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How to Prolong the Shelf Life of Homemade Body Lotion

Updated on April 30, 2012

All-natural and organic are all the rage these days and we’re discovering how these products can benefit our skins, but one of the downsides to homemade body lotions and creams is the short shelf life. Commercially-produced products tend to last for months, but it’s because of the chemical preservatives these products contain. There are some simple ways to extend the shelf life of lotions and creams we make at home, so let’s explore ways to get more out of our efforts.

Anti Microbial Oils

This is one of the easiest ways to prolong the shelf life of homemade body lotion and creams. Oils with anti microbial properties such as grapefruit seed oil, tea tree, thyme or caraway can help to make these homemade products last longer by fighting the growth of bacteria and other microbes.


If you want to use a natural preservative, antioxidants are the way to go. These can be added to homemade lotions and creams to extend the shelf life and to slow down oxidation. This is especially helpful if you use oils that oxidize faster. Some of the oils that deteriorate and oxidize quickly include evening primrose, flax, almond and hemp, and if you’re using these in homemade products you may want to consider adding an antioxidant to the ingredient list.

Some easy-to-find and affordable antioxidants include Vitamin E, but if possible use T-50 vitamin E oil. It has a much higher level of gamma tocopherols, and is considered to be more effective than the ordinary type. Rosemary oil is also a natural antioxidant, so adding it to the mix can help extend the shelf life as well.

Tips and Tricks

Bacteria is one of the biggest reasons why homemade body lotion and creams do ‘off’ after a while. Luckily, there are ways to ensure that you minimize the transfer of bacteria. Always wash and dry your hands before using the lotion or cream. This is particularly true if you’re using it out of a jar and have to put your fingers into the product to scoop some out. Storing your homemade skin care products in tubes rather than pots or jars can also help. It will mean not having to use your fingers to scoop any out, and may also minimize exposure to air.

When making body lotion, hand cream, or face cream at home, you should also sterilize the containers and utensils you use. This will keep bacteria from getting into the product as you’re making it, and will in turn extend its shelf life.

Making smaller batches will also help. Most homemade skin care products can be stored in the fridge to extend their lives, but should still be used up within 3 weeks. If you do make a new batch, make just enough for a three week period, so you’ll always be sure the product is fresh.

Using distilled water instead of tap water may also help to make a homemade body lotion or cream last longer. If you can avoid the use of water altogether, that’s even better because the oils tend to deteriorate faster if they’re used as part of an emulsion.

Remember that homemade skin care products can and will never last as long as store-bought products, but if you follow the tips above, you can keep them fresher for longer. One of the many advantages of homemade products is that you know it’s fresh and the ingredients are at their best. So, making a new batch every few weeks, is just another way to give your skin the absolute best.


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