Important Notes For Making Soap, Skincare & Lotions

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I get lots of questions on my diy skin care recipes and common issues about many of my other homemade beauty recipes and soap making tutorials. 

So today I’m passing on some important tips based around questions that arise on a regular basis. Things like weighing and measuring, shelf life & using preservatives.

homemade skin care tips

Weight v Volume

Here at Savvy Homemade most ingredients are measured by weight (including water), not volume. This is because some liquid ingredients actually weigh heavier than others. Therefore it makes sense to use the weight of an ingredient to get the perfect measurement possible. You will generally find this is the case on most quality websites and published books.

So always weigh, forget the volume!

ingredients are measured by weight

Perfect Measuring

When measuring ingredients for soaps, creams and diy lotion recipes in smaller quantities it’s much easier to work in grams than ounces so I always recommend using a digital scale.

Most cosmetic products are actually measured in grams rather than ounces because they can give a more accurate measurement/weight. This can often seem a bit daunting when you are used to working in ounces, but once you’ve got the hang of it you will notice that it’s much easier and you should be able to understand and tweak any recipe to perfection using grams.

Most cosmetic products are actually measured in grams rather than ounces
Measuring ingredients for soap making

There are basically 28.3495 grams in 1 ounce, so if a recipe contains 100 grams 1 gram =1% of the recipe and so on. But if you are considering creating lots of your own homemade products do what I did, make it easier for yourself by getting a set of digital scales. 

With this you can weigh as little as a gram and will be able to convert ounces to grams and grams to ounces at the touch of a button.

I have two digital scales, one of them is a good basic kitchen scale which I’ve had for years and use 95 % of the time and its great for soapmaking. The other is a more precise scale for weighing smaller quantities under 1 gram which is sometimes required with the skincare recipes, this is a digital jewelry scale. 

I couldn’t find a scale that covered both adequately, the kitchen scale doesn’t register under one gram and although it’s possible to measure everything with the jewelry scales I find it a bit small for soap-making bulk quantities. If anyone finds a scale that works well for both at a reasonable price I would love to know.

measuring ingredients homemade for homemade skin care
Measuring Ingredients Using My WAOAW Digital Pocket Scale

Measurement Conversion Chart

Honestly, a few dollars on a digital scale is well worth the investment, but if you are waiting for yours to arrive the following chart can be used as a temporary solution. This is not 100% accurate but is close enough.

AmountEqual To
1 ml1 g
5ml1 tea spoon
10ml1 desert spoon
15ml1 table spoon
30ml1 fl oz

Shelf Life

If the recipe contains water and doesn’t have a preservative then you should be using it within 2-3 weeks. If your recipe is oil or butter based and does not contain water then you have at least 12 months shelf life, even longer if you add an antioxidant.

Antioxidants V Preservatives

Some oil based recipes contain antioxidants to help increase shelf life. Vitamin E oil, for example, is a great product that helps condition your skin while preventing other oils from going rancid. But this is not to be confused with a cosmetic preservative which is much more powerful and can preserve a cream recipe that does contain water for a couple of years.

measure preserative natural face cleanser

A preservative is something that stops the growth of bacteria that comes from the water we use in a recipe. If a preservative is not used the bacteria spreads and multiplies over time spoiling your product and making it rancid.

So a few essential oils like Rosemary and Tea trea, plus some carrier oils like Neem and Vitamin E and the Rosemary Antioxidant are all good examples of natural antioxidants acting like preservatives in your oil based recipes that do not contain water. They will restrict the spread of bacteria and they will extend the shelf life of your recipe for months. Granted they aren’t as strong and wont preserve like a commercial preservative, but none the less they are natural and less harmful to your skin.

For more in-depth information on preservatives take a look at my guide on synthetic & natural preservatives for cosmetics & lotions. In some cases, a preservative is extremely important, there I discuss why and talk about the best options available.

Using Preservatives

measure preservative for a homemade face wash
  • Given the choice I will usually make enough of a recipe for just a couple of weeks, but if I need a longer shelf life on a recipe that contains water or milk I will not hesitate to use one. If time is a factor the product is far better off and safer with a preservative than without, as a rancid lotion or cream is not good for your skin!
  • So, if you are making a recipe using water or milk you really need to use a preservative if you want it to last more than a week or two. But all preservatives are not created equal, some are better and safer than others.
  • Remember that your product will still be much healthier than any commercial option. You will be using a much smaller level, you know what all the remaining ingredients are, and you’ve kept it as gentle and natural as possible.
  • You can add preservative during the cool-down phaze of a recipe or to the water element before heating. Most preservatives are heat sensitive so if you add the preservative to water before heating always be sure that the temperature does not exceed the recommended level usually around 65C (check the product instructions).
  • Usage levels are clearly stated on all preservatives these days so its easy to add the correct amount to your recipe.

Best Results With Beauty Recipes

Oil phase ingredients being weighed into a pyrex beaker
  • Always use 100% pure essential oils from a trusted source, I’ve used these natural ingredients for my homemade facials and beauty products and I’ve never been disappointed.
  • When buying ingredients for homemade lotion recipes only buy the amount you are likely to use, buying in bulk doesn’t always pay. Essential oils that are 100% pure should last about 2 years if kept in a cool dark place but other ingredients can go out of date much quicker.
  • Never use citrus oils when going out into the sun as this can cause photo toxicity. And certain essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy, always check before using.
  • Sterilize all your beauty packaging containers, jars and bottles, glass jars and bottles can be sterilized in a low oven 100f (40c) place them on their sides for about 10 minutes. Or you could use a baby bottle sterilizer.
  • Try to Patch Test your recipe before using it liberally, simply rub a little on your neck behind the ear and leave for 24 hours. If there is no reaction after this time you are good to go.

Armed with these homemade skin care tips lets go make some homemade lotion recipes.

Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. Great Skin care tips!! I do agree with all of them. As a dermatologist I always suggested my patients to wear sun screen 3 times in a day(8:00, 12:00, 2:00), doesn’t matter you are going outside or you are in home. Sun rays can penetrate glass easily.


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