I’m really excited to share this formula with you guys—this Pemberley Hand Lotion was my Formula Botanica final project, and I received a mark of 100% for it! The project was to create a product for a specific customer. I designed this gorgeous hand lotion for professional women, aged 30–40, who work in an office setting. It had to be ultra hydrating but also super fast absorbing so the user wouldn’t leave greasy fingerprints on papers or touch screens. The scent had to be soft as heavily perfumed products are frowned upon in office settings, but I also wanted it to be luxurious and pleasing to give the user a bit of a sensory break from their busy day. This is what I came up with!
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To ensure it was lightweight and fast-absorbing I kept out oil phase quite small, adding a titch of cetyl alcohol to keep it from being drooly. Camellia seed oil and jojoba oil are both light, fast-absorbing oils, so that further contributes to the lightweight-ness of the lotion.
Our water phase is packed with humectants—vegetable glycerin, propanediol, and some fancy hyaluronic acid. Colloidal oatmeal and panthenol are both sooth and moisturizing, and silk ups the moisturizing factor and sounds really fancy (label appeal is a consideration in product design, after all!).
The essential oil blend is lovely, and I’m really proud of it. The sweet rose hydrosol mingles with warm, vanilla-like benzoin, and both are lifted up by a touch of spicy cardamom and juicy, fresh grapefruit. It’s not an easily identifiable blend; everyone I’ve asked has been able to catch a note or two, but nobody has been able to identify all the parts. The scent is complex and beguiling; luxurious and mysterious. It starts off bright and a bit sharp before mellowing down to a warm, sweet hum.
The rose hydrosol I’m using today is from Plant’s Power in Toronto, and it is absolutely lovely. It is a true hydrosol—a product of distillation, not an essential oil solubilized in water. The rose scent is rich and velvety, with an almost juicy-ness to it. Beyond the rich scent, two things I’m really appreciating are that the hydrosol came in a heavy, dark glass bottle, and that I can download a Certificate of Analysis from the Plant’s Power website that includes a precise date of manufacture, so I know the hydrosol is fresh. Plant’s Power sent me the rose hydrosol along with a few other things I’ve really been enjoying working with—so far I’m very impressed with their quality.
The scent is a big part of what inspired the name—Pemberley. Pemberley is the name of Mr. Darcy’s estate in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. When I was trying to think of a name for this lotion I wanted something evocative of old-fashioned British luxury; manicured rose gardens, satin slippers, full skirts, and heavy wood furniture on richly carpeted floors. Pemberley perfectly encapsulates that for me.
In keeping with Formula Botanica’s natural ethos I used Optiphen Plus to preserve this lotion. This preservative can de-stabilize emulsions, so to counter that I included 0.3% xanthan gum and 2% cetyl alcohol to stabilize the emulsion. The pH of the final product also needs to be below 6; when made as written it is approximately 5 without any adjustment (which is perfect).
The finished lotion is stunning. It has a gorgeous, cool, glidey slip that makes it an absolute pleasure to apply. The scent is intoxicating and indulgent. The finish is light, without a hint of greasiness or tack, and my skin is left soft and hydrated for ages. I am so in love with this Pemberley Hand Lotion, and I hope you will be, too!
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Pemberley Hand Lotion
Heated water phase
2g | 2% vegetable glycerine
0.30g | 0.3% xanthan gum
28.46g | 28.46% distilled water
20g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
20g | 20% rose hydrosol
2g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
1g | 1% colloidal oatmeal (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% hydrolyzed silk
2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
Cool down phase
1g | 1% calendula extract
0.09g | 0.09% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.20g | 0.2% cardamom essential oil
0.30g | 0.3% pink grapefruit essential oil
0.40g | 0.4% benzoin resinoid
1.50g | 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.
Whisk the xanthan gum and glycerin together in a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup, breaking up all lumps of gum. Whisk in the water, and then add the rest of the heated water phase ingredients. 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 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.
Because our preservative is more pH-sensitive than the one I usually use (it requires a range of 4–6), you’ll want to test the pH of the lotion to ensure it is compatible. Skin Chakra has an excellent post on how to test and adjust pH, which you can find here. If made as written this lotion should naturally have a pH of approximately 5. It is a good idea to test the pH before and after the addition of the preservative to ensure compatibility.
Weigh the cool down ingredients into a smaller dish using your more precise scale, and then add a scoop or two of lotion. 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 lotion is totally cool it’s time to package it up. I designed this lotion to be stored in a squeeze tube, like this. A 100g batch will fill a 100mL (3.3fl oz) tube pretty well. I use a syringe to fill tubes—I find that’s the easiest way. Watch the video to see how I do it! Once the lotion has been packaged up, you’re done!
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 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 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 you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- You can eliminate the xanthan gum, replacing it with more water. You could also try a different gum, like guar gum or hydroxyethylcellulose.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the hyaluronic acid; if you have to please read its encyclopedia page for some ideas.
- Glycerine and propanediol 1,3 are our humectants. You could try replacing either or both with a different humectant, like sodium lactate.
- You could replace the colloidal oats with more panthenol.
- Review the encyclopedia page for panthenol for substitution suggestions
- You could try a different hydrolyzed protein (oat, rice, quinoa, etc.) in place of silk
- You could use a different complete emulsifying wax instead of Olivem 1000; Ritamulse SCG would make the most sense. DO NOT use Olivem 300.
- Cetearyl alcohol will work as an alternative to cetyl alcohol.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the camellia and/or jojoba oil. This is also a good place to use more luxurious carrier oils like argan oil!
- You can use a different botanical extract in place of calendula, or simply use more water.
- I don’t recommend altering the essential oil blend as it is stunning, but if you have to be sure to 1) keep in mind there is rose hydrosol in the recipe, and that impacts the scent and 2) maximum usage levels. You could also use a fragrance oil.