This pillowy, silky hand lotion has earned a much-coveted spot on my bedside table. I positively adore how it makes my skin feel; it is richly moisturizing without being greasy, and has a luxurious, powdery finish. I thought a wonderful hand lotion formulation was well overdue, and this one more than fits the bill.

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My ideal hand lotion is fast-absorbing with a creamy, slippy application that feels rich rather than oily. It needs to leave my hands feeling refreshed and moisturized, but ready for action immediately. I find I am preferring hand lotions that have little to no scent these days, opting for the soft scent of an unrefined oil or extract rather than adding any essential oils or fragrance oils. This one ticks all those boxes!

The oil phase is mostly a blend of ultra-light isoamyl cocoate, rich and creamy shea butter, and silky cetyl alcohol. Isoamyl cocoate is a wonderfully light, slippy plant-derived ester. Shea butter is heavy and indulgent; the lightweight ester and large water phase let us enjoy shea-y goodness in this formulation without the lotion leaving greasy finger prints on touch screens and paper.

With just 8% primary emollients, I boosted the viscosity (and emollience) of the emulsion with some wonderfully slippy cetyl alcohol and a wee bit of xanthan gum. I’ve emulsified this formulation with Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse); a natural emulsifying wax that lends a uniquely lovely, powdery finish to the lotion. Even though Ritamulse SCG has more restrictions than natural emulsifiers like Olivem1000 and Montanov 68 (phase size, charge, pH—read the encyclopedia entry for details 🙂), I tend to prefer it to Olivem1000 and Montanov 68 for its luxurious finish and low-soaping application.

The oat-y parts of this formulation come from 2% soothing, moisturizing colloidal oatmeal in the heated oil phase and 2% oil-soluble oat extract in the cool down phase. The cool down phase also includes 2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein; hydrolyzed oat protein would’ve been a lovely option as well, but I don’t have any right now. The colloidal oatmeal is where the scent of this lotion comes from, though the scent is so mild as to be nearly non-existent. The finished lotion is is ever-so-slightly oaty if you sniff deeply, but has no noticeable scent if you aren’t looking for it.

I packaged this hand lotion in a soft squeeze tube for neat and precise on-the-go application, though this lotion hasn’t gone much further than my bedside table (yet!). I used a syringe to do this, and was reminded that the rubber gasket on a syringe’s plunger is the first thing to break down. Mine had swollen and misshapen after years of use and washing and had gotten to be just a wee bit too big to wrestle into the syringe. If you’ve been feeling like you are fighting with your syringes more than you used to, this could be why! I replaced the plunger on mine and was rewarded with a far less frustrating tube-filling experience.

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Relevant links & further reading

Soft Oat Hand Lotion

Heated water phase
68.4g | 68.4% distilled water
8g | 8% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
1g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)

Heated oil phase
3.5g | 3.5% Ritamulse SCG (USA / Canada / UK / AU)
4g | 4% isoamyl cocoate (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% colloidal oatmeal (USA / Canada)
0.1g | 0.1% xanthan gum (soft) (USA)

Cool down phase
1.5g | 1.5% Optiphen™ Plus (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.3% allantoin (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% hydrolyzed quinoa protein (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% oat extract (oil soluble)
0.2g | 0.2% Vitamin E MT-50 (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 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 before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.

Now 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. The pH should fall between 5.5–6. If it’s higher than 6 or lower than 4.5 you’ll want to adjust it. 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) frosted soft squeeze tube from Yellow Bee (gifted), filling it with a syringe. Watch the video to see how I did it 🙂

Use as you’d use any hand lotion. Enjoy!

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.

Substitutions

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 formulation 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 please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
  • You could use Propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
  • You can replace Panthenol (Vitamin B5) with more glycerin, propanediol 1,3, or more distilled water.
  • Ritamulse SCG alternatives:
  • You can substitute another lightweight plant ester like Neossance® Hemisqualane, isoamyl laurate, or Coco-Caprylate instead of isoamyl cocoate. You could also use a lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed.
  • You could use a different soft butter instead of shea butter.
  • You can use Cetearyl Alcohol instead of Cetyl Alcohol, though this will make for a “fluffier” finished formulation.
  • If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal I’d just replace it with more distilled water.
  • You can use a different gum instead of soft xanthan gum, including regular xanthan gum.
  • If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
  • You could replace the allantoin with more Panthenol (Vitamin B5) or colloidal oatmeal.
  • If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
  • You can replace hydrolyzed silk with a different hydrolyzed protein (oat, rice, baobab) instead of hydrolyzed quinoa protein.
  • You can use a different botanical extract if you don’t have oil-soluble oat extract; the extract you use can be oil or water soluble.

Gifting Disclosure

The glycerin, panthenol, and soft squeeze tube were gifted by YellowBee.
The shea butter was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.
The soft xanthan gum was gifted by Formulator Sample Shop.
The hydrolyzed quinoa protein was gifted by Voyageur Soap & Candle.
The oat extract was gifted by Bramble Berry.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.