Is It Possible to Homemade All Natural Lemon Balm Lotions?

 

 

The Challenges of Making Lotion With All Natural Ingredients

A survey covering 25,000 adults living in the United States, has shown that in 2012 approximately 43% of American households favored lotion the most. Why many of us like to use lotions? Lotion is thinner, easy to use, not greasy or sticky and can easily wash off with water and soap. It leaves our skin feeling cool, soft and not too heavy.

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Lotions are similar to creams but they are not the same. If to compare with creams, lotions have much higher water percentage (usually around 70% to 80%). This high percentage of water ratio itself poses greater challenges to our natural recipes. The first challenge is to find suitable natural emulsifiers. The second challenge is to decide the use of preservative.

1. Emulsifiers

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In the process of making lotion, we need emulsifier agents to combine both water and oil contents. The natural emulsifier agent such as beeswax, lecithin and lanolin are just not good enough to form a stable emulsion in high water ratio recipes. We can easily get several recipes on how to make a natural “lotion” on the Internet. But, if we study their recipes carefully, we will find out they have much lower water contents ratio (probably 50%-60%). The “lotions” produced tend to be heavier, more greasy and sticky. They are more of cream or body butter than a lotion. Making lotions with natural emulsifier through heat and mechanical emulsification in high water ratio recipes, will not last for long and only give your lotions a very short shelf life. You may still use beeswax in your lotion recipes but you have to add in borax (sodium borate/ sodium tetraborate) to form an emulsion in your recipe. Borax has high alkalinity and it is categorised as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. Excessive usage might cause skin irritation.

The most common use emulsifier agents for lotions are not 100% natural. Among of them are vegetable emulsifying wax, stearic acid, BTMS conditioning emulsifier, cetearyl alcohol, and etc. Since there are some chemical contents being used, you have to carefully identify whether they are safe for you.

2. Preservative

Lotions contain high percentage of water contents. Water in your lotion will provide a medium for dangerous pathogens, bacteria, microbes, mold and yeast to grow. Besides, It is very difficult to track bacteria or microbes grow activities. Bacteria or microbes may exist very long before it make visible to our eye. If these issues unattended, it can be hazardous to human health. So, preservative is necessary to keep the user safe and to prevent microbial or bacteria growth and contamination.

Now, you may want to ask – is there any suitable natural preservative for homemade lotions? When we mention natural preservative, vitamin E will immediately cross into our mind. To be more precisely, vitamin E is an antioxidant, not a preservative. Anti-oxidants will prolong the oils shelf life by reducing their oxidation rate. It does not possess any substances that can fight against bacteria, microbes, mold and yeast or prevent them from growing.

LB preservative1Some may suggest grapefruit seed extract (GSE), also known as citrus seed extract, but studies have shown it does not contains any natural antimicrobial attributes. Their preserving capability derive from synthetic preservatives added in to preserve grapefruit seed extract. However, GSE possess antioxidant properties.

Essential oils and various herbs such as thyme, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, and etc. might be one of the effective organic ways to preserve you lotions. Their drawback is each of them may be only effective against specific organisms but not for another. Moreover, some essential oils such as raspberry have a tendency to impart its own strong odors into your lotions. Organic ethanol is another natural preservative. But, it can be extremely drying and irritating to skin.

In short, we have not found any broad-spectrum all-natural preservative. However, we can reduce the use of synthetic preservatives by adding natural preservatives.

Cautions

  • If possible, choose for very mild and safe synthetic preservatives.
  • You may choose for broad spectrum preservative such as Germall Plus or Germaben II to ensure you lotions preserve well.
  • Before use, study the preservative carefully and identify whether they are safe for you.
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