This soft, sweet Sleepy Time Lavender Benzoin Lotion has become a fast favourite of mine. I look forward to smoothing it down my arms and legs before tucking into bed and drifting off with sweet vanilla-frosted lavender floating around me. I also find the oats in the lotion really help soothe my dry winter hands—between dog pets and cold prevention they sure get a lot of washing these days. So, between pre-bedtime and daytime use I’ve been carting my wee tub of lavender lotion around the house with me so it’s available for all my assorted dry skin/sleepy time needs. High praise indeed!
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This is my riff on LUSH’s “Sleepy” lotion, a product I’ve had had quite a lot of requests a recipe for. The original is praised for its calming scent and skin-softening ways. One reviewer described it as “a sensory nightcap”, which I quite liked! It contains quite a few lovely ingredients, with a focus on lavender, oats, and some lovely-for-skin oils and butters like almond and cocoa. If you’d like to learn more about how I took their ingredients list and turned it into this recipe, check out the video I released on Tuesday!
In keeping with the lavender focus, part of our oil part is some beautiful lavender hydrosol. The LUSH version uses an oat infusion, which presumably is some blend of oats and water. Instead of soaking oats in water I’ve included 1% colloidal oatmeal; “a USP pharmaceutical grade of superfine oat flour (200 mesh) which dissolves in water“. Colloidal oatmeal is wonderfully gentle and soothing to the skin, helping moisturize and reduce itching. Perfect for winter!
One of the more interesting ingredients in the LUSH version is tonka absolute. My only experience with tonka beans has been at Calgary’s Silk Road Spice Merchant, where they sell them in wee jars. I also sniff the tonka beans whenever I visit, though I’ve never purchased them; they smell wonderfully vanilla-like in a vanilla-but-not-quite sort of way that’s really lovely. One of the employees there told me that people often purchase them in order to toss a tonka bean in with their coffee beans before grinding for a lovely vanilla infusion. How dreamy! In any event, as I have no tonka absolute it’s been dropped from my version, and we’re still getting some good vanilla-y goodness from the benzoin. If you do have tonka you could definitely include some, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
I’ve wrapped this lotion up with a touch of a soft purple mica to give it a lovely lavender-y hue. Despite the lavender appearance I’ve kept this blend heavier on the vanilla, and I love it. The lavender more than holds its own against the larger quantity of benzoin, resulting in two scents that meld beautifully to create a soft, sweet, wonderfully mingled fragrance that I’m quite taken with. It’s not too assertively lavender or vanilla—just a nice, sweet medley of pre-bedtime goodness. Yum.
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Sleepy Time Lavender Benzoin Lotion
54.89g | 49.9% (+10%) distilled water
20g | 20% lavender hydrosol
2g | 2% hydrolyzed oat protein or other hydrolyzed protein (like silk)
1g | 1% colloidal oatmeal (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
4.75g | 4.75% Polawax (USA / Canada))
10g | 10% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% stearic acid (USA / Canada / UK)
Cool down phase
0.1g | 0.1% lavender essential oil
0.5g | 0.5% benzoin resinoid
0.5g | 0.5% liquid germall plus (USA / Canada) (or other broad spectrum preservative of choice at recommended usage rate [why?])
0.25g | 0.25% soft purple mica
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 water phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the oil phase ingredients 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 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.
Transfer a few tablespoons of the lotion to a smaller container, and weigh the cool down ingredients into that container. Stir to combine, and then transfer the lot of it back into the rest of the lotion. Stir to combine.
When the lotion has cooled, stir in the cool down ingredients and transfer the lotion to a jar. I used one of these great screw-top 100mL plastic tubs from YellowBee—this lotion is too thick to put in a pump-top bottle. Enjoy!
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.
- If you don’t have lavender hydrosol simply replace it with more water; no need to increase the lavender essential oil
- You can replace the hydrolyzed oat protein with silk peptides or sea kelp bioferment
- You can replace the colloidal oatmeal with more water
- Any light to midweight liquid oil will work in place of the sweet almond and/or jojoba oils
- A soft or brittle butter will work in place of the cocoa butter
- You can use cetyl alcohol instead of the stearic acid, or more cocoa butter (though this will make for a noticeably thinner product)
This looks lovely, i think it would work well for my kids however, my colloidal oats (from Making Cosmetics) stiiiinks!!! And it can be smelled in the final product
How is yours? Does it have any smell? I made a lotion for my eczema prone son and we couldn’t stand the smell. Wonder if it went “bad” as I don’t remember it smelling so bad when i bought it…
I think your oats have probably gone rancid; mine don’t smell like much of anything and definitely don’t ruin the end product 😐
Can I use ewax instead of polawax? I already have a pound of ewax and don’t want to have to buy more stuff if I don’t have to. Btw, I love your newsletters and updates.
That should work! Happy making 😀
Do you know of any way to get melatonin in the recipe? Thought I might this recipe to see if helps my week long insomnia, but wondered if adding some form of melatonin would help even more?
I suspect this is a much more challenging task than simply adding oral melatonin tablets/films to the lotion as developing anything topical that will actually work its way into the bloodstream is no small feat. Our epidermis is an excellent barrier, which is generally a good thing, but it does mean that if you want something to end up in your blood stream it’s likely best to leave that up to the experts 🙂
The link you gave to polawax suggested (EU standard) not to be used in lotions. (Sold out too.) Any other suggestion?
Here’s another source.
Your site is simply wonderful. Really helps me understand and learn about different ingredients / textures / formulations. Insightful and creative resource for ideating and making skincare products. Also, I like that you are particular about textures and making the products light and non greasy!
Thanks so much, Manika! It’s certainly been a fun journey so far and I love to share 🙂
I made it 2 days ago. I liked the recipe because it was easy and I had almost all of the I ingredients on hand. It turned out lovely, fast absorbing, moisturizing and lightly fragrant. Thank you for this recipe. I made many of your recipes already and I will keep going.
Hooray! I’m thrilled to hear it ❤️
I finally bought Liquid Germall Plus! Now, I’ll make as many of your lotion recipes. My friends and family are volunteering, happily, to be my testers!
Just a question: Can I substitute emulsimulse for the Polawax? Thanks.
You should be able to—happy lotion-ing!
Hi Marie, Yet another amazing lotion recipe- not greasy and so, so pretty at the end. Since this is the first time I have ever included mica in a lotion… I’m wondering if the mica is supposed to give the lotion a bit of a gritty feel. Mine turned out that way but I’m wondering if that’s because the recipe was pretty cool but not completely cool before I added the mica so I have a speckled pretty lotion with a little bit of grit that goes away after I put it on. Curious to hear your thoughts because yours doesn’t look speckled 🙂
There shouldn’t be anything gritty in this lotion; mica is silky smooth and not at all gritty. It feels like cornstarch. Any chance you used glitter instead? That’d be gritty feeling. Hmm.
I used TKB’s Aster Hue just like you did in the post. I’ll give the recipe another try to see if I can eliminate the speckles of grittiness in the end product.
Very odd indeed. Hmm. Good luck—let me know if you figure it out.
I am BRAND new to lotion making so forgive what feels like a silly question. But can I make these lotion recipes in bigger batches?
Definitely—you can use the percentages to scale to your heart’s content. That said, if you truly are BRAND NEW (as you say) to lotion making, don’t scale anything until you have 1) made the recipe before and know you like it and 2) have made the recipe before and were successful 🙂
Hey there Marie, I was wondering where you get your lavender Hydrosol?
I bought the one on Amazon.US but for some reason, it smells extremely sweet? or maybe it just me that smelled it that way.
Mine is from Windy Point here in Canada 🙂 Different lavender products can definitely smell sweeter than others depending on the lavender they’re made from, so I’m not sure I’d write it off based on scent alone, but it’s hard to say since I obviously can’t smell it 😛
Hey Marie! This might be a silly question and apologies if so (I find it difficult to trust certain DIY blogs for answers having been shocked at the amount of misinformation/bad information I’ve come across in the past, but I’ve been formulating with the guidance of your wonderful blog for years now and feel like you are the fountain of all cosmetic truth for me!). So my question is this- Is colloidal oatmeal just ground oats like oat flour? Like could I make it at home in a high speed blender/food processor instead of purchasing the powder.
Hey! LisaLise has written a ton about this here, I’d recommend giving that a read as it’s quite an involved discussion 😀
Hi Marie, and thanks for the great site and advices! I am male, and i’m interested to make my own body/face lotion. My first tries were pretty good, but I am still confused about how to make fast absorbing lotion without these shine / glisten effect over my skin. I am using primarily Grapeseed oil, Cocoa butter and Capric-Caprillic triglycerides. Recently i’ve included Xanthan gum and Cetyl palmitate to my lotion, but I didn’t get sucsess. Could you please give me an advice how to achieve matte effect if it is possible though. By the way i’ve purchased Cetyl alcochol from Amazon because I suppose that there is a difference between Cetyl alcochol and Cetyl palmitate. Thanks in advance and greetings from Bulgaria 🙂
Hey! If you want something really matte I’d recommend this recipe; you can change the essential oil blend if you like, but the end lotion is very lightweight and non-greasy. This is a result of many factors from the size of the oil phase, the oils you choose, and other ingredients, so it’s hard for me to just give you a couple tips because they’ll result in the need for you to totally re-formulate a recipe.
If you do have tonka beans how would you suggest adding it to this recipe? Do I need to infuse it first?
I’d probably infuse them into the oil—though it would probably be more worthwhile to infuse a larger amount of liquid oil (sweet almond from this recipe, or something similar) and use some of that, and have some leftover for other things 🙂
I just made it as a calming bedtime lotion for for my baby! I grow lavender, so I used a lavender and chamomile infusion for the water/hydrosol parts in the liquid phase and left out the essential oil. I massaged him with this lotion and it does relax him (and he smells so good!).
Beautiful! I’m so glad you two are enjoying it 🙂 Do be aware that the homemade herbal infusion will drastically shorten the shelf life of the product due to the introduction of plant matter (straining does not remove everything), so please keep a careful eye out for spoilage as it would be awful to give your baby an infection from a homemade product. Happy making!
Hi Marie, awesome recipe, thank you! Question, could I use Baobab protein instead of hydrolyzed oat protein?
I can’t see why not!
Oh I guess Baobab protein is for hair, oops. I should have checked before asking stupid questions lol!
There’s nothing about it that makes it hair only; give the description from a read 🙂 “For skin treatment, Hydrolyzed Baobab Protein defends skin against UV stress by limiting cellular photo-aging. It restores skin vitality by reducing DNA damage following UV exposure. It maintains healthy, supple skin with nourishing amino acids.”
Hi Marie, your articles are very inspiring as usual!
I modified a little bit the ingredient. Some are because I don’t have the ingredient, some are because my skin doesn’t like certain type of oil/butter. Do you think this can be a recipe that makes sense?
54.89g | 49.9% (+10%) distilled water
20g | 20% Aloe vera juice ===> instead of lavender hydrosol
2g | 2% Silk peptide ===> instead of hydrolyzed oat protein
1g | 1% Chamomille extract ===> instead of colloidal oatmeal
2g | 2% vegetable glycerin
4.75g | 4.75% Emulsifying ===>instead of Polawax
10g | 10% sweet almond oil
2g | 2% mango butter ===>instead of cocoa butter
5g | 5% marula oil(or argan oil) ===>instead of jojoba oil
2g | 2% stearic acid
0.1g | 0.1% lavender essential oil
0.5g | 0.5% benzoin resinoid
0.5g | 0.5% liquid germall plus
0.25g | 0.25% No mica ===>soft purple mica
That should work! You obviously won’t have any cocoa scent and the lavender scent will be softer without the hydrosol, but it should still be lovely! Happy making 🙂
Hi Marie, thank you for your reply! So finally I made it from the modified recipe. But when I was making it I decided to use the chamomille butter instead of mango butter. I love the smell from it! The lotion works well. The only thing is that I find it kind of floating on top of the face. It doesn’t get absorbed by the skin as fast as the lotion I bought from the market. Is it normal?
Good morning Nadia!
There are many factors to consider when it comes to various oils and the skin. I find shea butter just sits on my skin and doesn’t “do” anything; yet others find their skin absorbs shea quite fantastically well! Mango butter is a dry finish oil in that it is adsorbed by the skin quite quickly leaving a dry touch but with hydrated skin. I can’t speak for chamomile butter and how it would work, but try swapping the chamomile butter for the mango and you might see a huge difference!
Someone had given me a jar of lavender lotion that was really nice and it uses a silver solution as a preservative. I just wondered if you have come across this before? By the way, I love this lotion! I am hooked on the benzoin resin! Thanks.
Hey Anita! Lorraine Dallmeier from Formula Botanica shared this in the online classroom: “Although a ‘natural’ preservative, Citric Acid & Silver Citrate (the INCI name for Silverion 2400 or Tinosan DSC) is not risk free. Silver ions, as found in silver citrate are extremely potent anti-microbial agents… For that reason, this preservative is known to cause some level of eco-toxicity and impacts waterways, fish, aquatic organisms and soil organisms. It also contributes to antibiotic resistance and in one study, silver ions were found to accumulate of the brains and testes of the mammals (mice) studied. Friends of the Earth have called for a moratorium on the use of silver in all household and personal care products, given its potential to accumulate in the environment and cause ecological damage.”
I’m so glad you are loving this lotion! It’s definitely still a favourite of mine as well 🙂
hello Marie. I would like to purchase the hydrolized oat protein through amazon USA and I can’t find it, but the site is redirecting me to another product called oat amino acids. I wanted to ask if you know whether they are the same thing or not. I appreciate your help a lot.
Good morning Ross!
I clicked on the link and was taken to Voyager to hydrolysed oat protein, you might need to buy it directly from a soap/ingredient shop. Take a look see at the Where to Buy Ingredients for your country. Many of the suppliers mentioned in Europe do carry it or other hydrolysed proteins.
I made this light lotion for my mom. I excluded the lavender hydrosol and instead included 75 grams of distilled water. I used Silk peptides instead of the hydrolyzed oat protein because it’s what i had on hand. I used Emulsifying Wax NF instead of Polawax (again, had it on hand) and excluded the mica since my mom isn’t big on color in her products. I added a touch more benzoin resin since i didn’t included the lavender hydrosol or lavender essential oil. The result was a beautiful vanilla (benzoin)- cocoa blend in such a light lotion. I wish i could have kept it to myself! I hope my mom loves it since she doesn’t like “greasy” lotions. Thank you Marie! 🙂
Good afternoon Kelsey!
That’s the best part of making your own stuff! When it’s good? You can always make it again in a larger batch and share! Happy making!
Hello. Your recipes are wonderful. Would you include the amount of finished product each finished recipe makes? Thank you.
I’ve got an FAQ on this 🙂
Thank you so much for all the awesome recipes! 🙂 I’d like to make this one, but I don’t have, nor can’t find, any hydrolyzed protein. Do you think I can omit it? Or replace it with something else? Thank you!
You could omit it and replace it with more water, or perhaps another humectant like sodium lactate if you have one 🙂
hi i cant use liquid germall in uk please what shall i use and what quantity. thanks
Marie has many various shops listed on this page, each preservative has a different recommended amount so it is just doing the math and you’re set to go! Happy making!