Growing up, we used whatever commercial lotion smelled nice. I remember having terribly raw, red, chapped hands as a child. In my later teens, I switched to more natural lotions. They smelled great, but I needed to apply them all the time to keep my skin moisturized, which, since they smelled so good I really didn't mind. But I still had really dry, itchy skin in the cold winter months.
In my twenties I worked in the natural skin care industry for a few years and learned quite a bit. Those "more natural" lotions I thought were better still had petrochemicals and other artificial ingredients. At the time, my father had recently passed away from cancer so I really wanted to make healthy changes in my life. I had always been interested in nature and natural remedies, and it was time to get it in high gear.
I bought books on soap and lotion making, took classes, and began creating cold process soap and made-from-scratch lotions & salves in my own kitchen. My first attempts were . . . less than pretty, LOL!! My first attempt at soap I discovered I don't like olive oil as a main ingredient - one of the ingredients, yes, but not the main ingredient. That yields a greenish-yellow, slimy, low-lather bar. It cleaned, but it wasn't anything like the luxurious cold process soaps I'd previously used. My first attempt at lotion I used beeswax and borax together as the emulsifier - tricky getting the amounts right, but it did the job! However, it made for a gritty-feeling lotion.
With my mini-successes, I began to purchase better ingredients for the job and have been experimenting ever since. I love to try out different ingredients! There are so many oils, butters, essential oils, and extracts to choose from! And the never-ending list of botanicals . . . I've been successfully making lotions, soaps, and salves for about a decade now.