Rich Moisturizing Lotion

I decided to make this lotion with richer oils than I usually use to give our skin extra protection and moisture for winter.

I had planned to call it Green Goddess, there was so much green in it. The herb infused olive oil made this past summer with fresh garden herbs, the green tea extract and the eucalyptus oil (technically not colored green but smells green!). But the yellow beeswax and pale cocoa butter won out - it ended up a creamy yellow color, so I've named it Mellow Yellow instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces cocoa butter/jojoba mix (or plain cocoa butter)
  • 1 ounce avocado oil
  • 1 ounce apricot kernel oil
  • 1/2 ounce herb infused olive oil, plain extra virgin olive oil is fine
  • 1/2 ounce beeswax
  • 4 ounces green tea or distilled water
  • 1/4 tsp. borax
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops geranium essential oil

Method

1. Prepare green tea infusion (my very un-official method):

  • Steep 2 bags of organic or high quality green tea in 6 oz of boiling water.
  • Let sit it comes to room temperature. Squeeze all liquid out of teabag and then measure 4 ounces.

(Next time I want to try using the green tea alcohol extract that I have brewing right now in my cupboard.)

2. Weigh the oils and beeswax. Melt over very low heat, stirring occasionally.

3. While the oils and beeswax are melting, stir borax into green tea extract or distilled water. Whisk thoroughly to dissolve the borax as much as possible.

4. Remove the melted oils and beeswax from the stove and add the green tea extract/water and borax mixture. Mix with hand blender or mixer until creamy and thick.

5. Stir in grapefruit seed extract and essential oils.

For a photo tutorial of this process please seeĀ How to Make Lotion ~ A Photo Tutorial.

Notes

This recipe is runnier than my usual batch. I'm not sure if that is due to incorrect measurements or the different properties of the oils I used. I poured it into jars but I wish I had a little squeeze bottle for it instead, although either will work.

This is a very lovely lotion and I have received compliments on it from other people, ok my mom. But she's tried my others and she liked this one a lot. So do I.

Our family uses this lotion for all our moisturizing needs - face, body and hands. One jar for every purpose, nice and simple.

Shelf life

This cream should last for 4 months or so, but if you see mold growing, discard. If you pour it into several containers you can keep some in the fridge until you need them. I've never had mold grow in mine and they last 6 months or so before they are all used up.

Making kitchen cosmetics requires cleanliness to inhibit bacterial growth. Purified or distilled water is used for this purpose. Also, thoroughly clean utensils and counter surfaces before weighing and mixing. Refrigerate your lotion to be sure it won't spoil.

About Borax

I guess there's some debate these days on the safety of borax. Until I know more I'm still using it because if you don't the cream will separate. From everything I've read borax mixed with water is safer than as a powder that can be inhaled. Even if it isn't bad for you that just seems to make sense.

I have tried to develop a borax and GSE-free recipe. Grapefruit Seed Extract is a controversial ingredient and not as natural as it sounds. Unfortunately, the recipes I've tried without these ingredients have not been successful.

Without borax, my lotion always separates. And my latest batch, without GSE, also started to grow mold. I'm not sure if that was due to no GSE or simply coincidence.

If you wish to avoid GSE my advice is to make small batches, even smaller than this recipe, and keep it in the fridge. Alternately, use tea tree oil, a truly natural anti-fungal ingredient.

If you wish to avoid borax, you can try baking soda, as recommended by several commenters.

For the complete story on using, or not using Borax and GSE in homemade skin care products see The Low-Down on Borax & GSE.


Wondering where to buy supplies? Check out Mountain Rose Herbs. Also see this page with a list of suppliers.

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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  • Karen

    Karen on Jan. 15, 2009, 9:47 p.m.

    I won't need to worry about my jar going moldy. I use it every day and it makes my mature skin feel more supple and softer, even in these drier winter months.

    reply

  • casey

    casey on Jan. 16, 2009, 1:12 a.m.

    NO WAY! I was on line looking for a good recipe for home made lotion when I decided to go to FIMBY and look at your day... Crazy (yet again! ) I look forward to shopping from our co-op for these items. Peace

    reply

  • Tracey Miller

    Tracey Miller on Jan. 16, 2009, 5:12 p.m.

    Greetings from... well, from {moderated to protect privacy}! I'm not sure how I happened upon your blog, but I'm glad that I did! I am that not-altogether-successful soapmaker, friend-of-friends, who lives in ... We spoke at a Range Pond birthday party back in the summertime (ah, the summertime!)... Anyway, I'm really enjoying your posts and figured I'd finally comment. Oh, and I am going to try this lotion recipe tomorrow; my skin is crying out for it!

    reply

  • JEn

    JEn on Dec. 24, 2009, 5:32 p.m.

    Hi there - I was so excited to finally make this lotion and I love the outcome. Except one small problem...mine is separating. I find pools of green tea/water in my jar. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Feb. 27, 2010, 11:08 a.m.

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I made it for my Mom and she loved it. You've inspired me to start making my own lotions, soaps, and even deodorant. As long as you'll be posting, I'll be reading your blog. Happy Trails, Nicole

    reply

  • Stephanie

    Stephanie on March 7, 2010, 7:03 p.m.

    Thank you for posting this, I can't wait to try it! I'm curious what the grapefruit seed extract is for -- we take it for health, but never thought to try it in personal care products. Also, do you use your cooking pans and blenders to whip up these lotions? Or do you have special pots and implements set aside for making lotions and soaps? Thanks!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on March 10, 2010, 1:26 a.m.

       I use GSE, Grapefruit Seed Extract as a natural preservative. You could use Vit E oil instead.  I use my regular stainless steel cooking pots and glass bowls to make my lotions and soap.   I have a hand blender and one wooden spoon I use for soap only (because of the lye) otherwise everything does double duty.

      reply

  • Jaimie K

    Jaimie K on April 13, 2011, 2:58 p.m.

    Hi! This sounds great! I have excessively dry skin and am always up to trying something new! Where can you buy all of these things though? I am just starting to learn about all things natural. I have almost none of these ingredients on hand and somehow don't think I'll find them at Walmart... Any input? Thanks! (I'd love if you could even shoot me an email: jaimiemildred at gmail dot com) Jaimie

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 14, 2011, 1:41 p.m.

      I recommend starting simple. The recipe in this post is definitely easy but not my simplest.  See this photo post or my basic recipe.

      In both cases the Grapefruit Seed Extract is optional. So all that leaves you to buy is oil, beeswax and borax. Borax you probably already have on hand for cleaning and laundry.

      You could buy your oils anywhere you buy groceries but for more exotic oils like cocoa butter check your local health food store.

      The supplies at first might seem expensive. Like 8 oz of cocoa butter isn't cheap but will last a long time. Same for the essential oils, if you decide to use them.

      reply

  • Elizabeth

    Elizabeth on Oct. 20, 2011, 8:25 p.m.

    Just curious, you mention in your post you are brewing a green tea alcohol mix. Is that like green tea in vodka type mix? Thanks!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Oct. 20, 2011, 8:37 p.m.

      Exactly! Green tea bags steeped in alcohol to make a green tea tincture/green tea extract. Green tea is supposed to be really good for your skin and I saw it listed in The Green Beauty Guide and I thought, I can make that.  I usually add 20 drops for recipe this size instead of making a green tea water like I list in the recipe. I haven't written an updated lotion recipe for a while. Looks like I should. 

      reply

  • Elizabeth

    Elizabeth on Oct. 21, 2011, 6:10 p.m.

    Well I gave it a whirl last night and made my first batch. I didn't have green tea on hand so I used Chamomile instead. I am not sure it if contributed or not but it seemed to be separating even while using the blender to finish mixing it. Today I am not sure if it is the right consistency or not but I am going to finish using it while I steep some homemade green tea extract. Thanks so much for answering my question! :)

    reply

  • Carrie

    Carrie on Feb. 8, 2012, 10:40 p.m.

    I have very dry and sensitive skin that easily breaks out into eczema if something irritates it. I've been using Cetaphil lotion and cream for many years and it's one of the few things that doesn't irritate it. Do you think something like this would be ok for my sensitive skin and for my littles (ages 1 & 3)? Are there certain oils that would be good to leave out? Thanks!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2012, 12:31 p.m.

      I can't say for sure but this lotion though is very mild. As far as oils, any vegetable oils are ok for skin but if you are adding essential oils for fragrance maybe stay away from peppermint, definitely orange and clove. Try rosemary or lavender instead, or no essential oil at all.  

      reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Feb. 13, 2012, 8:15 a.m.

    I don't think Borax is safe to be using in any of your recipes that are going on your body. I'm going to try to research a bit more & try to find an alternative to "keep" all the rest of the ingredients from "separating"... See the section regarding Borax in this informative web article: http://lotionsecrets.com/glossaryharmful.html If you've come across a safer alternative, please let me know. These 'recipes' sound wonderful & I can't wait to try them out - withou the Borax, of course! :)

    reply

  • janey

    janey on April 12, 2012, 7:39 p.m.

    My understanding of borax is that during the lotion making process the beeswax and the borax cause each other to change chemically, so it's no longer borax. Similar to how lye and oil catalyze in the soapmaking process so that there is no lye in soap - lye is the catalyst that saponifies, or soap-ifies, the oil.

    reply

    • Desi

      Desi on Sept. 1, 2012, 8:36 a.m.

      I agree and if you check out borax on this cosmetic database(http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) it says borax has a fair rating (of how bad it may be) and that it depends on the amount used. Most beeswax lotion recipes have small amounts of borax because beeswax itself is not an emulsifier. Without an emulsifier the lotion will separate. So that leaves two emulsifiers to my knowledge that can be used Emulsifying wax or beeswax/borax combo. If anyone knows of any other natural emulsifiers please share :)

      reply

  • kerry

    kerry on May 7, 2012, 3:11 p.m.

    Good Morning and thank you so much for this "guide"! I just made my 2nd batch from this recipe. My first one turned out beautifully - smooth, creamy and incredible. My second batch went a little wonky on me - oh, what a mess I made!! ugh. The lotion blended together quite nicely and quickly, however its creamy smoothness quickly changed, as well. I managed to get it scraped into its containers but noticed it beginning to "break" in that the beeswax seemed to separate into tiny globules. The rest of the emulsion was nicely combined but it seems to have a bit of waxiness about it in its consistency and is somewhat clumpy as opposed to the creamy, even texture of the first batch. Does that make sense? I do not have a digital scale, but rather the standard, "manual" kitchen type. What do you use to measure your ingredients? Could it be I added to much beeswax or (?).......AND can I remedy it now? I did gently reheat and reblend but it returned to its waxy, globule-d consistency. What did I do wrong?? (I will say, the end result is still quite nice just lacks the creamy consistency of my first batch).

    reply

    • renee

      renee on May 9, 2012, 11:46 a.m.

      I'm afraid I don't have much to offer to this. I've been experimenting with a new lotion recipe, one without borax, for those people who really don't want to use that small amount of borax. I don't like this new recipe because the lotion separates a bit. All that to say, the only time I'm had issues with lotion separating is when I don't use borax. Maybe you forgot the borax in your water? That's the only thing I can think of. If it makes you feel any better that new lotion recipe I tested - well, I made a huge batch so I could blend it in the blender (instead of hand blender). A huge batch and it separated. Like you say, it's still usable and I've given some away and will give a bunch to my mom but still… I'm not pleased.

      reply

  • Hannah

    Hannah on May 13, 2012, 6:07 p.m.

    Hi Renee- I was speaking with Nancy A the other day and was telling her about a lotion and lip balm I made the other day and she recommended I post the question to you...so here goes. I made a lip balm and your rich honey butter face cream...they start out a really great texture and then as a couple days pass, they start to get a little gritty. The lip balm (a brown color from adding some mica) has these little white spots all throughout) and it kind of looks like the face cream has the same spots, but is lighter in color so it makes them more difficult to see. Have you encountered this? Any ideas what it could be? Thanks. Cheers. Hannah

    reply

    • renee

      renee on May 14, 2012, 11:22 a.m.

      I have not encountered this. I do have "problems" with my lip balm getting gritty over time, we're talking after one year. This doesn't bother me though, it just seems to be the honey solidifying more or something - I don't know. It seems sometimes that each batch I make turns out different (probably because I'm always substituting ingredients, little more of this, etc - kind of like my cooking). And I'm ok with that. I don't sell these products so I don't need to be consistent.  Sorry I can't be of more help. 

      reply

    • linda loo

      linda loo on Aug. 18, 2013, 5:38 p.m.

      if your item has honey in it, couldn't it be the honey is just crystallizing? 

      reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on May 20, 2012, 6:03 p.m.

    GSE and vitamen E are NOT preservatives..they are antioxidants!! Try using 1% optiphen(approved for organic product use) it is a MUST for water in oil/oil in water products for your own safety !!!

    I REPEAT GSE AND VIAMIN E ARE N O T PRESERVATIVES

    reply

    • renee

      renee on May 29, 2012, 1:53 p.m.

      My understanding, from years of lotion making, and fairly basic (though not hard core scientific) reading is that antioxidants are a type of preservative. In all my years of lotion making, using GSE has been enough to prevent my lotion from "going bad". I try to share lotion recipes that are accessible to the common kitchen. I'm not sure that optiphen is very accessible to most people. If made in small batches, GSE is optional but the lotion must be refrigerated.  I tried making lotion this winter without it and it didn't keep. Started to grow mold when kept in the cupboard. It's fine in the fridge though.

      reply

    • DeeDee

      DeeDee on March 3, 2013, 9 p.m.

      About the GSE not being a preservative... Hi Renee, I just stumbled onto your LOVELY blog from Pinterest, and I am so inspired to try some of your recipes! I'll be making some of your lip balm this afternoon! You've done AMAZING work here!! I see where awhile back some people were giving you static about GSE, and after doing a little research I find that it IS a "short term" preservative. It's reported to be a: "Natural biocide reducing growth of yeasts, molds & bacteriae." I think if someone wanted a lotion with a shelf life of 5 years, they'd have to go with something stronger, but heck even high-priced lotions go sour after a year or so! I just felt compelled to add my two cents to this topic, and to encourage you to keep up the good work! Thank you for your help!

      reply

  • Liz

    Liz on May 28, 2012, 6:40 p.m.

    I just tried this and it worked out pretty well! After the fact, I checked back on your photo tutorial and it explains how to mix the borax with water before adding it to the lotion, which I didn't do. I think it would make things curdle less. ;) Also, a single recipe is not a ton so your stick mixer won't be able to mix it well unless you put the stuff in a relatively small-diameter container, like a 2-cup Pyrex or teeny saucepan. Oops. However, I can tell you that a whisk works fairly well as an alternative. Things are separating a little bit, but that happened when I added the GSE and essential oils. I added as the recipe states first, then when things mostly still smelled of cocoa butter, added 15 drops lavendar oil and 5 drops clary sage. Yum. I like a good herbal-y smelling oil.

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on June 28, 2012, 3:51 p.m.

    I have made several lotions over the last few weeks and I have substituted baking soda for borax in the same amount with great success. Give it a try you just might like it!!

    reply

  • Jenn

    Jenn on Sept. 13, 2012, noon

    Why would you use the alcohol extract when it would contribute to drying your skin?

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Sept. 14, 2012, 11:50 a.m.

      I am trying to incorporate green tea into my lotion and the only way I know how to do that is to make an alcohol extract. The extract contributes only a small amount of alcohol to the lotion and I don't notice a drying effect at all. The whole green tea extract is just experimental on my part. I'm not a lotion maker for anything else than enjoyment and to make my own stuff. I have no idea if the extract really adds any benefit to my skin, but I like to think it does (smile).

      reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Oct. 9, 2012, 3:24 p.m.

    Lecithin is a perfect emusifier to use instead of borax to keep your lotion from separating, and it is all natural and safe. Start with 1 tablespoon of liquid Lecithin, and increase or decrease as needed. You can also infuse your green tea with grain alcohol instead of grapefruit seed extract, which makes an excellent anitmicrobe preservative and will increase your shelf life tremendously. Good luck!

    Your recipe looks like a good one. I think I will try it sometime with the suggestions I have made.

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Oct. 9, 2012, 3:38 p.m.

    Grain Alcohol (95% pure aka Evercare or perfumer's alcohol) will not cause dryness to your skin if you compensate for quality oils in the proper amounts in your recipe.

    Grain alcohol is pure, and actually helps your skin absorb the lotion. Additionally, alcohol, in making an extract, say any herbal extract, draws out (extracts) the pure natural plant chemicals that create the most benefits for your skin in any lotion. It also enhances the scent and other qualities of the essential oils you have used in your lotion. That is why alcohol is best to use as a solvent (in addition to its 100% natural antimicrobial qualities in preserving your lotion's shelf life for a long time.

    reply

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Oct. 23, 2012, 8:38 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.

    reply

  • Liz

    Liz on Dec. 1, 2012, 10:49 p.m.

    I've made this lotion 5 or 6 times now and I looooove the richness! That said, it refuses to say emulsified. I'm going to add some emulsifying wax, probably as part of the beeswax weight, and see what happens. Per my friend, who makes soap and lotion, the borax is not necessary in a lotion. I've not been terribly wound up about sterilizing things, and no problems with mold or anything. My friend adds a preservative to hers, but I haven't seen the necessity. I keep the extra in the fridge till I need it, but it ends up sitting out for at least a couple of weeks while I use it, and no problems. :)

    reply

  • Liz

    Liz on Dec. 21, 2012, 7:57 p.m.

    I did! It worked the first time, but not after that. And the first time, after a few weeks, the rest of the lotion separated. I'm not sure if ambient temperature affects this and how much, but I've wondered if that contributes to the separation of the lotion. This last time, I used 1/4 oz emulsifying wax and 1/4 oz beeswax, and so far no problems. Skipped the borax. :) I am lucky to be able to get emulsifying wax easily at the Portland Homestead Supply.

    reply

  • Yoon

    Yoon on Jan. 11, 2013, 6:26 p.m.

    I'm about to try out your recipe! Just waiting on the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs.

    I might have gone slightly overboard and ordered way to many vegetable oils... I'm planning to use Rosehip, Evening Primrose, Avocado, and Jojoba, in addition to Shea Butter.

    The total oil+butter will still add up to 4oz, but do you think a wider variety of oils in one recipe will be a problem at all?

    Also, just so I have it right, are all ounces in your recipe dry ounces (weight)? NOT fluid ounces (volume), right?

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Jan. 11, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

      I don't think the wider range of oils will be problematic and that sounds like a gorgeous mix. Oh, I want some! Dry weight - yes. 

      reply

  • Grace K

    Grace K on Aug. 18, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

    Hi!  I'm fairly new at the lotion making.  I've made soaps, detergents and lip balms successfully.  A friend suggested using sunflower seed lecithin to emulsify the lotion.  Soy lecithin is not the best choice if you are estrogen sensitive ....and I've read it is made thru a toxic process.  My last batch grew mold in one jar, so I'm going to try the GSE.  I take it internally, so I think it wouldn't pose a health problem in lotion....any comments on why you are doubting the use of GSE?  Plus, I use a hand mixer....the kind you can put down into your cup....and have had few separation issues even without an emulsifier.  Thanks for the great web site and sharing!!

    reply

  • Kim

    Kim on May 28, 2015, 9:44 p.m.

    I just recently made a concoction of my own using black tea.  I used a preservative though to help it last a little longer.  I did find that after about a week or so it had black stuff on top of the lotion.  Maybe I didnt use enough preservative?? What do you think?

    reply

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