Analytical Recipe – A Possible Dupe for Cetaphil Lotion

While Cetaphil is not the most luxurious lotion in the world, nor the most costly, it is something I have gone through a lot of at my house.  I have used much less since I started making my own lotions, but I still use it from time-to-time when I want an unscented moisturizer.

I don’t spend nearly as much money on it as I used to, but I wanted to try to duplicate the recipe just the same.  It’s fun, educational, and rewarding to do!

When duplicating a product, the first step is to get a list of the ingredients. I found this list of ingredients for Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion at Makeup Alley:

Aqua (water), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Persea Grattisma (Avocado) Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Crosspolymer, Benzyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Citric Acid, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopherol Acetate.


The next step is to chart these ingredients out and figure out what each contributes, and approximately how much of each was used.  I also determined which phase each one goes into, and which ingredients I have on-hand that I will use in place of some of them.

Order Ingredient Purpose Phase Amount My Ingredients
1 Water Water Water 79.5% Water
2 Glycerin Humectant Water 3.0% Glycerin
3 Hydrogenated Polyisobutene Oil Oils 3.0% Macadamia Nut Oil
4 Cetearyl Alcohol Thickener Oils 3.0% Cetearyl Alcohol
5 Avocado Oil Oil Oils 3.0% Avocado Oil
6 Acrylates / C1-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer Emulsifier Oils 3.0% Polawax
7 Benzyl Alcohol Preservative Cool Down 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus
8 Caprylyl Glycol Preservative Cool Down 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus
9 Ceteareth-20 Thickener Oils 0.5% Cetearyl Alcohol
10 Citric Acid PH adjuster Water 0.5% Citric Acid
11 Dimethicone Siicone Cool Down 0.5% Dimethicone
12 Panthenol Conditioner Water 0.5% Panthenol
13 Sodium Anisate Preservative Cool Down 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus
14 Sodium Levulinate Preservative Cool Down 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus
15 Stearoxytrimethylsilane Siicone Cool Down 0.5% Cyclomethicone
16 Stearyl Alchol Thickener Oils 0.5% Behenyl Alcohol
17 Tocopheryl Acetate Antioxidant Cool Down 0.5% Vitamin E


Step Three is to use this list and write a recipe.  At the same time, I also added some columns to figure out the cost per ounce and total cost of each ingredient – this is because I wanted to see if I saved any money making this versus buying Cetaphil.


Recipe: Possible Dupe of Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

Cost per oz
Water Phase
Distilled Water 79.0% 198 6.97 $0.01 $0.05
Vegetable Glycerin 2.0% 5 0.18 $0.39 $0.07
DL-Panthenol (Powder) 1.0% 3 0.09 $1.06 $0.09
Citric Acid 1.0% 3 0.09 $0.20 $0.02
Oils Phase
Macadamia Nut Oil 3.0% 8 0.26 $0.50 $0.13
Avocado Oil 3.0% 8 0.26 $0.37 $0.10
Cetearyl Alcohol 3.0% 8 0.26 $0.37 $0.10
Behenyl Alcohol 2.0% 5 0.18 $0.70 $0.12
Polawax 3.4% 8 0.30 $1.25 $0.37
Cool Down Phase
Preservative: Liquid Germall Plus 0.5% 1 0.04 $1.15 $0.05
DM350 Dimethicone 1.0% 3 0.09 $0.47 $0.04
Cyclomethicone 1.0% 3 0.09 $0.45 $0.04
Vitamin E (T-50 Tocopherols) 0.5% 1 0.04 $5.90 $0.26



I made this lotion last night.   I made it just like any other lotion: (Measure, Heat, Combine, Blend, Cool).  Then I let it cool off overnight.

If you want the full list of instructions on how to make lotion, see this post.



So what’s the cost analysis?  Well, I definitely saved money!  When I divide and multiply to get everything equivalent in terms of ounces / cost – it comes out that my dupe costs $2.61 for 16 ounces, while Cetaphil costs $9.59 for 16 ounces.  Thats about a third of the cost!

Product Cost Oz Cost Per oz Cost for 16 oz
Cetaphil (at Target) $9.59 16 $0.60 $9.59
My Dupe $1.45 8.9 $0.16 $2.61


Does it work as good as Cetaphil?  I won’t know until I go through a bottle of it, but so far it smells and feels similar. It should work well, as it contains many of the same ingredients (or similar ingredients).

I compared them side by side on my skin and I couldn’t tell you much difference at all.   It does seem like my dupe soaks in a little bit faster, and I am not getting any “soaping effect” that I sometimes get from using Cetaphil.  (The “soaping effect” is when a lotion turns white when you try to rub it into your skin, and then it takes a long time to sink in).


I hope you enjoyed this little analytical recipe.   You could, of course, modify it and add fragrance, but I left it fragrance free because sometimes I don’t want a scent.

9 thoughts on “Analytical Recipe – A Possible Dupe for Cetaphil Lotion

  1. I found this so interesting, thank you! Why do you think the commercial brand uses four different preservatives, that you can replace with just one? And how do you determine what percentage of each ingredient goes into the commercial recipe?


    1. Hi and thanks. I think many preservatives are a mix of chemicals. They have to post the INCI name in the ingredients list, but in a recipe, you don’t have to, so I can see how that would be confusing. For example, Liquid Germall Plus has an INCI name of: Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate. They also might not be using a complete preservative and have to add another preservative to pick up the slack (like maybe a fungicide).

      In order to determine the percentages, you have to look for things in the list that are typically used at or around about 1% or less. Then everything in the list that occurs before that item has more, and everything below it has less. Some things like water, we know use anywhere from 60 to 85% typically. Some things like fragrances, preservatives, etc.. are used at low percentages. Things like vegetable glycerine can get sticky if you use more than about 3%. So you just have to understand the typical usage of the ingredients and you can figure it out. The sites that sell lotion making things usually tell you the typical usage, so that can be handy for finding out if you don’t know for a particular ingredient.

      Liked by 1 person

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