Oh Happy Mistake

Melting the oil mix together in a double boiler

I started making my own lotion back before I started making my own soap.  I tried making my own recipe from what I learned from all my reading.  All I got was a gunky mess that didn’t do anything for me.  So, like any good person who thinks, “Nothing wrong with something tried and true,” I went on a search and found a recipe online I felt was do-able.  I made this lotion for a while, but there were a couple of things I was not happy with.  One, it was a little to oily.  My elbow would hit my car window 30 minutes after application while getting in the car (don’t ask how it would happen, it just always seemed to happen) and it would leave an imprint on the window.  Two, if it got warmer than 70 degrees, it would separate.  I kept meaning to mess with the recipe.  I knew it had to do with my emulsifier.  I just kept putting it off and putting off.  I had to stop procrastinating since I used up the last of the body butter I made several months ago and I can’t just go buy lotion anymore because of the gluten.

Wednesday, I had to buckle up and make some lotion, but I didn’t really have any back up to use if I played around with the recipe and it turned out wrong.  I used my tried and true recipe.

I discovered halfway through measuring out the oil mix together to melt that I had measured out too much emulsifying wax.  OH CRAP!  Good one, Debi. I stood looking over the bowl with the measuring spoon in my hand as I was getting ready to measure some shea butter.  Do I scrap the entire mix and start over or just keep going? Well, I used a lot of avocado oil and I didn’t want to waste it.  I kept on going.

Emulsification of the water mix and oil mix

I wish I could have taken pictures or video while I was pouring the oil mix into the water and whisking it together.  Alas, I haven’t grown that elusive extra hand to manage a bowl, a whisk, and a camera at the same time.  All I can give you is this picture of what it looked like after the oil was fully poured and I was still whisking it all together.

I was praying when I first started mixing the two together that this wouldn’t flop.  It would be an awful waste of avocado oil.  I noticed that it was thicker than the original recipe as it emulsified.  The original recipe always yielded a fluffy mousse-like (the mousse you eat, not put in your hair) consistency.  The mistake yielded a thick pudding consistency much like you buy from the store in those big bottles.   HALLELUJAH!

This is the type of lotion I’ve wanted to make for years.  I won’t know if it will separate for a while since my apartment won’t see above 70 until Springtime.  I have a feeling it won’t separate, though.

I had to pour it in a wide mouth jar so I didn't waste any on a funnel to bottle it

I’m going to share the recipe of my happy mistake with you because I know I have some readers who are delving into this area.

Debi’s Creamy Lotion

3/4 cup avocado oil (or other carrier oil like jojoba, borage, grapeseed, etc.)

2 teaspoons stearic acid

1 tablespoon emulsifying wax

1 tablespoon shea butter (or other butter like cocoa, mango, avocado, etc.)

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon borax

1/8th teaspoon grapeseed extract

15 drops your choice of essential oil(s)

Add oil, stearic acid, emulsifying wax, and shea butter to a double boiler and melt together.  Meanwhile boil the water and add the borax and mix together.  Once the oil mix is melted, add the grapeseed extract (this works as a natural preservative to prevent bacterial growth) and essential oil.  You can use more than 15 drops if you want a heavier aroma.  I like to keep it light.  Slowly pour the oil mix into the water mix while whisking together.  You can also use a hand mixer.  I’ve found using a whisk gives you more control and feel for the lotion.  Once the lotion forms stiff peaks, pour into a wide mouth jar or into a bottle through a funnel.

My favorite essential oil synergistic blend is something I call, Heavenly. I keep a little bottle mixed so I can just add it to any personal care product or to my aromatherapy diffuser.  It’s a mix of Sandalwood, Clove, and Ylang Ylang essential oils.

If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one with a pot and a metal bowl like I do.  Just add some water to a pot on the stove and place the metal bowl on top.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the bottom of the pot.


  1. Not only did you make this process look do-able (even for the world’s worst cook like me), but you also made the end product look WONDERFUL! I’m inspired.

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog this week and providing your input on the Disney bullying issue. I really appreciate it!

    And I look forward to following your blog from now on 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Amanda! I think it’s important to keep up with those issues even if I’m not working in that field anymore. After all, there are several kids (not mine) that I love very much and I would be livid if something like that happened to them. Good luck with your pursuit! 😀

      About the lotion, I alway drag my feet with it because the hardest part is actually pulling out everything I need. In a perfect world, I’d have a ginormous kitchen with a dedicated area for my aromatherapy and soapmaking. Instead, I’m pulling things out of the pantry and the guest room. It takes longer to get it all together! Well, nearly. It really is easy to put together once you have everything you need. And cooks who think they are the “worst” just need more practice in the kitchen. 😉

  2. yay! I’ve gotta get some supplies, but i am anxious to give this one a shot.

    I have found though, that the coconut oil/shea butter experiment of last year has done wonders for my ashy legs & elbows when i am super dry. I save it for those moments.

    • Stick, any carrier oil or nut butter used directly on the skin is more moisturizing than lotion. When I’m using olive or coconut oil in the kitchen and I get it on my hands, I just rub it in instead of wash it out. I wouldn’t do it with an oil like canola or corn or…you get my drift. I did get the stearic acid and emulsifying wax from camdengrey.com…where I got pretty much all the other ingredients. lol Good luck with it!

  3. Hmm…could my amazing virtual sis work up some of that magic with the “Lavender/Fig” scent …I’m thinking a little almond to warm it up a bit ;). I would so be ready to place an order.

    When you are ready to package this stuff and get set up with some marketing, let me know 🙂

  4. Pingback: Gluten Is Not Just In Your Food « Hunter's Lyonesse

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    • It’s one of the emulsifiers. The borax is mixed with the liquid first and the stearic acid is the emulsifier for the oil mixture. They combine when the two are mixed together to make it thick and creamy. I tried to do it once without the borax and it remained liquid. I did the same with the stearic acid, nothing but liquid.

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