This soft, sweet Sleepy Time Lavender Benzoin Lotion has become a fast favourite of mine. I look forward to smoothing it down my arms and legs before tucking into bed and drifting off with sweet vanilla-frosted lavender floating around me. I also find the oats in the lotion really help soothe my dry winter hands—between dog pets and cold prevention they sure get a lot of washing these days. So, between pre-bedtime and daytime use I’ve been carting my wee tub of lavender lotion around the house with me so it’s available for all my assorted dry skin/sleepy time needs. High praise indeed!
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This is my riff on LUSH’s “Sleepy” lotion, a product I’ve had had quite a lot of requests a recipe for. The original is praised for its calming scent and skin-softening ways. One reviewer described it as “a sensory nightcap”, which I quite liked! It contains quite a few lovely ingredients, with a focus on lavender, oats, and some lovely-for-skin oils and butters like almond and cocoa. If you’d like to learn more about how I took their ingredients list and turned it into this recipe, check out the video I released on Tuesday!
In keeping with the lavender focus, part of our oil part is some beautiful lavender hydrosol. The LUSH version uses an oat infusion, which presumably is some blend of oats and water. Instead of soaking oats in water I’ve included 1% colloidal oatmeal; “a USP pharmaceutical grade of superfine oat flour (200 mesh) which dissolves in water“. Colloidal oatmeal is wonderfully gentle and soothing to the skin, helping moisturize and reduce itching. Perfect for winter!
One of the more interesting ingredients in the LUSH version is tonka absolute. My only experience with tonka beans has been at Calgary’s Silk Road Spice Merchant, where they sell them in wee jars. I also sniff the tonka beans whenever I visit, though I’ve never purchased them; they smell wonderfully vanilla-like in a vanilla-but-not-quite sort of way that’s really lovely. One of the employees there told me that people often purchase them in order to toss a tonka bean in with their coffee beans before grinding for a lovely vanilla infusion. How dreamy! In any event, as I have no tonka absolute it’s been dropped from my version, and we’re still getting some good vanilla-y goodness from the benzoin. If you do have tonka you could definitely include some, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
I’ve wrapped this lotion up with a touch of a soft purple mica to give it a lovely lavender-y hue. Despite the lavender appearance I’ve kept this blend heavier on the vanilla, and I love it. The lavender more than holds its own against the larger quantity of benzoin, resulting in two scents that meld beautifully to create a soft, sweet, wonderfully mingled fragrance that I’m quite taken with. It’s not too assertively lavender or vanilla—just a nice, sweet medley of pre-bedtime goodness. Yum.
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Sleepy Time Lavender Benzoin Lotion
54.89g | 49.9% (+10%) distilled water
20g | 20% lavender hydrosol
2g | 2% hydrolyzed oat protein or other hydrolyzed protein (like silk)
1g | 1% colloidal oatmeal
2g | 2% vegetable glycerin
Cool down phase
0.1g | 0.1% lavender essential oil
0.5g | 0.5% benzoin resinoid
0.5g | 0.5% liquid germall plus (USA / Canada) (or other broad spectrum preservative of choice at recommended usage rate [why?])
0.25g | 0.25% soft purple mica
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the water phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the oil phase ingredients into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat, and pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
Transfer a few tablespoons of the lotion to a smaller container, and weigh the cool down ingredients into that container. Stir to combine, and then transfer the lot of it back into the rest of the lotion. Stir to combine.
When the lotion has cooled, stir in the cool down ingredients and transfer the lotion to a jar. I used one of these great screw-top 100mL plastic tubs from YellowBee—this lotion is too thick to put in a pump-top bottle. Enjoy!
Because this cream contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using this batch calculator from Making Skincare. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- If you don’t have lavender hydrosol simply replace it with more water; no need to increase the lavender essential oil
- You can replace the hydrolyzed oat protein with silk peptides or sea kelp bioferment
- You can replace the colloidal oatmeal with more water
- Any light to midweight liquid oil will work in place of the sweet almond and/or jojoba oils
- A soft or brittle butter will work in place of the cocoa butter
- You can use cetyl alcohol instead of the stearic acid, or more cocoa butter (though this will make for a noticeably thinner product)