How to Make a Moisturizing Lotion with Only 3 Ingredients

Ever wondered which ingredient makes up the largest percentage in lotions? Water! If you look at the ingredients list on product labels, you will notice that water is almost always listed first, meaning it is the most predominant ingredient in the product. And, it is also ‘free’ and readily available. So what all are you paying for?

For less than a dollar and using common kitchen equipment, I want to show you how you can make a 12 oz batch of moisturizing lotion. That’s even cheaper than your Wal-mart petroleum-based generic brand. Best of all, it is easy and fun!

Skin care lotion is nothing more than an emulsion of oil and water. As an introduction to this wonderful and useful craft, let’s make a simple lotion with just olive oil, water, and emulsifying wax. Here’s what you need to make approximately a 12 fl oz batch:

    Tools

  • 1-cup glass measuring cup
  • 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • saucepan just large enough to fit the 1-cup measurer
    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup emulsifying wax, available at some craft stores or online.

    Directions

  • Fill a small saucepan with water and set it on medium low to use as a water bath.
  • Combine the oil and e. wax into the heatproof 1-cup measurer and melt the mixture in the water bath.
  • Fill the 2-cup measurer with water and heat it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or until it boils. Alternatively, boil water on the stove and pour it into the measurer.
  • When the oil/wax mixture has melted, pour it into the water. Your lotion should now have the consistency of skim milk.
  • Let it cool slightly, stir with a spoon or chopstick and pour the lotion into a bottle while it’s still warm and pourable. Otherwise, it would be hard to get the lotion into its container. If you’re using a wide mouth jar, then this is not an issue.
  • Leave the cap off to let it cool completely, but occasionally cap the lotion and give it a quick shake to help blend the mixture.

That’s IT!!!

As is, this plain, scent-free lotion is great for babies and people with sensitive skin. But this recipe is very forgiving and you can easily vary it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the water with glycerin to make a hydrating lotion.
  • Substitute or combine the olive oil with other oils such as almond oil or coconut oil
  • Add essential oils. Use 1 – 2 drops per fl oz of lotion


Previously, I had recommended 3 months shelf life based on my own personal experience over the last several years. Noting the many factors that can affect shelf life and that I cannot guarantee the ingredients you use and the cleanliness of your equipment, I am no longer recommending a shelf life. Instead, I will only present what I do to get my lotions to last three months. Your results will vary. Click here for up to date shelf life information and click here for more in depth discussion.

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146 Comments

  1. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    @Kristen – Vaseline and mineral oil are non-comedogenic. I believe most all other oils have some degree of comedogenicity. Comedogenicity ratings are only a guideline; Google search and you’ll find differing results. Best thing is to use and test on yourself, IMO.

  2. rapidshare
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you! I just bought a digital scale yesterday, so I’m excited about trying it out. The coconut oil recipe looks good – is that appropriate for use on the face or would it be too comodegenic? Thank you again!

  3. hello
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    hello,I’m asking some question,.what is emulsifying wax

  4. rapidshare downloads
    Posted July 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    its a nice blog and very informative

  5. kyle and joiven
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    very nice we made one of it and it’s effective

  6. CB
    Posted August 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Hello!

    I have extremely dry/sensitive skin. About 3 weeks ago I used the highly-recommend Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. Unfortunately, however, it resulted in Contact Dermatitis that resembles a mild chemical-burn (that still hasn’t completely faded away). Needless to say, after that, I finally just threw my hands in the air and thought: “To heck with it. I’m just going to start making my own all-natural, homemade skin-care products.”

    Soooo…

    Long story short, I found your website, followed your recipe to the letter, and yet it doesn’t appear to have turned out correctly. I clearly did something wrong, but I can’t figure out what. I poured it into a clear, plastic squeeze-bottle where I can see that the ingredients separated somehow. A portion of it fully thickened into a lotion-like paste/cream, but then the other half is just water. Do you have any idea what I did wrong and why a lot of the water separated at the bottom? I used EVOO, e.wax and distilled water.

    Thank you, in advance, for your time and help!

  7. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted August 20, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    @CB – not all e. wax are created the same and I haven’t used EVOO. However, it seems that the lotion cooled before it completely emulsified. To fix, take the cap off and slowly heat the lotion in the microwave. Cap and shake vigorously. If it looks lumpy, microwave again to get it hotter. Cap and shake again. Once it’s emulsified, occasionally shake until it has completely cooled. Other option is to pour the warmed lotion into a glass measuring cup set in a cool/ice water bath (make sure temp change isn’t so drastic as to shatter the glass). Use a stick blender to mix until the mixture has completely cooled.

  8. cs
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    I have a few questions. If I was to get more complex with the oil part by adding 6 different oils plus shea butter to replace the olive oil, how would I know how much of what oil to use? Does it matter? Also if I was to use a preservative such as liquid germall plus…do I add it to the oil and e wax part or to the boiled water part? last, i’m planning on using aloe extract. again should that be with the oil and wax part or the water part? thanks so much for your time!
    -cs

  9. Jem
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    i put in water olive oil and guava i kinda substituted guava for gel i made it into paste and added it it works fine and i always smell like guava

  10. Mikey Moo
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve tried the moisturizer recipe as described using beeswax, olive oil and water but the beeswax always separates from the mixture as it cools leaving a hard crust and water underneath. Any tips on how to blend it so it stays lotion like?
    Regards.

  11. Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    mix some quinine bark in it…now its anti bacterial and microbial

  12. mark rollen
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    this is really great and easy to make because of only three ingredients.wow!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Richard
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    wow this is great!!! this recipe helped our science project!!!! without this it would have been a disaster… THANK YOU!!!!!!

  14. Cynthia
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Great recipe.

    I used distilled water and substituted half of the water with oatmeal water:

    (1/4 cup steel-cut oats ground in a food processor with 2 cups water for 5 minutes then heated in a pot till steaming then covered for 5 minutes then strained with cheese cloth – behold oatmeal water).

    For those concerned about spoilage, I put in 5 drops of pure vitamin E as well as a tablespoon of honey which are both natural preservatives.

    I also used a combination of Olive oil, melted cocoa butter and melted mango butter!

    Great product for my 5-year-old with horrible eczema.

  15. Kimberly
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    wow! thanks, this totally helped me in my science investigatory project :) thank you so much :)

  16. Richard
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    hey kimberly we have the same project!!!!! S.I.P.!!! science investigatory project!!!

  17. Maryline
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I used soy wax (chips) and it worked. The lotion was very thin and maybe I need to use more wax next time. I had to shake the mixture often but it worked. I will also be doing this as an investigation/fun project with my students.

  18. i_am_beth
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Just made my first batch and I LOVE it! I’m now free of expensive, fragranced, preservative and chemical-filled lotions! Yea! Now just to see if it absorbs well.

  19. xx
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    is this lotion greasy?

  20. Steve
    Posted May 22, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Cynthia’s comment on using honey as a preservative is interesting, tkis would be well worth following up.

  21. Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for providing clear, simple directions. I’m planning to put essential oils like frankincense & lavender in mine. I would not use urea – the MSDS indicates this substance can be toxic to humans over time even though it is commonly used in chemical filled lotions & cosmetics. Urea is not an ingredient you’d want to use in your own pure lotion!

  22. kris
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    can I use honey or milk instead of e.wax? do you think i can make a lotion out of it?

  23. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted July 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    @Kris, no, it will not emulsify

  24. Gina
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    how to make home made moisturiser cream at home thank.

  25. Shawny
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    @Kris: I use lecithin granules. I wanted to use all edible ingredients (although I don’t plan to eat my lotion…LOL). I bought my lecithin at vitamin shoppe.

  26. BeckyW
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Shawny…do you use the lecithin in the same quanity as the Emulsifying wax?

  27. charlemagne
    Posted August 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    thanks so much! now ican make all my experiment

  28. Jen
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    This is a silly question but I’m asking because I don’t know:

    Can I use vanilla, almond, or rose water flavoring for scent… or will that mess it up.
    The ingredients of the rose water almond food flavouring are: water, artificial amond, artificial rose flavor and methyl paraben as a preservative.

    Its just that I have it in the cabinet and never use it so just wondering. I appreciate your answer!

  29. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted August 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    @Jen,
    Why not? Give it a try!

  30. Shayna
    Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Ok I just made the lotion. First time ever trying my own homemade lotion. I tweaked the ingredients to suit my needs. I used a combination of oils which consists of coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil and 3 capsules of vitamine E oil. I just mixed them approximately even to make them 1/4 cup of total oils. I used 1 cup of distilled water and 1/4 cup of glycerian. I also added some sweetpea fragrance oil for scent as I wanted a scented lotion. I added the fragrance to the final mixture and stirred it well and then poured it into bottles. Because I was putting it into bottles I used a little less emulsyfying wax and just a tad bit more water. I’m just waiting for it to cool now and will report my findings when it has cooled :>) It was easy to make :>)

  31. Shayna
    Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Ok I’m back so it has cooled and the consistency is PERFECT! It’s a nice creamy thick lotion that is pourable out of a cosmetic plastic bottle. Next time I think I’ll use a little less emulsyfying wax and a tad bit more water. This lotion goes along way a little bit will do you in other words. I find it a little more greasy then I prefer but I do plan on tweaking this recipe so it’s less greasy. Any suggestions on what I could add so it’s less greasy and how much to add? Thank you it’s a great lotion!

  32. nikki
    Posted October 16, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    i have acne prone skin. do you think this stuff would be ok too put on my face?

  33. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    @nikki – don’t know, I’m not a dermatologist. Then again, our dermatologist always gives us a bunch of samples to try and see what works.

  34. heathersue
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Shayna, I’ve made this with and without the glycerin. It’s much less greasy without the glycerin.

    I absolutely LOVE this lotion! It’s better than any store bought lotion I’ve ever purchase! Thank you for this wonderful tutorial!

  35. matrose
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    what other ingredient can i substitute to the emulsifying wax? SOS

  36. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    @matrose – no direct substitute. You can make a cream with beeswax but it’s an entirely different formula.

  37. Jung
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Can i use avocado oil instead of coconut oil? Or can i combine the coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil?

  38. Danica
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this recipe. I was on a mission to have a facial moisturizer that had the same simple things in it as my facial cleanser. My facial cleanser is an olive oil and green tea cleansing bar from Kiss my Face. Because of the simplicity of the bar I wanted a simple lotion to compliment it after cleansing my face. The only thing I did differently is that I substituted the water for a strong brew of green tea. I LOVE this and I love that my dry sensitive skin drinks it up! Thank you again!

  39. Phee
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! I made this earlier and it is WONDERFUL! I used part coconut oil, part olive oil and I added a few drops of lemon oil…smells yummy and my hands feel so soft!

  40. Kirsten
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I just tried this and problems getting the oil and water to combine. It was separating. I tried using a hand blender and that only made it worse. I ended up with a waxy oily mix and white water. What did I do wrong?

  41. gloria
    Posted June 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Greetings,

    I found this recipe on youtube and tried it and failed. The lotion separated. I haven’t thrown it out because I figure it could be saved. Is there a way to fix it? I REALLY like how simple the ingredients are and would like to try again.

    Thanks.

  42. gloria
    Posted June 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks.

  43. Emma
    Posted June 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    I had the same problem as Kirsten. I now have a pile of coconut oil/beeswax balm which is lovely, but I had no emulsification happen at all!

  44. amju
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    awesome….

  45. wendy Ingram
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    how do i make apricot creme for my lotion bottle, that’s my 1 ingredient I need . where do i find this product cheap or do I by the lotion base and add apricot kernal oil. please help me.

  46. Choi Min Mi
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    well…..I’m looking for an organic one….but this one can help….I can change Ewax into a lemon and with scent….I dunno I it’ll work….kayanga IP e

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