Homemade Hand Lotion Trial 1: Dry Hands or Man-Hands

About a month ago, I happened to turn the container of my favourite name-brand hand lotion over and took a gander at the ingredients. Hunh?…what IS this stuff?  I recognized water and glycerin and then I saw several of the “12 worst skin care ingredients in the world” – parabens, mineral oil (aka PETROLEUM), and a bunch of other stuff that left me confused.

My mother had a tube of hand cream that Mark and I brought back from New Zealand 7 years ago! It’s her “it’s so luxurious and it came from so far away that I don’t want to use it” cream.  It sat on a shelf in her downstairs bathroom and I used it every time I was home for a visit.  I’m not sure when the last time she used it was.  Far too precious to use according to her.  I finished the tube on my last visit – sorry Mum – and out of curiosity, I read the ingredients: water, calendula oil, aloe extract, sweet almond oil, honey, … you get the idea.  All natural ingredients that aren’t known carcinogens.

Ding-ding-ding went my brain.  This looks like an interesting project.  Make my own lotion.  Sounds good.  Sounds easy.  Sounds cheap. It can’t be so hard, right? We make our own soap, and that’s easy.

My latest batch of calendula soap, drying in the basement.

DISCLAIMER: We are not hippies.  We use electricity, eat junk food, and enjoy a techy gadget or two – although we don’t have a GPS. We did have one for a while but that’s a whole other story that might make it on here someday under the “why men should NOT use a GPS” category. I don’t like cooking or baking, but making soap is kinda neat, you gotta admit.

Friends of mine gave me some homemade soap one year for Christmas and I was so impressed that I decided to copy their idea the following Christmas.  Of course this meant that they didn’t get a gift from me that year… Anyway, waddya know? Making soap is easy. And it’s cheap.  I make one batch in about an hour and I’m set for soap for a year!  I know the ingredients that go into it and I can easily impress people that don’t know any better – which might not be anyone I know now.

Back to my lotion making… I found a Canadian web-store that sells all sorts of ingredients for making cosmetics and found an easy recipe on-line for homemade lotion. Ordered the ingredients for the lotion (plus some oils for soap that I’ve been looking for a while): cocoa butter, beeswax, sweet almond oil, calendula oil, glycerin.  I was so excited.  Couldn’t wait for the parcel to arrive and when it did, I tore it open and smelled all the goodies.  Yummy.

Next day, I eagerly waited for Zander to go for his morning nap and got out my double boiler.  I find it hard to believe that I even own a double boiler, but thanks Mum!  So Z is sleeping and I start weighing the beeswax and cocoa butter and measuring the oils and glycerin.  This is where things started to go a bit awry.  The instructions on the net were pretty vague – melt the ingredients together and mix. Other lotions that I had seen recipes for included more ingredients including water and emulsifiers and the instructions were a bit more detailed but since I wasn’t using those I just melted and mixed.

As things heated up, the house started smelling wonderful.  Cocoa and honey. Yummm.  Got out my whisk and mixed things a bit.  Then I got out my hand mixer to mix some more.  But the recipe was pretty small so the hand mixer seemed like overkill and bits of “lotion” sprayed the walls.  In the end, it smelled good and looked like lotion… for about 10 minutes.  Then it started to get hard.  So I put it in a jar with the cover on.   And it got harder.  Hmmm.  By the end of the day my luscious cream was solid and if I could have, I would have stuck a wick in and used it as a candle.


My precious lotion has turned solid and I have to dig bits out with chopsticks.

I looked at my “bar” of lotion for a week, and out of frustration and pride, I scraped bits out of the jar and rubbed it into my hands. To be honest, it worked well but I was going to get man-hands trying to rub it in.

Try-try again, right?  Z was sleeping one morning so I tackled it again.  Melted the solid contents of that jar down and whipped the bejesus out of it.  Whipped and whipped and whipped.  Let it cool a bit and whipped some more.  Did this on and off for a few hours.  It was beautiful!  THIS is what lotion is supposed to look like. But alas, it was not to be.  That evening, I took out the jar to show Mark, and oh bum, hard again.

So I looked at the library the other day and found a book with the EXACT SAME RECIPE and what do you know?  INSTRUCTIONS!!!!

Company tomorrow, but the first chance I get I’ll be trying again.  Until then it’s dry hands or man-hands.

Definitely to be continued…

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9 Responses to Homemade Hand Lotion Trial 1: Dry Hands or Man-Hands

  1. Rita says:

    I have a FANTASTIC recipe that calls for 1/4 cup oil (I use a mix of coconut, almond, callendula and hemp, but you can put together whatever you want), 1/4 cup polawax (got mine at http://www.voyageursoapandcandle.com), essential or fragrance oil and 1-1/4 cup of hot water. Mix the wax and oils together until the wax is melted. Add the fragrance/essential oils (about 10 to 20 drops) and then add the hot water. Stir until it starts to cool and then pour into your containers. Makes about 2 cups of lotion, give or take and it feels so lovely. Not greasy or anything. The polawax is essential. I’ve accidentally used beeswax and it did NOT turn out the same. I added more oil and it became a very intense moisturizing cream, but not the lotion I was aiming for.

    This was my original source for the recipe and I highly recommend spending some time on her site: http://localkitchenblog.com/2011/02/15/homemade-hand-cream/


    • Hi Rita – thanks for the recipe. I may give it a try. The problem is that I’ve got this HUGE block of beeswax that I want to use. I’m being stubborn, I know. I should just get myself some e-wax. When I’m ready to give up on the bees, I’ll give your recipe a try. Thanks!


  2. Cynthia says:

    I’m wondering what the name of the Canadian web-store is. I am interested in making more of my own cosmetics, but ordering from the US is always so expensive when you factor in shipping and customs!


  3. mosquito8 says:

    hi…where’s part 2, this was interesting. I found this BECAUSE I want to make some hand cream too! Anyhow, I was reading about grapefruitseed extract as a preservative once you add water it certainly becomes vulnerable to mold etc.


    • Oh mosquito8, how I wish there WAS a part 2. That hard lotion sat in a jar on my kitchen counter for almost 2 years. I never had a problem with mold but it was so hard that maybe nothing could grow on it ;). I used it intermittently and finally just dumped it. In the meantime, I got pregnant and had a second child and time has just slipped away. Somehow I managed to get my yearly batch of soap in but I have not had time to attempt the lotion again. I still have all the ingredients and have high hopes but am a little afraid of putting the effort in only to fail again. I’ve got to wait until the kids are out of my hair for a day or 2 and then I’ll try again. I did find a good blog with a great sounding recipe. I corresponded back and forth with her and it sounds good and easy. But that was some time ago. If I can remember/find the link, I’ll add it here for you.

      In the meantime, if you find a nice recipe and have success, PLEASE let me know the secrets.


  4. Andee says:

    Most lotions and creams have over 60% water in the recipe. If you don’t use water, you will have what is termed a “lotion bar”. It still has the ability to help our skin keep the necessary oils and moisture, but it can leave a oily residue behind.

    Sure, commercially made lotions can have ingredients that don’t make sense and sound very foreign, but most of the time these ingredients are just the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names for products that might be a little more familiar. For example, Vaccinium Macrocarpon Seed Oil is simply Cranberry Seed Oil. Confusing? Yes. Ingredients that look like this? Cetearyl Alcohol & Ceteareth 20? Simply one type of emulsifier. Bad for you? No.

    Are parabens truly linked to breast cancer or the rise in estrogenic activity? No. The American Cancer Institute hasn’t even linked parabens to cancer. The whole controversy was started by a mass e-mail and parabens have had a long and safe history of use with low toxicity.

    Parabens are very effective preservatives. They are known chemicals because we have studied them for a long time. They are a not threat to the environment, waterways, humans, domestic livestock, or wildlife when used appropriately, and disposed of properly if a spill occurs.

    If a person happens to stand on the side of caution and wants to wait for more study, then paraben free products are available. I think that is a good choice and certainly more education is good.

    I hope this helps!




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