Have you heard of lotion bars? Technically they are actually a body balm not a lotion because they are in solid form, but they are shaped like a bar of soap and used in place of your regular lotion (or after use of your regular lotion if you want super duper moisturization).
They are typically made of equal amounts of beeswax, solid fats, and liquid oils; there is some room for variation though based on your desired qualities and what oils/butters are being used. There are numerous recipes floating around the web, but the recipes I had tried were either too hard or too greasy feeling. Or both. I had a store-bought lotion bar that I loved; it was just so creamy and soft without being oily feeling, but it was often hard to find, and it cost $15 a bar! So, I made my own recipe based off the ingredients label of my favorite store-bought bar and made it for 1/10 the cost!
This recipe is the smallest I can make while keeping everything easy to measure. You can make it larger as needed, I frequently make it in batches 4x this size.
Luxurious Dry Skin Body Bar
Beeswax: 4 oz – I prefer beeswax with the natural scent
Solid Fats: 4 oz shea butter (you can reduce this measurement to 2 oz for a firmer bar for elbows, feet, etc)
Liquid Oils (or brittle butters): 2 oz cocoa butter – again I like the natural scented
1 oz sweet almond oil
1 oz sunflower oil (you could use 2 oz almond, but sunflower adds glide)
Extra Additives: 1 oz lanolin – this is the ingredient that really helps dry skin
essential oil as desired – my favorites are almond and vanilla, with a splash of amber
Melt all ingredients except the essential oil in the microwave on 60-70% power. Using reduced power keeps the temperatures lower so that the shea butter does not fractionate or become grainy textured. It isn’t a real problem if that happens, it just doesn’t feel as nice on the skin. I start with 5 minutes and then stir. Microwave for additional minutes on reduced power, stirring every couple minutes until everything is melted. Pour into molds – I use greased lotion tins from the dollar store which can hold 1.5-2 oz each. Place in the refrigerator for quick cooling – do not freeze at this point! Once they have solidified, pop them out of the mold and rub away!
Notes: You can substitute many of the fats and oils with other fats and oils that have similar qualities. Here are just some of my observations.
Solid Fats – Some people use hydrogenated vegetable oil (crisco) in their reicpes, but I LOVE shea butter. I think it gives me a richer feeling & longer lasting moisturization. I my climate I need all the help I can get, so I use Shea.
Liquid Oils – You don’t have to use all one type, as long as your total amount is roughly 4 oz. Sweet almond is great for many skin types and is fairly inexpensive, but I have also used sunflower and light olive oil. I want to try a small amount of Argan oil next because I love how velvety it feels and how quickly it absorbs.
“Brittle” butters such as cocoa or mango butter or coconut oil quickly turn to oil on the skin, therefore I prefer to include them in the liquid oil portion of the recipe to maintain a more creamy feeling bar. Initially I tried using these in the solid fats portion of the recipe (as many other recipes do), but noticed that it made a very oily feeling bar, which I didn’t like. Also, coconut oil will make a softer bar even in small amounts, so I always use an equal portion of cocoa or mango butter to firm it up a bit (for example: 1 oz cocoa butter, 1 oz coconut oil, 2 oz sweet almond oil OR 2 oz coconut oil, 1 oz cocoa butter, 1 oz olive oil).
Initially, I had less shea butter (as noted above). I liked this feel, and it felt nearly identical to the commercially manufactured bars I had purchased in the past. I altered this because a friend who always had noticed that the bar didn’t melt quickly enough for her because her hands were always cold. She was really having to rub to get the lotion to soften!
I tweaked the recipe a bit and noticed that the slightly softer bar was even more moisturizing on my skin as well, so this became my standard recipe!
I found a great picture tutorial at snapguide.com that covers a lot of detail as well.
One last note: I order my products from thesage.com . They have great quality and low prices. I have used them for years and never been disappointed. If this is your first time making lotion bars, you might want to get with a friend and split an order because, while there is no minimum order amount, the smallest size that many things come in is 8 or 16 oz, which can make an awfully large batch for a single person!