How to Make Lotion From Scratch


Lotions help the skin retain water, through the use of oils. But dry skin needs both oil and water. Lotion, like mayonnaise, is an emulsion of oil in water. The oil is suspended in the water, making both available for the skin to use. An agent to suspend the oil in water -- called an emulsifier -- keeps them from separating. The oil, water, and emulsifier is all that is needed to make a basic lotion, but lotions can incorporate fragrances, colorants, thickeners, humectants, for the benefit of the skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled water
  • Bleach
  • Oil
  • Emulsifying wax
  • Preservative
  • Fragrance (optional)
  • Colorant (optional)
  • Whisk or immersion blender
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Lotion bottle or jar

Preparing the Recipe and Tools

  • Calculate the desired proportions of each ingredient.

    The recommended ranges are:

    Water- 60 to 80 percent

    Oil- 10 to 30 percent

    Emulsifying wax - 3 to 7 percent

    Fragrances and colorants - percentage recommended by manufacturer

    Check your math to make sure the percentages add up to 100 percent. Use the preservative as recommended. Do not include it in the percentages, unless the directions indicate.

  • Multiply each percentage by the desired amount of lotion -- to get the amounts for each ingredient.

    For example, to make 10 ounces of lotion using 70 percent water, 25 percent olive oil and 5 percent emulsifying wax -- you will perform the following calculations:

    .7 x 10 = 7 ounces of water

    .25 x 10 = 2.5 ounces of olive oil

    .05 x 10 = .5 ounces of emulsifying wax

    Set aside an additional 10 percent water, to thin the lotion, if needed.

  • Write out the amounts for each ingredient -- including preservatives and any additives -- not included in the percentages.

  • Soak tools and containers in a 10 percent solution of bleach for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Measure Out Ingredients and Forming the Emulsion

  • Measure out the oil and emulsifying wax and combine. Measure out the water separately.

  • Heat the oil and emulsifying wax until the wax is completely melted. Heat the water until simmering.

  • Stir the oil and wax slowly, with the whisk or immersion blender. Add the water gradually, stirring continuously. Once all the water is added, increase speed.

  • Whisk or blend -- at medium to high speed -- until the emulsion begins to form. No oil or water should appear to separate from the emulsion. The mixture should be opaque and pale. Add any additives -- preservatives, fragrances, colorants -- that were not included earlier.

  • Leave the mixture to cool for five minutes, then whisk or blend for 2 minutes. Alternate blending and cooling, until the emulsion has thickened to your desired consistency. Pour into the bottle or jar.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lotion recipes refer to ingredients in a "water phase" or "oil phase". The water phase ingredients get combined and heated with the water, and the oil phase ingredients are combined and heated with the oil, before combining both sets of ingredients to form the emulsion.
  • You can use more than one oil for the oil phase, as long as the total amount of oil does not exceed the recommended range.
  • Do not immerse the whole of the immersion blender in water. If the immersion blender does not have a detachable shaft, wipe down the shaft with a cloth moistened with the bleach solution. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse the shaft thoroughly.

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  • Photo Credit lotion de bain image by Tilio & Paolo from measurig cup image by Adkok from wire whisk in wooden bowl image by Jarek Miarka from
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