Instructables
Picture of Basic moisturizer
When you buy hand, face, or body cream, lotions, butters or serums you are buying essentially the same thing: a blend of water and oil. Differences between products come from the choice of oils, different proportions and additives such as preservatives, scent, and a host of other chemicals designed to enhance the feel, stability or efficacy of the product. When you buy moisturizer you are paying for packaging, marketing, shipping, real estate, innumerable middlemen and the lavish lifestyles of cosmetic giant CEOs... only a tiny portion pays for the actual moisturizer. In other words, making your own is CHEAP. No only that, it's EASY. And to top it all off, if your skin is sensitive, fresh moisturizer made with high quality ingredients you control is BETTER FOR YOU.
I've been experimenting for a while and I developed this recipe to help my husband's eczema. I needed a thick cream with as few ingredients as possible: when it comes to sensitive skin, less is definitely best. The fewer ingredients, the less risk of irritation.
This cream is thick and rich but is quickly absorbed by the skin and does not feel greasy. I even use small amounts on my face.

 
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Step 1: Equipment

You will need a stick blender or a strong arm with a small whisk.

The container should be a 16 oz wide mouth jar, a recycled honey bottle or a similar container -- this cream is too thick for a pump. If you use a honey jar it should be the type which stands on the cap.

Do you think that coconut oil would be a good oil to use to make this moisturizer? I found some ewax on Etsy for a good price and already have coconut oil on hand for other uses. Have you made this with coconut oil?

belsey (author)  HollyHarken7 days ago
Yes, coconut oil will definitely work as a substitute, I've tried it. I prefer grape seed for the smell and feel of the cream, but many other people swear by coconut. It's just a matter of personal preference and what you've got on hand.
Thank you!! I have both almond & coconut oils on hand so I can experiment with both & see which one I like the best.
BlueHeart812 years ago
Hi, i loved reading this article and will definitely try the recipie, as my dad and brother suffer from bouts of eczema. I just have a question about the emulsifier. Since it allows oil and water to mix, when applied to the skin, would the emulsifier also react with the natural sebum and dissolve it? And so when you wash your skin, would your skin be stripped, and be drier?

Do you ever use any of the oils, like the ones you mentioned, jojoba and grape seed, directly on the face or body? I am currently using virgin coconut oil on my face. I like the way my skin feels but im not sure if this is the best thing in the long run.
I use jojoba oil by itself on my face. It is chemically similar to the sebum or oil our skin produces so it is readily absorbed by it. I also use Argon oil. It is an anti-aging oil. The jojoba oil is also awesome for my ultra dry curly hair. I thoroughly spray it all over my hair after an evening shower. Let my hair air as always. the next day I only use a cleansing conditioner then regular conditioner in the shower. Let my hair air dry again & my curls are twice as curly, super shiny, so soft! I do it once a week.
belsey (author)  BlueHeart812 years ago
Though I don't know for sure how the emulsifier acts on the skin on a microscopic level, I CAN say that the emulsion does not dry out the skin. When I wash my hands shortly after moisturizing, the cream does wash off, and who knows, maybe a little of my own skin oil comes off too, but whenever you wash or get wet, you should re-apply cream... so whatever has been washed off gets replaced.
And yes, you can apply straight oil to the skin, it's just not as convenient because it's harder to apply, it doesn't absorb as fast, and putting it all over can get messy. On a small surface which doesn't get covered in clothes (i.e. the face), it works perfectly. I usually just put a couple small drops of black seed oil on my face every day right after showering. It's easy, it feels great, I love the smell, and it's fine for the short and long term.
awsmitty19 days ago

I've been a chemist in and out of this industry for 30+ years. I hope I can get this out before too many people read and/or try this. I think I'm at the end of the mailing list here at instructables. Don't forget the lanolin, great stuff, not cheap, but great stuff. Also coconut oil has merit, and may sound strange, avocado, and as some have mentioned oils from nuts, any nut, but not peanuts ... that's really not a nut. I've been doing this for years for me and my sister, but never thought about posting it here. Great job!

belsey (author)  awsmitty19 days ago
There's nothing wrong with reading and/or trying this!! As the title says clearly, this is a recipe for BASIC moisturizer -- i.e. simple, minimum number of ingredients to make a good moisturizer, and cheap. However I also emphasized in both the instructable itself and in the comments that other ingredients can be added or substitutes used. I've used lanolin, coconut oil and avocado oil too (and included them in some other recipes I've posted on Instructables), but there's absolutely no harm in starting with something simple. In fact, for very sensitive and allergic people it's a distinct advantage.
awsmitty belsey19 days ago
belsey, perhaps you misunderstood me. I am agreeing with you. This is a perfect base to start with, or use as is. However with this base one could then go in a variety of different directions. That's all
belsey (author)  awsmitty19 days ago

Yes, I admit I was confused by your comment... When you said you're a chemist who hopes you "can get this out before too many people read and/or try this" it sounded like you were warning people against making this for safety reasons. I'm glad I misunderstood.

HollyHarken29 days ago

How well would this moisturizer work as a diabetic foot cream? The stuff the foot doctor recommended was way too expensive and smelled awful! I'd love to find an alternative.

belsey (author)  HollyHarken19 days ago

I don't know anything about diabetic foot cream... Either it's medicated (which strikes me as doubtful) or it just does not contain ingredients diabetics need to avoid. As far as I know the ingredients here are perfectly safe for diabetics, but to be sure, check with your doctor.

alberto-a729 days ago

It is not necessary to use the first catch of the day...however... it is more concentrated. Best time to collect is between 3-5 am due to the appearances of hormones. I do not stick to this...just the first session of the morning usually around 6am. I would not advise to mix urine with creams as there are a large number of chemicals in our urine and this mixiing with creams complicates things. Just use it plain. At first the whole process was strange as it was necessary to overcome years of incorrect knowledge about our urine. If... one purchased all the chemicals found in the urine... then mixed them with "clean" water... one would arrive at the same smell. Urine has a tiny...tiny amount of impurities, however, it is a filtering mechanism to eliminate that which is in overabundance for that time. A lot of computer generated analysis going on to decide which one and when to get it out of the blood. If you serve your dinner and there are leftovers at the table...what do you do with them? Do you consider them "dirty" because the are left over? Do you not just remove them? There you have the simplified version of a very complicated chemical filtering process made by the kidneys. My wife had a rash on her chest... the "medical creams" just turned it down but did not eliminate it. She applied urine and in 10 minutes it was gone... the itching as well. Please drink lots of water. Best to get more information and there is a lot of it available. Perhaps is good to note, (being an specialist in chinese herbal medicines and o a lot of herb combining) that there is a lot of misinformed information as well on the net. Best to get to the areas of investigative work to get things straight. From the "Docs" is generally not a good place as they get a bit edgy over things that work well and are inexpensive.

alberto-a729 days ago

I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.... after so many years of good health I came down with Psoriasis. This skin condition is multifaceted and extremely difficult to get rid of yet..with patience I found Urine Therapy. I no longer have this skin problem... and also have the softest most envious skin imaginable due to the Urea. I add my comments so that exzema sufferers can stop suffering. Collect the first morning discharge... apply liberally to the skin...let soak in 10-15 minutes everyday. Usually in 1-2 weeks things have changed. It is not dirty... it is sterile and the smell comes from the chemicals not being dirty. Get over it... and it will change your life.

Blessings to all.

A.Ahrens

belsey (author)  alberto-a729 days ago
One could also use urea -- not as cheap or easy to get, but less of an "eww" factor. However even that is not necessarily for everyone: whenever I put even the tiniest amount of urea in a cream my husband immediately starts to itch....
xssy129 days ago

Thank you Alberto-a7, I suffer also from psoriasis and I like the idea of using your own urine as have heard of urine being used to treat other skin diseases. Does it only have to be the first 'wee' of the morning you can use??

Where did you come up with Germall Plus? This is nasty stuff in that it causes your finished product to release formaldehyde. How about some vitamin E oil instead?

belsey (author)  alan.clark.311429 days ago

I also recommended vitamin E, but vitamin E is an anti oxidant which helps prolong the life of oils, so it's perfect for balms which don't contain any water -- it doesn't do much to preserve emulsions. Germall Plus is easy to use, effective and better than other preservatives. Also I did mention I generally prefer going preservative free, but for those who are selling or giving products to others, they need to be able to guarantee that the cream won't turn foul in a few days. They'll need more than vitamin E.

silkier29 days ago

Just a little about using water.

When I trained as a pharmacy technician, many eons ago, the recipes for creams always called for using "freshly boiled and cooled water". We often used sterilised distilled water in the pharmacy just because we had it on hand from stock.

Some of our trainee pharmacists were doing a project on Quality Control for their theses and decided to test the water from the De-ioniser in our manufacturing department. They found it was HEAVING with microbes - all nicely nested in the resin core. This led to a hasty revision of all the manufacturing recipes for anything for internal or external human use. After that the D.I. water was mostly used for diluting powerful chemicals (formaldehyde, phenols and such) and they renewed the core and checked it at increasingly regular intervals.

Since then I have always been wary of D.I. water and I personally would not use it to make creams, distilled water is fine (it won't have the ions in it that can react unfavourably with any of your other ingredients) and well boiled and then cooled water should be pretty safe.

lazemaple29 days ago

an important point to remember when using metabisulphite based products to sterilize equipment is that a growing number of people experience allergic reactions from sulphites.

lazemaple29 days ago

I'll bet One-Step is simply metabisulphite powder which you can purchase in bulk for around $3 a pound at wine making supplies and some bulk foods stores.

Mandelacat1 year ago
Please put me on your mailing list. Holiday.geiger@gmail.com
Thanks, H
belsey (author)  Mandelacat29 days ago

You wrote this comment a year ago and I never saw it! Sorry, I will add you today.

pbaran2 months ago
Sorry i cant upload photo for some reason
belsey (author)  pbaran29 days ago

Can't help you there... Were you trying to upload a picture in the comments? There's a button in the reply box for adding a picture, if that's not working you should contact instructables staff.

pbaran2 months ago
What i could have done wrong...its not curdled while blending but its like a silky white water? Pls advice what you think?
belsey (author)  pbaran29 days ago

Sorry, I didn't see these comments till today. As you see in my pictures, a silky white color is correct.

I would like to know where you purchase your supplies. I've never gotten oil and ewax that didn't cost me $20.

belsey (author)  willowtree7829 days ago

There's a link to my supplier in step 3 -- this was a couple years ago, plus I bought in bulk so the price could have gone up since... I calculated the cost based on how much is used in one batch, not the full cost of that one-time purchase.

pbaran2 months ago
Please that photo
pbaran2 months ago
What i could have done wrong...its not curdled while blending but its like a silky white water? Pls advice what you think?
pbaran2 months ago
Hi. Have you tried or do you think will work to use aloe vera jucie or gel instead water? Thank you.
belsey (author)  pbaran2 months ago

Yes, I've made cream with aloe vera juice or gel and it works well.

pbaran belsey2 months ago
I will try it then. Thank you very much for quick replay.
mbreton1 year ago
Hi, I've been testing out some ingredients and ways to make creams, but even with the ewax, it still ends up curdled... I did not wisk with an electric supply though, I only took a regular wisk and did it by hand. Could it be the problem? I would really love to give some as a gift for Christmas so I have to find a way to make it nice and silky.
pbaran mbreton2 months ago
Did you find the problem? If yes was the issue? Please advice. Thank you
belsey (author)  mbreton1 year ago
That's never happened to me with ewax, and I've been using it for years -- then again I've always used a hand held blender. I can only think of 2 possible reasons: both the oil/wax mixture and the water-based mixture must be hot. Other possibility, whether mixed by hand or blender, the 2 need to be blended slowly together -- in other words, pour the hot oil into the hot water slowly (a very thin dribble), while beating it with all you've got. That should work. Third possibility: are you using these proportions, or improvising? You need to keep the balance (by weight, not volume) close to what I give here or you'll run into trouble. Good luck!
Hatcherooni2 years ago
I made this moisturizer and I am so excited how it turned out. I bypassed the preservative since it is just for me and will be keeping it in the refrigerator (of course giving it a little smell test before I use it). I also used some grapefruit essential oil since fragrance doesn't normally give me much trouble. I used a whisk to emulsify and it was fine. Thanks!
BlueHeart812 years ago
Thanks for the reply. You're right about the oils being messy business. I tend to take out just a tiny amount of coconut oil and thoroughly apply it to my face, then gently wipe off the excess. It does take a while to get absorbed, but the end results are really great!
Tamaresque2 years ago
Hi, I love your recipes. I have very dry skin and have become photo-phobic (I stay out of the sun). The dry skin is from a lifetime of kidney disease (I'm 59) and the photo-phobia is because I've been transplanted (twice now <3) and the drugs I take that allows the kidney to live in my body reduces my immunity to cancers and I have pretty bad sun damage to my skin and I've also had a lot of skin cancers removed.

However, the point of this little message is to say that when I clicked on your link to add my name to your mailing list, I got a message to say, "This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it? It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for."

Is there another way to add myself to your mailing list?

Thanks,

Judanne
Tasmania
Hey all. I wanted to throw this out there for what it's worth. I do a bit of home brew. So sterilizing my tools is very important. I use a product called OneStep. Best I can tell, it's similar to OxyClean in that it's a powder and it cleans using oxygen. I think. I'm no chemist. But I'm betting it would work great on plastic bottles. Maybe check out your local home brew store and see what they have. I love the stuff I use. It hasn't failed me yet. I'll try this recipe and try my OneStep on some bottles. Let them sit for a year then open them up. Hopefully I'll remember and come back and post my findings. Thanks for the instructable!!!
Chloe1232 years ago
hey!
Im starting my own company which sells lotions and moistrisers. This really helped to get me started. Thanks!
But how much does the recipie make?:)
franssoa4 years ago
Nice instructable.
Can ewax be replaced by bee wax (easiest to find here) ?
belsey (author)  franssoa4 years ago
 You will need to add a small pinch of borax if you want to use beeswax. Also you might need to adjust the quantity. I find creams with beeswax aren't as stable (the oil and water tend to separate) so maybe a pinch of xanthan gum would help too.
belsey (author)  belsey4 years ago
OK, I just tested it with beeswax and here's the result: I used 30g beeswax 1/2 cup grape seed oil 3/4 cup distilled water with two large pinches of borax dissolved in it (about 1/10th of a teaspoon) The emulsion worked fine, it did not separate, but it was much too liquid. I didn't want to add more wax because it already felt waxy enough, so instead I added a pinch of xanthan gum. To mix the gum into the emulsion I sifted a little (about 1/16th of a teaspoon) into the bottle and shook it vigorously. The viscosity of xanthan gum solutions decreases with higher shear rates, which means that after you shake your cream it will seem just as liquid as before -- just be patient, let it sit for a moment and see how thick it becomes. If you want a thicker cream add a bit more, but sparingly. A little goes a long way. Another way to make the cream thicker would be to replace some of the grape seed oil with an oil which is solid at room temperature, such as cocoa, mango or shea butter.
KittyF belsey3 years ago
thanks for the beeswax info. I have a large block of that from the amish store so I'd like to use that.
franssoa belsey4 years ago
I think I'll do a try. Thank you for your tests !
xanthan gum is an amazing thing we used it at the resturant to make a butter sauce butter and water and just used some of that wow that combined the two like no tommorow great product
starny3 years ago
I looked for a method to make my own cream, once I got the idea that it could be done! This is very helpful. My main question is about almond oil. I picked some up yesterday and am hoping I can use it for this. I know that some massage therapists use it for massaging. Have you tried it?
belsey (author)  starny3 years ago
Yes, I have, and it's a fine oil for using in moisturizer.
ebbstarr3 years ago
How long does it last without the preservative?
belsey (author)  ebbstarr3 years ago
That depends on a lot of factors, the main one being how clean your tools, containers and hands are. If you've got the patience to sterilize everything (except your hands of course) in simmering water for 15 min then not touching it, that's best (just like canning). But even so, it varies. The shortest time I had a batch before it spoiled (out of the fridge) was three or four days, the longest out of the fridge was about 6 weeks. In the fridge I had a cream last over a year! On average I'd say they last at least 3 weeks. That weird batch which spoiled so quickly was a freak. But usually I prefer to leave it out because I don't enjoy putting cold cream on. I almost never put any scent (like essential oils) in my creams so that I can sniff it to make sure it's OK. A scent might mask the odor of spoilage.
RachelinWI4 years ago
Have you experimented at all with adding paraffin or oatmeal?
belsey (author)  RachelinWI4 years ago
Yes, I have. I found that using paraffin instead of ewax makes a much less stable emulsion. It tends to separate. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is harder. The way I used oatmeal was to cook it in water (using more water than if I'd been planning on eating the oatmeal), strain it then use the oatmeal water instead of the plain water in this recipe. It makes a nice cream, but you will need to refrigerate it (just think how long a bowl of oatmeal can sit on the kitchen counter till it's too gross to eat: that's how long your moisturizer will last too).
greenpixi4 years ago
I've just discovered a site fromnaturewithlove.com. Seems to have quite a few handy things for those of us looking to make home cosmetics/beauty products. Anyone else know/like this site?
Marsh4 years ago
This is just what I've been looking for!
Tap water will DEFINITELY contain Chlorine and very likely contain Fluoride and trace amounts of Aluminum Sulfate. The Alum will not likely react, but the Fluoride may and the Chlorine WILL react with anything else in the mix that it can react with...like those essential oils and whatever compound were used as emulsifiers. 
The reaction is probably going to be minimal (as evidenced by the fact that you haven't noticed any difference), but it will occur and in a way that you cannot predict. Distilled water is only $1.59/gal. It's a small price to ensure the highest quality you can get. That is after all the reason we would undertake this project...to ensure that we have the highest quality.
A small boiling of the tap water will get rid of the chlorine and the fluoride, and you will have sterilized water too. Cover the boiled water while it cools down. 

Water one usually finds as distilled is really de-ionized and de-mineralized water, which is not quite the same thing.

As far as to say it has alum, I don't know in your country. If you fill your swimming pool or a large container and it is turbid, you deffinitely don't have alum in it.
 Boiling will remove chlorine, but that won't do anything about Fluoride. Most filters won't even remove that. People don't realize this but the first part of the definition of toxic waste is: "A compound that has no commercial value..." If the chemical used to fluoridate your water was not used for that purpose, Toxic waste is what they would call it. The stuff is poison, plain and simple.  Alum is a very common chemical used in water treatment the world over so if your water came out of a river or lake, it very likely has trace amounts of Alum in it.
The issue here and the reason to use distilled or de-ionized water in the first place is to reduce the likelihood of a chemical reaction between anything in the water and the ingredients you ad. D.I. water is much less reactive than tap water because there are no mineral ions present to react. $1.59 per gallon is a really cheap and easy way to insure a higher level of quality control.
Without going  to deep into chemistry, you either have alum or you have fluor ions and salts, but you can not have both in noticeable ammounts. The mission of alum is to make water electricaly conductive so any fine particles held in suspension by electrostatic charges (Van der Wals forces) equalize their electric potential and drop, binded to the alum, to the bottom of the container that holds the liquid. That is what makes the river deltas and not the water slowing down.
   In fact, the standard procedure to remove fluoride from drinking water is to add alum and later remove the sludge (with the alum).
   What we are doing when we mix the ingredients is blending oils, all the ingredients, except the polysorbate, do not react with water or any other polar substance. It really is the quality of the greases and oils that matters.

   If using vitamin E,  I would rather keep it, and whatever the mix, away from strong light or UV radiation.

   Anyway, using distilled water is a good way of achieving consistent results.
desertdog4 years ago
Very informative instructable.  I will pass this on to a friend who could use it.  Who knew that the grapeseed oil I already buy had another use besides cooking!!
dstoeck4 years ago
what is "ewax"?
belsey (author)  dstoeck4 years ago
 There's a description with a link to where I bought mine right above...
suckrpnch4 years ago
 Great instructable. I am ordering ingredients now to make my own.

I don't think your cost estimate included shipping though. 
belsey (author)  suckrpnch4 years ago
 I'm pretty sure I did, but lots of factors effect the cost: in large quantities the cost per pound is less, some places offer free shipping but then a minimum dollar amount for purchases... I think I had ordered a bunch of things at once then split the shipping between all the ingredients -- and it was a while ago, and prices fluctuate. Also I bought the grape seed oil locally. In other words, it's impossible to give a definite cost for something like this -- even though the number I gave was precise, it's just a rough estimate of what it may cost someone else.
 Sorry. That should have been in the form of a question. I didn't mean to assume, just curious.

I just ordered supplies to make this and/or the more complex eczema one along with some things to experiment with and to make the house-hold cleaners. So far, you have me extremely interested in the upcoming book. This is all pretty exciting.

I am also going to try shampoo and deodorant, soon there won't be much that I buy at the store (besides ingredients!).

Shipping at most of these sites is pretty rough though, so I am hoping to see what I can find at the store in the future. 

I used these sites: 
brambleberry.com - good prices and selection, but expensive shipping: $14
lotioncrafters.com - limited selection for what I wanted, but had dimethicone and great prices. Shipping was $12 for what I ordered which was about $25...
iherb.com - Generally good prices. I got my black seed oil here. Shipping was cheap at $4 and there is a $5 off coupon for your first order. Doesn't have a lot of the things required for some of your recipes, but good basics.

Thanks again!
belsey (author)  suckrpnch4 years ago
Thank you for sharing info on vendors!
 I just made it. I'm waiting for it to cool before using it, but I can already tell it's super creamy. I wasn't ready for the big amount of lotion, almost 14 ounces. 
I tried to sign up for your newsletter, but it wouldn't accept my application :0(
belsey (author)  porcupinemamma4 years ago
 I'm sorry to hear that... the only problem I can think of is that the first name and last name are required, and the email field has to be an email address... If all else fails you can send me your email via private message and I will add you to my list. In any case thanks for trying, I really do appreciate it.
rimar20004 years ago
Very interesting, thanks!
ChrysN4 years ago
Great instructable, it's nice to have control over what goes into your moisturizer, even 'natural' brands have a lot of strange sounding ingredients.