Lavender Lotion (Whipped Up in a Jiffy)
It’s been a busy couple of weeks as the shop comes together. Though we’re still making and creating every day, most activity centers around big-scale projects like countertops and shelving units. As the shop-building process rolled on, I found myself needing something smaller scale and more familiar to sooth my soul. The obvious solution: lotion.
Lotion is a great project for your maker fix. It’s quick, easy, and the gratification is nearly immediate. No sitting around and waiting to unmold something a day or three later, or to ferment for a number of weeks, or to cure who knows what for who knows how long. Nope. Make your lotion, give it a test drive, and you’re good.
I’ve never been much of a lotion fan, but the older I get, the more I see the need for it. I have a friend who has moisturized daily, ever since I first met her at ten years old. Almost 30 years later, I look at her and think maybe I should have also indulged in this regular habit. She has the most phenomenal skin. Could it be the lotion? I also have developed eczema on my eyelid — my EYELID!?! — that gets very angry if I don’t pay some attention to it each day. Unfortunately, it only seems to like really pricey lotion, and my pocketbook thinks that’s dumb.
Once lotion goes from being an occasional thing to an everyday thing, it’s time to look into making it at home, because a) it’s super easy b) again: IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION and c) you can save mad cash. Plus, when you make your own, you can decide exactly what color or scent you want, and you can also control the greasiness factor to your liking.
There are a lot of recipes out there that embrace the all-natural, preservative-free approach, and we are not going to delve into those here. I don’t want a lotion that might start to rot, and I also don’t want anything that needs to be refrigerated and will only last last a matter of weeks. The small amount of lotion I need for my one eczema eyelid (and likely the rest of my face, ain’t gonna lie) is not enough to warrant making a new batch every two weeks. So, instead, I opted to for a recipe that uses Optiphen, which is formaldehyde- and paraben-free preservative approved by the FDA.
Essentially, lotion comes down to mixing up some some water-soluble stuff with some water in one bowl and combining a variety of butters and oils in another bowl. Then, you combine those two mixtures using an emulsifying agent. The emulsifier is the tie that binds the usually less-than-friendly water/oil combo. In our case, we used BTMS-50 (a slightly more conditioning emulsifier) as recommended by our favorite Soap Queen. She has several great tutorials, information on core ingredients, and formulas you can use to generate your own unique recipes. Much like soap-making or liquid soaps, lotions require a lot of your everyday ingredients and then a few specialized products that you might want to research or get familiar with ahead of time.
Start-to-finish, the lotion takes about half an hour to complete. Like with many projects (cheese-making, canning, etc), sterilizing your equipment is sometimes the most time-consuming part of the process. Unlike soap-making, timeliness is not all that much of a factor – with the exception of pouring your lotion in the the bottles, as you don’t want it to get too thick. But there’s no concern for trace or timing, which makes lotion-making simple and straightforward.
After I combined my water mixture and my oil mixture with the emulsifier and I had what really looked like lotion, then I added the lavender essential oil and Optiphen. Sooooo easy. My one hiccup was that the lotion got a little frothy while blending, which I kept trying to minimize to no avail. Ultimately, I had three lotion bottles handy and was able to pour my lotion in there without the froth being a factor; I had some lotion leftover and poured the frothier stuff into my 4oz amber jar. Ironically, that’s what I now prefer using from this particular batch because I like being able to scoop up the lotion with my fingers instead of squeezing it out of the bottle.
If you had to buy all of the products for the lotion one-by-one, it would cost you around $35, but that’s assuming that you don’t have any common ingredients (e.g. sweet almond oil, rice brain oil, or essential oils) already on-hand. In my case, I had to pick up the emulsifier, Panthenol (a conditioning additive) and the lotion bottles, but I had everything else already in my stash. Still, 28oz of lotion for about $35 is less than it would ever cost you at the store, and you’d have enough leftover ingredients to make the same batch at least another three times!