I started making my own body lotion about 15 years ago when I entered naturopathic medical school. I was extremely wary about the ingredients in store-bought products – even some of the ‘natural’ ones. Like sewing jeans, making body lotion was something that seemed really complicated, but turned out to actually be quite easy. I took advantage of my time in the school’s herb lab, and the expertise of professors, to learn this important skill. There are a number of different approaches to making lotions and balms, but my favorite comes from renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar (https://scienceandartofherbalism.com/).
You will need the following equipment:
- Stainless steel, glass, or enameled cast iron saucepan (NOT non-stick coated or aluminum; these pans will leach stuff into your final product)
- Silicone spatula and/or plastic/wooden spoons (use same principles as above)
- Container(s) for final product
You may want to get separate equipment for product-making (many people do), but I reserve my essential oils for the final product so I have never needed to do this. However, be mindful if you are sharing wooden spoons between food prep and product making – you don’t want your lotion smelling like spaghetti sauce.
This is the recipe I use:
- 3/4 cup of Carrier oil of choice (olive, sesame, almond, apricot kernel, grapeseed, avocado, etc. You can combine more than one.)
- 1/3 Cup Coconut oil
- 1/2 to one oz. Beeswax (you can use shea butter)
- 2/3 Cup Purified water
- 1/3 Cup Pure aloe vera gel
- 1-2 softgels of Vitamin E (completely optional)
- 10-30 drops Essential oil(s) of choice
HERE’S THE PROCESS:
Weight out beeswax according to desired thickness of final product. If you use pellets, you can measure them out; I find that one generous tablespoon of pellets makes a nice medium-thick lotion. You can adjust accordingly. Don’t make it too thick, especially if you’re using a pump bottle. Trust me. I went with 1/2 ounce this time and it was a runnier consistency that is perfect heading into spring.
I originally bought my beeswax at Bulk Apothecary (https://www.bulkapothecary.com/). But the past few years, I’ve been using amazing beeswax candles, and a lot of beeswax is left over when they’re done, so I save it for my lotion. There are many online sources, so it should be fairly easy to track down.
Combine carrier oil, coconut oil, and beeswax in your saucepan. A double boiler is probably better, but I’ve done fine with just a saucepan. Place it over low heat, stirring constantly until everything is fully melted. The INSTANT the last beeswax becomes liquid…
Pour the melted oil/wax mixture into your blender. Place the blender in the refrigerator. You will be waiting for the mixture to cool down. This step can take up to thirty-ish minutes, maybe more, maybe less. The point is to check it regularly, until it gets to the desired consistency…
You want it to be thick and creamy. If it’s thick like lip balm, it’s too thick. If it’s runny and warm, it needs more time. You want it to be opaque, and about the consistency of flavored yogurt or pudding when it comes out of the fridge. Don’t worry – if it’s somewhere between runny and stiff you’ll be fine. If it does get t0o thick, just put it back into the pan, melt it down and try again.
While you were waiting – or right this second – combine your water and aloe vera gel. Add the contents of the vitamin E capsules, if you decide to use them. Just use a pin to prick a hole at the end and squeeze out the contents into the mixture. Now is the part where the magic happens…
Turn the blender on low speed. Slowly pour the water mixture into the center of the vortex. You will kind of stir the surface to help the mixture blend, being careful to stay well away from the blades (unless you have a Vitamix or some similar high-powered machine).
You can now add your lotion to the container(s) of choice. You will end up with about 20 ounces total. I recommend adding essential oils to the final product, in the actual container. There’s really no need to make your equipment smell like Ylang Ylang or whatever. The amount and combo of essential oils you use is completely personal. Play with it. Start out with one or two you like, add a few drops, then add more if you prefer. I find that lavender combined with something citrus is nice. Keep in mind that this is a natural product without preservatives. Make sure your container is clean, and it is probably best to keep a smaller amount in use and store the excess in the fridge.
Lotion making isn’t that complicated. Yeah, the clean-up is a little messy, but you won’t be doing it that often. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing each and every ingredient and their source, being able to tailor-make the formula that you desire, and experience the pure joy of saying, “I made this!”
TIPS FOR CLEAN-UP:
- First, wipe as much lotion off your blender and equipment as you can with dry paper towels (or zero waste alternative).
- Next, repeat with dish soap and fresh paper towels, but NOT water. Water repels grease and if you go straight to soap and water, things will stay greasy.
- Finally, now that you’ve cut through the grease, you can place the soapy items in hot water, and the greasy stuff should come off more easily with additional soap.
I think you will love this approach to lotion making. The water content makes this formula truly hydrating. If your lotion isn’t too thick, it works well on the face. Have fun!
FAVORITE SOURCE USED: