What’s In a Lotion?

Ever wondered which ingredient makes up the largest percentage in skin and hair care products? Water! If you look at the ingredients list, you will notice that water is almost always listed first, meaning it is the most predominant ingredient in the product.

Creams are thicker than lotions but otherwise, they are basically the same. All creams and lotions are made up of 3 main parts:

  • water base. Besides water, the water base can also include rose water, aloe vera, glycerin, hydrosols, infusions, tinctures, alcohol.
  • oil base. One of my favorite book, “Better Basics for the Home” by Annie Berthold-Bond suggests that 1/3 to 1/2 of the oil should be saturated fat (solid at room temperature). I am not sure why, except maybe it binds better depending on the type of emulsifier used. I have seen many recipes online use a mixture, but in my experience, I have not noticed any difference in the lotion. Use whatever oil suits you.
  • emulsifier. Emulsifiers bind the water and oil bases together. Depending on the type of emulsifier, creams and lotions are either protective or moisturizing. Protective creams/lotions lock moisture in the skin and prevent additional moisture from penetrating. Diaper creams and night creams are examples of protective creams. They do not allow the skin to breathe and should not be used consistently, only at night, for example. Moisturizing creams/lotions draw moisture into the skin while allowing the skin to breathe. They can be applied as often as needed. In my recipes, the emulsifying agents for protective creams is beeswax combined with either soy lecithin, borax, or both. For moisturizers, I use emulsifying wax.

All other additives such as essential oils and preservatives are optional.