How To Make Fabulous Face Cream Or Lotion

Here we are at the final installment in my skin care series (you can find links to the previous four articles at the bottom of this one) – and I’ve saved the best for last.

Well, it depends on what I mean by “best.” The following recipe for the most luscious natural face cream ever is not necessarily for the faint of heart. But the returns in healthy glowing skin (and more money in your wallet) are well worth the extra effort.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I am a bit challenged by anything crafty. (I almost got kicked out of kindergarten for not being able to use my little kid scissors to cut construction paper properly.) And this recipe calls for just a bit of skill so it can be a tad daunting for folks like me.

If you happen to be a crafts whiz – or even better a whiz in the kitchen, whipping up complicated recipes with aplomb – then this cream/lotion recipe will be a snap for you.

But even if you’re not, I encourage you to go ahead and give it a try. It’s actually a simple procedure, and I am posting the new and improved method here.

Get Ready

You’ll need a blender or a food processor for this recipe, and the jury’s still out as to which works better. The process is similar to making mayonnaise.

That means the same perils in mayonnaise-making exist with lotion/cream-making. The dreaded separation effect. You see, the goal is to emulsify an oil mixture and a water mixture.

As you can probably guess from this way-too long introduction, I have had varied success in my own endeavors. However. I have had enough success to keep on trying.

I’ll admit I took a long hiatus in making my own lotions and creams. But once I blended up another batch, I was immediately hooked again.

This cream is just so fabulous. And so versatile. It is as rich and luscious as your most high end face cream, but so inexpensive to make that you could use it on your entire body. You can scent it how you like, add your favorite ingredients specific to your skin type, and even package it up prettily to give as gifts for birthdays and holidays.

Once again I have to credit one of my original herbal mentors, the inimitable Rosemary Gladstar, for the basis of this recipe. In my mind she actually invented it – although many other talented herbalists have since used her basic formula to create amazing lotions and creams.

If you enjoy making up your own herbal concoctions – both for natural beauty and for healing – I know you will get a lot out of Rosemary’s books, especially her latest, Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health.

The Basic Recipe

2/3 cup distilled water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
1-5 drops essential oil of choice (lavender, rose, grapefruit – whatever you love. Or make a blend)

¾ cup vegetable oil (apricot, almond or grapeseed are good choices)
1/3 cup coconut oil or cocoa butter or a mixture of both (see note below)
¼ teaspoon lanolin (available at drug stores)
½ to 1 ounce grated or melted beeswax
(Most recipes call for grating the beeswax, but of course you have to reserve a special grater for this since you can never get the wax off. That’s fine, but I got sick of grating. Now I put the beeswax into a small glass jar with lid (again reserved for this purpose), put the jar into a pan of simmering water, and let the beeswax melt.

The Method

 


Combine the water, aloe vera, and essential oils in a glass measuring cup (a jar will work, but it helps if the container has a pour spout.)

Combine the oils and beeswax in a double boiler pan and set on low heat. Heat just until melting. (Okay – I know, what you’re thinking. You don’t have a double boiler. It’s okay, it doesn’t have to be an actual double boiler. Just rig one up somehow. I managed to do it by placing a glass bowl that fit perfectly over my pot of water. You can also just put a smaller pot on top of a larger pot. The idea is to have your oil mixture set above the heated water so that it warms very slowly. So set up some sort of makeshift double boiler, unless you are lucky enough to own one.)

Once it is melted, remove the oil mixture from heat, pour it into the blender or food processor and wait for it to cool. If you’re impatient you can put the mixture into the fridge to speed up the cooling process. But be careful – it’s important not to let it get too cold. A key to success is having the oil mixture and the water mixture at the exact same temperature.

Using the ‘old’ method our waters separated just a little. The new improved method may eliminate this possibility. All photos by Rosie O’Leary

Once the oils have cooled to match the temperature of the water mixture. Turn the blender on HIGH. Then, take a deep breath and whisper your affirmation that you are now creating the perfect cream. Slowly, in a very thin drizzle, pour your water mixture into the center of the whirling blender vortex.

As the waters start to run out, watch and listen closely. When the blender starts to make coughing, choking noises (and hopefully your cream is looking nice and thick) turn it off. If you still have some water mix left over you can add it slowly while stirring it by hand with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overbeat though!

In a perfect world, your creation is a beautifully emulsified, sweet-smelling cream. You can pour it into cream jars or lotion bottles and begin to use and give away. Fantastic!

In a somewhat less-than-perfect world you have a little extra water at the bottom of the blender. It’s okay – after all this was only your first try. Some of us still have separation anxiety after years at this. The good stuff (creamy, emollient deliciousness) will sit nicely on top and you can still pour most of it off into your containers.

Before you bottle or jar your cream try it out and smell it. If you would like the scent to be stronger you can carefully stir in a few more drops of essential oil.

Since your cream is 100 percent natural, with no preservatives, it is best to store it in a cool location. You could even put extra jars in the refrigerator. Your cream will become a bit thicker as it cools and sets.

Options and Additions

Vitamin A or E (prick a gel cap of either or both and add 1-3 drops to the water mixture). Adding Vitamin E could help to preserve the cream and make it last longer – in addition to its wonderful skin softening properties. It also is a well-known treatment for scars.

Coconut oil  instead of cocoa butter. I’ve always used a combination of both, but I think I’m going to switch to straight coconut oil next time. The cocoa butter has a strong scent of  – well – cocoa. I’m finding that it overpowers the smell of the essential oils. Some people love that chocolate-y smell though. So it’s a matter of personal choice. Coconut oil melts at a lower temperature than cocoa butter, so if you’re opting for only coconut oil, and you want a thick cream, you might want to add some extra beeswax.

Carrot Seed Oil – essential oils aren’t just to make the cream smell great. Carrot seed oil is a wonderful addition for those of us with aging skin. It is reputed to help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is specific for dry skin. It also improves skin tone and reduces sun damage. You can add a few drops to the water mix along with any other essential oils.

Jojoba Oil – The more I learn about this amazing substance, the more I want to use it. Many people use jojoba oil directly on their face, sometimes as an eye cream. If you’re a jojoba oil lover, you could add a few tablespoons to your oil mixture.

Rose Water – you can substitute a good quality rose water for the distilled water. Or just mix some it to make up the 2/3 cup.

As with all of the recipes in this series that call for distilled water – it is best to really go and purchase some distilled water. The resulting product will preserve longer when using it. Regular tap water might contain some bacteria and cause the growth of molds.

Rosemary recommends just using just a small amount of cream on your face – a little goes a long way! It’s extremely concentrated and actually will penetrate through your skin’s epidermal layer and go all the way through to the dermal layer, moisturizing your facial skin way down deep.

When you first try your new cream  you might think it feels a bit oily. Don’t worry! This is just temporary and will disappear as the cream is absorbed. Although you want to be sparing with the amount you apply to your face, you can slather as much as you like on your legs and rest of your body.

Ready to give it a go?

You can pick up ingredients like almond oil, beeswax and essential oils at your local herb shop or health food store. My favorite online sources are Moonrise Herbs (I’m biased!) and of course Mountain Rose.

Addendum: Okay, after writing this entire post, I realized that Rosemary has updated the method based on a student suggestion. Instead of adding the oils to the water mix, she now suggests slowly drizzling the waters into the oils mix (this is the method described above.)

When I made the cream a few weeks ago I just went from memory and did it the old way, adding the oils into the water mix. And I got some separation. If you follow the instructions above you may find yourself wondering what all this separation anxiety is about. Apparently it happens a lot less when you make the cream this new way.

Now I can’t wait to try out this  reversed method!

Have you made your own lotion or cream? How did it go? Share your recipes and stories in the comments!

This is the 5th installment in this Simple Skincare series. Missed the other installments? You can find them here:

Simple Skin Care: How To Make A Natural Face Scrub
Want Radiant Skin? Get It From The Inside Out
Ten Easy Recipes For Home Facial Treatments (Or Feed & Steam Your Way To A Radiant Complexion)
7 Super-Easy Recipes For A Healthy, Clear Complexion

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28 Responses to How To Make Fabulous Face Cream Or Lotion

  1. thank you sarah, i have been just thinking about making face cream!!!! i have heard that almond oil goes rancid faster… any truth to this? is salve making next???

    • Hi Joanne, so glad you’re visiting the blog! Not sure about the almond oil going rancid – I know that can happen as a massage oil, but I have had no trouble using it in my creams. But I usually add some Vitamin E oil which does act as a preservative. And if you have a lot of extra cream, Rosemary recommends storing it in the fridge until you use it. I like to mix almond and apricot oils sometimes too.
      Yes – I want to do a post on salve-making soon. And make some up too!

  2. Sarah!
    I just finished my first batch of face/body lotion.
    I love it! It’s easy to make; unbelievably creamy; no separation at all.
    My skins drinks it up. I’m hooked!
    Thank ya!

    • That is awesome, Debi! I’m so glad you didn’t confront the dreaded separation. Did you use the updated method? I’m really happy you are enjoying your new cream. Makes great holiday gifts too!

      • I used the updated method.
        Where I had choices as to ingredients I used:
        – Grapeseed Oil
        – Coconut Oil
        – Rosewater
        And I added in Carrot Oil and Jojoba Oil.

  3. Hi! Just stumbled on this post from Pinterest, can you use this cream around your eyes to help prevent wrinkles?

    • So glad to have found this post. I have been looking for something pourable for quite a while. Does it stay pourable or does it thicken up to cream consistency instead of lotion consistency. I thought I put a lotion I made into a a small necked bottle but the next day the only way to get any out was to dramatically slap it in my palm. Alas, it turned into a cream and I couldn’t get any out very easily. All of the work to get it out sort of took the joy away! Will this stay thin enough to keep in a bottle verses a jar?

  4. I made this recipe and have been using it for a couple of weeks now. I chose to use apricot oil, coconut oil (no cocoa butter), and a drop of tea tree oil. I had no problems with separation in the making. I keep the container I’m using in a relatively cool place in the bathroom and the extra containers I’m storing in the fridge. I have to say, I first tried this out one evening and when I woke up in the morning, I was already impressed by how it helped the fine lines around my eyes considerably compared to my usual moisturizer (I’m 34 and just had my first baby = new recent lines 😉 ). Then, after a few days, I noticed my complexion becoming much more even toned – I have fair skin and am prone to pink, blotchy skin. Anyway, I’ve been using this every morning and evening for the last couple of weeks and I’ll continue to use it. I was a little wary given what seemed like heavy ingredients, but I took the advice not to be afraid of them, and I’m very happy with the benefits to my skin. Next time maybe I’ll try adding some other essential oils. I also like that I can liberally apply it to my neck and chest, which I always hesitate to do with expensive creams. It also feels great using truly all natural ingredients since I’m breastfeeding! Thanks so much for this recipe! P.S. I have also been enjoying reading the Pathway to Radiance. Wish I knew some of those women! 🙂

  5. Enjoyed reading this, I also make my own lotions n potions in fact doing this for the last 10 years. I have adjusted and improved on recipes to suit my climate(south africa) but will never use anything from d shop

  6. Thank you for the recipe! I tried to make it this evening, and when I went to test it, it was super oily and left residue on my hands. Any advice or tips?

  7. Hi Caitlin. I’m really sorry that you did not get good results from the recipe. I will freely admit that it can be a bit tricky to get the proportions and the temperatures exactly right when you are making your own cream. I have made so many creams and lotions, and sometimes they turn out perfect… and others, well, there’s separation or the ‘oily’ feel that you mentioned. Next time try eliminating the cocoa butter and using all coconut oil. Keep in mind that this is a ‘basic’ recipe and there are lots of different combinations of oils that might work better.
    Good luck!

  8. Hey! i’m in love with the idea of trying this recipe!! the problem is I’m chilean, so it’s hard for me to find some ingredients. I was wondering if I can use something else than lanolin, or if I can use aloe gel from the real plant istead of buying it, so I make sure it’s not full of chemicals and not spending more money, lol. Greetings from latin america!

    • Hi Carolina,

      The great thing about these recipes is there is some flexibility. You do need to be careful not to mess with proportions too much though so it will blend together. It’s fine to drop the lanolin – it’s only 1/4 teaspoon. You could maybe add a little more cocoa butter or coconut oil, or perhaps a bit of jojoba. The lanolin just adds a richness. And of course it’s totally fine to use fresh aloe vera gel. Add some vitamin E oil if you can to help preserve, and be sure to use essential oils because they help for that purpose too.

      And… greetings to you from another part of Latin America. I’m in Mexico right now! 🙂

      • This answered my question because I am allergic to lanolin! 🙂 Can’t wait to try the recipe today!
        Thanks!

    • Hi Melissa,
      Sure! The beauty of this recipe is that it is flexible – mostly. You need to keep the oil and water ratios the same – but there is so little lanolin in there that you could just leave it out. Or, add a bit more cocoa butter or coconut oil. Have fun!

      • Thanks, when measuring the coconut oil do you melt it? or just put 1/3 cup of solid coconut oil?
        Hope its gonna turn out good

  9. Hey Sarah,

    thank you so much for this recipe – you basically saved me from peeling like a snake after my skin started revolting to anything and everything during my second pregnancy… I have been making this wonderful lotion according to the new version (add water to oil) eversince and I am sooo happy with it!

    Did you ever experiment with xanthan gum instead of beeswax? I would like to substitute it since it seems like my daughter is allergic to beeswax but I’m totally at a loss when it comes to quantities!

    By the way, here’s how I rescued a large pot of lotion last time I experienced separation: heated up just a little bit more coconut oil and beeswax, put it in a blender set on high and slowly poured in the separate-y lotion – it turned out wonderful!

    So thanks again from Germany and keep up the wonderful work!

  10. Just what i was looking for!!! Ive been wanting to make my own face lotion for a while now. I have read goat milk benefits skin greatly for dehydrated skin which is what my face is suffering from right now.How can i incorporate it into your recipe??

  11. I love how this was posted in 2011 and here I am 2016 making this amazing lotion and falling in LOVE! I’ve been making my own creams for a while, but this one is definitely ‘the cream of the crop’ if you’ll excuse the pun. 😉 While I didn’t follow the exact recipe in ingredients I kept to the same ratios and the consistency is light while still being hydrating- certainly a perfect day cream because it doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily. Separation anxiety is a thing of the past for me because I got an inexpensive immersion blender (which I HIGHLY recommend for any cream making!) and it whips right up to the smoothest most heavenly cream your face will ever feel. Like some other comments I immediately saw an improvement in my skin the following morning (though I did add some new essential oils for skin issues…). Just over all impressed and excited so THANK YOU to the inventor(s)! <3

  12. I’ve been using olive alone instead of face cream for about 35 years now. Glad I did. Not meaning to boast but my complexion has remained fine grained and pretty much wrinkle free except for one shallow line between my brows so I’d say you folks out there making your own stuff are smart cookies and will reap many benefits when you too reach 65 too. Good luck to you all. Don’t worry about separation. Use it anyway.

  13. Would you be so kind to recommend a natural preservative and mold inhibitor for this cream, so it can last longer?
    Also:
    p.s How long will it stay fresh for without a preservative?
    p.s what is the texture of this lotion? Is it very oily?
    What would be the best way to wash the mixer after making this? Would the addition of wax leave a film?
    Huge thank you, jane

  14. Hello,first just want to say thank you for sharing your recipe,of which I love by the way,I tweeked it a little to make it a little more beneficial to my skin with 5-10 drops of frankincense oil, rosehip seed oil,and 2 drops of carrot seed oil,due to there elasticity strengths,the aiding of hydrating the skin and a little bit of sun protection. The frankincense also helps with the absorption process. Just wanted to share a little different Avenue for you. Thank you again for sharing. Have a blessed day!

  15. Hi!!

    I tried This recipe but it bombed in the blender… What I’ve got its thick cream on top n watery stuff at the bottom 50:50…
    Is there a way to fix his?

  16. Great recipe, I’m excited to try it. Does the lotion end up being pumpable? Is it thin and creamy enough?

  17. How are you supposed to pour the water mixture in the blender while it’s blending? That sounds like a mess! Can I pour some in and mix, pour some in and mix? Or just pour it all in at once?

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