Today we’re whipping up a softly scented Sweetgrass Hand Lotion as a continuation of our sweetgrass series. In keeping with the theme, this creamy lotion is entirely scented by stunning sweetgrass hydrosol, which reminds me of sunshine on dry prairie grass and honey, with notes of cinnamon and apples. This sweet, warm aroma lingers briefly before fading, making this Sweetgrass Hand Lotion a great choice for low-scent environments like offices, as well as those who prefer gently scented products. It’s also lightweight and fast-absorbing, with some great skin goodies focussed on hydrating and moisturizing the skin, and I think you’re going to love it!
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Our oil phase is pretty small at 16%, making for a lightweight lotion that absorbs into the skin quickly. I chose a blend of jojoba and apricot kernel oils as the primary oils, but you could easily swap those out with some different light-to-midweight liquid oils that your skin loves. A touch of cetyl alcohol gives this lotion a bit of extra body and contributes to its silky glide and lightly powdery finish.
I’ve included quite a lot of beautiful sweetgrass hydrosol in our water phase to ensure we get a noticeable sweetgrass note. Rounding out our water phase is some soothing panthenol, moisturizing honey, and propanediol—an excellent humectant. These ingredients come together to create a wonderfully hydrating water phase.
I opted to do something a bit fun with the cool-down phase and included a touch of polyquaternium 7. I’m completely in love with how this water-soluble cationic co-polymer makes my skin feel, and I wanted to try it in a lotion. I love the soft, slightly powdery, conditioned feel it brings to this hand lotion! Swoon. If you don’t have it, I’ve listed some alternatives and suggestions at the end of the formula.
Another fun inclusion in our cool-down phase is some hydrolyzed rice protein. This water-soluble protein is derived from rice bran and is a great moisturizer and film former for sensitive skin. If you’re looking for a more readily available alternative, hydrolyzed silk and hydrolyzed oat protein are both good alternatives. A fun note—between the polyquaternium 7 and the hydrolyzed rice protein, this lotion could also be a pretty decent hair conditioner! The oil phase is a little larger than I’d typically choose for my hair, and I’d usually go for a bit more conditioning goodness, but if your hair likes more oils and just a touch of conditioning, maybe give it a try 🙂
The finished lotion is softly scented and wonderfully smooth, leaving your skin all kinds of touchable with a beautiful almost-powdery finish. I hope you enjoy this simple, stunning Sweetgrass Hand Lotion as much as I do!
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Sweetgrass Hand Lotion
Heated water phase
22.92g | 22.92% distilled water
50g | 50% sweetgrass hydrosol
2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% raw honey
3g | 3% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
Heated oil phase
4g | 4% Polawax (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% apricot kernel oil (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
0.5g | 0.5% Polyquaternium 7 (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% hydrolyzed rice protein (USA / Canada)
0.08g | 0.08% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.5% Liquid Germall 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.
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.
Now it’s time to package it up! I used a 100mL (3.3fl oz) frosted squeeze tube from Les Âmes Fleurs (YellowBee has them, too!), filling it with a large syringe, but it would also work really well in a pump 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.
- 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 I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use a different hydrosol or more distilled water; this will obviously impact the scent of the final product.
- You could use vegetable glycerine in place of the panthenol and/or honey.
- You could also use vegetable glycerine instead of the propanediol 1,3, though I’d recommend keeping the glycerin around 5% total. Sodium lactate would also be a good alternative.
- Emulsifying wax NF will work instead of Polawax. Olivem 1000 and BTMS-50 should also work, though please read the relevant encyclopedia entries to learn more. Use caution if Ritamulse SCG as it is anionic and this lotion contains cationic ingredients; Polyquaternium 7 is advertised as having “very good compatibility with many anionic surfactants”, so it may work, but I haven’t tried it myself.
- You could use a different lightweight liquid oil your skin loves in place of the ones I’ve used.
- Cetearyl alcohol should work well instead of cetyl alcohol.
- You can try replacing polyquaternium 7 with honeyquat, though I find honeyquat has a much worse (fishy) smell.
- You could also eliminate the polyquaternium 7 if you use BTMS-50 as your emulsifying wax, replacing the polyquaternium 7 with more water.
- You can use a different hydrolyzed protein.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The sweetgrass hydrosol was gifted by Plant’s Power.
Hi Marie, have you used that much of hydorols (50%) many times before and have you got any problems with preserving the products? I’ve used 25-30% of hydrosols in products hoping to get the scent but it usually doesn’t work. I’m just afraid using a high percentage of hydrosol will create difficulties with preservation as I’ve already had a few turning bad.
Look forward to your reply,
I haven’t had any issues with it at this point, including some products that are upwards of a year old. I’ve definitely put LGP through tougher challenges (oat milk!) and it has managed just fine. I’m not sure how it would do with a more natural preservative, though. I hope that helps!
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I have a question. I recently made several batches of the lotion, putting them in pump bottles. One batch quickly grew mold!! I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out why. They were all the same except the fragrance. Is it possible that it could be due to putting on the lid when there was condensation present? I had used organic coconut oil in the moldy batch, but oil doesn’t grow mold?? any thoughts? thank you
Hey! What are you using for a preservative?
Do you have a class or a youtube video how measure your Preservative?
I believe the vast majority of my videos show me weighing out the preservative 🙂 Is that what you mean?
Love love love it! I used orange blossom hydrosol. I included some castor oil, grapefruit EO and HMW HA. This is stunning, fast absorbing and elegant lotion. It has beautiful powdery finish. I made this for us both. Thank you so much for developing and sharing this.