I told Twitter I was going to make a bunch of body products today and somebody said, “how?” So I decided to share the things I’ve figured out over a couple of years of trial and error when it comes to making some basic body items. Here are detailed steps for body lotion and some additional tips for other products below that:
Step One: Gather your ingredients and supplies.
I made a little bit of everything today, so I needed a little bit of everything. Depending on what you’re making you might want shea and/or cocoa butter, grape seed oil, vitamin E oil, rose hip seed oil, sunflower seed oil… you get the idea. You can use any “butters” or “oils” you decide. I like shea butter as a lotion base with just a little cocoa butter, mixed with grapeseed oil for body lotion, and just shea butter and rose hip seed oil for face cream. You can then add the essential oils you prefer for scent and some subtle effects. Lavender is my favorite, but maybe you’d prefer grapefruit or vanilla. (Cocoa butter smells like chocolate, so you either need to cover that scent with others or embrace it. It’s nice with vanilla–if you want to smell like birthday cake.)
I have bought these things in a number of places. You can get quite a few things at any old grocery store, certainly a “health food” type of grocery store. My mom found out that you can sometimes get your oils cheaper in the food section than the body care section. It’s the same thing, so compare price by volume before you put it in your cart. I have also bought many of the things you see in the photo here from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have good prices on high quality products–many of which are organic and/or fair trade and all (I think) are kosher.
Step Two: Mix ingredients.
For my basic body lotion, I put about a cup of shea butter, a 1/4 cup of cocoa butter, a 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil, a tablespoon of vitamin E oil, and sprinkled lavender to preference. (I use a lot–probably 40 drops.)
Stirring constantly, melt these together over very low heat, double-boiler style, as shown, until everything is blended and the mixture is clear.
Step Three: Whip and cool.
When the mixture begins to cool and enough air is whipped into it, it will get thicker, slightly duller and completely opaque.
Step Four: Use!
When it’s been refrigerated overnight, then allowed to return to room temperature, the lotion should have about the same texture as a nice thick buttercream cake frosting. (DON’T eat it! Okay, fine. DO eat it if you really must. It’s edible. But I can’t recommend it for internal use.) The lotion in the photos above is a face lotion made with about a cup of shea butter, a half cup of rose hip seed oil, a bit of vitamin E oil, and of course, essential oil of lavender. It’s the rose hip seed oil that gives it the yellow-orangey color. To the right is the body lotion I actually gave you the recipe for in the instructions. Its color comes from the grapeseed oil and it’s a nice pale green.
I keep any extras in the refrigerator, but I keep the ones I’m using out at room temperature. The butters definitely respond to temperature changes though, and are best kept below 75 degree (f). I start notice them getting too melty any hotter than that.
Other Body Care Recipes
For rolling Nat’s locs, I’ve been using cocoa butter mixed with just a bit of rose hip seed oil. Even my favorite ready-made loc butter has a bit of bees wax in it and this just gums up her hair and takes forever to wash out. I sometimes even cut the cocoa butter mixture with plain aloe gel–half and half, whipped with a fork. It’s light, and doesn’t hold the locs as tightly as heavier stuff or wax, but it’s good for her hair.
To make a detangler for Selina’s curls, I mix a spray bottle half and half with aloe gel and water, plus essential oil of lemon. Shake and store refrigerated. Shake again before use.
I brush my teeth with a spice jar filled to the top with baking soda, then slowly filled with hydrogen peroxide (there’s a lot of air in the baking soda, so there’s room for the peroxide) and about ten drops of peppermint oil. It’s a great whitener. Keeps the tea stains at bay.
I don’t use flouride toothpaste even when I do use ready-made tubes. It exacerbates my rosacea. If you want or need fluoride, this obviously isn’t a good option for you everyday, but could still be a whitening supplement to your usual toothpaste. It’s much cheaper than ready made whitening products–which contain these exact ingredients.
I also made some lip balm and some mustache wax today. It was my first go at those. I used a mix of half and half cocoa butter and beeswax, plus peppermint oil for the lip balm and cedar and sage oils for the mustache wax. (I did not whip it, but poured it into its little metal containers and stuck them right in the ‘fridge’.)
I await the early reviews on it. Will let you know if it needs tweaking. Meanwhile, if you have any tweaks for what I’ve told you here, do share. I developed these recipes/methods after a few trial runs. So far these are my best versions.
* I’ve often thought an ice-cream maker would work really well for this step. But I make such small batches, I don’t want to use mine for them. Also, I’m not sure how cleanup would go. Wouldn’t want lotion-y ice cream in the future.
** I use four-ounce glass jars intended for keeping cooking spices. I bought them really cheaply on the Internet. They have nice glass stoppers with plastic seals and are dishwasher safe so I can reuse them without worry about toxins leaching into my lotion.