The Handmade Lotion Trials: Second Batch

Look how pretty this lotion is – so creamy and smooth.  I scented it with rose and bergamot essential oils.  I actually prefer a lotion with little or no scent but I had to mask the distressing animal scent of the shea butter.  Shea butter is NOT made from any animal parts.  It comes from a tree.  However, it smells and repells me like lanolin does.  The point is – isn’t this lotion pretty and doesn’t it look perfect?

One hour later it has hardened and separated.  What the hell?!  What happened?  It was so smooth and perfectly emulsified!  From what I’m reading this may be because the water and oils weren’t at the same temperature when emulsifying.  I don’t have a thermometer.  Actually, I have two but neither of them are working.  The candy thermometer never worked and my digital one is so confusing to use that I’ve given up.

Before the gross disaster occurred, I used a little of the lotion and I liked it better than the first batch.  It has a slightly sticky feel to it which while not ideal is more preferable to me than the slick greasy feel of the coconut based first batch.  For the sake of remembering what I used I will record ingredients and amounts here:

1 tsp yellow beeswax

1/2 cup distilled water

1 tbsp glycerin

1 1/2 tbsp shea butter

2 tbsp sweet almond oil

1 tbsp wheat germ oil

enough rose and bergamot essential oils to mask the unpleasant odor of the shea butter.

This recipe is based on the Cocoa Butter and Rose Cream from the book “Natural Beauty Recipe Book” by Gill Farrer-Halls.  I couldn’t get my hands on real rose water so I used distilled plain water instead.  There is a worldwide shortage of jojoba oil right now so I didn’t want to contribute to that shortage, instead I used wheat germ oil which is used in a few other lotion recipes in this book.  After doing a lot of reading about the various butters I concluded that shea butter was the least greasy and best option for my skin, so I used that instead of cocoa butter.  The essential oils called for were rose, frankincense, and chamomile oils.  Each of these oils is very expensive.  Way out of my price range.  Luckily I already happen to have some good quality rose oil so I used that and then found I had bergamot which I love in combination with rose.  By this time – as you can see – it is barely the same lotion as the original but I kept all proportions of oils to waters the same and followed the instructions.  Except for the part about hand whipping it.

Here are my notes on making lotion up to this point:

  • I have a strong aversion to the less refined butters – the smells are repugnant to me.  This bothers me because the less refined they are the more nutrients they have to offer my skin.  The less refined a butter or oil is the stronger its scent.  So in future, if I want to have an unscented or very faintly scented lotion I’m going to have to buy the ultra refined de-scented oils and butters.
  • I might need to figure out how to reset my digital thermometer.  Or buy a really reliable non-digital one.
  • Lotion making is easy, except for when it’s not.
  • Hand whipping the oils and waters is ridiculous.  I’m all for doing things without having to plug anything in but I was whipping and whipping and nothing was changing.  No magical emulsification was happening.  My blender knows how to GET IT DONE.
  • Even when the scent of something is pleasant to me (rose and bergamot) I am bothered by it being too strong.  Luckily for me (I guess) pure essential oils (particularly the citrus ones) lose strength much faster than their synthetic counterparts.  I remember how I used to wear perfume and smoke cigarettes and I loved all that strong scent around me*.  Not so much any more.
  • What lotion works for your skin is highly personal.  You may have tactile preferences or your skin may be drier or less dry and this will dictate what feels good on it.  My mom much prefers the first batch of lotion because she likes the greasier feel of it.  The slight stickiness of the second batch bothered her, whereas I didn’t mind it so much but was super bothered by the slick feeling of the first batch.
  • So if you plan to make your own lotions, expect to do some experimentation and trials of your own.  Do smaller batches (such as half batches)** so you don’t waste too many ingredients at a time.  If you don’t like a batch for yourself have your friends try it and if any of them like the ones you don’t – give it to them.
  • Take notes on what you do each time.  If you give a lotion to a friend  because they really like it – they may want to make it again so if you can tell them precisely what you did (any substitutions or deviations from the instructions) they can remake it and you will have effectively spread knowledge and skills that individuals should not lose to industry.

What’s up next: today I will attempt to re-heat the separated lotion and re-emulsify.  I’m hoping that if I heat them at the same time in the bowl they’ll be at the same temperature when I blend them.  All lotion making instructions have you heat the two elements separately and then blend so this might not work.  However, when I make my creamy mustard vinaigrette I put all the ingredients in one container and then emulsify – they’re all at room temperature… but why can’t I heat them together so they’re continually at the same temperature and then emulsify?  Why shouldn’t that work?  Well, today I’ll be able to report on whether it does or doesn’t.  I know one thing – those essential oils when heated can lose their scent which is why you always add them last when the lotion has cooled.  So I’ll have plenty to report after today’s experiment.

Stay tuned for the results!

*No lie.  I have always loved the smell of fresh cigarette smoke and when mixed with Opium perfume – so wonderful.  Or, at least, I used to love it.  There is a lingering nostalgia for me in those two scents but no longer any real pleasure in them because they are so poisonous to both people and the environment.

** There is a slight issue of batches being too small to be effectively emulsified in your blender so if you do half batches of recipes that are already somewhat modestly sized, you may need to emulsify by hand.  Good luck with that.

5 thoughts on “The Handmade Lotion Trials: Second Batch

  1. B.

    What an interesting post…I like how you’ve carefully recorded & thought out your process. Frustrating, though, that you couldn’t get things to work this go ’round. I would say it’s got to be a chemistry issue (isn’t it usually a chemistry issue when we’re playing with mixing things?). Anyway, I’ll be watching to see what solutions you’re able to come up with.

    About the cigarette smoke: it’s so funny you should mention your fondness for this smell, mixed with the perfume you’d wear. I was brought up in a smoking household, & while I never became a smoker myself I do know that when I have to get something out of my buffet (used to be my mother’s) I am immediately transported back in time to my original home…..I kind of like that smell too!

  2. angelina Post author

    I was thinking the same thing, Belinda! I used my blender because I so rarely use it for any food. My mom has a blender too so she and I decided to dedicate this one to cosmetic making. The same would be true for an immersion blender – you wouldn’t want to use one for food that you’d used for soap or lotion. My immersion blender is quite old but still excellent so I could see getting a newer one for food and retiring the older one to lotion making.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>