This gorgeous Nourishing Hand Rescue Lotion is another “riff” project—taking inspiration from April’s much-loved Intense Hand Rescue Cream with the aim of creating something similar, but lighter and more pump-top/squeeze tube friendly. I positively adore April’s Intense Hand Rescue Cream—I’ve got nearly-empty tubs on my desk and bedside table, and I still use it every day to counter all the hand washing I’ve been doing. Knowing I’d need more soon, I opted to adapt the formulation to create a thinner version that could be packaged up in more portable packaging, and here we are!
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The biggest difference between this Nourishing Hand Rescue Lotion and April’s Intense Hand Rescue Cream is the size of the oil phase. Today’s lighter version has a 16.9% oil phase vs. 26.25% for the thicker cream version. That phase size shift is most of the reason why this version is thinner and more pump-top/squeeze tube friendly. A smaller oil phase also means the product feels lighter on the skin, though the thicker version still feels pretty dang light, so I don’t notice that difference as much.
As part of reducing the size of the oil phase, I also simplified it. Removing nearly 10% from that phase would’ve meant a few ingredients from the thicker version would need to be present at really low levels to make room for everything, so I dropped a few things. There’s no shea butter or fractionated coconut oil in this version, and I opted to use Neossance® Hemisqualane instead of olive squalane to mix things up a bit. I kept the C12-15 alkyl benzoate because I love it. It’s a big part of why this lotion feels so glide-y and luxurious!
The water phase is more or less the same—it’s just a bit bigger to replace the lost oil. I did opt to use more colloidal oatmeal because I love what it does for my skin; I find it’s really soothing and noticeably amps up the moisturizing power of the end product. In the same spirit of “more of the stuff I love!” I also increased the ceramide complex in the cool down phase.
I’m calling this new variation a “lotion” rather than a “cream” because people tend to think of lotions as being thinner and lighter than creams, though there really is no hard defining line between one or the other. It’s all about perception, preference, and of course—marketing!
I chose a soft squeeze tube to package this Nourishing Hand Rescue Lotion to make it a bit more travel/errand friendly. One tube now lives with a bottle of hand sanitizer in the water-bottle holder of my backpack so I can keep my hands as happy as possible between frequent alcohol baths while I’m out and about. Enjoy!
More lotion formulations
- Super Simple Moisturizing Lotion (start here if you’ve never made lotion before!)
- Oat & Shea Hand Lotion
- Intense Hand Rescue Cream
- Moisturizing Repair Cream
- Creamy Autumn Grounding Lotion
- All my hand lotion formulations
- All my facial lotion formulations
Relevant encyclopedia entries
- C12-15 alkyl benzoate
- Ceramide complex
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Colloidal oatmeal
- Dimethicone 350
- Glyceryl Stearate SE
- Neossance® Hemisqualane
- Stearic acid
- Vegetable glycerin
- Xanthan gum
- My lotion is either too thick, too thin, or it didn’t emulsify.
- How do I use your recipes that are written in percents?
- How much essential oil can I add to this recipe?
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used?
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Nourishing Hand Rescue Lotion
62.5g | 62.5% distilled water
Heated oil phase
3.9g | 3.9% glyceryl stearate SE (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% stearic acid
3g | 3% C12-15 alkyl benzoate
3g | 3% Neossance® Hemisqualane (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% dimethicone 350 (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 colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, and xanthan gum into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker and whisk to combine, ensuring there are no clumps. Add the distilled water, and then 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 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.
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. If your lotion is like mine, your first reading will be around 6.5, and adding 3 drops of a 50% citric acid solution will lower the pH of the lotion to around 5.2, which is great. Please read this article to learn more about pH adjusting.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I used a 100g (3.5oz) soft squeeze tube from YellowBee, filling it with an empty syringe. Be sure to watch the video for detailed instructions on this.
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 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 (colloidal oatmeal, allantoin) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try propanediol or a homemade glycerite as an alternative to glycerin.
- You could try a different gum or carbomer (be sure to neutralize it if needed!) instead of xanthan gum.
- You could try a different emulsifying wax instead of glyceryl stearate SE.
- If you don’t have both stearic acid and cetearyl alcohol you could try using all of one or the other.
- There are two liquid emollients in this formulation: C12-15 alkyl benzoate and Neossance® Hemisqualane.
- You could group them all together to 6% and try using all of either of them
- Medium chain triglycerides / fractionated coconut oil would work well in place of either of them
- Olive squalane would work well in place of either of them
- You could also try incorporating some isopropyl myristate (IPM), possibly as an alternative to the C12-15 alkyl benzoate
- I don’t recommend swapping out the dimethicone as it really helps prevent this cream 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 ceramide complex. If you have to, choose something your skin loves, or just use more distilled water to keep the formulation balanced.
- You could try a different skin-loving botanical extract instead of calendula.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to add some scent:
- You could swap 20–30% of the water for a hydrosol of choice
- You could reduce the water by 0.5–1% to make room for a essential oil or fragrance of choice (or blend) in the cool down phase
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.