This after bath sleepy time lotion recipe was requested by newsletter subscriber Bonnie who was seeking a simple non-greasy lotion or cream, not based on coconut oil, that could be used on a 2 1/2 year old after her bath.
She also wanted it to be lightly scented with lavender or a blend of essential oils that would help calm, soothe and relax before bedtime.
While I designed this lotion to be kid-safe, there’s no reason it can’t be used on all ages!
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Ingredients and Why I Chose Them
- Sunflower Oil – I chose this oil because it’s a nice neutral oil that’s good for all skin types. Don’t have any on hand? Try sweet almond, rice bran, or your favorite oil in its place.
- Vegetable Emulsifying Wax – This ingredient enables oil and water to easily blend together to create a light lotion that doesn’t separate. (I use THIS KIND from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
- Distilled Water – Tap water can contain contaminants that you don’t want in a lotion, so distilled water is recommended. Check the bottled water section of your local grocery store.
- (Optional) Lavender Hydrosol (hydrolat)- This adds a gentle soothing touch to lotions. If you don’t have any, use more water instead. (I used Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) hydrosol from MRH.)
- Preservative – This prevents bacteria and mold from growing in your lotion. There are many options out there – some more natural than others. See more on this below.
- Essential Oil – I used lavender to give a light scent and since it’s been shown in studies (like THIS, THIS and THIS) to help promote a more restful sleep. See essential oil notes below for more ideas.
After Bath Sleepy Time Lotion Recipe
For optimal results, use a small scale, like THIS ONE, to weigh out ingredients when making handmade lotion. (It’s also perfect for weighing essential oils when making soap.)
- 23 g sunflower oil (or your favorite oil)
- 7 g vegetable emulsifying wax
- 40 g distilled water
- 30 g lavender hydrosol (or more distilled water)
- preservative of choice (see below)
- essential oil(s) of choice (see below)
How to Make the Lotion
Weigh out the distilled water and lavender hydrosol in a heatproof container. Weigh the sunflower oil and vegetable emulsifying wax in a separate heatproof container. (I use two small 4 oz jelly/canning jars.)
Place both jars down into a saucepan containing a couple inches of water, forming a double boiler of sorts. Turn the burner to medium low and heat until the wax is fully melted – about 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour the hot water/hydrosol and melted wax/oil together into a clean jar and stir, stir, stir with a fork. Stir frequently until the lotion starts to thicken as it cools. I usually place the container down into a bowl of ice water to help speed this step up.
Once cool enough for your preservative of choice, stir that in, then add essential oil, if using, and mix well.
This lotion will start off on the thinner side, but will thicken up as it cools. If you use an amount closer to 6 grams of emulsifying wax, instead of 7 grams, it will start out very watery and will take several hours or overnight to fully thicken up. (This is helpful to know if you want an even lighter/thinner lotion texture.)
Once cool, pour into lotion containers or jars.
I poured my lotion into airless pump bottles (purchased from LotionCrafter) to help extend shelf life further, but you could use glass jars as well. Don’t store your lovely handmade lotions or creams in metal tins or they can discolor/rust from the water content.
I most often use 4% (4 grams in this recipe) Leucidal SF Complete or 4% (4 g) Leucidal Liquid SF in lotions like this one. Both are naturally derived, probiotic based and ECOCert approved. I usually get at least a 3 month shelf life in my lotions/creams when using these products, though some readers have had varying experiences.
Be sure to also store your lotion in a cool place with even temperatures (bathrooms aren’t a good spot), out of sunlight, and scoop out the lotion with a clean spoon or use a pump style bottle to avoid contaminating with your fingers.
Just a note – vitamin E will not kill bacteria or mold, so it doesn’t act as a preservative. It will help with keeping oils from going rancid too early though!
Essential Oil Notes
I chose to add 3 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil for its soothing and sleep-promoting properties. You could easily add 4 or 5 drops if you’d like (for kids over 2), though I feel that 3 drops gives a soft scent that’s not overpowering.
If you want to make a blend, other rest-promoting essential oils to investigate include Roman chamomile (Arthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile), Mandarin (Citrus reticulata), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) and Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides).
For tons of great information on essential oils, my go-to book is The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. When making stuff for kids, I also always double check my chosen essential oils with THIS excellent list at Using EOs Safely.