If you’ve ever made a smoothie, you can make lotion. Hell, even if you haven’t, I’m pretty sure you can make lotion. It’s a simple emulsion, and you can use a blender to do most of the work.
Homemade lotion is really fun to make. The sort of lotion in this recipe—a beeswax/borax emulsion—is going to be much heavier, greasier, and waxier than the lotions you are likely used to using. This is because beeswax is quite heavy and waxy, and because our oil phase is really quite large. The oil phase has to be large for this sort of emulsifier as a beeswax/borax emulsion cannot support a larger water phase—and a large water phase is a big part of what makes most lotions feel light, and absorb into the skin quickly.
This lotion is more of an old-style cold cream than the sorts of lotions you’re likely familiar with, and that can be a great thing. The beeswax means this lotion is quite occlusive—it helps trap water in the skin. You might find you enjoy a small amount of this lotion as a night cream!
Basic Homemade Lotion
60g grapeseed oil
40g apricot kernel oil
16g jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
4g virgin coconut oil
20g beeswax (USA / Canada)
4g Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
116g distilled water
4 g vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
Essential oils of choice
Broad spectrum preservative of choice (why?)
Tins, pots, or shallow mason jars
Combine the oils in a small saucepan, and melt together. Take care not to over-heat, and remove from the burner the moment the beeswax melts. Combine the water ingredients in a second pan and heat, stirring, until the glycerin and borax have dissolved, then remove from heat.
As the oils cool, stir them with a silicone spatula to keep the beeswax integrated into the oils. Once both parts are cooled to room temperature (use your finger to check, though the oils should be semi-solid when you do or you’ll torch yourself).
Scrape the cooled oils mixture into the bottom of the blender. Remove the plug from the blender lid, cap the blender, and start running it on medium. Slowly pour in the water solution, little by little, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender and make sure the bits under the blade are getting involved. Continue this until everything is all combined, lovely and creamy and such. Whir the essential oils and preservative in last. Use a spatula to scrape the lotion into tins or pots.
Now, to clean up the blender. It’ll take a lot of soap, hot water, and scrubbing, and I’d highly recommend running it through the dishwasher after you’ve done the best you can by hand.
Voila! That’s it. Moisturize away! It’s hard to say how long this lotion will last, but because this lotion is super thick we have to keep it in an open jar, which increases chances of contamination (aka shortens the shelf life) because you’re likely dipping dirty fingers into it (yes, even with a preservative—they aren’t infallible!). If you see any colour or consistency, notice a shift or scent, or see mould, chuck it and make more.
first of all THANK YOU for this easy recipie, I definitely am going to try thisas I have a super sensitve skin…
i have a question..how many drops of EO do you aproximately use for this recipie?
thank you very much and please let the good ideas coming!!
Alie—the amount of essential oils you use really all depends on how strong the oil is and how sensitive to scents you are. I’d say I probably use 10–20 drops of EOs for this recipe, depending on the oils.
You should also check out some of my other lotions—there’s my silk lotion and my healing winter lotion, both of which are great for sensitive skin!
This is one of the easiest recipes for lotion I’ve seen, and I have all the ingredients on hand mcan’t wait to try it!
Have fun with it! Just know your blender will need a very thorough cleaning afterwards, lol 😛 You should also consider trying a lotion that uses emulsifying wax, especially if you find this one to be too greasy for your tastes. Lotions using emulsifying wax can be up to 75% water instead of the 50% that this recipe allows, which makes for a far less oily/greasy lotion.
Boiling water followed by a mixture of borax, baking soda and castille soap (or liquid dishwashing liquid, if you prefer). Speaking from previous experience. 🙂
Brilliant! Thanks, Amanda!
I just made this lotion today and I have a bit of a problem. I [incorrectly] converted the grams to ounces and I have a lotion that is a bit too greasy and has a watery feel after it is put on. Any recommendations to help with this?
(I’ll be purchasing a scale tomorrow 🙂 )
BTW I used jasmine green tea instead of plain water and added lemongrass EO and the smell was fantastic!!
Hey Kristen—Darn 🙁 Unfortunately there really isn’t much you can do here other than maybe just treat it like a body butter rather than a lotion. I’d really recommend trying some of my recipes that use emulsifying wax instead, though—those lotions are much lighter because the e-wax supports a 75/25 water to oil emulsion instead of a 50/50 like this one does. And good move on the scale—you won’t regret it! I’d really recommend just working in the metric system if your scale supports it—an ounce is over 28g, so it’s easier to make small batches when you use metric since your smallest measurement is so much smaller 😛
Thanks Marie. This weekend I DID order emulsifying wax from mountain rose herbs so I will try your other recipes!
Great! You’ll love e-wax—it totally revolutionized my creams and lotions and what not. While this lotion is pretty cool in that it’s made from stuff you’ve got in your house (and it was the first lotion I ever made so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it), it is definitely kind of annoying, makes a big ‘ol mess out of your blender, and is rather greasy.
I would like to try this recipe but I don’t want to use borax. Can I leave it out?
You can try, but if the emulsion breaks (it’s there as an emulsifier) your ingredients are wasted. I would really recommend making the lotion using emulsifying wax. My favourite (emulsimulse) has a better safety rating on SkinDeep than Borax does (0–1 vs 5–6). An extra benefit of using e-wax is that it can support an emulsion that’s 75% water/25% oils instead of 50/50 like this lotion, meaning the lotion is much lighter and not at all greasy (this one can be very greasy). I never make this lotion anymore, now that I have emulsimulse—I just can’t go back to something so greasy!
What does the Borax actually do in this recipe, why is it needed?
This was the first lotion I ever made, well before I was developing my own recipes to the extent that I am now, and I haven’t made a lotion like this for at least two years (you can see that the post dates back to late 2011). My research at the time said it was required (along with the beeswax) to create an emulsion. I haven’t tried the recipe without it, though.
Rather than a big blender, can a stick blender be used? Easier to clean!
Honestly, I’d move away from this recipe and use one of my recipes using emulsifying wax—they are foolproof and blender free 🙂
If you still want to use this one, you might be able to make an immersion blender work, but I’d recommend enlisting some help so one person can stir and blend, and the other person can slowly add the water to the mixture.
What a wonderful website! Thank you! I have a question about a body cream I make that has a base of shea and coconut oil and includes jojoba, avocado and grspeared oils. The slip is terrific and it gives my skin a nice shine, but after a few hours my skin looks dry and “ashy”. (I live in a cold winter climste-not sure if that matters much.) Is there something I can add to make that moisturized sheen last longer? Thanks again
Hi Faith! Does your cream have any water in it? You didn’t mention any. I don’t generally want a sheen on my skin, I just want it to look healthy/plump/smooth, so I can’t say any of my recipes are designed to keep the skin looking oily/greasy for a prolonged period of time (generally the opposite, really). Beeswax will prolong the time oils spend on the skin, so that would be a good place to start 🙂
I loved the recipe.
Currently, I’m trying to match a balm Beard (http://www.mel-bros.com/product/beard-balm-2-fl-oz/), which contains:
Rosemary Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil
Essential oil of bergamot
Essential oil of cedar
After making different mixtures, eventhough I have obtained the desired texture while rubbing it on my hands, melts easily and my beard is very shiny and oily.
The beard Original balm is not completely melt in my hands and then apply it, my hands and beards are not greasy.
The question is: They may have made an emulsion with water (botanical extracts) + Oils (oils, butters, essential oils)?
Actually I’m desperate.
It is a pleasure to follow your work, I enjoy it. Thank You
Hi Hector! Going by the ingredients you listed, this product is not an emulsion. I would be very surprised if the final product doesn’t include any wax. The ingredients you’ve listed will give you a very liquid final product (assuming the order is correct in terms of the first ingredient being the most prevalent and so on). Wax is necessary in beard balms for hold and reducing greasiness. Check out my beard balm recipe and my beeswax experiments for some guidance 🙂
Have you looked into creating e-wax with borax, beeswax, and lecithin? I haven’t tried it but I’m wondering if it would work as well as commercial e-wax. you make it before you make your lotion and then use it like e-wax. At least that is what my research has said.
I’ve done beeswax + borax and beeswax + lecithin + carnauba. Neither are particularly great, and definitely not even close to a swap for commercial e-wax. They’re very finicky in terms of temperatures and ratios, and produce a less stable, greasier final product. They also require a LOT more whipping power—you can’t just whisk everything together, a blender is a must. I definitely still prefer commercial e-waxes.
I really like your recipes.
I was also experimenting with lotion recipes using beeswax. And I discovered that beeswax is fine for emulsifying (borax is not needed) as long as amount of oil in lotion is bigger than water. If not, lotion separates.
Thanks 🙂 I haven’t made lotion like this in years, though—I find it’s so greasy compared to the lotions that can be made with ewax that I’ve never looked back!
You can blend Oil and water in a blender and they will combine after effort, but they will separate eventually, because they are not actually emulsified. Borax acts with beeswax as the emulsifier, meaning Thor blend will have changed its chemical composition and be More effective as a cream.
I’m wondering what the borax is for, can you explain? Also, if I wanted a lotion that I could use in a pump container, would I increase the amount of liquid (I would be using aloe vera gel)? Thanks!
Hey Kathy! It’s part of the emulsifier. Honestly, though, don’t make this recipe. It is a really old formula and will be super thick and greasy compared to my newer recipes, and from the sounds of it, that’s not what you want. Check out all my lotion recipes here 🙂 You’ll want one that uses emulsifying wax, which allows you to use a lot more water. If you add more water to this recipe the emulsion will break.
thanks so much for this list! I did receive your rose cardamom lotion recipe the other day and was intrigued. One last question: are all of these suitable for pumps (some of the pictures indicate so) and if not, any suggestions for how much extra water to add? Okay, so that’s two questions…
Most of my lotions will work in pumps; that’s usually effected by the oils in the recipe. If something uses mostly cocoa butter, for instance, which is very solid at room temperature, the final lotion is quite thick as well. Don’t go adding extra water to lotions to thin them out—that will mess with the emulsion and the entire thing could split. If you’re concerned a lotion will be too thick, swap some of the solid oils (like shea or cocoa) gram for gram with a liquid oil 🙂 Read this for some more info! I’m usually pretty good about saying if a lotion isn’t pump friendly, so you’re probably safe to assume most are unless stated otherwise 🙂
Thanks so much for your help. I’ll be getting the emulsifier and preservative and then making one of these delightful recipes!
Enjoy! Homemade lotion is the bomb 😉
Hi Marie! Love your site and you’re recipes are terrific! I realize that this is an old post and you don’t use beeswax as an emulsifier anymore but I have a question that nobody else seems able to answer.
There are ALOT of recipes online for lotions today and I just realized when my ewax was delivered today that many of these awesome recipes call for beeswax and not ewax.
So my question is, if I find a recipe that sounds great but calls for beeswax, how do I figure out how much ewax to use instead of beeswax? Is there a standard % or something? The closest I came to an answer was 1 part emulsifier 3 parts oil/butter & 6 parts water. Another said use ewax at 5%- but 5% of what? The total amount, just oils just the water? And yet another lady suggested 1 Tbsp ewax for every ounce of oils used….
I knew if anyone could help me with this it would be you because you’ve really got it together! Lol
Again, love your site and all your awesome info! Thanks!
Hey Crystal! So… it depends? Mostly on the e-wax, but then also on the recipe. I usually use e-wax at 20–25% of the oil part, with oils hovering around 25% of the entire recipe, but there’s room to play in there as well. I do everything by weight, and I’d really recommend that. Take notes, experiment, make some of my recipes to get an idea of what does what, and have fun!
Thank you soo much! That’s exactly what i needed- a starting point! Thank you so so much for answering! You’re the greatest!
Happy making! 😀
Is this how Lush’s Ultrabland works, then, maybe? I’ve been perplexed by it, because it clearly has oils, waters and beeswax, which everybody says is impossible to pull off! Is it just that it’s a way higher oil-to-water ratio than most lotions, which is ok because it’s meant to be heavy and sticky? (Incidentally, I’d be stoked if you ever did a knock off of Ultrabland 😉 I love it, because it’s like a solid version of oil cleansing. The most annoying part of oil cleansing is that bottles of oil are a pain to have lying around, and to travel with. I wish I could fathom how to make my own!!)
I assume so, though without the borax I am unsure of the chemistry. My guess is that the product is something like 75% almond oil, 20% rose water, and 5% beeswax (more or less), so less emulsion power is needed. I have seen plain ol’ beeswax emulsions done before, but never found a good chemistry explanation of the how any why.
If you are looking for solid oil cleansing, why not try a cleansing balm? 😉
I know, I have been eyeing up the cleansing balms 🙂 Just need to splash out on a few more ingredients first. I just ordered a whole pile of soapmaking stuff this week, so better wait til at least next pay day hehe. Get into DIY, they said. Save money, they said. 😉
Your latest mint julep cleansing oil also looked like a good bet, with the emulsifier adding a bit of body. I imagine this would make the oil at least pump-able, without making a dribbly mess all over your hands and sink! But once again, need to expand my ingredient cupboard a bit first! Lots of things are tricky to source here in New Zealand 🙁 Always a toss-up whether to splash out on Amazon postage or do the best you can with similar-but-not-the-same ingredients.
It’s definitely pretty pumpable, though in the future I may try even a titch more e-wax to further reduce the dribbly mess bit!
I really hope ingredient availability improves as this hobby gains traction! The USA is the holy grail and I feel like the rest of the world is still trying to decide if they even want to catch up (not brilliant for me, either, as I’m not in the USA, but I think Canada may be in 2nd place on this, which is odd as it’s usually somewhere in Europe!).
Eh… we’re cost effective, not cheap 😉 You’ll save money… on the individual products, at least 😛
Hello! Firstly thank you for having such a well researched/educated/smart website! And for being super quirky! It’s great! Now, I know this is an old post and you don’t seem to recommend it anymore (I have figured from the comments..)but!
Is this recipe similar to a cold cream recipe? I ask because I recently made a cold cream with sweet almond, rose water, beeswax, vit E and borax. But then I spoke with my pharmacist friend and he recommended I don’t use borax and instead ask a pharmacist for some emulsifying beads (which is what they use). Are they also known as e-wax? Also. What is your opinion on cold cream? Thank you!
Hey! Yes, this is basically super old-school cold cream, with the unique properties of it being the 50% oil phase and the wax content, which makes for a very heavy end product. Some emulsifying waxes will not support an oil phase this large, but that does vary with the specific emulsifying wax—you’d need to look at the INCI to see exactly what you have and google it to learn more. I haven’t worked much with oil phases this large emulsified using complete emulsifying waxes, so I’m afraid I can’t be of much help here. I don’t have any strong opinions on cold cream other than not really liking anything that greasy on my face.
Regardless of what you do, please make sure you include a proper broad spectrum preservative in your final product; from the sounds of it the cream you’ve made does not have one and you should throw it out for your safety.
I would love you to “bee better” this lotion! I was looking at Fresh’s “Creme Ancienne” (based on a review I saw) and fromthe ingredients I think it’s probably a beeswax/borax lotion.
I’ve actually been working on a version of that! I made one about a year ago & pH adjusted it and have been waiting to see how it does, stability-wise 🙂 I should probably get around to sharing it since it seems to be fine!
I tried it with candelilla wax (80% from beewax) and it didnt work.
what have i done wrong? i thought the candelilla can replace beewax (vegan) …
than i replaced the beewax with emulsifying wax and it turned up good and creamy but still heavy for my taste.
do you have a simple recipe for beginners that feels light?
also, there are 120g of oils in the recipe, can i use other oils/butters?
I recommend giving this a watch 🙂
Would soy wax work as a substitute for beeswax in this beeswax / borax combo ?
I don’t believe so, as the emulsion relies on a specific chemical reaction between the borax and the beeswax. You are certainly welcome to try it and find out, though!
I have a lot of respect for your formulation expertise and so I’m coming here for advice… I found this post because I can’t seem to find what I want in a finished product that meets my criteria for simple (not a ton of ingredients, no coconut, no jojoba) and safe (preservative used). I have a lot of ingredients to diy products and before I knew better, had no issues making emulsions with beeswax, distilled water (or hydrosol) and oil. I know you prefer emulsifying wax, and I’m happy to diy stuff but I have a hard time picking which one is best (same issues with preservative). Anyway, I was wondering if you’d be willing to advise me on a formulation for a “back to basics” type face cream, maybe inspired by the old fashioned cold creams? I’d be willing to do the beeswax (with or without borax) or if you could tell me which one, an emulsifying wax. Probably I would use meadowfoam oil and maybe rose or chamomile hydrosol. I want to include a preservative that is safe as well I want to use more fixed oils but my skin is sensitive and if I’m reacting to something, I want to have a short list of potential problems. Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you so much for your time!
Hey Laura! Have you checked out this formula and the partner video? I think it might be what you’re looking for 🙂
Yes, thank you, this is more what I was looking for! I think I missed it because my intended use is for my face, and the face moisturizers I found seemed to be more complex and not quite what I need at this time. I need a KISS (keep it simple stupid) face cream. But this could be really lovely with some different fixed oils and maybe a little tallow for winter… Thanks so much for getting back to me and providing the links!
You’re welcome! I’ll also refer you to this lotion, which is much lighter 🙂 Happy making!
What’s the pH of this lotion?
Probably slightly basic. If you really want to know you will have to make a batch and test it yourself. Happy making!
From what I understand, the borax saponifies the beeswax, and makes an emulsifier, right? Is there a substitute for borax that will do the same thing with the beeswax?
I was reading somewhere else that borax also acts as a preservative. At what % is the borax enough in this type of formula to keep the product safe?