First try at a thick emulsified cream – Free recipe & tutorial

I am a newbie lotion formulator on a quest to replace all the expensive and unhealthy lotions in my home.   There are several brands that I use regularly that I would really love to replace.

One of the brands I use is  Cetaphil (the kind that comes in a jar, not the pump bottle).   It’s a very thick, white, unscented cream that I spread all over my hands, arms, and back every night before I go to bed.  Unfortunately, I like to slather it on, and it costs about $15 a jar, even at Costco.  (Costco does give you a 20 oz. jar and an 8.8 oz. jar for this price).   

Given my recent success at formulating a beautiful hand lotion, I thought “Why not give a thick cream a try?”.  So tonight I got bored and did just that.  I didn’t try to decode what was in Cetaphil.  My goal was just to create a thick, nourishing, unscented and non-greasy cream.

Here is the recipe I used and the instructions in case you want to give it a try too.   I will follow-up with another post in about a week to update about how well it is working out.

Update 12 Dec 16 – The cream is still very stable and creamy, but I can smell the stearic acid so I don’t care for it.  I have to try some stearic from another vendor to see if it is less waxy smelling.   Otherwise I need to find another thickener to replace it with.

I am very new at formulating, so your results may vary, especially if you substitute any ingredients.  I am open to suggestions and would love to hear any comments from any more experienced lotion makers on how to improve this

Oats & Meadowfoam Cream


Ingredients:  (makes about 8 ounces of cream).

Water Phase:

  • Distilled Water – 4.7 ounces
  • Sodium Lactate – 0.1 oz
  • Vegetable Glycerin – 0.2 oz
  • Oat Extract – 0.1 oz

Oils Phase:

  • Sweet Almond Oil – 0.6 oz
  • Meadowfoam Oil – 0.3 oz
  • Apricot Kernel Oil – 0.3 oz
  • Mango Butter – 0.8 oz
  • Natures Garden Silky Emulsifying Wax – 0.5 oz
  • Stearic Acid – 0.2 oz.

Cool Down Phase:

  • Preservative (I used Optiphen) – 0.1 oz.


Step One:

Sanitize all containers and equipment by rinsing it in a sink half-full of warm water and a couple of caps full of liquid bleach. Rinse them well, then let the containers and equipment dry.  (I did this already earlier today so they were nice and dry tonight).

Step Two:

Measure out the water phase ingredients and put them into at least a 2 cup sized measuring cup.


Step Three:

Measure out the oil phase ingredients and put them into another 2 cup sized measuring cup.

Step Four:

Place both measuring cups into a large frying or saute pan.   Add an inch or so of water at the bottom of the frying pan and heat on low heat until the temperature of the water is around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.   There should be little bubbles at the bottom of the pan, but it should not be boiling.


Step Five:

Reduce heat if necessary, but hold the temperature around 158 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.  Then turn off the heat.

Step Six:

Check that the temperature of the oils and water inside the cups are roughly the same temperature.  If not, heat further until both containers are roughly the same temperature.

Step Seven:

After removing the measuring cups from the heating pan, pour the water phase into the oil phase measuring cup.  It should immediately turn white and creamy like the picture below.  It will be very thin like milk at this point.)  Mix with a spatula for a few moments.


Step Eight:

Using very short bursts with the stick blender, stick blend for a couple of minutes.   Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes and then come back and stick blend again.  Repeat this until the mixture cools down below 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the mixture thickens a bit, you can stick blend in longer segments.  It’s just that when it is thin you want to avoid splashing it all over the place.

The mixture may get lumpy or bubbly, but that is ok.  The lumps will mix in and the bubbles will settle down later.  It will stay thin until it cools a little bit, so don’t worry if it seems like it’s too thin.


Step Nine:

When the mixture cools to at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit, add in the optiphen preservative and mix it in very well.   If the mixture was getting thick, when you add the Optiphen (or other preservative) it may thin out a bit.   See before adding and after adding photos below:

After it is stirred in, wait another 5 to 10 minutes and stir again.  Keep letting it thicken for 5 minutes and then stirring until it gets thick like cream.  It should not take very long.  Maybe 10 to 15 minutes.

Step Ten:

Spoon the cream into your container and let it cool overnight with the cap off to prevent water condensation inside the container.

Here it is all finished (but it hasn’t cooled overnight yet  (I expect it will get thicker  as it cools).

I tried it out already, of course, and it certainly is non-greasy.  It felt a little waxy at first but within 30 seconds it had sunk in and disappeared. My hands felt moisturized.  Now 1/2 hour later they still feel moisturized but there is no trace of oil or wax.  They are dry, but feel conditoned.

I have to say though that I am not loving the scent of the stearic acid.   It does go away after a few minutes, but it smells waxy for about 5 minutes after you apply the lotion.  I bought it at Brambleberry.  Maybe there is other Stearic Acid out there that is scentless. (I don’t know).    I think I might try another co-emulsifier. I am considering Cetyl Alcohol for my next try.  You could certainly add essential oils or fragrance oils to this and it would resolve the issue, but I rather wanted an unscented cream.

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s