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How To Make Lotion Part 4: Emulsifier & Thickeners

Hi good morning. today ill be talking about part 4 of lotion making in Malaysia. If this is the first time you are reading this; stop here and read Part 1, Part 2 And Part 3 first.


So what exactly is emulsifiers? Emulsification is a process that mixes water and oil. Since they dont normally mix, you will have to give an external force to mix them. The most common ways to emulsify is by using mechanical force (mix vigrously) or by heating up. However, this only mixes water and oil at that moment and it will seperate out again after sometime. Due to that; you can either make a product that the consumer will have to ‘shake the bottle’ before using, or you can add an ingredient that will sustain the emulsification process; an ingredient called the emulsifiers.

When using emulsifier; you will need to make sure the emulsifier fits the HLB (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance system) of the oils and water you are using. Back in the days during my college years in pharmacy school; we actually had to manually calculate the HLB system and crosscheck it with British Pharmacopeia ( a ‘bible’ for making products). Lucky for you guys now; we now have an all in emulsifier such as emulsifying wax NF, Polowax (these two are same thing) and BTMS-50. You can use any of these in your skincare. Soap Lab has Emulsyfying Wax.

When using the E-Wax, the general rule of thumb is to use 25% of the oil phase. So if you are adding 100g of oil, you will add 25g of Ewax.

E-wax comes in Flake/pastille form therefore it needs to be heated up with oil phase and mixed vigrously with water phase to create a emulsified product which in this case is lotion. Without an emulsifier; the lotion will separate out.


Thickeners are ingredients that are added to make the lotion thicker. If you made the normal lotion with 80% water phase; you will get a lotion that is ‘runny’. Depending on the site of application; it may be good for some area like face and neck, but in areas where the body is not exposed like armpit or heels; you need a lotion that is thicker.
Due to that you add a thickener. You could always change the product from lotion to cream by adding more butters which will thicken the product. But if you wanted something that is less greasy; you can either add cetyl alcohol or stearic acid.

Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is usually from coconut or palm oil and its added to create a really thick product. If you wanted something that is thick and you want the feeling of thickness; where when you apply its draggy somewhat like ointment; then stearic acid is a good choice. We usually use staric acid on products that requires a strong adhesion to the skin. Some place where the skin is thick and unexposed like armpit, knee, heels, elbow etc.

Cetyl Alcohol

Cetyl alcohol; also plant based; are more smooth and it spreads nicely. It doesnt thicken the product so much and its much easier to apply. It also gives the nice silky finish to the lotion as compared to steraic acid that gives a rich-thick feeling. We usually use cetyl alcohol in products that requires easy spreading like product used on body, hands and legs.

So this is all about Emulsifier and thickeners. Tomorrow ill be talking about the preservation system in lotion making. Do check it out.

If you have any questions; join our Soap Lab Malaysia Club where we have people like you; who are interested in making your own skincare communicating and helping each other in it. You are most welcomed in the group. P/S: there are questions to be answered when you click to join group. Dont forget to answer to get accepted. 

Thank you for reading;


  1. Hi, do you sell BTMS 50? I would like to make my own Hair Conditioner bar


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