This sweetly scented Christmas Tree Hand & Body Lotion is just the thing for dry winter skin. It has a wonderful rich consistency, but is surprisingly light. It’s packed with humectants and soothing ingredients to help tame dry, itchy skin, leaving it soft and hydrated. You can easily make a single bottle for yourself, or scale up the recipe and spoil all your friends and family!
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I’ve kept the oil phase for this lotion really small—just 10%. This makes the lotion really lightweight and fast absorbing, which I love. I’ve included 3% cetearyl alcohol to give the lotion some good body, otherwise an oil phase this small can leave you with an end product that’s a bit drooly. I used Abyssinian oil as the oil in this lotion, but you could easily use any mid-weight lotion your skin loves. This can even be a good place to use something a bit fancier, like argan oil, that you wouldn’t usually use in a lotion because this recipe doesn’t need much at all!
We have heaps of water soluble skin goodness to make this lotion as hydrating as possible. Propanediol 1,3 and vegetable glycerin are both good humectants, and help hold water to the skin. Panthenol and colloidal oatmeal bring fantastic skin-soothing goodness as well as further amping up the moisturizing, hydrating awesomeness of this lotion. I’ve also included some skin-soothing, healing-boosting calendula extract.
Scent-wise, I made two different versions of this lotion. One was scented with a blend of bright fir essential oil and sweet, vanilla-like benzoin for a fresh, sweet scent blend. For the other version I used a some Balsam Cedar fragrance oil, which has strong tree-like top notes with warm, sweet, vanilla-y base notes. Both versions are fantastic, and which one you make is totally up to you!
For a titch of extra fanciness I’ve included a bit of Penstia powder. This stuff is fantastic; at just 3% it gives your lotions a wonderful luxurious, professional feel. It’s kind of like cheating, and I love it. Because it’s insoluble I’ve added it to the cool down phase—putting it in either of the heated phases tends to lead to some “why won’t this dissolve/melt?!” angst that we can just avoid by adding it a bit later!
The final lotion looks really rich, but once you start rubbing it in you’ll find it sinks in really quickly, leaving your skin smooth and soft with no hint of greasiness. If you don’t have anything, please refer to the substitutions list after the recipe—it’s got quite a lot of options!
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Christmas Tree Hand & Body Lotion
Heated water phase
85.47g | 77.7% distilled water
2.2g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
2.2g | 2% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
2.2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
1.1g | 1% colloidal oatmeal (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
0.55g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
0.055g | 0.05% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.275g | 0.25% benzoin resinoid
0.55g | 0.5% fir essential oil
3.3g | 3% Penstia™ powder (USA / Canada)
1.1g | 1% calendula extract
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. 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 it. Add enough hot distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heat and hold, 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.
Now it’s time to package up the lotion! I used a 4oz/120mL tottle. After that you’re all done—to use, massage a small amount in the skin as needed.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this lotion 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 a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 110g.
- You can try sodium lactate (USA / Canada) or sodium PCA instead of the propanediol 1,3
- You can replace the panthenol and/or colloidal oats with more water, though this is just to keep the recipe in balance. You could also try sodium lactate (USA / Canada) or sodium PCA, just be sure to keep the amount of sodium lactate below 2% as it can make your skin sun sensitive.
- Emulsifying Wax NF (USA / Canada / AU) should work in place of Polawax
- You can swap the cetearyl alcohol for cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
- You can use any liquid oil your skin loves instead of abyssinian oil. Jojoba oil, meadowfoam seed oil, argan oil (USA / Canada), and kukuinut oil would all be good choices!
- You can use a different blend of essential oils if you prefer. You could also use a fragrance oil; I made a version using 0.5% balsam cedar fragrance oil (USA / Canada). Add extra water to make up for the other 0.25%.
- You can use more water in place of the Penstia powder and/or calendula extract.
- You could also use a different botanical extract in place of the calendula extract.