Welcome to our first formulation of 2020—a beautiful Moisturizing Repair Cream! I am so excited about this rich, nourishing hand cream. It’s positively perfect for this time of year, helping protect skin against the winter dry and cold. Our two power ingredients are deeply moisturizing and inexpensive vegetable glycerin and niacinamide, AKA vitamin B3, which helps reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and boost ceramide production. The finished cream has a rich, decadent texture and delivers a long-lasting immediate hydration boost. Booyah!
Want the video for a version using Polawax!
This formulation was inspired by a lovely product from La Roche Posay; Cicaplast Mains. I’ve used a few products from their Cicaplast line and have loved them all, but what really caught my eye about the hand cream was the marketing call-out on the tube: “Niacinamide 4% and Glycerin 30%”. Sorry—30% glycerin?! That’s… a lot of glycerin. Far more than I would’ve guessed would be enjoyable in a product (glycerin is pretty sticky on its own) and yet… I loved the hand cream, so clearly it wasn’t too much. Cool!
The ingredient list for the original product was fairly short and sweet: Aqua, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Glyceryl Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter / Shea Butter, Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Sodium Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol. Since we know glycerin is used at 30% and Niacinamide at 4%, we have two useful anchors to start to figure out what else is going on and build our own formulation.
Check out the ingredient analysis video I made for this product!
The bulk of the lotion is water and glycerin, with some additional humectant-y goodness from butylene glycol (a humectant similar to propylene glycol and propanediol). Cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, shea butter, and dimethicone look to be the primary fatty emollients. The dimethicone will also help counter any tackiness from the high concentration of glycerin, which is definitely a good thing, and the cetearyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate will both contribute to thickening the end product. PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone and Glyceryl Stearate SE are our emulsifiers.
Sodium Polyacrylate is a very cool ingredient—it’s insanely absorbent, and can be found in diapers doing important moisture-absorbing work there. I found this super cool YouTube video that shows it in action—check it out! According to CosmeticsInfo, this ingredient can perform a lot of jobs in cosmetics, but in this cream, I think its most important jobs are emulsion stabilizer, film former, emollient, and thickener. Our last two ingredients (Caprylyl Glycol, & Phenoxyethanol) may look a bit familiar—that’s because they’re the two ingredients in Optiphen™, so we can conclude those two ingredients are our preservative (though their performance will be boosted/supported by all the water-activity-lowering powers of the glycerin & butylene glycol).
Up next was doing some tweaking to accommodate the ingredients I have/can get. I swapped butylene glycol for propanediol; dropped the glyceryl stearate (figuring I could get more emollient/thickening from cetearyl alcohol if needed); dropped the PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone (didn’t have it + figured I’d see if I could make it work with just the glyceryl stearate SE); and swapped the Sodium Polyacrylate for a different gelling agent to keep the thickening/emulsion stabilizing properties (I tried skipping that element altogether and created quite a few not-quite-stable creams).
From there it was time to pull together a first stab at the formulation, make it, and see what happened. The first version used Glyceryl Stearate SE at 20% of the oil phase—a relatively average percentage for emulsifying wax NF, so it seemed like a decent place to start. There was also no gum/carbomer element in version #1. The cream was pretty nice—rich & thick, low on tack, and deeply moisturizing. It wasn’t, however, terribly stable. I tried several versions with increasingly more glyceryl stearate SE and copious amounts of high-shear blending, but they all separated. They didn’t fully split, but after an hour or so there would be distinct bits that were definitely more oil and others that were definitely mostly water. Boo.
I fixed that stability issue with the inclusion of 0.5% of a gelling agent. I tried both xanthan gum and Sepimax™ Zen (INCI: Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6), a pre-neutralized gelling agent that’s really easy to work with. The Sepimax version was, without a doubt, superior—both in terms of end consistency and skin feel. The xanthan version is gummier/slimier, while the Sepimax version is smoother and more elegant. They are both perfectly stable, though, so feel free to use whichever ingredient you prefer (or possibly try a different gelling agent).
When it comes to packaging this cream I’d recommend an open tub or a soft squeeze tube; it’s far too thick for a pump-top and stiffer-walled squeeze-ish bottles. I’ve been carrying this beautiful cream around with me lots in the last 6 months—it’s been to Kansas & British Columbia, it’s been on ski trips, and I’ve taken it to lunch dates with friends to insist that they try it. While it’s nowhere near as tacky as I would’ve guessed given the glycerin concentration I’d still call this “low tack” rather than “no tack”, meaning I find I prefer to use it on my hands and less so all over my body. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Moisturizing Repair Cream
Heated water phase
43g | 43% distilled water
30g | 30% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
Heated oil phase
4g | 4% glyceryl stearate SE (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% refined shea butter (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.5% Sepimax™ Zen (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
4g | 4% niacinamide
1.5g | 1.5% Optiphen™ Plus (USA / Canada)
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 (the Sepmiax Zen will not melt in the oil phase—that’s ok!).
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 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 five, 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.
Up next, let’s get set up to check and adjust the pH (if needed). When made as written, both versions of this cream (glyceryl stearate SE and polawax) have a pH around 5–6, which is great, but it’s still a good idea to check because of the niacinamide (desired pH around 6) and the Optiphen Plus (functions best in formulations with a pH below 6). Be sure to read this great article on the importance of diluting solutions when pH testing them—we’re doing that here! Prepare at least two small bowls by weighing 9g of distilled water into them (you’re going to want a scale that’s accurate to 0.01g for this). To make your citric acid solution, weigh 5g of citric acid into a small beaker and add 5g of distilled water. Stir to combine; you’ll probably a couple quick microwave bursts are required to get the citric acid to dissolve as this is a pretty concentrated solution.
To test the pH, add 1g of product to one of the bowls containing 9g of water to create a 10% dilution, and pH check that. If necessary, add a drop of the citric acid solution to the parent batch, stir, and re-test with a new little bowl of 9g distilled water + 1g of the lotion from the parent batch. Continue until the pH is close to 6.
When the pH is where we want it to be, we’re done! Transfer the lotion to a jar or soft squeeze tube and you’re ready to moisturize up a storm (100mL [3.3fl oz] is a good size for a 100g [3.5oz] batch). Enjoy!
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 recipe, 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 please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- I don’t recommend substituting the vegetable glycerin, though you could try a homemade glycerite as an alternative!
- Propylene glycol or butylene glycol would be good alternatives for the propanediol. You could also try more vegetable glycerin.
- Please watch the video & refer to the formulation in the description box if you wish to use Polawax instead of Glyceryl Stearate SE.
- You could use any carrier oil or butter that your skin loves instead of shea butter.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the dimethicone as it really helps prevent this lotion from being tacky.
- You could try a natural silicone alternative, like LuxGlide 350. Look for one that is marketed as a dimethicone alternative rather than a cyclomethicone alternative.
- You could try a slippy liquid oil, though no liquid oil will do the same job as dimethicone.
- Both of those alternatives will result in a stickier end product.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the cetearyl alcohol, but if you have to I’d try a blend of cetyl alcohol and stearic acid.
- You can use xanthan gum instead of Sepimax Zen, or try another gelling agent (Aristoflex AVC would work).
- Remember that the gelling agent is integral to the stability of the lotion, so if you use one that is sensitive to electrolytes, don’t add any electrolytes (eg. aloe vera, urea, hydrolyzed silk, sodium lactate) to the formulation.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The plastic screw-top jar and soft squeeze tube were gifted by YellowBee.
I made this yesterday (using the version from the Patreon post). I love it! I couldn’t believe how soft it made my hands feel (and how quickly). Perfect for this cold weather. Thanks, Marie!
I am SO thrilled to hear it, Kelly! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Can I use The Ordinary Niacinamide (liquid) as I already have this on hand? If so, what phase?
Sadly no—that would be a bit like trying to use a bit of chocolate cake instead of chocolate chips in a cookie recipe as both contain chocolate 🙂 You will need the refined ingredient—or check out the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) for substitution ideas 🙂 Happy making!
Hey, this looks cool! I appreciate all the formulation talk! I’ve been into “low tack” projects (much more glycerin than usually) lately. I heard about a week ago for the first time about similar luxury hand creams – very interesting.
Anyway, would SAP or even weak acids (multifruit mix 45-55 %) + silk + b5 mix be, based on your encyclopedia , quite good subsitution to b3? I’ve had amazing, a bit similar results with them (also) in hand + body care. I’m going to order some b3 next week, so perhaps I should wait. I’m so glad you shared “the pH links” in encyclopedia!
About the emulsifiers, is there anything specific you would not recommend? I don’t have GS SE or polawax, so I’ll propably start with something else like Olivem1000 / xyliance + ecogel…? Thanks, again, for being inspirational! 🙂
Thanks, Johanna! If you were to use SAP it looks like you’d want to drop the concentration and perhaps choose a preservative with a higher pH range—it looks like SAP wants to be above 6 while Optiphen Plus prefers below 6? Silk + B5 would also likely work well, though the silk will conflict with the carbomer so that’s a consideration as well (if you’re using carbomer). I would think Olivem1000 would work find on its own—let me know what you do and how it goes 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making!
Okay, great to know! I’ll report back later, as usually. 🙂 Thank you!
About SAP, BASF vitamin c.pdf file is interesting. Lowering pH to about 5,6-6 + geogard 221 cosgard has worked well so far (I use everything within ~6 months). I’ve also used sodium lactate + lactic acid (or only citric acid) for better pH stability. Just in case someone is considering diy vit c cosmetics. 😛
But I decided to follow your formula as well as possible. I’m thinking something like this:
4 % olivem 1000 + 0,3-0,5 % ecogel (stability, reduces soaping)
3 % fractioned coconut oil
5 % more glycerin (mine is 85 %)
1 % geogard 221 cosgard
– Everything else as written. I’ll share some results later. Many thanks, Johanna <3
Maria, as a fellow graduate of Formula Botanica, I love your courage and everything you are making. However, I disagree with the 30% glycerin in this formula. Also Dimethicone that you used is no so cool. That FDA approved a chemical doesn’t’ make it safe. Yes all things are chemical and I agree that not all chemical are bad, you can use natural alternative to dimethicone like LuxGlideN350 series currently at WindyPoint. Please note, I’m not blaming you, there are some chemicals that are not too cool to be on the body and dimethicone is one of them. You may not agree with me and that is alright.
Thanks for this formula and all the great formula on your blog.
Are you planning to start you own skincare brand too or what is next for HumbleBeeandMe. I am a frequent visitors on your blog. I see that you give out lots of information that may make upcoming and established skincare brand to get jealous and even hate you if care is not taken.
Also what other ways to you plan to get back because you give too much to the society. Pls what is the motivation behind the way you are giving away free information to the public. As someone who spent so much on skincare training and ingredients like you, I often think you are giving away too much for free.
Hope you can craft better ways to pay yourself for the hard work.
I know you are currently making it with adsense, Pateon , YouTube, Amazon affiliates. Do you think these are enough to compensate your hard work.
I think that Maree’s business is just that…her business, and its pretty not cool to question her so rudely about it in a public forum.
Its also pretty not cool to take Maree’s formulations (“Thanks for this formula and all the great formula on your blog”), then warn her about sharing her formulations.
An American phrase springs to mind: stay in your own lane.
Is there a point to your message? Marie shares her knowledge graciously and it is not up to you to judge that. Some people are givers and it is not always about money.
I’m sorry, could you please tell me where in this posting, Marie asked you for advice….on well, ANYTHING? Because I went back thru the whole post twice, and I couldn’t find it. Oh, I know, you must be her “life coach”…eh?! Because that’s the ONLY way all of your nosy-ass, none of your damn business questions make ANY sense! No, I take that back, it really doesn’t make any sense, because a “life coach” would be MUCH more professional, and would not ask her those type of questions in this forum….WOW!!!!
Me thinks someone is jealous of Marie’s success. Her business is no one’s business. Just because you graduated from Formula Botanica does not give you the right to question Marie’s motives. You would think that if you wanted to offer support, you would offer some financial backing through Patreon like the rest of us do that are thankful and able. I think Formula Botanica needs to be informed that one of their graduates is becoming a troll on other forums and perhaps shouldn’t be representing them.
I am certainly late to this party. I just hate to see people be so negative on such a positive community. First off please do not attack someone who is offering up their formulations and their knowledge for FREE ( soap queen).The formulations she so graciously shares are her personal preference, as well as experimentation on ingredients she is testing out in her recipes. Shame on you for telling her she shouldn’t use an ingredient because you have a problem with it. When it comes to reseach when used on the skin it has been proven safe. Only potential issue I can maybe find is it “might” not be environmentally safe. But upon further research, there simply isn’t enough data stating it is a hazard to the environment. And if that’s what has your knickers in a knot, then I sure hope you don’t sanitize your hands, use feminine hygiene products, or perish the though you even consider shaving your legs. You know those are im fact “proven” hazardous to the environment. But I guarantee none of us are innocent. I know I try to be, but there is always something we use that is potentially harmful. And how she conducts her business, blog, or YouTube channel and what information she gives out willingly is her business. Honestly we need more people like her. I feel she truly loves educating people about something she is passionate about. Everyone now days charges for darn near everything. Its hard to find anyone else like her on any sort of platform. And I belive that is what sets her apart from others. Marie you are such a wonderful woman and I love all of your formulations. Thank you so much for making this information available for free. As well as your recipe’s and your very handy encyclopedia. I look forward to all your new blog posts and videos.
Hi Marie, could I use isopropyl myristate instead of dimethicone 350? Thanks,
It’s worth a try! I’m not sure how well it’ll de-tack, but let me know if you try it 🙂
Surprised to see a silicone in your recipe!
It’s certainly not a first—I’ve been including silicone in formulations here and there since about 2017! I enjoy its added slip and de-tack-ifying powers 🙂 Lab Muffin has a great post on it!
So fun!! I want to try it. Can I add essential oils to scent it?
Yeah! Give this FAQ a read 🙂 Happy making!
Thank you!! I thought I had searched well for the answer 🙂 Sorry.
I accidentally ordered dimethicone 500 instead of 350. Can I use this or should I reorder?
That should work—it’ll be a bit more viscous, but in the end product I don’t think you’ll notice 🙂
hello I’ve been stuck in a dilemma. My diy body cream keeps rubbing in, turning white with a delayed rub in. Do you know what causes that? ive been looking for answers in your comments but haven’t had luck finding anything with answers. thank you for your time.
That sounds like “soaping”—you can learn more about it here 🙂
What percentages of cetyl and stearic would you recommend when substituting the cetearyl? Loved how the worker bees swooped in to defend the queen bee that’s awesome and so are you. Thanks for sharing!
I’d probably start with 50/50 and see what you think 🙂 Happy making!
Just wondering to subtitute dimenthicone with cyclomenthicone. What do you think? Because cant get any natural silicone in my country. Or any subtitute inspite of dimenthicone?
Hi Marie! I stumbled upon ur blog at the end of 2019 and I must say that I find your videos very candid and informative, with a touch of humor. You are very appealing and charismatic to watch! I love ur passion in creating formulas and sharing it so graciously.
I noticed that the blog posts and videos of 2020 are a little different! I like the new video arrangements and the soundtrack. Even the blog is more informative and offers a lot of interesting thought-provoking stuff to read.
I am doing this as a hobby. And I want to thank you esp for this post because I’ve been having some questions on more natural preservatives (like Optiphen plus). And the video has helped me to visualize how it is to be done.
May you have happiness and passion always!
You wouldn’t disagree with the high % glycerine if you simply read this thoroughly. Marie clearly explains this in the first paragraph.
I know it’s definitely a bit abnormal, but it is awesome 😀 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie, I apologise for this comment not being about anything to do with this moisturising cream. I can only buy boron nitride for about $25 AUD for 20g, or $50AUD for 250g, it is very hard to find! Is it worth getting 250g? I probably won’t even use half but will I use 20g too quickly if it is used for eyeshadow? Thank you and I honestly can’t wait to buy Make It Up (though it has been on the ‘to buy list’ for quite some time!)
I just recently looked at TKB trading eyeshadow bases, and neither of them have boron nitride, so for eyeshadow is it definitely a must? Sorry about all the questions!
I can really only recommend you give this FAQ a read 🙂 Happy making!
With that kind of pricing, I wonder if you can find someone else in Australia to split the order with? 20g isn’t much, for 250g is a lot… but more than 10x the amount for only 2x the price… that’s a hard margin to pass up! Perhaps you’ll be able to connect with someone on a relevant Australian subreddit?
Hey Marie. I made this yesterday. I’m not the best person to review lotions (because I rarely use them) but this feels like very well functioning and elegant cream. It actually works better for my sensitive skin than I expected; I’m counting on this recipe. Great stuff for Finland’s winter!
I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying it! Wahoo 😀 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi! Really hope you can help me with this. I’m looking to create more of thick oil balm without the use of water. Using butters always results in graininess with temperature fluctuations. Do you think we could use GS https://www.humblebeeandme.com/project/glyceryl-stearate-se/
with oils alone to make more of a balm consistency effectively? So just oils, oil soluble actives, and glyceryle stearate to harden it up? Thanks so much!
Hey Jan! If I were you I’d be looking at stearic acid and/or cetyl alcohol for such a thing. Click those links to learn more!
Do you find you like using Aristoflex AVC or Sepimax Zen better? It seems Sepimax Zen can be a little more flexible in that you can include electrolytes and have a higher oil percentage. Is this true? I’ve only read about both and have never used either one. I’m trying to determine which to purchase first. Thank you!
I’m afraid my experience with Sepimax Zen is much more limited than my experience with Aristoflex AVC, so I don’t feel I can fairly compare the two. If you can get a small amount of each I would do that as the shelf life of both products is very long. That way you can play with both and see what you think!
Hi again, Marie.
I just finished my last batch. It’s amazing, unlike any other foot/ hand lotions I’ve used – my hands and feet are very soft, perfectly moisturized and my skin tone is more even, more uniform (!) This cream has also helped repairing my fragile nails (genetic issue), which has never happened before. I’ve used your cream with diy egyptian magic 2-3 times / day. I can’t wait to see what else your cream has to offer! Thank you. <3
Btw, I made another one, more occlusive one with 2 % stearic acid (less frac. coconut oil) and 4 % betaine (less water) + keeping the rest of formula the same. It's very thick salve/ ointment like, like I expected, and it seems to work the same way (in a jar though). It hopefully replaces the balm I've used. Maybe a bit less stearic acid next time, but who knows. 😛
HOORAY! I am so thrilled to hear your review 🙂 And thank you so much for sharing the results of your experiments as well—I really must get into that bag of betaine I brought home from Europe!
Yes, you should! I really like it. Can’t wait to hear what you think. 🙂
I Marie! what percentage should I use if I’d manage to get the sodium polyacrylate?
I’d refer to whatever your supplier recommends—likely well under 1% 🙂
Hello ive been looking for an idiot proof way to mix in niacinamide into a base cream is that possible and how can I do it
Since niacinamide has fairly precise pH needs you would need, at minimum, a precise scale and a digital pH meter—and I think that puts you out of the realm of “idiot proof” :/
If I want to add a fragrance oil to this recipe, I assume during the cool down phase, which ingredient do I take away from to make room for the FO? Also, how should I use, 1%, 2%, or 3%? I know FO are different then essential oils.
Hey Leslie! I highly recommend you check out this recent video ❤️ Happy making!
With all the glycerites I have been making I am thinking this will be fun. I cannot wait to try this. I wonder if this approach will work with other highly sticky humectants that I love…off to try.
OOOoh this would be divine with a glycerite! ❤️
I made this a couple times (Polawax version) and really enjoyed it. It hydrates my oversanitized hands so deeply! I’ve been using the original one at work, starting each break with this cream and ending each break with a heavy silicone barrier cream. I wanted to mess around a bit and see if I could get even more soothing and skin barrier support. I have to sanitize a lot for work, but overdoing the washing or sanitizing can wreak havoc on the skin’s function in our immune system, so I wanted to work against that. Instead of niacinamide, which can sometimes irritate overly sensitive skin, I went directly to the ceramides at 5%. I also added panthenol at 2%, vitamin E at 1%, and allantoin at… 0.3% maybe, I forget, it’s written down somewhere! I wasn’t using any pH-sensitive ingredients (niacinamide, Optiphen Plus) but I took the pH down anyway because, again, gotta support our good ol’ acid mantle when it’s struggling! I have zero complaints about the original version, but my poor hands are taking a real beating and I’m pretty excited to try out the new one.