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Formulations

Making Natural Cosmetics and Formulating Products

Let me start with a warning, IT’S ADDICTIVE !! once you start this Exciting journey you going to want to make and replace everything in your home. You will look at products differently and read all the ingredients on the packaging because you are going to want to know why and what is in it.

My advice.. start one product at a time. Learn the basics and have patience with the process, study the ingredients and most of all know why you want to make it and why.

So where to start?

If you just starting out and want to experiment with some bath & Body products, try products like whipped body butter, lip balms, lotion bars, balms, and salves. They are Anhydrous which refers to something that ONLY contains oil or oil-soluble ingredients, like oils, butters, esters and fatty alcohols. There is no water in an anhydrous product, so you don’t have to worry about preservatives.

“Anhydrous refers to something that ONLY contains oil or oil-soluble ingredients, like oils, butters, esters and fatty alcohols. There is no water in an anhydrous product.

person holding a hand cream
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There are so many wonderful anhydrous products that are super easy to make. There are lotion bars, balms, lip balms, body butters, bath melts, and body oils…. but wait before we dive into making all these awesome products there are a few tips and guidelines we need to follow.

First, get yourself some equipment

  • Glass beakers – 2 or 3 of 600ml and some smaller 50ml or a heatproof jug
  • Stick blender – with a metal attachment, NOT plastic
  • Silicone spatula, hand whisk & spoons
  • Digital scale ( I would invest in a scale that can measure 0,01g)
  • Thermometer
  • A pot or double boiler and stove
  • Ph strips ( not a must but nice to check the Ph of your products)
  • Gloves, Protective glasses & Apron
  • Some amber glass jars to store your Awesome Creation
  • A notebook to write down your formulations

Prepare your work area

Next, prepare the area that you will be using. Hygiene is extremely important when making any cosmetic product and getting your area clean and clutter-free. Sanitize your work area (use an alcohol spray) and sterilize all equipment with very hot soapy water.

Get to know your Ingredients

If you read the ingredient lists on cosmetics you would have noticed some unusual names – some are almost unpronounceable. These are INCI names which stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients which essentially is a universal worldwide system of naming cosmetic ingredients and is based on the Latin or Scientific name. Learning and researching these names will help you understand ingredients in cosmetics and there function in the formulation.

Its a Formulation First – then a Recipe

When I first started researching how to make cream and body butters, I searched the internet and found many recipes. I tried them- some worked well and others not so well. Many recipes I found were not formulated correctly and didn’t work or hold up well or the recipe worked well but I didn’t like the feel of the product. The thing was that I didn’t understand the function of each ingredient. Why was I adding it, how much must I add to achieve a particular consistency or feel, what can I substitute it with? Then through research and study, I learned about formulations.

Every cosmetic product starts with a formulation which states the Ingredient, INCI name, percentage, function and the phase. Once you have a formula it can be converted to weight, so if you want to create a different amount of product, you can convert the formula into a weight-based measurement or ‘recipe’ and you will know how much of each ingredient to use.

This is a Basic Body Butter Formula

PhaseIngredientINCIFunctionPercentage
AShea butterButyrospermum Parkii
(Shea) Butter
Emollient70%
ASunflower OilHelianthus Annuus
(sunflower) Seed Oil
Emollient29%
BEssential oilVariesFragrance1%
Basic Body Butter formula
IngredientWeight in grams (100g batch)
Shea butter70g
Sunflower oil29g
Essential oil1g
100g Basic Body Butter Recipe

To turn your percentage based formula into weight based measurement you will need to divide percentage by 100 and multiply by weight of batch size, for example if you want 100g of the Body butter formula you would need to calculate each ingriedient

Shea butter is 70 % so 70/100 x 100 = 70 g ….. this will be done with all the ingridients

if you wanted 200g of product, it would be 70/100 x 200 = 140g

Now get all your ingredients together.

Let’s start with an anhydrous product, these consist of butter, oils, wax and fragrances… but what to choose? These are my favourite butter and oils they can be used in so many cosmetic formulations.

Read more about the different types of Butters & Oils HERE

When choosing oils and butters consider how you will be using them; the season, the temperature and where you will use them on your body. Study their profiles and functions so you can create a beautiful product.

Now let’s get Formulating!


But first, I recommend you start making a small batch first, not more than 50-100 grams. The two main reasons being … you are experimenting, and you don’t want to waste or have a ton of product that you will not use up in 1-3 months. Once you are happy with your formulation and the product performs well, you can make bigger batches

TIP: Always make a note of your formulation and steps so you can replicate them again.

But first, I recommend you start making a small batch first, not more than 50-100 grams

Anhydrous Cosmetics Formulations

  • Body butter Formula
  • Lotion bar Formula
  • Lip balm Formula
  • Shower Scrub bar Formula (To be added soon)
  • Perfume stick Formula (To be added soon)
  • Facial serum Formula (To be added soon)
  • Body Oil Formula (To be added soon)
  • Bath Melts Formula (To be added soon)
  • Bath Oil Formula (To be added soon)

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