More behind the scenes at Amani: Lotion making Part I May 09, 2017 13:24

Lotion making feels like a mix of chemistry with a bit of magic. Shout out to Dr. Collins, my college professor and advisor for instilling in me a love for all things chemistry. 

Lotion is comprised of four general ingredients: water, oil, an emulsifier, and a preservative. Before we go any further, let me just state for the record that a preservative is an absolute necessity for a traditional lotion. Here's why: bacteria love water. Every lotion without a preservative will eventually grow bacteria, mold and all sorts of nasty things. And, just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. Some people get around this by making a "lotion bar", which is a solid moisturizer without any water. I don't like them because they tend to be heavy and greasy. Other folks (most famously the cosmetic giant Lush) make a preservative-free lotion BUT (and this is a big but) it MUST be refrigerated at all times AND it has a very short shelf life. 

Back to the tutorial. Lotion is made with water, oil, an emulsifier and a preservative. I have formulated a combination of oils and butters that together make a nice lotion. Mango butter is both moisturizing and occluding (keeps water from evaporating) and has great polyphenols (but I'll spare y'all all that)! Apricot kernel oil is light and well absorbed by the skin. It has softening, regenerating and moisturizing properties. Rice bran oil is a medium weight oil with lots of Vitamin E. It also penetrates well to moisturize and soften skin. The combination of both light and medium weight oils means that it will absorb quickly and also have a "staying power" over time.

The water component of a lotion actually contains more than water! Who knew? It also includes glycerin and sodium lactate. Both of these ingredients are great humectants, which means they draw in water from the atmosphere. The glycerin I use is derived from soy. Sodium lactate is a salt dissolved in water; it comes from the fermentation of corn and beets.

The emulsifier makes it so that the oil droplets become suspended in water. The emulsifying wax I use is made from Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, two chemicals which are derived from coconut oil. I also use cetyl alcohol which helps to emulsify and thicken the lotion.

Like I said, I do use a preservative. I have chosen Liquid Germall Plus, which is effective, reliable and heat-stable. There are other preservatives on the market, however, many of them can cause your lotion to separate so they aren't ideal. My personal feeling is that the risk from a contaminated lotion is more than from one that is under or un-preserved.

The only other product that would need a preservative is a sugar scrub, which I don't currently sell. These need a preservative because they get water introduced when used (wet hands + scrub). Soap (liquid or bar) does not need a preservative because the ph is high enough and lip balm is made without water.

Next up....some visuals that walk you through the lotion making process.