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Lotion - How long to wait before establishing it's safe/stable?

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froggybean37

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Hello!

I've just started researching making lotion and have a zillion questions (have not delved into my first batch yet!) Am first off wondering how long you typically let a new recipe sit in order to establish its safety and stability prior to testing - sharing - selling. Have made only anhydrous lotions up until this point but was looking for an option for buyers that don't need quite that level of moisturization.

Thanks so much in advance!
Sarah
 

kchaystack

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Hello!

I've just started researching making lotion and have a zillion questions (have not delved into my first batch yet!) Am first off wondering how long you typically let a new recipe sit in order to establish its safety and stability prior to testing - sharing - selling. Have made only anhydrous lotions up until this point but was looking for an option for buyers that don't need quite that level of moisturization.

Thanks so much in advance!
Sarah
Have you checked out http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/ yet?

That is the place everyone else here is going to point you too.

:D
 

dixiedragon

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I don't sell big time (a few small craft shows), and I have never had my lotion tested. But I have been making lotion for 10+ years and I've never had any mold or anything. I use my lotion right away. As in...while the lotion is still warm, I use a clean spoon and put and little on my hands. OMG it's SO GOOD.

Do you mean how long do you wait to use a new recipe, or a new batch of a recipe? Are you waiting to see if mold develops? Lotion does not age like soap ages.

One issue is condensation. The lotion is warm when you pour it, so you need to let it reach room temp before you put the top on, otherwise you get condensation on top and that can lead to mold.
 

froggybean37

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Do you mean how long do you wait to use a new recipe, or a new batch of a recipe? Are you waiting to see if mold develops? Lotion does not age like soap ages.

One issue is condensation. The lotion is warm when you pour it, so you need to let it reach room temp before you put the top on, otherwise you get condensation on top and that can lead to mold.
I guess I mean more do you let it sit for a certain amount of time to see if mold forms or it separates or any other kind of funny business? Or is it good to go once cooled?
 

dixiedragon

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For your first batch, I would probably observe it over a day or two, see if it separates. As long as you follow a good recipe, mold shouldn't be an issue. Be advised - temperature is critical here, b/c some preservatives are destroyed at certain temperatures, so if you go over that temp, you have to add more preservative. I know that there are a lot of SwiftCraftyMonkey fans here, but I like to use recipes from vendors the first time I do something. They have a vested interest in making sure their customers succeed.

I have never had lotion separate. I'm sure it's possible. I think that lotion making is less complex than soapmaking, which is funny b/c I think soapmaking is the "gateway drug" for the vast majority of crafters in the toiletry arts, and then we branch out into lotion, lipbalm, etc. Even though the soapmaking is pretty much the most complex and dangerous of the products (assuming you are making CP or HP and using lye).

BTW, can I copyright "toiletry arts"? :)
 

froggybean37

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For your first batch, I would probably observe it over a day or two, see if it separates. As long as you follow a good recipe, mold shouldn't be an issue. Be advised - temperature is critical here, b/c some preservatives are destroyed at certain temperatures, so if you go over that temp, you have to add more preservative. I know that there are a lot of SwiftCraftyMonkey fans here, but I like to use recipes from vendors the first time I do something. They have a vested interest in making sure their customers succeed.

I have never had lotion separate. I'm sure it's possible. I think that lotion making is less complex than soapmaking, which is funny b/c I think soapmaking is the "gateway drug" for the vast majority of crafters in the toiletry arts, and then we branch out into lotion, lipbalm, etc. Even though the soapmaking is pretty much the most complex and dangerous of the products (assuming you are making CP or HP and using lye).
And for some reason I think of Lotion Making as trickier than soapmaking!:shifty: I do have a couple vendor recipes that I'm thinking I'll start off with - I absolutely agree that with their vested interest the recipes should be good!
 

TVivian

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For me, lotion making is so much more complex than soapmaking. I make a lot of lotion and am extremely precise with my measurements and ingredients. The amount, type and temperatures of oils, water, ewax, preservatives have to be just right, everything has to be as sterile as possible. With soap, if I go over on an oil by .2 or .3 here and there, I don't stress about it. If my bowls have a bit of oily residue it's no big deal. I know my soap isn't going to hurt anyone but myself if I splash lye or raw soap on me during the process. Lotion on the other hand, made improperly and applied to the right person can be devastating.

I would say, make lotion for yourself. If you want to give some to family and friends, let your batch sit for 4-6 weeks and check it for anything weird on top (spots or mold). If it looks ok then it's probably good to gift.

Before I started selling lotion, I let a batch sit for close to a year. One with preservative, one without. I rubbed my fingers in it and let it sit in my steamy bathroom where most people store their lotion. The one without preservative DID grow mold after months (gross). I label my lotions with an expiration date of 6months, but you can't be certain someone will follow that so you have to be as thorough as possible.
 

Trix

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Hi froggybean37, i learnt most of my lotion making from old books, an enthusiastic science teacher, and a certain italian forum later on, so not sure it would be useful to link it back here.

Test it for a month or two first. Not all preservatives work well with all oils, so research that alot.

and getting the right mix for the consistency you want will take some experimenting.

Also a lot of tutorials that first timers find, forget one if the most important things about making it ...the heat and hold phase (usually for around 20 minutes) where you have to keep the water and oil phase at a certain heat for a certain time, before binding them together...etc so just reserach a lot make notes then try it with a basic formula.
Post here if u get any problems on the way and im sure many will pitch in to help.
Lotion making is more complex than soap making (relatively speaking) but also quite rewarding.
 

DeeAnna

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I learned a lot from Susan at swiftcraftymonkey, but I also appreciate the concise, step by step information in Anne Watson's book Smart Lotionmaking. I think you can get it for a small song on Amazon as a download, but I bought the print book too. Anne describes two levels of sanitation -- the personal level (easiest) and the pro level (more rigorous). I'd start with the personal level to get started and then upgrade to the techniques she describes for the pro level if you eventually intend to sell.

I have not had any failures yet as far as the lotion separating, but I have made lotions I like much better than others as far as skin feel, ease of use, color, scent, etc. I think a month or two of regular use is plenty of time to evaluate whether I like a recipe or not. I would think that amount of time would show whether the emulsion would be stable as well, although I know cosmetic companies evaluate stability by putting samples in a heated cabinet for months to challenge the product under more extreme conditions and to artificially accelerate the aging process.

As far as product safety goes -- On an informal basis, yes, you can look for obvious fungal growth, but you can have high microbial counts without visible signs of contamination. The only way to really know whether your sanitation practices, packaging, and preservative system are effective is to have the product challenge tested. There are some do-it-at-home tests available, but the gold standard is to send a sample to a lab and have them do the procedure.

Sanitary vs. sterile -- Unless you are working in a sterile environment with sterile techniques, you CANNOT make a sterile lotion. Even an operating room isn't sterile, although the instruments used may be sterile to start with, so there's no hope of working sterile in our kitchens! The best we can hope for is to make a sanitary lotion -- one with microbe counts as low as possible at the time the product is made and packaged.

Trix mentioned the heat-and-hold step -- I agree it is really important. I also perceive many beginners want to avoid this hassle. There are some room-temperature emulsifiers that can be used to make lotions, but ordinarily the heat-and-hold step is not something I recommend skipping. It's what helps the lotion emulsify effectively (with most emulsifiers) as well as increases the sanitation level of your products. I'm all for making a lotion that is sanitary as possible -- then the preservative in my lotion will last longer and do a better job.

I actually think lotion making is easier than soapmaking. :) There is the challenge in both to do things precisely and carefully, but there's more latitude in lotion making to try different oils and other ingredients.

The feedback from a lotion is more immediate -- no waiting for a month or so to evaluate skin feel and lather quality. That said, I have learned to let the lotion sit for about 24 hours to cool and stabilize before evaluating how it feels on the skin, how it smells, how it looks. At least for the ingredients I've been using, my lotions feel overly greasy when warm and freshly made -- although that doesn't stop me from trying them out right away!

Lotion making is fun, and I'm glad you're going to give it a go, Froggy.

ETA: I think it can be a strong temptation in lotion making as well as in soap making to go crazy with additives, such as honey, milk, etc. Keep in mind that additives add "bug food" and the more bug food you add to a lotion, the more likely you will need to use a higher % of preservative for efficacy and the more likely it is that the preservative may become ineffective over time in its job to control microbial growth. Making Skin Care is a good resource for information about additives, preservative efficacy, and making lotions/creams.
 
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rparrny

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I agree with everyone, lotion and creams can be tricky...I stopped making them after getting disgusted that mine were molding after a few months...and I used a good amount of vitamin E. It was some of my earlier attempts many years ago, I often think about trying it again.
That being said, I created a cream for my mother who had radiation burns after treatment for her lung cancer...a 20 inch circle of burn on her back, very painful. I don't remember the base oils but the herbs I used were comfrey, calendula and rosehips. Her oncologist gave her a script for the standard burn cream, I told him I could do better and he laughed.
After one week the burn was down to 3 inches, by week 2 it was gone...the jaw dropping look he had when he saw the results was priceless...
 
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Trix

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I agree with everyone, lotion and creams can be tricky...I stopped making them after getting disgusted that mine were molding after a few months...and I used a good amount of vitamin E. It was some of my earlier attempts many years ago, I often think about trying it again.
That being said, I created a cream for my mother who had radiation burns after treatment for her lung cancer...a 20 inch circle of burn on her back, very painful. I don't remember the base oils but the herbs I used were comfrey, calendula and rosehips. Her oncologist gave her a script for the standard burn cream, I told him I could do better and he laughed.
After one week the burn was down to 3 inches, by week 2 it was gone...the jaw dropping look he had when he saw the results was priceless...

Rpanny vitamin e is an antioxidant not a preservative. Our noses and lips are extremly sensitive to things that have gone bad, so they let us know when a lotion is bad usually via an unpleasant almost metallic scent.
Vitamin E just makes sure that the time it will take the lotion to get to that stage is extended....but it does nothing at all to the bacteria and fungus that grow in lotions. Only a preservative would kill these things.
Btw i hope your mother is doing better now, and do wish for rhe day cancer is no longer around. Btw sesame oil is great for burns :)
 

rparrny

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Rpanny vitamin e is an antioxidant not a preservative. Our noses and lips are extremly sensitive to things that have gone bad, so they let us know when a lotion is bad usually via an unpleasant almost metallic scent.
Vitamin E just makes sure that the time it will take the lotion to get to that stage is extended....but it does nothing at all to the bacteria and fungus that grow in lotions. Only a preservative would kill these things.
Btw i hope your mother is doing better now, and do wish for rhe day cancer is no longer around. Btw sesame oil is great for burns :)
This was many years ago and that was what I was taught, albeit it was wrong. I was sure the calendula would keep the bugs from growing but it didn't...
What natural preservatives can be used in creams? Still not sure if I will try again but I am getting a little curious.
Mom passed away from her lung cancer many years ago, but ty for the well wishes. We both knew she had cancer many years before she was diagnosed but she decided at that time she would not seek treatment natural or otherwise...later on she changed her mind, unfortunately too late. She died at home with her children at her side...it was a good death. I was very blessed to have such a great mom, she was my very best friend and once my dad got sick I sold my house and moved it to help her with him. He also died at home peacefully.
 

Dahila

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Beautiful post DeeAnna, I also make a lot of lotion, and Susan is my guru. Everything is sprayed additionally with alcohol, all utensils and stick blender, the beakers, the containers. I had one lotion separating and I think the fault was at adding green tea powder to cold phase. Right now I make all kind of lotions and do not have to actually go on Susan site. I am going to sell it eventually one day , but in Canada we have a stricked requirements and bacterial growth is invisible to our eyes, so I would send a sample to lab to check for cross contamination then sell. I have some lotions , I keep a bit over 1 year old and keep them in warm bathroom so far so good, but as DeeAnna said bacterial growth is not visible to us. I found lotion making much easier than swirl in soap ;))

Very often I read that people add GSE and VE and they use the lotion. I actually left a few pages, because I could not read the bs there. Natural, organic most people have no idea what they do. Not preserved lotion will last maybe 48 hours in the Fridge before the bacterial growth.
 
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Trix

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This was many years ago and that was what I was taught, albeit it was wrong. I was sure the calendula would keep the bugs from growing but it didn't...
What natural preservatives can be used in creams? Still not sure if I will try again but I am getting a little curious.
Mom passed away from her lung cancer many years ago, but ty for the well wishes. We both knew she had cancer many years before she was diagnosed but she decided at that time she would not seek treatment natural or otherwise...later on she changed her mind, unfortunately too late. She died at home with her children at her side...it was a good death. I was very blessed to have such a great mom, she was my very best friend and once my dad got sick I sold my house and moved it to help her with him. He also died at home peacefully.
Sorry about that Rparrny, and lets just say i know exactly how you feel about cancer related parent deaths...

Anyway i can tell you there is a lot of time and research and scientists in labs all over Most of the world, keep trying to find 'natural' preservatives that can replace the ones we already use, and give their same effect, but so far it is mostly fails.
They also do this to accomodate the consumer demands and it is sad that you can chase most of the preservative scare to one single article more than around a decade ago.

If you want to avoid preservatives, a few things to do, either make products without the water...but they don't really help the skin in the long run.

Or make batches you can use right away.


Try your best to keep the ph of the lotion at around 4-5 but do know that a few hardy bacterias will survive even there.

There are things like leuicidal liquid whose original chemistry was extracted from raddish root ferment. However it is extremly tricky to use, will also change the color and scent of your product, and it may not work woth everything.

Anyway dont let all that stop you, do go ahead and at least for starters make batches you can start to use and finish right away, and then as you learn more you will try more.

Soap uses dangerous chemicals at first when it comes to lye, but easier to get right quicker. however lotions though easy to make are trickier to get right from the first tries, both are two very different wonderful things to make :)
 

rparrny

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Anyway i can tell you there is a lot of time and research and scientists in labs all over Most of the world, keep trying to find 'natural' preservatives that can replace the ones we already use, and give their same effect, but so far it is mostly fails.
They also do this to accomodate the consumer demands and it is sad that you can chase most of the preservative scare to one single article more than around a decade ago.
I'm not totally against chemical preservatives, just would look for a natural one if available. I completely get the statement about the article 10 years ago...
If you look at the original article in JAMA about statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol) and really look at the study you will see how flawed it was from the get go...but most docs just read the abstracts and not the whole study...end result is statins don't prevent heart attacks...that's a proven fact...now they are saying...okay but it might prevent strokes...another flawed study...but try as a medical practitioner to take your patients off statins and you get a nasty letter from the insurance carrier telling you it's the standard of care and risking your ability to treat that companies patients. Welcome to obama care where the insurance companies tell you how to treat your patients and the drug companies tell them what to do. Now the brain is made up primarily of cholesterol...could all these statins have anything to do with all the dementia and alzhiemers?
Just sayin...
 

Dorymae

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This is what I do, and yes I sell. First when you you have a recipe you think you want to sell, get a microbial test kit. Lotion crafters sell them. Make your recipe and put some (I use about 4 oz) into 2 jars, put the rest into a clean sterilized mason jar and seal it.

For the two jars, leave one open continuously. The other open to use and test but leave it closed otherwise. Use each jar everyday, the one you keep closed use a cosmetic stick to scoop it, the one you keep open dip your fingers in. Don't purposely wash your hands first.

Test each jar every week for a month, then test once per month for the next 3 months.

The lotion in the mason jar can be watched for physical changes in color or separation.

If all jars (and mason jar) pass the test you know you have a good recipe and your initial preservative amount works with it.

Now once selling the lotion retain one jar from each batch. Number your batches and keep a log of the made date. Test that one jar each month to be sure of a good safe product.

I hope this helps.

Edited to add, use a good preservative. Don't skimp and don't try using an antioxidant. This is important - if you sell You are responsible for the safety of that product! There are no natural preservatives that can be relied on in lotion at this time, so research preservatives to avoid what you don't want whether it be parabens or whatever.
 
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Trix

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I'm not totally against chemical preservatives, just would look for a natural one if available. I completely get the statement about the article 10 years ago...
If you look at the original article in JAMA about statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol) and
Just sayin...
I get you, marketing people have a lot to answer for over the past decade or two, in the amount of misinformation that has become the norm.
And my own expierences with cancer, is the alternative world doesnt con me, they are just the other face of the same pharmacetuicals company coin.
Only reseraching and knowing stuff thru our own research efforts will help us.

There are a vew things that are as natural as a preservative is allowed to be (not that natural) but either they change the product, or are not compatible with everything, or increase the absorbtion rates that you cant really put it in all lotions as you dont want the skin to absorb every single thing really.
You could try a lotion bar or a whipped shea cream for now.
I do not believe that they moisturise as well as somehing that has water in it, but some people seem to love them :)
 

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