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DIY Encyclopedia


There are a variety of ready-made  bases available for cream, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and more. These bases can be used on their own or you can customise them with additional ingredients such as carrier oils, essential oils, etc. Do not exceed the amount of additional ingredients by more than 10% of the amount of base, or the formulation may destabilise. For example, if you have 100ml of base, don't add in more than 10ml of extra ingredients. If adding in aqueous ingredients such as a hydrosol or aloe vera gel, it is recommended to also add in additional preservative.



One of the quintessential components of any recipe containing fats and aqueous parts are emulsifiers. A well known concept is that oil and water don’t mix, so in order to get them to play nicely, you will need to include an emulsifier in your formulation. Emulsifiers assist solid components to homogenise with liquids and insoluble liquids to blend with other liquids. An emulsifier will ‘emulsify’ or turn water and oil components into a cream, emulsion or substance that won’t separate easily. 

Food Grade

The product page will specify if the item is food grade or not. If you are unsure, send us an email and we will confirm.

We do not recommend that you ingest essential oils, unless under your homeopath or doctor's supervision. If you do want to ingest the essential oils, please choose an organic oil or high quality oil such as Still Pure.


Gelling Agents

These can create a smooth, gel-like feel and consistency in a product as well as aid stabilisers and thickeners. Gelling agents are sometimes considered thickening agents in themselves.


This class helps lengthen shelf life of the product, prevent active compounds from losing their properties, and prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and mold. A  preservative is essential in any formulation containing water or aqueous substances (hydrosols, botanical infusions, aloe vera gel, etc). If your formula contains only oils and no aqueous ingredients (eg, a lip balm), then a preservative is not necessary. Usage: 0.5 - 2%.


These help make an otherwise insoluble ingredient soluble in a medium. A good example of this is to solubilise or uniformly disperse essential oils in water or water based products (eg, in making a room spray). Confusion sometimes arises between  solubilisers and emulsifiers. To decide which to use, think about the purpose and ingredients of your product. Are you trying to get large proportions of oils/butters to mix with aqueous ingredients to form an emulsion/cream/lotion? Use an emulsifier. Or are you just trying to dissolve a small amount of oil or essential oil in an aqueous medium to make a face toner or room spray? Use a solubiliser.


Sometimes a formula can destabilise, separate or lose its active properties or functions. In order to prevent this, you may want to include a stabiliser. Stabilisers will also aid emulsifiers and improve shelf life.


Short for SURFace ACTing AgeNT. These function as cleaning, foaming and washable products. They are sometimes also referred to as foaming agents, detergents or soaps (though they are not true soaps). Surfactants often have other abilities too, such as emulsifying, solubilising, lubricating, thickening and enhancing barrier penetration. 

Please read A beginner’s Guide To Surfactants for more on these fun and fascinating products.


Thickeners add body and viscosity to formulations. While the function of thickeners is obvious, thickeners can also act as emulsifiers, gelling agents or moisturisers in a formulation.