Creams and lotions
Creams differ from ointments in that they are a water in oil type of emulsion, where water in some form is the main ingredient. They are commonly used as moisturisers and as the base for sun screen. They are used as healing creams for skin conditions that need to be able to breathe, such as excema and psorisis or as aloe cream for burns, rather than a waxy ointment. They can be thick and rich, like handcream or a lotion thin enough to spray through an atomiser.
The oil phase consists of fixed (or seed) oils or herb oil extractions with an emulsifying wax. I use cetomacgrocol, a specially treated beeswax that is very consistant in its results and very forgiving of mistakes. There are many different waxes available. When you purchase an emulsifying wax from the supplier, ask how it is used, they can vary slightly. Stearic acid is a commonly used emulsuifier for cleansing creams. It is different in that it needs to be stirred and cooled in a water bath. It can be unstable and difficult to use.
Lanolin, or wool fat, and other waxes and butters are added as part of the oil phase.
The water phase can be distilled or di-ionised water or it can be a herb extraction, aloe, or other juices or extract. If you use powdered extracts, they are dissolved in this phase.
The two separate phases are heated before combining, then stirred until the emulsion is cooled to 40 C or below, when the essential oils can be added without fear of evaporation. If you are making a healing cream or lotion, this is the time to add your tinctures.
The level of skill required is less than it takes to make a cheese sauce and the only extra equipment you will need are two preserving thermometers.