure to double-check amounts, that you’re using the right ingredients, and temperature. Good luck :)
I am really learning a lot and I want to try this recipe.. the only preservative that I have right now is Optiphen. Can I use that and if so, how much? Thanks in advance!
Hi Adrian, the usage rate for Optiphen is 0.75%- 1.5% of your formulation, and is added after the lotion has cooled to just below 140F (60C).
To make lotion how much water and emulsifying wax nf in grams?? Thx
I also use leucidal complete…?
Hi Natalie, the measurements in both grams and in oz are provided :)
Hi!! I love this recipe! I need to lower de ph, and I don’t have right now the citric acid…stores are closed now…can I leave it like this for a couple of hours and then add the citric?
A couple of hours should be fine but it needs to be done quickly. Preservatives lose their effectiveness if out of the pH range so your lotion could spoil if left too long before adjusting.
Thank you! I enjoy all your posts! I’m a gardener and have been working on growing what I can to meet my needs, while gradually phasing out all synthetic personal products.
Is this recipe adaptable, i.e could I switch out carrier oils to accommodate specific needs? Almond oil is too heavy and makes me break out, but I also have rosacea.
Yes, feel free to use the same amount of another liquid oil and I’d recommend that you only use a teaspoon of the e-wax. It will create a lighter lotion that may be better for your skin.
Hi Tanya! I’ve been making a lot of your soaps and balms and giving them away (as well as using them myself) and everyone loves them! I tried making your simple face cream, and my face went horribly red after using it. I have sensitive skin, so I made my husband try it, and he went quite red too! Do you have any idea which ingredient could be making us react this way? Are essential oils at that concentration likely to be irritants?
Hi Timi, it could be one of the exact ingredients you’re using. Always be careful with where the ingredients come from, and the best place is from a reputable skin care ingredient manufacturer. The other thing it might be is too much preservative? Which one did you use? Did you use the manufacturer’s recommended amount? Lastly, measurements are everything with making skincare. Double-check ingredient amounts and then check them again.
Hi Tanya, thank you for shareing your knowledge and recipies. I have made your rose lotion and found it beautiful. I have made another and have the confidence to try a different oil which was Apricot oil. It turned out great but I like the Jojoba oil better, slightly better texture. If I am wanting a more thinner lotion to go in a pump bottle would I cut down the emulsifying wax?
You’d cut down on the wax, and the oil. More water = runnier lotion
Hi this lotion sounds awesome! Is there any way you can post the measurements? I don’t own a scale and I would like to make this asap. Thanks in advance ?
Hi Jessi, if you’re planning on making beauty products you should definitely invest in an inexpensive scale. Using volume measurements doesn’t cut it because they’re so inaccurate. Amazon is a great place to pick one up — there should be a link above :)
Hi Tanya ? I’ve made this face cream today and love it. It’s light and smells wonderful too. One question…….Is it acceptable to use Phenoxyethe EHG as the preservative at the same amount as your chosen preservative shown in the recipe of 1.5gms?? Thanks in advance ?
Hi Jacky and thanks for the feedback — glad you like the lotion! As for the preservative, there will be instructions with every individual brand and type that will tell you how much you should use. Phenoxyethe EHG has a usage rate of 0.5-1.1% for both rinse off and leave on products. That would mean that you need less than the Geogard Ultra that I use.
Thanks Tanya, I used pure Vit E in my recipe, is this what you mean in your ingredients list when you say Vit E oil? I have been using the cream for just under a week now and can honestly say I’ve actually noticed a marked improvement in my skin, it’s smoother and just looks and feels better than I’ve ever known it, so pleased with it. That’s for the great recipe ?
Yes, that’s right. The vitamin e oil from the soap kitchen has a high concentration of tocopherol suspended in sunflower oil. Pleased you’re enjoying the lotion!
Is there any way that I can make this without using a scale? I would like to make it like right now.
Is there any easy option for lotion or cream wax except Bees wax or emulsifyng wax?or without wax?
You need an agent to make water and oil stick together, that’s why you need e-wax/beeswax.
Can I use 100% pure white beeswax pellets in place of “ emulsifying wax?”
Can’t wait to make this!
Beeswax isn’t the same as emulsifying wax. It can create a temporary emulsion (lotion) but it’s unstable and may separate. Traditionally beeswax was mixed with Borax to create stable emulsions but it’s no longer the recommended thing to do. Borax can unfortunately cause skin irritation.
Tanya, Can this lotion be used for under makeup moisturizer? I’m new to DIY essential oils and all the benefits. So far I have not found a good recipe for a non-greasy moisturizer.
Thank for any advice.
Patti G. Reaves
It’s a nice non-greasy face lotion and yes, can be used under make-up.
This was a really nice light cream and not greasy
Thanks for your feedback Mary Jo!
Hi Tanya, I am excited to try your lotion recipes! I learned with previous lotion batches that I need a preservative – it started to grow those nasties within a couple of weeks – yuck! While I don’t like the idea of adding preservatives, prefering as natural and simple as possible, I realize if I want it to enjoy it longer and not waste it I will need to add it. You mentioned Geogard Ultra, do you know where we can order that in the US/Hawaii? I’m not having much luck finding it. I see some equivalant products but not that one specifically. Looks like a good option from other sources on the web. Thank you!
Hi Amy, Geogard Ultra is known as MicroGuard in the USA.
I love it. The face lotion works like a charm. I use Infinity Jars pump to store it so that it stays in optimum condition for a long time.
Do you know at what temperature can cold pressed oils be heated to without compromising the integrity of the oil? I would like to add several cold pressed oils to my lotion but have been told they can’t be heated so I’ve been adding them cold at around 113 degrees and I think it’s messing with my final emulsion.
Hello! I’m going to try this recipe next week-end I think. Is it ok if I use castor oil + coconut oil for the oil phase? Or will it be too heavy?
I avoid coconut oil in face lotions — it causes acne in a lot of people including myself. On the body it’s fine though. For face lotions stick with oils that feel light when you rub your fingers together — sweet almond oil, apricot kernal oil, and cold-pressed sunflower oil to name a few.
I can’t wait to try these Thank you!