by Anne-Marie Faiola
Basic lotions are really just a mixture of 5 things:
1 – water
2 – oil
3 – emulsifier
4 – thickener
5 – preservative
It’s IMPORTANT that these 5 ingredients be mixed in a very specific proportion. The proportion of one ingredient to another is what creates the right texture and consistency for lotion. Changing this proportion slightly will transform lotion into cream, using basically the same ingredients.
An emulsifier brings the water and oil parts of lotion together into an emulsion, which is a sort of suspension. This prevents them from separating back into oil and water in the mix. Emulsifying wax is one of the best emulsifiers you can find. It produces a reliable and stable emulsion. Another emulsifier that is sometimes used in lotion making is soy lecithin.
Emulsifying wax typically makes up 5% of the total solution.
Working with percent formulas is not as hard as it might sound, even if you’re no math whiz. A digital scale that measures in grams is an essential tool to help with this. For example, if you want to make 1000 grams (a little over a quart) of lotion, here’s how the percentage weights break down:
Distilled water = 75% = 750 grams
Oil/Shea butter = 16% = 150 grams
Emulsifier = 5% = 50 grams
Stearic acid = 4% = 40 grams
Preservative = 1% = 10 grams
TOTAL = 101% = 1010 grams (including preservative)