Analytical Recipe – Possible dupe of Ellis Brooklyn – Verb – Excellent Body Milk

It has been quite a while since I did a post with an analytical recipe, so today, I have a new one to share with you.

While shopping for beauty products recently, I came across one that looked “duplicatable”.   When looking for a lotion that is “duplicatable”, I look at the ingredients list and see what I have in my stock, or could potentially purchase, to make the recipe.   Many times, commercial brands use ingredients that are not readily available in the “home crafting” market, so you can’t really duplicate them identically.

I do admit that I am not a connoisseur of high-end beauty products, simply because I can’t afford the prices.   When I have tried some of the high-end samplers in the store, I didn’t feel like they were very much better than any hand-made or drug store products I have used.   Personally, I just can’t justify the price of the inspiration lotion, (Ellis Brooklyn – Verb – Excellent Body Milk) at $55 USD for 8 ounces.

Since I don’t actually own the inspiration product, I can’t speak to how much better (or not) it might be than this dupe.  Sometimes products can surprise you.   Chemistry, however, is exacting, and it stands to reason that if you use much the same ingredients in much the same quantity, then the product should be “much the same”.

The big difference, I find, is in the fragrance.   Many times they use proprietary fragrances, or essential oil blends, and you just can’t get the very same smell when you make your own product.   I therefore consider the fragrance to be immaterial, and easily replaceable with another fragrance of your preference (or left unscented).

That said, I did try to create a dupe of the fragrance used in this product — bergamot, mandarin, basil and cedarwood.   I experimented with a few different combinations of amounts of each of these essential oils, and I just could not get it to smell good, so I abandoned that and used Brambleberry’s “Energy” fragrance instead.  It could just be the brands of essential oils I have, or perhaps, I just don’t prefer the fragrance.  Anyhow, I didn’t like it.


First I analyzed the ingredients list of the original product:

Purified Water, Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice*, Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Octyl Palmitate, Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) Oil*, Cocoa (Theobroma Cacao) Butter, Myristyl Myristate, Potassium Stearate, Beeswax*, Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) Oil*, Panthenol, Macadamia (Macadamia Integrifolia) Oil, Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Meadowfoam (Limnanthes Alba) Oil, Camellia (Camellia Oleifera) Oil, Rosehip (Rosa Canina) Oil, Sodium Carbomer, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.



I charted these out, in the order they were listed to try to figure out how much of each was used, what phase it would go into, what was the purpose of each, and which ingredients I could use instead (for the ones I don’t have in my stock).

Typically, somewhere around the preservative, it starts to be 1% or less after that.   However in this case, I believe the 1% line to start much before the phenoxyethanol (preservative).

Since they have used so many oils, and because it is a body milk (thin lotion), this means that the oils and butters must have been used at very low percentages to make room for more water (which makes it thinner).

I believed the water phase to be about 80% to 85% since this a body milk and not a thicker lotion.  In general, the higher the water phase, the thinner the lotion.  (There are exceptions to this depending on the amount of butters, thickeners and emulsifier).

Since it has such a high water phase, then the other ingredients must be used at very low percentages (since there are so many of them.)

Next, I figured out which ingredients I had, and for the ones I didn’t have, what I could replace them with (what do they do, are there similar ingredients I could use, and etc..)

The red items below are the ones that I do not have, so I made substitutions with similar ingredients.  Luckily, they were primarily in the emulsifiers and thickeners, and that doesn’t matter too much as I used my own emulsifier (Polawax) and thickener (cetyl alcohol).  This also allowed me to omit the beeswax and sodium carbomer (which I believe were also used in the original as thickeners).

There were a couple more substitutions (because I did not have the ingredients)

  • Octyl Palmitate – a palm derived emollient that has a feel similar to silicone.   I used dimethicone in its place.
  • Myristal Myristate – a vegetable derived ester.   I used isopropyl myristate instead.  Typically this is used to make a lotion feel less greasy.
  • Phenoxyethanol – this is their preservative.  I used Liquid Germall Plus instead.
  • Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin – this is a humectant.  I decided to omit it, but I could have replaced it with another humectant such as Honeyquat or Sodium Lactate.


None of these ingredients that I have substituted  are terribly important to the function of the lotion, and those I have replaced, are replaced with very similar ingredients.

Original Ingredient
Estimated %
My Ingredient
1 Purified Water Water Moisture 72.00% Distilled Water
2 Aloe Vera Leaf Juice Water Moisture 10.00% Aloe Vera Liquid
3 Sunflower Oil Oil Emollient 2.00% Sunflower Oil (High Oleic)
4 Glyceryl Stearate Oil Emulsifier / Thickener 2.00% Polawax
5 Glycerin Water Humectant 1.00% Glycerin
6 Octyl Palmitate Emollient Emollient 1.00% DM350 Dimethicone
7 Coconut Oil Oil Emollient 1.00% Coconut Oil (Virgin)
8 Cocoa Butter Oil Emollient 1.00% Deodorized Cocoa Butter
9 Myristal Myristate Oil Emollient 1.00% Isopropyl Myristate
10 Potassium Stearate Oil Emulsifier / Thickener 1.00% Polawax
11 Beeswax Oil Thickener 1.00% Cetyl Alcohol
12 Jojoba Oil Oil Emollient 1.00% Jojoba Oil (golden)
13 Panthenol Water Emollient 1.00% DL Panthenol
14 Macadamia Nut Oil Oil Emollient 1.00% Macadamia Nut Oil
15 Shea Butter Oil Emollient 0.50% Shea Butter (refined)
16 Meadowfoam Oil Oil Emollient 0.50% Meadowfoam Oil
17 Camellia Seed Oil Oil Emollient 0.50% Camellia Seed Oil
18 Rosehip Oil Oil Emollient 0.50% Rosehip Oil
19 Sodium Carbomer Oil Thickener 0.50% Omit
20 Fragrance Cool Down Scent 0.50% Essential Oil Blend
21 Phenoxyethanol Cool Down Preservative 0.50% Liquid Germall Plus
22 Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin Water Humectant 0.50% Omit

The one thing I noticed was that there are an awful lot of emollients in this lotion.  Usually there are not this many oils and butters included.   Each one is used in such a small percentage, that if you were hoping to get any purported benefit from any of them, such as rosehip oil, you probably won’t.  There isn’t enough of it in there to make that big of a difference.

Still, it did produce a fairly balanced fatty acid profile – (below is the total of all the oils added together).  It’s a little high in oleic, but has the others pretty well covered too.

48 19 58 84 0 287 69 32
Moisture Retention
Repairing, Moisturizing, Occlusive
Anti-inflammatory, skin barrier function
Skin barrier funtion, skin tone



So now that I had a rough guideline for how much of each ingredient to use, I formulated a recipe.

To make sure the recipe balanced (came to a total of 100%), since I removed a few ingredients, I adjusted a few percentages slightly, but stuck very close to the estimates above.

I chose to use Polawax as my emulsifier because it is reliable and forms a strong emulsion.  Since this was going to be using a high percentage in the water phase, I wanted something to keep it emulsified.

  • You could use Emulsifying Wax NF (3.9% / 20 grams) if you wanted,
  • or even BTMS-50 (2.8% / 14 grams).

I also chose to use cetyl alcohol as the thickener because I personally like it, but you could use cetearyl alcohol or stearic acid, or behenyl alcohol in equal amounts as the cetyl alcohol if you like those better.


The Formula / Recipe:

*Note:  I included the “best smelling” essential oil fragrance dupe that I could get in the recipe below.  I ended up not using that.  I didn’t like it very much.   I replaced all those listed below as “essential oil” with  Brambleberry’s “Energy” fragrance instead (just omit the essential oils and add 4 milliliters of your favorite fragrance oil instead).

Ingredient % Grams Comment

Water Phase




Distilled Water 72.0% 355
Aloe Vera Liquid 10.0% 50
DL-Panthenol (Powder) 1.0% 5
Vegetable Glycerin 2.0% 10

Oil Phase




Sunflower Oil (high oleic) 1.5% 8
Coconut Oil (Virgin) 1.5% 8
Cocoa Butter 1.0% 5
Isopropyl Myristate 1.0% 5 replace myristyl myristate
Jojoba Oil 1.0% 5
Shea Butter 0.5% 3
Meadowfoam Seed Oil 0.5% 3
Camellia Seed Oil 0.5% 3
Rose Hip Oil 0.5% 3
Macadamia Nut Oil 1.0% 5 Replace thickeners
Cetyl Alcohol 1.0% 5 Replace thickeners
Polawax 2.9% 15 Replace emulsifiers

Cool Down Phase



Liquid Germall Plus 0.5% 3
DM350 Dimethicone 1.0% 5 Octyl Palmitate replacement
Essential Oil 0.2% Bergamot 2 ml
Essential Oil 0.2% Mandarin  – 1 ml
Essential Oil 0.1% Basil – 1/2 ml
Essential Oil 0.1% Cedarwood – 1/2 ml

Making the lotion:

Follow the basic lotion making instructions here. (scroll down to the instructions on that page).


The result:


As soon as I finished adding the cool down phase ingredients, I poured it into two 8 ounce bottles.   It was fairly thin, like a Mc-Donalds milk shake (not like a Wendy’s frosty).   This is what I would expect in something called a “body milk”.   It is thick enough to be a lotion (so it’s not watery) but thin enough to pour.

I plopped some on my hand and it felt very smooth and moist on my skin.  It spread very easily and sunk in very quickly (within 1 minute).  I thought it felt a little greasy when I was rubbing it in.  Of course, I am a “dry lotion” person, so anything that doesn’t feel “dry” immediately feels greasy to me.  Some people prefer a greasier lotion.  After it sunk in, it wasn’t greasy anymore.


This is a rich feeling, moisturizing lotion, containing a lot of emollients (oils).  It sinks in quickly and leaves your skin hydrated.   The original product costs about $6.88 per ounce ($55 USD for 8 ounces) and this dupe version costs about $0.25 per ounce ($2 USD per 8 ounces).

Is it “exactly the same” as the inspiration product.  Of course not!  I haven’t used the same emulsifiers, and I don’t know what percentage ingredients they used definitively.  My estimates are just estimates.  It also smells completely different than the original.  However, it is a lotion that uses much the same ingredients (at least the ones that matter the most) in much the same quantities, so it should be fairly similar.

Hope you enjoyed it!  If you give this lotion a try, please do let me know your thoughts. 🙂



5 thoughts on “Analytical Recipe – Possible dupe of Ellis Brooklyn – Verb – Excellent Body Milk

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