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Natural Lotion : How It’s Made

I became interested in making lotion from scratch when I made it in a lab class for organic chemistry at Queens College.

In the lab, we used lanolin (sheep fat) which is pretty common in commercial lotions. We experimented with different ingredients to see what impact they had on the final product. I enjoyed the lab but wanted to make a vegan lotion, using plant based fats instead. I wanted to add scent and possibly color.

I tried googling recipes for lotion and quickly became frustrated. Many online d.i.y. recipes for products like lotion and soap are just wrong. Lotions are emulsions, meaning there is a liquid portion blending with a fat, oil or wax portion. In order for this to occur, an emulsifying agent must be used. Far too many of the d.i.y. recipes I found were just blending fats together (won’t moisturize skin and dosent really qualify as lotion) or missing the emulsifying agent (meaning the final product will separate when left standing)!

I started looking at the ingredient labels on lotions that I used, brands like @lushcosmetics and @thebodyshop . I researched ingredients and developed my own recipe based off of the experiment in organic chemistry lab. After a few rounds of trial and error, I came up with a pretty solid basic recipe. Vegan friendly. All natural.

The Ingredients I use are: Water, Sweet Almond Oil, Apricot Kernal Oil, Plant- Based Emulsifying Wax, Stearic Acid, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Raw Shea Butter, Vitamin E Oil, Essential Oil for Scent and Cosmetic Grade Colorant.

Pot one: emulsifying wax, almond oil and stearic acid

Pot two: water, potassium sorbate

Both pots are heated. Pot one is removed from heat as soon as wax has melted.

Pot two is removed from heat right before boiling and citric acid is added. At this point, I take the temperature of both pots to make sure they are close to each other.

Pot two is slowly added to pot one while stirring.

Stirring really helps the emulsifying agent do its job and keeps the oils and liquids from separating. I stir for a solid 5 minutes and then let it sit, stirring every 15-20 minutes for the next 3 hours.

After the lotion has cooled for one hour, I add the scented essential oil, vitamin E oil and cosmetic grade colorants. I don’t really measure these, just slowly add and stir until I get the color and smell I want.

Once the lotion has almost cooled completely (about 3 hours) I use a funnel to bottle my lotions. I always have fun labeling the containers too.

I use 8oz and 4oz containers for my lotion. Each batch of my lotion recipe yields 48 oz of lotion. I can change the consistency to be thicker or thinner by tweaking the amounts of oils and shea butter in the recipe.

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