How to make simple face lotion using just a few ingredients including liquid oil, water, emulsifying wax, and essential oils for scent
What we want from a simple face lotion 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 lotion 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 lotion recipe is 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 Lotion 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 that’s 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.
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 off, 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.
A word on preservatives
A broad-spectrum preservative is necessary if you’d like the lotion to last more than a few days. Without it, the lotion will begin to grow bacteria, fungi, mold, and other nasties, 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, like the one listed in the recipe, can protect your lotion against all micro-organisms. If you do want to use another preservative, ensure that it too is broad-spectrum, and if it isn’t, use a second preservative to make sure that your bases are covered. Changing the preservative is a more advanced aspect of lotion-making though, so I recommend that you stick with what’s in the recipe.
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.
Simple Face Lotion Recipe
- Glass jar with lid
- Large saucepan
- Small dark glass jar (100-120ml)
- 70 g Distilled water 2.47 oz
- 1.5 g Geogard Ultra* (Gluconolactone & Sodium Benzoate & Calcium Gluconate) 0.05 oz / 1/2 tsp
- 10-20 drops Rose Geranium essential oil Optional
Prepare the Oil & Water Phases
- Sterilize all of your equipment by running it through the dishwasher. Wash your hands thoroughly, and consider wearing disposable gloves while making the lotion. Microbes that are on your hands and equipment can make their way into your lotion 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 the 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 after you've heated and held the jars for at least twenty minutes, and 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 five minutes later to give it another stir.
- As the lotion cools, it will thicken to a cream consistency. Return every twenty minutes or so to gently stir. You can also add the Geogard Ultra at this point (see next step).
- If you make this lotion without a preservative, it will last up to one week in the refrigerator. After that time, invisible bacteria and fungi will begin colonizing it and it will not be something you want to put on your face.To preserve it for longer, you will need to add a broad-spectrum preservative. There are many available but my favorite is Geogard Ultra. It comes in a powder form and you'll need to dissolve it in a teaspoon of hot water before you add it to your lotion. Geogard isn't heat-sensitive so you can add it without taking the lotion's temperature. It will preserve your lotion for eighteen months.Many other broad-spectrum preservatives need adding at precise amounts and temperatures. If you choose another type, please refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
- If you'd like to add the optional essential oil, stir it in when the lotion is 45°C/110°F or cooler.
- Now we need to test for pH. Stir a half teaspoon of lotion 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. Lotion and 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 lotion 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 lotion into a dark-glass container and seal. You can begin using it immediately.