I made some Calendula Cream recently with some calendula oil that I had infused. Many people hate the preservative Optiphen Plus because of the so-called lotion gremlins and the fact that it has a tendency to break emulsions. This is still my preferred preservative as it is broad spectrum (takes care of fungus, yeast and anti-microbials), does not release formaldehyde, does not rely on parabens to do its dirty work, and it does not require a TDG to transport it, plus it works very effectively for most applications … most of the time. The gremlins got me again the last time I used it. They got me good. They had me praying to Spirit for a successful outcome as I had a request for the lotion and this was the last of my calendula oil. Thankfully, I happen to be more stubborn than any gremlin you’ve ever met (perhaps that is the Taurus in me?) and I managed to bring the emulsion back together into creamy, skin quenching goodness.
**Note: I am assuming that you already know lotion making procedures when you are reading this blog post. If you are interested in learning and need guidance, I do teach a Lotion Making 101 class on formulating and making the lotion. It is an intensive day, but you will know how to make all lotion with any ingredient by the end of it. **
- Distilled Water (or Hydrosol) 64%
- Aloe Powder 200x (Helps soothe dry and chapped skin) 0.50%
- Sodium Lactate (humectant, draws moisture to skin) 1.5%
- Silk Amino Acids 0.50%
- Cetearyl Alcohol (Thickener and Stabilizer) 2%
- Ritamulse SCG (Emulsifier, binds oil and water together) 4 %
- Calendula infused Sunflower oil (see how to do this by following this link). 12.5%
- Coconut Oil (I used some Monoi de Tahiti being I had it available) 4%
- Shea Butter 4% (I used the natural, but the Refined Shea is less hassle to work with)
- Jojoba Oil, Golden (imparts a satiny finish to the product) 3%
Cool Down Phase:
I followed proper lotion making procedures and ended up with a lovely lotion coming together, or so I was led to believe anyway.
I continued blending another minute to be sure it was going to hold and then it happened…. the emulsion started to break…
I kept blending and it became worse until I was left with a bowl of what appeared to be curdled lotion (appetizing, isn’t it?).
I was pretty choked, but previous experience has taught me to keep blending. Blend like your life depends on it! Blend until your arm feels like it is going to fall off! This can take 10-15 minutes (but feels like 4 hours). Trust me… it WILL go back together. It has never failed for me. And when it does, you have this silky, creamy, soft, unbelievable cream that absorbs beautifully and quenches the skin!
To be honest, it was my daughter (who was around 9 years old at the time) who discovered this trick. I had, what I thought, was a failed batch of lotion and put it to the side and started making more as I needed it for Christmas gifts. She asked if she could stick blend the curdled batch just for fun. As I was remaking the first back she blended the wrecked batch for around 10-15 minutes. Then I heard “Mom, look… it’s lotion again!” She had brought the batch back together into a beautiful, silky, smooth creamy lotion. The new batch followed suit and broke as well, so I tried to replicate what she did and sure enough it came back together. Ever since this day, if an emulsion breaks I just stick blend until my arm feels like it will fall off. (Not all of them break, it depends on your ingredients).
So the moral of the story… Do not be scared of Optiphen Plus. It is an excellent preservative that gets the job done. However, it may just take some playing to get it to a finished product.
Have fun creating!
Love & Light!