A simple one pot cream formula and recipe for you.
I don’t often post recipes on here but today is different. I have been working with a few newbie formulators / hobbyists and the main problem that they find is in establishing a framework for a formulation. Often at the beginning of formulating you might find a recipe on the net but it contains something ‘nasty’ (in your opinion) or something that you just can’t find at your local suppliers. So, I wanted to make a very simple base using easy to source ingredients to get you guys started. This base formula works well and can tolerate quite a few changes as it contains rather a lot of emulsifier and emulsion stabiliser/ thickener. It is perfect as it is but you may want to make it cheaper/ richer/ fluffier/ lighter/ heavier/ creamier whatever. That’s fine, just let me know and I’ll try to help you reach your goals.
I sourced all of these ingredients from New Directions Australia.
As far as shelf life goes I don’t know – this as a base made cleanly and preserved appropriately with pH of around 5.5 should last for 3 years. However, some actives will break down (oxidize) quicker than others, may be too salty (such as aloe) and break the emulsion quicker or may just be very reactive (retinol based) so I would advise carrying out stability testing on your exact version just to be on the safe side.
Just remember that all actives and extracts you add at the end must be in liquid form – you can do some pre-wetting/ diluting/ preparation beforehand to get them where they need to be but please don’t add powders (unless it is mica to give it some shimmer). Powders added at the end of an emulsion process may not be able to access enough water to fully hydrate and may form pockets of active that are a) a waste of money and b) potentially destabilising and worse than that C) irritating to the skin!
If you want to add a fragrance you can. I suggest adding that at the end too either as part of your precious oils allocation (perfumes are usually 0.1-0.3% in these types of formula) or you can make room for them by reducing the water level by a bit if you want fragrance AND precious oils. It’s all good.
Precious Oils are natural oils that have high antioxidant activity. These can be things like Seabuckthorn, Rosehip, Carrot, Neem, Tamanu, Raspberry and many more.
I have chosen to demonstrate this formula with Rice Bran oil as it is pretty well tolerated by all skin types and is a light weight carrier oil. You may wish to change this, substituting it for something like sweet almond, olive, jojoba, macadamia, sunflower or even coconut oil. That is fine but it will change the feel of the cream – maybe you could experiment with different oils and see if you can notice a difference?
Glycerin is something that I usually add to creams for two reasons – to protect the cream from drying out if someone leaves the lid off and to act as a water binding humectant for the skin. Not everyone likes glycerin and as such you can either replace it with another humectant of your choice or leave it out. Leaving it out completely may lead to your product being less stable though.
Coco butter was chosen as this is a really nice, rich butter that can be used to stiffen the cream and make it feel great for the hands and body area – it tends to de-grease a cream in my opinion. Feel free to swap it for shea butter if you like or maybe you have an exotic butter that you like the sound of! Just remember that if you swap it for a softer butter the cream may be runnier and if you swap it for something harder the cream may be stiffer.
I haven’t added any waxes in this formula as I wanted to make it easy to do in one pot. The trouble with wax is the high melting points needed to get it into the oil phase mix. If you do want waxes you can still do a one-pot method but the closer you get to 100C in temp the more likelihood there is of your water phase dropping down due to evaporation! Maybe add a little extra water to compensate.
Have fun, stay creative but remember this my dear is science 😉
PS: This recipe has become very popular again (April 2015) which is great. If you are reading this and wondering why I am not ‘heating and holding’ or other such nonsense it is because you don’t have to. The most important thing with an emulsion is the cooling and not the heating – well not once you get past the temperature that you need to melt everything in (stearic acid in Shea Butter included). Simple, quick and saves on the washing up! This is also how some people in the big wide world of manufacturing actually make creams in bulk.