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Can Sodium Lactate Reduce Drag in a Lotion Base?

Finding myself too short on time to work on developing my own lotion from scratch, I purchased a lotion base to experiment with for the time being. I won’t name the supplier, but it’s a goat milk lotion base from a company I have purchased regularly from, and it was recommended by a friend.

I made my first two batches using the company’s suggested water-to-base ratios for a regular lotion and a light body butter. The lotion consistency was too thin, and the light body butter was a little too thick, so next time I will try something in between the two. However, I noticed that neither of the two lotions I made are easy to rub in. This is a problem for me. I sought suggestions on a lotion making Facebook group, and Mark Fuller said the drag is from the Ewax in the formula.

I asked if I could add sodium lactate to the base, since a homemade batch using it turned out reasonably well. It is known for being a powerful humectant that doesn’t make your lotion sticky. (Source) In a nutshell, he said that since sodium lactate changes pH, there was a good chance it would destabilize my emulsion. His suggestion was to add 2% of a low viscosity dimethicone to get rid of the drag instead. But I don’t really like the idea of adding a silicone product to my lotion. So I went ahead and tried the sodium lactate anyway, just to see what would happen.

Results of Adding Sodium Lactate to a Lotion Base

Since I was running out of my face lotion, I concocted a quick recipe that could be used on my face if this experiment was successful.

Face Lotion Recipe

Ways in which this experiment was successful:

  1. My lotion does not have drag.
  2. It leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth.

Ways in which this experiment was unsuccessful:

  1. Despite using a water-to-base ratio that should have made a thick lotion, mine was quite runny.
  2. The final product has a “fluffy” appearance caused by lots of tiny air bubbles all throughout the lotion. I suspect that this is the sodium lactate and that it didn’t blend into the lotion at all. So it is essentially beaded up and existing on its own, alongside and throughout the lotion, in the form of tiny bubbles. Something similar happened when I accidentally added  a water-soluble deodorant additive to an oil-based deodorant recipe – the additive beaded up and wouldn’t emulsify into the oils.

Whether my conclusions in #2 are accurate or not, I still wouldn’t sell this product. Looks like I have more experimenting to do. What would you do to reduce drag in a lotion base?