Introduction: How to Make Lotion

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Ever wondered which ingredient makes up the largest percentage in lotions? Water! If you look at the ingredients list on product labels, you will notice that water is almost always listed first, meaning it is the most predominant ingredient in the product. And, it is also 'free' and readily available. So what all are you paying for?

For less than a dollar and using common kitchen equipment, I want to show you how you can make a 12 oz batch of moisturizing lotion. That's even cheaper than your Wal-mart petroleum-based generic brand. Best of all, it is easy and fun!

Skin care lotion is nothing more than an emulsion of oil and water. As an introduction to this wonderful and useful craft, let's make a simple lotion with just olive oil, water, and emulsifying wax. Here's what you need to make approximately a 12 fl oz batch.

For more information on homemade skin care, check out our website blog at Wabi Sabi Baby.

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

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- 1-cup glass measuring cup
- 2-cup glass measuring cup
- saucepan just large enough to fit the 1-cup measurer

- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup emulsifying wax, available at some craft stores or online.

Step 2: Water Bath

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Fill a small saucepan with water and set it on medium low to use as a water bath.

Step 3: Melt Oil and Wax

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Combine the oil and e. wax into the heatproof 1-cup measurer and melt the mixture in the water bath.

Step 4: Heat Water

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Fill the 2-cup measurer with water and heat it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or until it boils. Alternatively, boil water on the stove and pour it into the measurer.

Step 5: Combine

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When the oil/wax mixture has melted, pour it into the water. Your lotion should now have the consistency of skim milk.

Step 6: Cool Slightly and Pour/Package

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Let it cool slightly, stir with a spoon or chopstick and pour the lotion into a bottle while it's still warm and pourable. Otherwise, it would be hard to get the lotion into its container and you might have to use a funnel. If you're using a wide mouth jar, then this is not an issue.

Step 7: Shake Well

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Leave the cap off to let it cool completely, but occasionally cap the lotion and give it a quick shake to help blend the mixture.

Step 8: Ways to Customize

As is, this plain, scent-free lotion is great for babies and people with sensitive skin. But this recipe is very forgiving and you can easily vary it. Here are some suggestions:

- Substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the water with glycerin to make a hydrating lotion.
- Substitute or combine the olive oil with other oils such as almond oil or coconut oil
- Add essential oils. Use 1 - 5 drops per fl oz of lotion


MotionLotion (author)2016-10-20


Marsh (author)2008-11-21

This will eventually go rancid as the oil oxydizes. The wax will probably extend the life some and adding essential oils may prolong the life too, but can you suggest any preservatives? For me, 12 oz. lasts a loooonnnnnngggggg time.

MatH2 (author)Marsh2016-04-27

Olive oil is a preservative, as in it doesn't go bad...

PamelaP40 (author)MatH22016-05-10

It's not the oil you have to worry about. It is bacteria growing in the water and this can only be stopped with a perservative.

mharker212 (author)Marsh2012-03-24

1.5 gr Germaben II is a preservative

spiritchild (author)Marsh2012-01-28

Essential oils like tea tree oil can help, but you could also use vitamin E (the type you ingest preferably) if you really aren't interested in using essential oils.

vbennett1 (author)Marsh2011-11-27

tincture of Benzoin is probably the best natural preservative I know of. I would use 3/4 teaspoon for a batch this size. It has a wonderful, light scent too but you might want to mix a drop with a drop of your essential oils (if you're using any) to see if the aromas clash. If you can't find the actual tincture (available at most herb suppliers) you can make your own very easily. Combine 1 tablespoon of powdered Benzoin with 1 cup 100 proof alcohol or higher. Shake vigorously then let stand 2-3 weeks shaking daily. Strain and it's ready to use. DO NOT INGEST! Sorry, had to put that in there. I'm more than sure you won't try to drink it, but I actually had someone try it.. so... LOL..anyhow.. hope this helps. Have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy! Lisa

roadnate (author)Marsh2008-12-17

Grapefruit seed extrat is a wonderful preservative. I use it in all of the soaps that I make and they last a very long fact I have never had one go rancid.

MaidMirawyn (author)roadnate2010-05-13

Don't soaps naturally last longer than lotions anyway?

But good suggestion. I hadn't heard that about grapefruit seed extract, so I think I'll be looking into it more!

beachbum35748 (author)Marsh2008-12-05

make half a batch, or add vitamin E

ragazzoangelo (author)Marsh2008-11-21

a few drops of vitamin E can be added as a natural preservative

JessicaLane8 (author)2016-03-15

I am having a ball making my own spa products using I'm making all sorts of things for friends! It's great for learning how to make luxurious spa products at home immediately and it's easy :) I save a lot of money not going to the spa and the products are exactly the same, if not better. I have used my friends and family to try out the products I've made and they have been absolutely delighted! I'm thoroughly enjoying working my way through the recipes and then adjusting them to my own design. I really wish I had started this years ago.

DiyGal123 (author)2016-02-18

i like this i will try it

JoshW27 (author)2015-11-18

Could I add something to this and make it a pomade???

jgoff3 (author)2013-12-13

You are creative and practical. Instead of spending $5 on an 8oz. bottle, you just make 8oz. for less than $2.5 total for about 16oz.

freeza36 (author)2012-07-11

Whats with the picture?

PoniesSwag (author)2012-05-01

Question! Can you use anything else other than emulsifying wax?

#BassMann# (author)PoniesSwag2012-06-24

I prefer to use Beeswax. There's a completely different process for making beeswax lotion and it's a little more oily, but it really softens your skin. Here's a link:

It's waaaay easier to find too.

gbv3 (author)2012-03-10

Can shea butter be used instead of the emulsifying wax?

twoesel (author)2011-09-20

i juz tried it 10 min ago ... procedure muz hab gone wrong ..... the result was juz satisfactory... anywaz iz great!!!

camrunk (author)2008-11-26

Here's a better recipe; yours is good, but this mix is antiseptic, emollient, is easier to compound, less expensve, and doesnt go rancid. I have been using it for years as an after-shave and anti-itch reparative cream for dry skin. Try it, you'll like it. You'll need: 5 oz aloe vera gel 5 oz alcohol 3-4 Tbs olive oil 3000 iu vitamin E (3 caps/1000 iu) Combine all ingredients in a 12 oz pumper bottle and shake it real well. You'll get a very smooth cream that feels good, is absorbed into your skin quickly, and is odor-free. Enjoy! camrunk

iya (author)camrunk2009-01-25

Is alcohol the emulsifier? Can you add beeswax or shea, or cocoa butter to this at all?

gypseian (author)iya2009-11-04

Cetyl alcohol is an emulsifyer, yes.  Beeswax can be used as an emulsifyer, but it changes the properties of the lotion from a hydrating lotion to a protecting lotion; locking moisture out instead of allowing more moisture in.  Shea and cocoa butter can be added for additional qualities, but not as a replacement.

mann3 (author)gypseian2011-08-23

What can I use instead of beeswax to emulsify, and that will hydrate the sink? Is there anything that is organic or earth friendly? Or is there something I can use in conjunction with the beeswax?

BoxOfAshes (author)camrunk2009-07-03

What kind of alcohol?

gypseian (author)BoxOfAshes2009-11-04

Cetyl alcohol.  It's an emulsifyer.

Minke (author)gypseian2010-05-13

Except for the fact that any sort of alcohol in lotion dries out the skin which is why most commercial lotions don't work.


It's like the same thing that happens when you drink alcohol, it doesn't hydrate, it dehydrates.

jtweed (author)Minke2011-07-26

some alcohols moisturize, some dehydrate.

funnymonkey (author)BoxOfAshes2009-08-06

i will try it sounds awsome

wolfin1a5c (author)camrunk2009-12-13

it rubs the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again

shooby (author)2008-11-13

I've often questioned the same issue - high water content - when it comes to shampoo. My Pap used to work in the shampoo business, and said that the mixing process was too complicated to sell dehydrated shampoo that could be mixed at home, but I'm not fully on board. Imagine if the shipped weight of all shampoo sold could be reduced by 60-70%.

killerjackalope (author)shooby2008-11-14

Even if it's complicated it could be shipped as powder and mixed by a machine at the other end, they manage it with coke and such, either a machine instore or a wholesalers mixes it in the destination...

shooby (author)killerjackalope2008-11-14

I think the only way it would be feasible is if it could be mixed at home. Your local drug store (or the UK equivalent) is not going to want to start their own shampoo bottling plant.

killerjackalope (author)shooby2008-11-14

True but having small bottling plants in various countries could be more efficient considering the savings on shipping, which is getting more and more costly...

Maybe we should dry some shampoo out as an experiment... actually I'm bound to have something that'll do the job, drying it though... Heat may change the make-up of it a bit, leaving it in the air would take a long time, maybe using a desiccant or some such...

shooby (author)killerjackalope2008-11-14

Maybe just put some on a saucer on top of a radiator or something. Heat may not do to much to it, considering that shampoo is almost always mixed with hot water when used (in developed countries anyways). As far as shampoo is concerned, even if it wasn't totally hydrated, but had let's say half of the water removed, then the volume would be reduced by approx. 30%, and mixing would be way easier. Just like it's easier to stir sugar into tea if it's already been dissolved in a very small quantity of tea before hand. Laundry detergent is the big one I think. Ever notice how many loads you get from powdered detergent compared to liquid detergent in the same volume of container? It's pretty ridiculous that liquid detergent is being shipped across oceans, so that we don't have to pour a little water and shake a few times.

killerjackalope (author)shooby2008-11-16

I'd say that you could stand to take more water than that out of it, until it's a fairly thick honey like liquid, then you'd have a much smaller volume that should mix just fine. One issue would be people getting used to it, they'd almost certainly use the same amount and fill the shower with suds... I think liquid laundry detergent is pretty useless when you consider that most machines can mix powder or dry tablets themselves and almost all handwash stuff is already powder, meaning it's there as a sort of unnecessary form for those that prefer to pour compared to use a little cup... I do see that there's now arial gel which appears to be a thick one with the intended purpose of cold washing, I suppose then it starts to seem reasonable but how much effort would it really be to make powder work on cold washes?

jack8559 (author)killerjackalope2010-12-23

If you DID make a concentrated liquid shampoo, detergent or soap, you could always use some type of metered pump couldn't you? And for powdered soaps I know that they used to put a little cup in the box (not sure about that these days) for measuring it.

shooby (author)killerjackalope2008-11-18

I agree, just tried to pick numbers that were a compromise between the standard and the ideal. I've never seen laundry tablets before, sounds like a good idea, assuming you can easily break them up. If not, you can't control how much you use.

killerjackalope (author)shooby2008-11-18

They're nothing more than powder compressed in to a block, they're pretty simple stuff and are measured as one being a load two for heavy, kind of like a cup... Dishwasher tablets? They're similar to them.

shooby (author)killerjackalope2008-11-18


I actually wash my hair with baking soda/water solution and rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. There's tons of site about it on the internet if you google "shampoo free". The argument is that shampoo is a detergent which actually damages your hair and requires you to use the conditioner. The baking soda solution takes away excess oil and the vinegar works as a shine and softening rinse. I was skeptical, but it's been working really well, and it has way less bad crap than shampoo. Also, I know some companies like LUSH make shampoo and conditioner bars that concentrate the shampoo bottle into small bar form.

SFHandyman (author)jesswalker92008-11-21

Models and beauty pageant contestants are not allowed to wash their hair before a show. It's easier to get incredible looking hair if it has it's natural oils.

dehydrator maybe?

I make my own soda. When I see those big trucks hauling around 10's of thousands of gallons of water with just a couple of pound worth of flavorings I think it's terrible. Plus my recycling went from 3 times a week to once every two weeks without all the containers.

I'd love that to become the norm, I used to work in a shop and the wasting of space, plus it's hell to unload that much liquid...

Me too.

I look at the soda aisle in Safeway and think that the whole thing could probably be reduced to one 3 foot wide case - like a spice display, with 4 oz bottles of the flavorings for each and every flavor, and each and every brand of those flavors in the store.

You aren't using gas to drive them home either. Groceries become much lighter. So much so, that if I stop in the grocery store on the way home every few days - I walk everywhere - and buy a sack of groceries in my canvas bag, I never have to get groceries in a vehicle. I do have Safeway make a delivery every once in a while for bulky items like detergent, paper towels,...

I love being Eco Friendly, but I'm not an Eco Nazi. This is just so much easier, cheaper and convenient. Oh, and the garbage service doesn't have to pick up pound of recycling from me, clean it, process it and ship it to a factory to be re-manufactured and driven back to the store full of water.
Buy one 4oz bottle and make I think I have to look at my notes again, 11 LITERS of soda from filtered water out of the tap. I also have 6 different flavors of syrup mixed in my fridge in Snapple bottles. I can have a Cream soda, Grape Soda, Diet Cola, Orange Soda, or Root Beer at anytime, and it is all stored in my fridge in 6 snapple bottles and 2 liters of plain soda water. The fridge cooling costs money also. I refill the soda bottles when hey run out. My charger does something like 110 liters of soda before I refill (not replace) it. I'll write an instructable soon.

If you want a head start. My soda charger is from Soda Club (google them) and I buy my soda flavor concentrates from Prairie Moon don't buy their soda siphons and chargers. The chargers are disposable and only make one or two liters. Their syrup concentrates are delicious. I make them with Equal, but you can make them with any sweetener, and as sweet as you like them. I use half the recommended sweetener and it is perfect for me. I never expected to LOVE grape soda. hahaha.

1 4oz bottle of syrup makes 42 15oz sodas. That is 18 or 19 liters. You mix it all though so you could get more. One bottle of concentrate is 2.49 if you buy 24 at a time - think of all the flavors! It is shipped in a box smaller than a shoe box.

Soda ClubSoda Club says 90 Billion bottles and cans for soda in the US last year.

I keep any glass bottles I get. The Snapples for soda syrups and jam and jelly jars for almost anything. My Indian cooking spices come in plastic bags. I transfer them to a jelly jar when I get home.

I have to leave! I can't edit. but you will find the info.

madhops0620 (author)SFHandyman2008-11-19

actually, I just did the calculations, and if the average 2-liter of soda at the store is $1.30 (Give or take a couple of cents) then the break even point is almost 300 liters of soda, which includes the machine itself, CO2 tanks, and syrup. Plus it seems like it would be kind of a hassle. Overall I don't really think it's worth it unless you're doing this to be ecofriendly and drink a LOT of soda

wabisabibaby (author)madhops06202008-11-20

I don't drink a lot of soda but I also keep my kids from drinking the store-bought kind because of all the crap ingredients in it. And we're too cheap to let them drink the italian sodas we get for ourselves. When we do give them soda, we mix our own homemade all-natural syrup with club soda which is cheaper than buying the natural flavored soda. So, if I were to do a cost comparison, it would be based on just with the cost of the soda water. My weakness is the daily dose of bottled coca-cola from Mexico made with real sugar. Anyone know where I can get that syrup?

madhops0620 (author)wabisabibaby2008-11-24

what's different about mexican coke than coke sold in the US?

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