How to Make Lotion ~ A Photo Tutorial

I usually make my soap and body care products after supper, when all my other work of the day is done, which means I don't take photos of the process. Photographing under fluorescent kitchen lighting is just nasty. But today since I had natural light I thought I'd share it all with you so you can whip up a batch (or two) for yourself.

1. Choose Recipe

I'm using an updated version of my basic recipe. You can see it written out in the photo below.

2. Gather supplies

3. Sterilize tools and containers

Very easy to do, just put stuff in a pot of boiling water, boil for one minute or so, remove from heat and drain water. Pour the drained hot water over a plate to set all your tools on once they are sterile. This will deter bacterial growth.

4. Measure

5. Melt

Melt oils and beeswax over low heat. In a separate bowl, mix water with borax. The oils will melt in a couple minutes. Remove from heat and add water/borax mixture. As you stir them together they will look something like this:

Whisk until well combined. Add your optional ingredients (see recipe photo above), whisk to combine.

6. Pour

Today's recipe is double the amount of the recipe above. It makes this many jars of lotion (as pictured below). I re-used the empty cocoa butter container that held the cocoa butter I used in the lotion.

One recipe will probably last a family for 6 months or more. Store extra jars in the fridge till needed. I also made lip balm. But you'll have to see this post for the instructions.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • claudia

    claudia on Sept. 30, 2009, 4:57 a.m.

    Once again you and your family are amazing Renee! Please let Laurent know I'm looking forward to starting a knitting project on those lovely needles he made! I'm starting to get the itch as the weather cools off here :)

    reply

  • Ellen

    Ellen on Sept. 30, 2009, 4:30 p.m.

    Fantastic! I can't wait to give it a try. It's so dry here that my plain old coconut oil alone isn't working so well. Thank you!

    Ellen's last blog post... Taking shape

    reply

  • kyndale

    kyndale on Sept. 30, 2009, 11:44 p.m.

    Oh, I just might have to torture my relatives with handmade lotion this year! So is this just for hands and body or do you use it on your face too? It looks (and actually smells) quite wonderful through the computer screen :)

    reply

  • Barb J.

    Barb J. on Oct. 3, 2009, 5:59 p.m.

    Awesome! I'll have to try it one day when I get time. Is the borax liquid or powdered?

    Barb J.'s last blog post... Nature Valley giveway

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 3, 2009, 8 p.m.

      borax is powdered and the brand I buy is 20 Mule Team - I use it for making my own laundry soap and dishwasher soap.

      reply

  • Amanda

    Amanda on April 1, 2010, 12:11 p.m.

    I am so excited to try making this! Just waiting on my beeswax (had to order that, can you believe it???) and I'm hoping to get started this weekend! Just the thing for my mom's approaching birthday :)

    BTW would you recommend a scale rather than measuring cups? I don't have one of those but could borrow one.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 1, 2010, 1:06 p.m.

      Wherever you see oz. listed in my directions those are measured with a scale.  I would recommend using a scale because measuring cups measure volume not weight.  

      reply

  • Amanda

    Amanda on April 6, 2010, 8:15 p.m.

    Just made this delicious lotion! My kids are hovering..."what are you making? It smells like honnnnneeeeey" (that means they think it smells really, really good)

    Now, while it's cooling, I tried some on my hands. Does it always leave this sort of shiny film? It's not necessarily bothersome, I'm just curious.

    I think when I make it for myself, I'm going to skip the cocoa butter - I think the smell of the coconut oil with shea butter is going to be intoxicating! Right now I'm a little overwhelmed with the cocoa butter scent, and I just used 1 oz of that.

    What's your favorite combination? Can I just say how thrilled I am you inspired me to do this? It's wonderful! :)

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 6, 2010, 9:57 p.m.

      I find that handmade lotion is greasier. If I need to touch someone with really clean hands (ie: a photo or my glass lens) I don't put lotion on my hands first. But it will soak into your skin or rub off (not sure exactly what happens) and leave your skin feeling great - at least that is my experience.

      I'm so glad you gave it a go.  The smell of my hand crafted lotion is one of the things I love best about using it.  The last 2 batches I've made have been cocoa-peppermint.  Good enough to eat...

      reply

  • renee

    renee on April 17, 2010, 2:06 p.m.

    With permission, I've taken this quote from Amanda's blog regarding her experience making lotion:

    My lotion didn’t quite turn out how I expected.  I loved how it smelled (so did the boys!) but it isn’t quite runny enough to call lotion – I have been calling it body butter, but it might also be called salve – I have to use a spoon to get mine out of my jar.  Once I do a thorough job of massaging it into my skin, it does feel really nice! 

    However, next time I think I will add some liquid oil instead of some of the solid fats I used.  I didn’t use any essential oils because I liked how it smelled as it was.  I do love the smell of coconut oil, and would love some lotion that smells just like that – so I may try to concoct something for summer using that.

    Just something to keep in mind, if you use all solid fats to make your lotion it will end up being quite solid. In which case you can call it "body butter" (I like that Amanda).

    reply

  • erika

    erika on Oct. 3, 2010, 7:51 p.m.

    Any recommendations on mixing techniques? I have found there is always separation between oil & water, no matter the speed or temperature. Also have you used any alternatives to beeswax & lanolin? Candelilla & glycerine has be recommended. Also what is the role of borax? Thanks. erika

    reply

  • renee

    renee on Oct. 4, 2010, 12:41 p.m.

    The borax prevents separation. Please see my notes about using it in this post. Using borax is the only reliable way I have experience with to prevent separation. I have never used alternatives to beeswax or lanolin.

    Good luck.

    reply

  • Nicole

    Nicole on Oct. 15, 2010, 9:02 p.m.

    Just wanted to say a great big thanks to you for this post. It inspired us to try it and we finally got around to it yesterday. Lovely stuff. I will never buy lotion again! We can't wait to try other kinds now. Plus we love the lip balm!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 21, 2010, 12:57 p.m.

      Oh good! I'm glad you tried it. Isn't it so easy and wonderful. I haven't bought lotion or lip balm for years.

      reply

  • Cindy

    Cindy on March 1, 2011, 7:03 p.m.

    What vegetable oils do you use? I have tried Olive oil, but it comes out very runny. other suggestions?

    reply

    • renee

      renee on March 2, 2011, 12:31 p.m.

      If you're considering making a new batch try using part cocoa or shea butter instead of all olive oil. If you want to experiment with your current batch try melting it all down and adding more solid fats - coconut oil, cocoa butter etc. That might fix your current runny batch. Or just pour it in a re-used pump bottle and use it that way as an all over body moisturizer. 

      reply

  • Aasif

    Aasif on Nov. 21, 2011, 6:03 p.m.

    Wow looks really good, now i was thinking of adding 50g of melted dark chocolate or 3 heaping teaspoons of cocoa power (its really good for your skin) so do you think it'l work out?

    reply

  • Kristin L

    Kristin L on March 28, 2012, 10:12 p.m.

    Got all the ingredients today and made one batch. LOVE it! Came out more yellow than I thought it would, and isn't as creamy. However, it works well and smells fantastic (I used orange and clove oils) A Tip, be careful which bottles you sterilize... mine cheap-o plastic ones came out of the water all wrinkled LOL

    reply

    • renee

      renee on March 29, 2012, 10:51 a.m.

      Oh yeah, I've had that happen also!

      reply

    • Kristin L

      Kristin L on March 30, 2012, 3:48 p.m.

      Update! I made a 2nd batch and used 1 oz shea butter in place of 1 oz of the oil. Talk about hard bar lotion LOL. I can't seem to get a good balance, but what I learned is I have to let the mixture cool a bit after the initial mix, then mix the heck out of it again. Is that normal? It worked, so I guess that's ok to do? It is fantastic, made all the difference in the world. This batch, I used small glass canning jars, no warping!

      P.S. Renee, I have now purchased enough "stuff" to make lotions, lip balms and soap. You have converted me! I can't even look at the "junk-filled" lotion in my cupboard and will be giving it all away as it does not compare, even to my first effort!

      reply

      • renee

        renee on March 30, 2012, 6:34 p.m.

        My "official" policy it if it works than that's the way to do it! Yeah, for converting you to making your own. Now you won't be able to go back!

        reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on June 6, 2012, 11:36 p.m.

    What is the borax for? Can I make it without or substitute something else?

    reply

    • renee

      renee on June 6, 2012, 11:53 p.m.

      Please see this post for info about substituting borax (I don't know of any substitutes).  You can google borax to find out what it is. Mostly people use it as a natural cleaning product. I buy this kind. 

      reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Aug. 30, 2012, 2 a.m.

    I just made a recipe of homemade lotion for dry skin. I like it but about an hour after putting it on my skin starts to feel a little dry. Do you know what I can do to make the moisture last longer? I used bees wax as the emulsifier. Do you think I need more or less bees wax to lock in moisture? Or should I add some cocoa or shea butter or something?

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Sept. 10, 2012, 9:53 a.m.

    You should probably note that GSE and vitamin E are not preservatives. They are antioxidants, which means they can retard the oxidation of your oils, but they don't have anything to do with preventing bacteria and mold from growing in the lotion. In the 'study' that supposedly demonstrated that GSE acted as a preservative, they used a batch of GSE that was contaminated with parabens. Obviously, the parabens did the preserving, because GSE preserves about as well as prayer. Even if you can't see fuzz growing on the top, nasty things like staph can (and will) grow in it, which is quite dangerous. If you have a product with water, you really need to use a real preservative!!

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Oct. 23, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

    I make and sell handcrafted bath and body products. If someone is not comfortable with using borax in their lotion they do sell emulsifying wax that is vegetable waxed base and not petroleum based. It is not 100% natural but is pretty close and will keep your lotion from separating. Also, GSE and Vitamin E are not preservatives. They are antioxidants. Antioxidants are not preservatives. They are excellent for extending the shelf life of your oils to keep them from going rancid but it will not stop unseen bacteria and eventually mold from growing. I have read several research studies in the past when I first started my business and even ran my own tests. You can buy kits online to test for bacteria growth that cannot been seen with the naked eye. In using GSE after 2 to 4 weeks my lotions were growing unseen bacteria that if the lotion was used would be spread onto the body. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean that it's not there. Mold started growing anywhere between 4 and 7 months. Lotion kept in the fridge will only stop bacteria growth for about 4 weeks. I understand that you are trying to share lotion recipes that are "accessible to the common kitchen" as you stated above but if someone is going to be making it to either give away as gifts or to use it on themselves then they should really be making it safely. Optiphen like someone suggested above is an excellent paraben free preservative that is not that difficult to get. There are tons and tons of soap and bath and body supplies websites that offer it for literally only a few dollars (about $3-$4 for 1-2 oz and you only need a tiny, tiny bit in a batch of lotion) and shipping is only a couple more dollars and to be safe with the products that you are spreading on your body a few extra dollars is well worth it.

    http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/lotion/talk-it-out-tuesday-preservatives/

    This is a blog post written by a woman who runs her own supply company and a teaching store and has been doing this for years.

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on March 4, 2013, 1:08 p.m.

    I know this is several years old, but in case it helps:

    A little tapioca starch can take the greasy feel out of homemade lotions. It doesn't take much - in this recipe, I'd say maybe half a teaspoon would do it - and it's pretty easy to find. Just check the Asian specialties section of the supermarket, or look for a Bob's Red Mill products rack. (Tapioca flour is the same thing, at least for this purpose.)

    reply

  • susan

    susan on July 24, 2013, 2:07 p.m.

    Looks great! Can you please tell me where you found/bought the jars that you used for the lotion? I'm looking around a lot for the right jars for my cosmetics and these looked perfect! Thank you

    reply

    • renee

      renee on July 28, 2013, 4:01 p.m.

      I am still re-using old glass jars from the days (years ago) when I bought skin care products. Also, my mom saves those for me. Small canning jars work well.

      reply

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