On the first day of spring here in New York City, we had some downright vernal weather.
Desperate for the tiniest hint of spring, I broke out the honeysuckle essential oil I’ve been holding onto since last October. I’d experimented with lotion before but my results were always hit or miss. One day I’d end up with a perfect, creamy lotion. The next, I’d have a lump of concrete in a puddle of water. I gave up. Last week, though – armed with my little bottle of honeysuckle and facing an nearly-empty bottle of store-bought lotion – I decided to give homemade lotion another try.
The result was a velvety, floral lotion that I’ve been able to duplicate twice with no concrete disasters.
Lotion is so different from anything else I’ve made because, unlike butters and oils, it’s a hydrous solution – it involves water. The good? Water actually moisturizes skin. Before I understood oils, I used to rub coconut oil all over my body and then wonder why it did nothing but make my skin the shiniest dry skin you’ve ever seen. A little research helped me figure out that, on their own, oils aren’t moisturizing. Instead, they act as barriers, keeping moisture that already in your skin locked in – and as it turns out, moisture that’s not in your skin locked out. This means that unless you use a butter immediately after a shower, on top of a lotion, or in conjunction with drinking gobs of water, you’re not going to see dry skin get any better. But add some water into the solution – make a lotion! – and your moisture problems are solved.
The bad? Oil and water mix like, well… oil and water. Forcing them to be friends can be tough (and lead to really disastrous, greasy, results), but with the right recipe and ingredients, emulsification is something you can master.
Now the ugly: Because there’s water in lotion, it won’t last forever. Water, being the stuff of life, tends to feed the 1 or 2 or 12 creepy crawlies that are naturally in your water and help them have baby creeps. Luckily, there are a few ways to prevent tiny monsters from taking over your creations.
First, you can always add a preservative. Store-bought lotions rely on preservatives to stay shelf stable for months or years. I tend to avoid this option because a) preservatives are expensive and b) I’m not really sure what’s in them.
Second, you can forego preservatives and store your lotion in the fridge for extra staying-power. I don’t like this choice at all because there is nothing in the world that sounds more unpleasant than rubbing refrigerator-temperature lotion all over my body on a 25º “spring” day. That and my fridge isn’t exactly close to my bedroom or shower.
I opt for choice #3: keeping my dirty, dirty hands out of my preservative-free, room-temperature lotion. By storing my lotion in a pump-top bottle, I avoid introducing germs into my lotion each time I go to use it. If you decide to go this route, don’t even think about rushing out to the store/internet to buy a fancy contraption with your hard-earned cash-ola. I got the bottle I’m currently using from the grocery store; it used to hold rosewater. The pump came from my empty lotion bottle.
In the spreadsheet blow, make your own copy in google drive (“File” > “Make a copy” > “OK”). Enter the amount of lip balm (in grams) you want to make in the pink box and the spreadsheet will auto-calculate ingredient amounts for you.
The second tab, “Price,” will calculate price of the final product based on the ingredient sources that I use.
Heat the ingredients for the oil phase (shea butter, avocado oil, and emulsifying wax) in a double boiler. While you’re waiting for the shea butter and wax to melt, heat the water and honey.
Pour the water phase into the oil phase and mix with an immersion blender (or whisk if you’re looking to give your wrists a workout) until the the mixture has cooled down and the ingredients are well combined. Drop in the essential oils and mix them in.
Store in a pump-top bottle for up to a month.