Essential equipment for making cosmetics

Sep 29, 2021 | The basics

So, you have probably seen a lot of posts with recipes how to make your own lotion, lip balm, shampoo and other cool things that you can actually use and are suited for your skin/hair type, scented the way you wanted and has all other things that you actually desire.

However, when you decide to follow their instructions sometimes everything feels a little bit too overwhelming. You have to get some ingredients and search for them, other than that – make sure you have all the right equipment for making cosmetics. So here is the guide for the most useful equipment that is used most of the time or is specifically used for that type of product. Here we go!



Technically not equipment, however it is an essential thing and a good practice to start making your products in a clean environment. You definitely want to make sure that your products are safe to use and this is a way to do that.

Especially if you are still sharing some of other things from your kitchen. I do not recommend doing this, but for the first several trials it is acceptable, just so you would know if you like to make those type of products and do not want to invest more money for things you do not like making.

To make things clear, rubbing alcohol is also known as isopropyl alcohol or ethanol alcohol. Typically you can find it in two concentrations: 70% or 96%. If you only can find 96% alcohol it is also good – you can make 70% solution yourself with just a bit of distilled water.

70% alcohol is necessary for cleaning your workspace and equipment before and after you start working. Also, it is used for sanitizing jars / bottles where you will keep your final products.


Not everything can be washed out with just regular soap or dishwashing agents, sometimes you need some specific agents to clean your equipment.

This is especially true for anhydrous products. Use mineral oil, paraffin to get as much of the anhydrous product as you can and then you can actually use soap or dishwashing agent.

TIP:  If you have a lot of hard wax left in the beaker, heat it up again and wipe it with some tissue paper to get most of it and then use regular cleaning agents.


Having several of them is very useful. For making not so precise things the kitchen scales are okay to use (they usually have an error of 0.1 g).  However for small batches that need precision I would recommend to get jewelry scales that weigh up to 500 g and have an error of 0.01 g.

You need to have precise scales to make good and repeatable results. So, definitely look for scales that have an error of 0.01 g (0.1 g is a bit too much of an error).  


Also, I would recommend to look for the scales that are wired – in this way you will always see the weight as the ones with batteries tend to shut down after some time if not in use.

However, I have the very basic scales that weigh up to 500 g (with 0.01 g increment) from eBay and kitchen scales that weigh up to 5 kg. They both work just fine and for the beginning I could not recommend them more.



This is a checklist with essential equipment for making DIY cosmetics to help you get everything you really need.

4. glass beakers

I cannot imagine making anything without the beakers made of glass. They are good for weighting and storing ingredients, mixing the ingredients together, even making emulsions there.

There is a variety of beakers that you can choose from, but look for those that can withstand heating for longer periods of time. Maybe for now you are not thinking of heating anything in them, but chances are someday you will!

Also, their maintenance is very easy – they can be washed, scrubbed and cleaned in no time (even when you are making something with color).

What is more impressive, there are a lot of different sizes of them so everyone will choose the ones they like – I personally love the beakers that are 50 ml, 100 ml, 250 ml and 600 ml. These are my go to beakers for formulations.

If you are thinking of making emulsions, make sure that 600 ml beaker (or even bigger ones) are quite high and the diameter is a bit bigger than your emulsion blender, so you will get nice and even emulsions. I also have some 25 ml beakers for measuring very small amounts of ingredients and 1000 ml beaker (I usually make soap here).


I am not a fan of small glass prep bowls, but you can definitely use those as well especially for weighting your ingredients if you have the scales that weigh larger amounts (up to 1 kg).

The reason why I do not like them very much is that they are much heavier than glass beakers. It could be a bit of a problem when weighting the ingredients if you have the scales that weigh up to 100g or 500g because these prep bowls depending on the size weigh up to 200g. This makes less room for weighting your actual ingredients.

Also, they are much wider then beakers and take much more space in a heating pot. So make sure you have a wide heating pot for heating several ingredients at the same time in the beakers.

Another thing is that these bowls are short and when heating them in a water bath, there is a higher risk of unwanted water getting to your ingredients. And the last thing – they are not very handy when making a lotion as everything will splash away from them and you will have a very messy counter. However, if you do like these prep bowls or can find only them – this is good too. Just take these considerations into account.

Starter pack:

  • 2-3 beakers / prepping bowls of 25 ml,
  • 2-3 beakers / prepping bowls of 50 ml,
  • 2-3 beakers / prepping bowls of 100 ml,
  • 2-3 beakers / prepping bowls of 250 ml,
  • beaker of 600 ml (if you are thinking of making emulsions/small quantities of soap).


I like using Norpro Jar/Icing spatulas. They are flexible, have very nice edge and are the best for scraping the last bits out of containers/beakers. Usually I use these for mixing liquid / heated ingredients or for getting lotion into designated jars. As I have used them extensively, some of them broke (unfortunately :/) and I definitely need to buy more of them as they are definitely very handy.

Glass rods also come very handy when mixing your ingredients, so get several of them as well. They are cheaper than spatulas and you should easily find them. However, if you would like to mash and mix something up harder (like salts, bath bombs) I would recommend wider spatulas like those for cooking.



Can be metal or plastic, though I like the metal ones better especially when weighting butters. You can use the same spoons form the kitchen, but in the long run you would like to have separate measuring spoons.


Stickers / labels / washi tape to label your products. These can be in different shapes and designs, but I like different colors of washi tape and some stickers (round or rectangular ones).

Write the name of your formulation and the exact date you made it, so afterwards you can look how that product stays over time.


I prefer using glass bottles and jars for my formulations as I can reuse these afterwards and I want to use as little plastic as possible. However, the plastic ones have much more variety and shapes that you might like it.

The glass bottles usually are 5 ml, 10 ml, 30 ml, 50 ml and 100 ml of storage space and have a neck of 18 mm. For most of the formulations you would need 30 ml, 50 ml or 100 ml bottles, so look for these sizes.

Look for the caps, caps with droppers, pipettes and pumps that are also size 18mm. The color of the bottles does not matter that much, but I do not recommend using clear ones especially for anhydrous formulations.

There are more sizes for glass jars, however they are more pricey than aluminum / plastic ones. You can also find jars made of cardboard which are environmentally friendly and usually hold the product quite well. My go to sizes are: 30 ml, 60 ml and 120 ml.

For the lip balms I still use 5 ml plastic tubes, however I would like to switch to cardboard tubes in the future.



Get the one that is A4 format and looks very appealing to you, so you will always go formulating with great attitude and passion. Notebook is necessary for taking notes – writing the recipe, method, date and any other significant things that happened during and after the making.


1. A POT

Kitchen pot will work just fine and is needed for heating the ingredients.

Method: take your pot, pour some water into it and heat it up. Then put glass beaker with the ingredient you want to melt in the water and occasionally stir it up – this is needed to ensure that the temperature is even throughout the ingredient. You can definitely find the term as ‘double boiler’ and this only means that you heat your ingredients in a water bath as described here.

If you want to invest in more advanced equipment you should consider looking for hotplates. Using them you do not need water and usually magnetic stirrer is included in the hotplate to make everything more convenient.

What is even better that the hotplates maintain the same temperature that you want for long periods of time, while using double boiler you cannot control the temperature.

There is also an option to get a water bath that can maintain the same temperature though they do not have a magnetic stirrer. But it is also a very nice option.

The temperature in water bath is as high as the water boiling temperature. However, this does not mean that the same temperature will be in your glass beaker – the temperature will be much lower (about 75-85°C). Take this into account if you want to get a very hard wax as they have high melting temperatures and are hard to melt through.


It is needed to check the temperature while heating. Very important for making lotions and soap. There are different varieties of them. The best ones are those with wires that can be immersed in the heating solution for longer periods and show the temperature.

However, simple electronic thermometer will work just fine, though you will have to check the temperature more often.


This is a must if you a considering making a lotion or soap. Look for the one that has a metal ending (not a plastic one) as I find that the plastic one can be ‘eaten up’ a bit when making soap. Also, the metal ending is much sturdier and easier to clean.

I have a basic blender that has a power of 800 W and the results are good and that is definitely enough for a starting point. There is a great post about using different immersion blenders for your own use when a professional laboratory mixer is not available.

You can look for mini homogenizer as well, though it has much less power and it is difficult to make heavy creams with it. But for light emulsions it should work quite well. And the best thing about it is the size – it is miniature compared to a blender and you can carry it wherever you go. 


The small wire whisks are useful for small quantities of lip gloss and lotions (because not all lotions need high sheer). However, I do not use them that very much – usually immersion blender and a spatula is enough. 

They are also good for dispersing colorants in the oil when making soap. The larger whisks are good for mixing the ingredients for bath bombs.  

Make sure that all whisks are made from metal and do not have any silicone on the wires – after a while the silicone tends to get off the wire and stay in your product. 


Very handy when you need just a small amount of things – like drops. Even though essential oil or some active ingredients have droppers inside the bottles, sometimes it takes too much time to get them out and is easier to use a pipette.

Make sure to use a different pipette for each ingredient.

By doing this, you’ll avoid cross contamination. You can use either disposable or reusable pipettes, but disposable ones are actually intended to use just only once, so you would need a lot of them, while reusable ones are made of glass and can be reused many times. The latter ones need special cleaning brushes but it is worth to get them. 


These are only handy when you make thicker lotions / shampoos / serums and want to pour them into bottle containers. Make sure that the tip of the funnel is narrower than the neck of a bottle or other packaging that you are using.

I usually make not so thick products so they nicely go from the beaker to the bottle. But I can definitely see that funnels can be very useful.


pH strips are not very reliable as they show only a range of pH, but for a starting point this is still a good choice.

If you can get a portable pH meter – then go for it. Always make sure, that the pH meter has several solutions for calibration and storing liquid. Apera #AI311 Premium Series PH60 has some very good reviews and is a good choice for that price range. 

Recently I got a very nice pH meter Extech PH110 that does not need diluting your final product to measure the pH. And all I can say, that I am loving it! It makes everything so much easier and I am not sure how I could lived without it. 

You can only test the pH if your product has water in it. So, if you are planning to make only anhydrous (without water) products, then you do not need this.


8. a whisk attachment

If you are getting a blender for making lotions, then check if the blender can have an additional whisk attachment. It will be used for whipper body butters, whipped body scrubs. This is definitely not essential, but I have had a great time making fluffy formulations. I hope you will find it useful too.


This is a must if you are planning to work with dry detergents or fine powders. They are very unpleasant to inhale and is not good for your health in the long term. So, get the one that can handle a wave of tiny particles in air and protect your lungs.

10. coffee grinder

I have actually used it for only grinding SCI to powder, but it is much more versatile. You can also make grains to foam, some cleansing clay formulations and it is indispensable for making make up products to mix the pigments together until they are uniform.

What would you add to this list? Write down in the comments as I would love to hear from you. 


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