Today we’re continuing our soothing series with this beautiful Soothing Facial Lotion. It’s a fairly lightweight facial lotion, positively packed with potent moisturizers, skin-soothing actives, and ingredients that help strengthen barrier function so your skin can be on its best behaviour while we wait for warmer days.
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Our water phase is boasting all kinds of things that are amazing for your skin. Aloe vera juice soothes, hyaluronic acid hydrates like a champ, chamomile hydrosol calms, and cucumber distillate refreshes. Panthenol (vitamin B5) is both soothing and moisturizing, and sodium lactate and propanediol are both kick-butt humectants.
The oil phase is fairly small, at 16%. This means the lotion is quite light, and absorbs into the skin quickly. It isn’t thin, though—between some thickening cetyl alcohol and the hyaluronic acid gel this lotion has a good amount of body to it. I chose argan oil and evening primrose oil for the bulk of the oil phase. Argan oil is a long-standing face favourite for me as my skin positively loves it! Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and has been used in Morocco for hair and skin care for centuries.
Evening primrose oil is relatively unique among carrier oils for its high linoleic and gamma linoleic acid content. Acne-prone skin has been found to be deficient/low in linoleic acid, and studies have shown that adding more of it to your skin care routine can decrease acne and boost healing (another source, and another). Gamma linoleic acid “has been shown to be one of the most effective agents for the treatment of skin disorders and for the maintenance of healthy skin… based on the strong research showing that it is of benefit in the treatment of various skin conditions, including dry skin, eczema, inflammation, wounds, and dermatitis” (Source). So, basically, all kinds of good things. Evening primrose oil does have two downsides, though—it’s pretty heavy, and smells sort of… fishy. This makes it a great in emulsions, as you get all the benefits in a lightweight, fast-absorbing package.
We’ve also got some totally amaze-balls urea in here, and if you aren’t in love with urea yet, prepare to swoon. Hard. I highly recommend checking out this post from Simple Skincare Science, which is basically a reference-heavy love letter to urea. The tl;dr is basically that urea is an incredible moisturizing, soothing ingredient and you should definitely include it in your skin care routine. I have found, though, that urea makes lotions “soap” a bit more than usual, so you may experience some temporary whitening on rub-in (I’ve found this varies with what you’re applying it on top of, and how much you use). If you really don’t like it you could try trading 1–2% of one of the carrier oils for some dimethicone, which should reduce the soaping effect.
The finished lotion is lovely—gently scented and packed with stuff that is great for our skin. I’ve been using it as the last step of my skin care routine (which also includes my Soothing Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum!) and my skin loves it.
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Soothing Facial Lotion
Heated water phase
23g | 23% aloe vera juice
20g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
20g | 20% chamomile hydrosol
7g | 7% cucumber hydrosol
2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
3g | 3% sodium lactate
2g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (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.
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. 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.
That’s it! Transfer the lotion to a 120ml/4oz squeeze bottle or 120mL/4oz plastic pump-top bottle (I found this formula was too thick for use with a treatment-pump top). To use, smooth a pea-ish-sized amount across the skin towards the end of your skin care routine.
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 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.
- The theme of this formula is soothing and hydrating; keep that in mind when choosing alternative ingredients.
- You can try different hydrosol(s) in place of the aloe vera juice, chamomile hydrosol, and/or cucumber distillate. Try to choose things that will smell nice together!
- I really, really don’t recommend dropping the hyaluronic acid.
- Panthenol, urea, and allantoin are all included for their skin-soothing properties. Read the encyclopedia posts for each (linked in the previous sentence) for substitution ideas.
- You could use a different soothing/calming botanical extract in place of the calendula extract.
- Both sodium lactate and propanediol are humectants. Ideas for alternatives include vegetable glycerin, sodium PCA and propylene glycol.
- You can use a different complete emulsifying wax, like Emulsifying Wax NF or Olivem 1000, instead of Polawax.
- You can use different oils your face loves in place of argan and/or evening primrose
- You could use cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol, though this will make for a slightly fluffier/thicker end product.