How to Make A Facial Cream or Lotion from Scratch

Today I am sharing with you one of my favourites recipes ever: how to make homemade cream from scratch. Let's get started. Making your own cream may seem super complex at first. It may seem like lots of ingredients, temperatures to monitor. However, in this blog I will show you that, once you understand the structure of a cream, it's actually really easy it is to make your own face cream!

How to make your own Homemade Face Cream 

Every cream is formed by part water, part oil. The water part can be made up by different soluble ingredients - for example glycerin, aloe vera juice.

The oil part is formed by an oil of your choice, optionally a butter, and something that helps these oils combine with the water. We call this ingredient an emulsifying wax.

We also need a broad spectrum preservative, and optionally a fragrance like an essential oil.

6 Ingredients for a Basic Face Cream

For the sake of this recipe we will use very basic ingredients:

  • Distilled water
  • An oil of your choice - I am using jojoba but you can literarily use any oil you want
  • An emulsifying wax - I am using Olivem 1000, a wax that is accepted for use in organic skincare formulations
  • I am also using something called a co-emulsifier: its purpose is to further stablise the cream, to avoid that the oil separates from the water. My co-emulsifier for this recipe is cetyl alcohol
  • I am using Cosgard as my eco preservative
  • Finally, I am adding tea tree essential oil for my fragrance
6 Basic Ingredients for a Homemade Face Cream | Bottega Zero Waste

For more details about the ingredients and the recipe, download the recipe booklet. 




Grams (g) 


Distilled water 










Olivem 1000 





Cetyl alcohol 










Essential oil 





Total Ingredients 





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Simple Face Cream Recipe Instructions

1. We are going to start by weighing the distilled water inside a clean (previously sterilised with rubbing alcohol) heat safe beaker (Beaker A), and the oil, olivem 1000 and cetyl alcohol in a separate beaker (Beaker B). 

2. Place both beakers inside a saucepan filled with a little tap water, and place this on the stove to simmer at very low heat.  

3. Let the ingredients inside Beaker B melt fully and allow the water in Beaker A heat up.  

4. When both are at 70˚C (158˚F), pour the distilled water (Beaker A) into the beaker containing the, now melted, oil-based ingredients (Beaker B).

Beaker A and Beaker B | How to Make Homemade Face Cream | Bottega Zero Waste

Beaker B (left) and Beaker A (right)

5. Mix with a clean spoon and then use a mini whisker or a stick blender to emulsify the ingredients: they should start turning into a cream.

Whisk Ingredients | How to Make a Homemade Face Cream from Scratch | Bottega Zero Waste

6. Let the mixture cool down to below 45°C/113°F, then add the preservative, the optional essential oils and mix well.

7. Pour the cream into a clean jar and close the lid once fully cooled down. Store at room temperature, apply with dry, clean hands and use up within 6 months. 

Homemade Face Cream | Bottega Zero Waste

Ingredient Substitutions

If you find you cannot source certain ingredients, or prefer others, you can make the following substitutions to the cream:

Water & Oils

Please avoid using tap water, it can contain bacteria which might interfere with your cream's stability and safety. You could use half distilled water and half hydrosol (rose, chamomile etc), just note that hydrosols are harder to preserve.

You can use any liquid oil you want in your face cream, or a mix of them (argan, jojoba, hemp etc).  

Emulsifying wax (BTMS-50) & Cetyl Alcohol

Other emulsifiers you could use are BTMS-50 or BTMS-25. If you want to stick to using a natural emulsifier you can use either Olivem 1000, Ritamulse SCG or Xyliance.

Other alternatives are BTMS-50, Emulsifying Wax NF, Polawax or BTMS-25. However, these are not normally accepted in organic formulations.

Emulsifying wax

If you are swapping an emulsifying wax, please check the correct usage rate with your supplier: this means you might need to re-adjust the percentages in the recipe.

You can remove the cetyl alchol completely, however you might encounter some emulsion difficulties especially if you are using Olivem 1000.

You can also use a different co-emulsifier such as cetearyl alcohol or brassica alchol. Although, this will thicken the cream considerably (making it more of a body cream).


The preservative in the recipe is mandatory because otherwise you will end up with a nasty mouldy cream after 1-2 days. Storing the cream in the fridge or using an anti-oxidant such as Vitamin E will not work, you must use a broad-spectrum preservative.

Some preservatives have a funny smell which will go away after a couple of days or you can mask this with a couple of drops of essential oil.

You can use a different broad-spectrum preservative such as Geogard ECT or Liquid Germall Plus.

If you make a swap, please make sure to check the recommended usage rate with your supplier because this will vary depending on the preservative. For example, you should be using 0.5% if using Liquid Germall Plus. It is your responsibility to check the efficacy of the preservative system you choose!  

Essential Oils

As you may notice, to keep the cream simple I have made adding essential oils optional. If you want you can tweak the recipe and add up to 0.15% of essential oils (between 3-5 drops max). Please do check any contraindications before choosing an essential oil - I tend to only use lavender, tea tree or geranium.

More natural skincare recipes

Make Your Own Academy | Bottega Zero Waste

If you enjoyed following and making this recipe, be sure to check out the Make Your Own Academy. Students that enrol in the Academy receive a new natural cosmetic recipe every month. Hope to see you there!

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