DIY Brightening Water Lily Cream

Katja Kokko | 19.2.2017

I had a study project called “Reverse formulation” in my studies at Formula Botanica. The purpose was to choose one existing skincare product and try to make as identical version of it as possible (the texture, not active ingredients). Of course it’s impossible to know the right percentages of ingredients, but when you know how to create different textures to emulsions by changing the amount of emulsifier, oil and water, it’s possible to get close to the formula you’re imaging. However, emulsification is kind of artwork and it takes lot of time and practice to be really good.

I order almost all of my ingredients from the French Aroma Zone and from British Aromantic. The most of my essential oils are from Neal’s Yard Remedies due to their very high quality, but if I can’t find something from them, I order from Aroma Zone, since they have a very good selection.

I tried to make a moisturising cream with similar texture than South-African probiotic skincare brand Esse has in their Deep Moisturiser. Oh well, I think the founder of Esse, Trevor Steyn, would have fun when he sees what kind of version of his art piece I made! However, I had the same emulsifier (Olivem 1000, inci Cetearyl olivate and Sorbitan olivate) and xanthan gum as a thickener/stabilizer. But I didn’t order Oliwax (inci Hydrogenated olive oil, Olive fruit oil and Olive fruit oil unsaponifiables) which is also been used in Deep Moisturiser.

My version is little bit lighter than Esse’s, but the feeling on the skin is almost the same: very silky, smooth, light and easily absorbed. The scent is very close to identical because I used same essential oils, but you can smell a pinch of rooibos in Esse’s cream which I didn’t use. Anyway, I’m very happy with the texture and the final cream even though it could have been better. The cream is moisturising, balancing, brightening and soothing.

Water Lily Cream


52 % Witch Hazel Water

10 % Chamomile Water

1 % Glycerin

0,3 % Xanthan Gum


10 % Camelia Oil

10 % Kalahari Melon Seed Oil

10 % Jojoba Oil

4 % Olivem 1000

Cooling phase

0,5 % Water Lily Extract (Nymphaea alba)

0,3 % Bisabolol

0,4 % Vitamin C

0,2 % Tocopherol

0,8 % Preservative Eco

0,1 % Geranium

0,1 % Ylang ylang

0,1 % Roman Chamomile

0,1 % Spearmint

0,1 % Vanilla


1. Heat the water-phase in a bain-marie to 70C except xanthan gum. Add the xanthan gum last and mix well with a milk frother.

2. Heat the oil-phase in a bain-marie to 70C.

3. Pour the oil-phase into the water-phase while continually blending with a milk frother or blender and blend for 6 minutes.

4. Remove the jug containing the emulsion from the bain-marie and continue to blend until the mixture thickens.

5. Once the emulsion has cooled to 40C, add active ingredients and a preservative. Add the essential oils once the emulsion has cooled to 25C.

6. Pour the final emulsion into the glass jar.

How much do you use the emulsifier and oils to create a perfect emulsion?

Photos Katja Kokko

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