Today’s formulation is for a lightweight, silky, slippy, all-natural Almond Oat Natural Body Lotion! It smells softly of almonds and oats, is hydrating and moisturizing but not at all greasy, and if you make it as written you don’t need to adjust the pH (hooray!). The ingredient list is pretty short with just nine ingredients, and you can easily make it nut-free if you want to. Let’s get started!
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The bulk of our oil phase is sweet almond oil, a lovely lightweight & inexpensive carrier oil pressed from almonds. If you don’t have it (or are allergic to nuts) you can easily replace it with a different lightweight carrier oil like apricot kernel oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil. You could also stick to the nut theme and choose an oil from a different nut, like walnut oil or macadamia nut oil.
I’ve included a small amount of silky cetyl alcohol for added slippy, gorgeous body and viscosity. If you’re unfamiliar with what cetyl alcohol brings to our formulations, I highly recommend reading through “get to know” this experiment I shared back in 2017. If you don’t have cetyl alcohol you could use cetearyl alcohol instead; stearic acid would also work in a pinch, though the end product won’t have quite the same slippy feel.
Our emulsifier is one of my long-time loves; Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse). This natural emulsifier is sold under a lot of different names; its INCI is Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, so make sure whatever you buy has the same INCI. This emulsifier is anionic (negatively charged), and it helps boost the moisturizing power of products that include it, which is really neat! RitaCorp, the makers of Ritamulse SCG, say the ideal pH range for finished formulations is 5–7.5, which is higher than this emulsion comes out to without any adjusting. However, Clariant says their INCI-identical Plantasens® Emulsifier HP 30 works with a pH range of 3/4–10, so I think our pH of ~4.2 is ok. For more reading on recommended pH ranges from suppliers, give this post from Amanda at Realize Beauty a read. It’s really interesting!
The water phase is crazy simple; just distilled water and moisturizing glycerin. Even though it’s water-soluble, I included the colloidal oatmeal in the oil phase. I find it cooks up into a sort of uncooperative gloppy porridge if heated in the water phase, so I prefer it in the oil phase. It dissolves happily once the phases are combined and blended.
You’ll find our preservative, some gorgeous hydrolyzed oat protein, and some vitamin E in the cool down phase. Our preservative is Geogard® ECT (INCI: Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Sorbic Acid). Just like our emulsifier, this preservative is sold under a variety of different names including Preservative Eco, Mikrokill ECT, and Plantaserv M, so make sure you’re checking the INCI of whatever you’re purchasing. Thanks to the benzyl alcohol content it does have a characteristic almondy/marzipany scent, which I think fits beautifully with the overall formulation.
This natural preservative has a usage rate of 0.6–1% and a recommended pH range of 3–8. I’ve been having great success using it at 1% in a variety of acidic emulsions, including some I’ve had for nearly nine months! I find this preservative dramatically lowers the pH of formulations it is used in, so I no longer include any acid off the bat (as I often do when using Liquid Germall™ Plus) and instead make, test, and go from there.
I packaged the finished emulsion in a pump-top bottle—not only because it’s on the thinner side, so it’s highly pumpable, but also because pump-top bottles reduce contamination throughout the life of the product and I’m still getting to know the limits of this preservative. I’m confident that you should get at least 6–9 months shelf life, and I suspect it’ll do fine beyond that as well.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sweet Almond Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Colloidal Oatmeal in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Hydrolyzed Oat Protein in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Preservatives table
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- Why didn’t my lotion emulsify?
- Why did my emulsion fail? How can I make a lotion thicker or thinner?
- Other almond oat formulations:
Almond Oat Natural Body Lotion
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 heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase 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 weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then 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.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, we need to test the pH to confirm it’s compatible with our preservative. To test and adjust the pH: create a 10% dilution by weighing 2g product and 18g distilled water into a small bowl or beaker and whisk to combine (wondering why?). Check the pH with your pH meter (I have this one [USA / Canada]). Depending on the shape of your bowl/beaker you may need to tilt it in order to fully submerge the sensor on your pH meter. Please read this article to learn more about pH adjusting. When made as written, the pH should come out to around 4.2, which is a-ok.
Once we’ve confirmed the pH is good, all that’s left to do is package it up! I packaged one batch in an airless pump bottle and another batch in an amber rectangular pump-top bottle, both from YellowBee. This lotion is fairly thin, so I wouldn’t recommend a jar—you can try it, of course, but it could spill.
Use as you’d use any lotion. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
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 may 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. I’m confident that you should get at least 6–9 months shelf life, and I suspect it’ll do fine beyond that as well.
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 a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (Colloidal Oatmeal) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try Propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerine.
- You could use Olivem 1000 instead of Ritamulse SCG.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like Apricot Kernel Oil, Sunflower Oil, or Grapeseed Oil instead of the sweet almond oil.
- You could use Cetearyl Alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- You could easily use Liquid Germall™ Plus instead of Geogard ECT; you’ll only need half the amount, so adjust the water to keep the formulation balanced.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- You can replace Hydrolyzed Oat Protein with a different hydrolyzed protein (rice, baobab, quinoa).