DIY Basics: Making Cosmetics at Home
Getting Started with DIY Basics
This blog is for anyone who wants to give home crafting cosmetics a try. We will go over the necessary materials and equipment you will need to get started for DIY basics, as well as instructions on how to create two delightful formulations: a beautiful facial oil, and a basic lotion.
If you are reading this, then you have probably found yourself interested in making your cosmetics. Perhaps you want to learn more about cosmetic chemistry or are even thinking about starting your cosmetic line. Maybe you like the idea of natural homemade recipes or just found yourself down a YouTube rabbit hole of DIY videos and are interested in giving this wonderful hobby a try. No matter what your motivation, we are glad you stopped by!
Making your cosmetics can range from easy, to tricky, to downright difficult depending on the formula. Like most hobbies, you can start with basic projects and as you gain more knowledge, experience, materials, and equipment, move on to intermediate and advanced formulas.
But first, let’s go over what you will need to get started and be able to do other DIY formulas.
Materials & Equipment
Before we go over some basic formulas and the ingredients you will need to make these products, we first need to ensure you have everything you need to create! Below is a basic list of materials we consider to be the bare minimum you will need to make both our anhydrous (no water) and our emulsion (contains water) formulas.
If the item states it is optional, please be advised that though you can technically complete the project without the item, you’ll get the best results if you use them. We would also like to take a moment to note that we try wherever we can to use sustainable materials and to avoid unnecessary use and the waste of plastic. Though we want to encourage people to explore handcrafted cosmetics, we also want to urge those who participate in this hobby to be mindful of their sustainability efforts and the health of our beautiful planet.
- Pyrex Measuring Cups or Beakers
- Optional: you can use any tempered glass container
- Spray Bottle filled with Isopropyl Alcohol
- REQUIRED: we like to avoid unnecessary waste by using disposable materials. We recommend you have a spray bottle filled with alcohol to sanitize your equipment before every use.
- Optional: A thin icing spatula will make the project and clean up much easier.
- Prep Bowls (Glass)
- REQUIRED: We recommend using glass prep bowls to avoid unnecessary waste.
- Designated Mixing Spoons
- Optional: Ensure you are correctly sanitizing your mixing tools (we recommend stainless steel spoons or similar mixing tools) between uses. Please avoid the use of disposable and unsustainable plastic spoons.
- Digital Bench Scale
- REQUIRED: no way around it, you must have a scale, so you can accurately measure out your ingredients. We recommend a formal bench scale, but you can certainly use a kitchen or jewelry scale as well so long as it can read minuscule amounts of product.
- Disposable Pipets
- REQUIRED: Though there are glass pipettes, we do not recommend using them as they are difficult to sanitize and break easily. We advise that you attach designated plastic pipettes to your ingredient containers with a rubber band and disinfect them after each use to prolong their life and avoid unnecessary waste.
- REQUIRED: Gloves protect your hands. And protect your product from unnecessary exposure to bacteria during formulation.
- Hot Plate or Stove Top
- REQUIRED: You can use either a hot plate or a water bath to heat your ingredients. Create a water bath using a large deep skillet or saucepan filled with about 1 ½ inches water. Or use a double boiler. We do not recommend using a microwave to melt your ingredients, as microwaving doesn’t heat the ingredients evenly throughout.
- Optional, but makes pouring off your project into your chosen packaging much easier. You can also use a reusable piping bag for thicker products such as creams and gels.
- Packaging of Choice
- Optional. You can always leave your concoction in the container you made it, or even use a sterilized Tupperware from your kitchen, but we recommend using packaging meant to hold the type of product you are making.
- Optional: However, we highly recommend you always label your product with the date it was made so you can keep track of its shelf life.
- Immersion/Stick Blender
- REQUIRED for emulsions.
- Temperature Gun
- Optional. Although very useful when doing emulsions to ensure your oil and water phases have come to the correct temperature. Also valuable for confirming products are cool enough to safely add temperature sensitive ingredients such as preservatives and some antioxidants.
- pH Strips:
- Optional: However it is best to make sure your skincare products that contain water are at the best potential hydrogen rating for skin or for the ingredients used.
An Important Note on Scales
We can hear you asking, what is a Bench Scale? Is this different from a normal kitchen scale? Is it expensive? Do I need this, or can I use a kitchen scale and hope for the best?
The hard truth is that if you want to get into making cosmetics at home, how you measure your ingredients will affect your ability to follow a formula and having the right weight for each ingredient is essential. This is even more difficult since some ingredients are included at very small amounts, and when crafting at home you’re often making smaller batches. Though you can certainly get away with using a standard kitchen scale for some projects, we cannot stress enough that purchasing a bench scale meant for weighing cosmetic ingredients is of the highest priority especially if you are working with emulsions like lotions and creams. Preservatives are intended to work at precise percentages (some as low as half a percent), and the only way to be confident in their efficacy is to trust your scale.
A beginner bench scale will run you around $150.00 but is worth every penny. If this is entirely out of your price range, you may have to purchase two separate kitchen scales: a standard scale for your main project, and a smaller scale that can measure down to about 0.01 grams for ingredients such as antioxidants, preservatives, and essential oils.
Formulas & Methodology
To make these two simple formulas, you are going to need the following ingredients. We are not providing substitution options for these recipes, but you can reference our Substitution Guide for ideas if necessary. You will notice that our measurements are in grams and ounces, this is because most scales for smaller batches work with these units of measurement.
Expert tip: Always measure your ingredients individually for accuracy.
Facial Oil (yields about 4 ounces):
This divine facial oil is formulated to provide excellent nourishment to the skin. Packed with vitamins A, B, and C as well as beneficial essential fatty acids and antioxidants, this is a beautiful oil for all skin types, but especially suitable for dry skin. Can be used morning or night.
- Individually measure out the following ingredients and add them to your glass mixing bowl.
- Measure out your antioxidant (for extending shelf life by delaying natural oil rancidity) and add to your blend.
- Vitamin E Oil /3.45 gr/0.12
- The plum oil in this formula smells fantastic, but if you want to add a touch of your favorite essential or fragrance oil, you can do so at this time. Start with the smallest amount and add until you get the scent profile you want. You can always add but never take away. Use a different pipette for each essential or fragrance oil.
- Using a funnel, pour your blend into your chosen containers. We recommend an airless pump or bottle with a dropper.
- Add a label if desired but be sure to put the date somewhere on the product so you are aware of shelf life/when it expires.
Expert tip: keep a small sample in a labeled glass jar as a ‘retention’ sample so you can see how the product changes over time.
Basic Lotion (yields about 8 ounces):
This is a basic formula for creating a wonderfully moisturizing lotion. Once you have mastered the methodology for basic emulsions, the customization possibilities are endless. Any emulsion you create will require proper preservation. As stated earlier, we want to ensure you are creating “safe” formulas. Therefore, ANY product that contains water (or may encounter water) MUST be appropriately preserved to protect both the product and the skin from potential bacteria and mold.
- Individually weigh out the following ingredients and add them to a tempered glass container for your water phase.
- Deionized Water /163.34 gr/5.76 oz
- Vegetable Glycerin /8.48 gr/0.30 oz
- Citric Acid (pH adjuster) /0.36 gr/0.01 oz
- Individually weigh out the following ingredients and add them to a separate tempered glass container for your oil phase.
- Golden Jojoba Oil /21.23 gr/0.75 oz
- Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Sorbitan Olivate /10.61 gr/0.37 oz
- Cetyl Alcohol /3.18 gr/0.11 oz
- Cocoa Butter /2.63 gr/0.09 oz
- Weigh out Shea Butter /12.75 gr/0.45 oz and set aside. Do not put it into either of the glass containers you are using for the water or oil phases.
- Place both glass containers on your hot plate or inside your water bath until the oil phase ingredients have completely melted. Make sure your water phase does not boil. If you have a temp gun, your water phase should be around 120-140F. Your oil phase may require around 160-170F to completely melt the cocoa butter and cetyl alcohol.
- Once both your oil phase and water phase are thoroughly heated through, remove the oil phase from the heat and add your shea butter and stir it. The residual heat of the oils will melt the shea butter and will also give your oil phase time to cool a slightly and get closer in temperature to your water phase. In a perfect world, both phases would be the same temperature when combined.
- Remove your water phase and get your immersion blender plugged in, sanitized, and ready.
- Ensure both containers are on a sturdy surface. Insert your immersion blender into your water phase container and begin mixing on a low setting.
- Slowly pour your oil phase into your water phase while continuously mixing, increasing the setting to medium/high once all contents are fully blended and your lotion has fully emulsified.
Cool Down Phase
- While your lotion cools, weigh out the following ingredients. Once your lotion is cooled (around 110F or below), you can slowly add your cooldown ingredients. You can use your blender, or just give your product a very good stir using your spoon or spatula to fully incorporate all your cooldown ingredients.
- Vitamin E Oil (antioxidant)/0.54 gr/0.02 oz
- Phenoxyethanol (Broad spectrum preservative)/2.13 gr/0.08 oz
- Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate (Preservative booster)/1.04 gr/0.04 oz
- Fragrance Optional (technically speaking, the desired amount of fragrance should be worked into the formula. This lotion formula is unscented, but you can certainly add a few drops of your favorite essential or fragrance oil at this point if desired, just be careful not to add too much or your lotion could break).
- Now you can use your funnel or piping bag to pack off your lovely lotion into your chosen containers. Add a label if desired, but ensure you mark the date of the product somewhere. That’s it! You just made a wonderful lotion! You can now play around with different oils and kinds of butter to get different consistencies. Play with additives, fragrances, and pigments for unlimited possibilities, or check below for more guides to DIY basics in cosmetics.
Having fun? Head over to our YouTube Channel to find more recipes, formulation tips, and ideas from one of our professional formulators! You can also find our pre-made DIY kits here for more fun projects. Looking for something else? Head over to our website where you can find all the ingredients you can imagine to grow your collection and continue crafting gorgeous cosmetics at home.