Body Butter: Step One in Creating an Apothacary At Home

My friend and two-houses-down neighbor Alex, kindly volunteered to walk me through the basics of making my own body butter. This had been a goal of mine, scribbled in my hurried handwriting somewhere in the middle of a list that is too long for comfort. Not only have I become fed up with the cocktail of toxic chemicals in most store-bought lotions; I have an agenda to become more self-sufficient and less chained to buying more and more products that I could easily make myself.  Additionally, it is another way to save. Buying supplies was a bit of an investment but at least I am learning something new about body care, the supplies were not petroleum-based but organic,  and sourced fair-trade.  I am also not supporting some mega-company who ignore the impact of their products actually leaching into our bodies. Instead, available to us are gorgeous, raw oils that are pure enough to eat. These are healing, soothing, and moisturizing oils that actually protect skin on a deeper level.

Personally I have gone years without consistently using lotions whether I needed it or not. The one exception was when my heels would become so dry they’d crack. I’d  squeeze a dab of lanolin from my mom’s tube and wear socks over the super-rich film all night. My heels would be restored by the next morning.  My husband and babies though, with their darker skin, show up ashy especially in the winter. The first thing Paul does after stepping out of the shower every morning is to slap on a layer of lotion, usually that supposed cocoa butter variety. The ingredients are awful and I hate to think of yet more exposure to junk products.

With the babies we’ve used mostly organic moisturizers, Burt’s Bees,  and some Aveeno products but they are still not as wholesome for the skin as what we were able to make right in our kitchens. The one apparent downside to making your own is that, without preservatives and stabilizers, homemade body butter/lotion has a shorter shelf life. Some recipes will even suggest you store your lotion in the fridge. This recipe seems quite stable though and will at least last well for a few weeks.

The texture is different from the slippery store-bought lotion, it is fairly solid at room temperature, if it’s over-whipped it can become crumbly. I thought the crumbly version was pretty cool actually, but all the stages initially feel a bit dry to the touch and then as you spread it over the warmth of skin, it melts and gives a sheen to your skin as you rub it in.

I played around with the recipe, trying different “carrier”oils combined with the solid oil. My solid oil was a 32 oz. tub of raw African shea butter. You could use cocoa butter etc.  “Carrier” oils are oils such as grape seed, olive, coconut, almond, apricot and avocado. So far Paul has been happy with his “Relaxation Blend” scented version and has been swiping fingerfuls for his morning moisturization. My one worry was that with such undiluted fats/oils his “business casual” work clothes would become grease-stained if he didn’t rub the body butter in very well. So far, everything looks great, especially his skin!

Ingredients, or rather,  ratios

60% solid fats such as shea butter, cocoa butter

40% carrier oil

1 tsp. cornstarch per cup of oils (this is optional, some feel it makes for a less greasy feel, I used it just because I wanted to try it)

Essential oils to smell (I would just look up the essential oils and check for any irritant qualities before using them in something that contacts skin so directly)


1. Melt the shea butter over a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until almost entirely melted and liquid.

2. Set a measuring cup onto scale and tare back to zero. Pour 60% of whatever total amount you wish to make. (In my case it was 5.8 oz.) I cheated so badly on the math, I actually texted my engineer husband to work out the problem. I didn’t even bother to look for a calculator.

3. Pour the carrier oil, 40% of the total amount.

4.Pour both oils into a bowl set into a larger bowl filled with cold or ice water. Add cornstarch and shake in some essential oils, if desired. I just added them until it smelled right.

5. Whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer just until the mixture begins to softly hold its shape.

6. Pour into containers. I found that wide-mouth containers work better. My poor husband trying to scoop from a narrow-mouthed Ball jar with his basketball player hands, that should have been obvious to me!

This entry was published on May 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm and is filed under Home Apothacary, The Basics. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Body Butter: Step One in Creating an Apothacary At Home

  1. Lori on said:

    Lush! I want to try!

  2. Hélène on said:

    even cheaper, and way lazier: just rub coconut oil on. works on my heels too. i didnt bother whipping it, as u can do, just scoop some out of the Not To Eat jar lol
    its really greasy on ur skin tho for quite a while, so Paul mite not want to use it 🙂
    EVO can also be used as the mediterraneans have done for centuries. i think the coconut oil is better for my heels tho…more actual healing from it–the MCTs?

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