Today we’re blending up a product I’ve had a lot of requests for! I’m calling this pale green lotion Happy Hemp Hand Cream, and it was inspired by The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector. My version is a bit lighter and more slippy, but it still includes many of the same star ingredients. I think you and your hands will love it 😊
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
The water phase for this Happy Hemp Hand Cream is very simple; just distilled water, moisturizing vegetable glycerin, and skin-soothing panthenol (Vitamin B5). If you wanted to spice things up a bit you could swap 20–30% of the distilled water for a hydrosol and/or aloe vera juice. You could also swap some (or all) of the vegetable glycerin for a homemade glycerite!
Our oil phase stars hemp seed oil. I used green, unrefined hemp seed oil, which lends a soft green tint to the finished cream along with a mild grassy scent. I’ve also included some rich castor oil and beeswax—both inclusions inspired the original product from The Body Shop. These two ingredients can be a bit sticky, so I also included some coco caprylate. This is an ingredient I’ve had for quite a while; I purchased it from Les Âmes Fleurs, who sells it as “Coco Silicone“. It’s a lovely, super-light ester that can be used as a silicone alternative, helping to reduce any soaping and improve slip. It reminds me of C12-15 alkyl benzoate, and I really like it!
I’ve used Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate to emulsify this cream, but you could easily use a self-thickening emulsifying wax like Polawax or Olivem1000. I’ve provided guidelines on how to adjust the formulation in the substitutions list at the end of this post.
The finished cream is quite thick—thick enough that I wouldn’t recommend a pump top bottle. I put two batches in jars and one in a squeeze tube, and both of those options worked out beautifully. Despite how thick it is, it’s surprisingly lightweight, and has amazing slip and glide on the skin. When you watch the video you’ll see a dollop easily spreads over both my hands and up to my elbows!
Relevant links & further reading
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Super Simple Moisturizing Lotion with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate
- Can I use this product on a part of my body other than where the title suggests?
- Preservatives table
- Preservatives + Shelf Life in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- pH Meter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Happy Hemp Hand Cream
Heated oil phase
3g | 3% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
4g | 4% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
6g | 6% hemp seed oil (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% castor oil
5g | 5% coco-caprylate (USA / Canada / UK / EU / NZ)
1g | 1% beeswax
0.15g | 0.15% xanthan gum
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, all that’s left to do is package it up!
When made as written this cream has a pH ~5.5, which is great for our skin and the preservative. If you change anything I recommend testing the pH yourself to ensure it is still around 5.5.
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.
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 (panthenol, allantoin, vitamin E) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try replacing the glycerin with propanediol 1,3.
- If you want to use a self-thickening emulsifying wax like Polawax instead of Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate I would increase the emulsifier to 5% and decrease the cetearyl alcohol to 2%. Read this for more information.
- If you don’t have cetearyl alcohol you could try splitting the 4% between cetyl alcohol and stearic acid.
- Please don’t replace the hemp seed oil—it’s the key/named ingredient in this formulation. You could, but that’s like replacing the peanut butter in a peanut butter sandwich.
- You could use more hemp seed oil instead of castor oil.
- C12-15 alkyl benzoate will work instead of coco caprylate. You could also try isopropyl myristate (IPM) or a natural silicone alternative, just be sure to check which phase it should go in and do that.
- You could try a “C” wax instead of beeswax.
- You can try a different gum instead of xanthan; guar gum and hydroxyethylcellulose should both work well.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.