No heat, quick Natural lotion / moisturiser


Cold process emulsifiers are becoming increasingly popular as manufacturers search for ways of reducing costs and greener production methods.  The conventional way of forming a emulsion is to heat the two phases separately then bring them together with mixing.  It takes a lot of time and energy to heat the ingredients to 70°C and hold them there for 20 minutes.  For this reason cold process emulsifiers are becoming increasingly popular.  Unfortunately there are a limited number of suitable emulsifiers and those available are often restricted in application.

I’ve been experimenting with Sucragel which was made specifically made to produce a stable emulsion using cold processing (INCI: Glycerine & Prunus dulcis (Sweet Almond) oil & Sucrose Laurate & Citrus aurantium dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water).  You can buy it in the UK from Gracefruit and Ofasimplenature. In the US it’s sold by  It comes in various forms. The CF version can be used for veggie oils, esters and silicones and the AOF version is strictly only for veggie oils. The AOF BIO version produces a slightly thicker lotion and contains 94% certified organic ingredients and is certified by the Soil Association and EcoCert so is considered “natural”.

I had a little chat with the cosmetic chemist at Alfa who created sucragel at SCS Formulate who provided some useful formulating tips.

Sucragel already contains lot of glycerin so there’s no need to add much to your recipe but sucragel has some downsides. It can’t create a thick lotion – doesn’t matter how many butters, cetyl etc you add it just will not thicken!   Sucragel’s creator informed me that if you add water then sucragel will take on the viscosity of the water .  So, we will have to rely on xanthan gum  for thickening, and quite a lot of it – 1% minimum.  So, in my opinion, it’s best to save sucragel for lotions for oily or normal or slightly dry skin and rely on your normal hot process lotion for formulas for dry skin or use one of the recipes in the lotion tutorial in this blog –

Sucragel also doesn’t like electrolytes and cationic ingredients so to avoid lotion separation do hold off on adding ingredients like: sodium lactate, aloe vera, green tea, proteins and quats.  It also doesn’t like stearic acid.

It also needs to be made in a certain way/order and a stick blender used as a mixer so that it will emulsify properly.  Fussy eh?

Here’s a recipe for a very light lotion or face moisturiser for normal skin:-

86.9% distilled/deionised/purified water (do pre-boil the water (adding a bit extra as some will evaporate) in the microwave to kill some of the non-endospore-forming bacteria)
1% xanthan gum
1% glycerin
0.5% liquid germall plus (do not use optiphen as the lotion will separate. Please see here – for info on why we are adding a preservative and also for reviews of alternative preservatives)

3% sucragel CF or AOF
7% liquid vegetable oil (if you have the CF version you can include esters and silicones without risking lotion separation)
0.1% vitamin E (note: vitamin E is not a preservative)
0.5% fragrance/essential oil

(Note: deviations from this recipe and method/order of making it may result in lotion separation as sucragel is really fussy I’m afraid).

(For a more emollient lotion you can alter the above recipe to include 20% oil, 5% sucragel and delete the glycerin as Sucragel contains a lot of glycerin already and use 72% water.)

1. Boil your distilled/purified/deionized water in the microwave to kill some of the non-endospore-forming bacteria.  Do add some extra water before you boil it as some will evaporate.  Let the water cool to room temperature.  

2. Put all your water phase ingredients in one container (except the gum).  Then sprinkle the xanthan gum on the top, trying to make sure it doesn’t clump. Mix well.

3. In a separate container (your oil phase container), put your Sucragel, then add the rest of the oil phase ingredients to the Sucragel mixing with your stick blender as you add each ingredient.

4. Slowly pour the oil mixture into the water phase ingredient container (pour directly into the vortex) whilst mixing with the stick blender vigorously for 3 minutes. (Note: sucragel is fussy, so we can’t use a fork, whisk or other type of mixer).

More recipes –

3 replies
  1. nia jenkins
    nia jenkins says:

    thank you for the article, I tried sucragel years ago, but as you found, it is very sensitive and also even at a high percentage results in a lotion, impossible to create a cream. I found that gums at 1% leave an unpleasant trace when applied to the skin with sucragel.
    I agree that cold process emulsifiers are the way to go so why has nobody come up with one that really does emulsify and thicken to create viscous, stable creams. I think there is a huge niche in the market for a product like this.

    • jbarberlondon
      jbarberlondon says:

      Hi Nia, Sepigel 305 from the personal formulator and Sepiplus from Lotioncrafter are great, easy to use cold process emulsifiers/thickeners/stabilisers that are well worth trying. They are sensitive to electrolytes, though so best not to use sodium lactate and some ingredients like: aloe vera, hyaluronic acid or proteins can also contain electrolytes.


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