A few weeks ago I posted on how to make a homemade lotion bar, that’s a real winner every time. However, there’s nothing quite like a homemade body lotion recipe with shea butter. And the first recipe I’m making today takes it to the next level.
I keep a bottle of this magical formula topped up as often as I can. And you can too, with my fabulous DIY lotion recipe with shea butter!
Besides this wonderful shea body lotion, we’ll also be discussing the importance of a preservative for beauty products with high water content, as well as the importance of storing it correctly.
And keep reading, because following this post I have 4 more excellent homemade lotion recipes, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Why Make Your Own Lotion?
You might ask yourself, why bother making your own lotion? Well, besides the joy and satisfaction of making your own homemade things, there are a few practical benefits that come with learning how to make lotion.
First of all, there’s the fact that you can actually save money! Luxury skincare is very expensive and depending on your supplier, it’s possible to save a lot of money buying the ingredients and making them yourself.
When big industries make cosmetics for the market, they have to cost certain things like overhead. Beyond the base price of ingredients, they need somewhere to mix their ingredients into a product, and to pay for the equipment and the staff to actually do it. You don’t need to worry about that so much.
Another key takeaway from this is that you have complete control over your product. When you go into your local drugstore, you have to pick a product that has been formulated for a target market. Every one of us has our own unique skin, with its own needs, preferences, and tolerances.
By making your own lotion, you have complete control over what goes into the formula. You’re technically making bespoke skin care products – a service that is usually reserved for the ultra-rich!
If that isn’t reason enough, consider your impact on the planet. The cosmetics industry has a serious impact on our climate and environment. They’re one of the big polluters. By cutting them out, and purchasing sustainably sourced ingredients, you are helping to turn the tide on climate change.
Watch How To Make Body Lotion
Water Content For Lotions
The main thing that differentiates a DIY lotion from other diy body creams is its high water content. This means a lotion should be relatively thin in consistency and will be absorbed by the skin very quickly. While lotion is good for pretty much any skin type, it’s especially good for normal or slightly dry skin.
Measuring Your Ingredients
When measuring your ingredients, make sure you use a scale. Volume measurements, such as teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups are not suitable for such small quantities, and you’ll never know exactly how much you’re actually using.
For preservative measurements, always consult the instructions that come in the box or on the label.
Preservatives, What You Need To Know
Using a preservative is quite important for this recipe. While you could make this body lotion without it, it’s really not recommended. When adding water to any kind of health and beauty product, microbial growth is always going to be a problem. You’re giving it everything it needs to grow, which is where a preservative comes in.
The risk of unpreserved cosmetics is not worth taking. Nasty skin infections, blindness, and even death are potential consequences. Do yourself a favor and make use of one! There are natural options for this, including Geogard ECT or Preservative Eco. These are broad-spectrum preservatives that are derived from naturally occurring chemicals.
Ultimately what you do is your choice, but if you must go without one, expect to be making your lotions weekly. This is because an unpreserved lotion will last no longer than 5-7 days. Also, avoid touching the lotion at all costs – a pump bottle will be essential here. Otherwise, you reduce its shelf life even further.
Why Is Shea Butter So Good For The Skin?
So, what makes shea butter so good? You can totally make a lotion without any cosmetic butter at all. But by using this ingredient, we can make our lotion even more skin loving.
Shea butter is a solid, fatty ingredient that is derived from the nuts of the shea tree. It’s a powerful moisturizer, helping to replenish and seal it into the skin.
But it’s also packed full of vitamins and nutrients our skin craves, including vitamins A, E & F. It’s also very high in antioxidants, meaning there could be some good anti-aging benefit too.
Some ingredients cannot be used on sensitive skin, but don’t worry, shea is not one of them. In fact, shea is actually deeply soothing and anti-inflammatory for the skin, and great for all skin types.
All in all, this ingredient will help restore some of that lost radiance to your skin. It’s fantastic in this recipe, but you could happily substitute it if you really wanted to. I would go for mango, as it’s the closest substitute and you shouldn’t see too many variations in product consistency (e.g., not any thicker or thinner).
Other Body Lotion Ingredients
Liquid Carrier Oils
Shea isn’t the only lovely ingredient we’re using here, so let’s take a look at what else you’ll need for this homemade lotion.
The sweet almond and jojoba oils are excellent here. They synergize with the shea, allowing for extra powerful skin softening goodness. Furthermore, they’re easy to get hold of and relatively inexpensive, a bonus for any formula.
Sweet almond oil is great for reducing dark circles and improving the overall health of the skin. Jojoba, however, provides deep and long lasting moisturization. It’s also great for all skin types, but extra good for sensitive skin.
However, anyone with a nut allergy will want to swap the sweet almond for apricot kernel oil. They are relatively similar oils. Jojoba oil can be substituted for Rosehip oil, which would be just as lovely (although more expensive).
The essential oil we have selected for this lotion is lavender. Lavender is the queen of all essential oils. It’s one of the cheapest, easiest to get hold of, and has some of the best skin benefits of them all.
Lavender is deeply soothing for the skin, as well as reparative too. If you have any skin problems that take a long time to heal, this EO will clear them up much faster.
It’s also very easily tolerated by the skin. All skin types will have no problems here, even the most sensitive of skin. In fact, lavender is one of the few essential oils I would recommend using on children’s skin.
Lavender EO is very high in antioxidants. While more research needs to be done here, we can identify lavender as a potential super ingredient for anti-aging.
Lastly, lavender has a gorgeously floral aroma, with a slight herbaceousness to it. It’s a heady, beautiful aroma that many find deeply soothing.
If lavender isn’t to your liking, you can swap this out for any essential oil you wish to use. As this lotion is intended for the body, you could also use a fragrance oil if you wish.
OK Let’s Make Body Lotion
But don’t miss these other recipes
How To Make Body Lotion With Shea Butter
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- 140 g Distilled Water
- 6 g Glycerine
- 12 g Sweet Almond Oil
- 12 g Jojoba Oil
- 10 g Shea Butter
- 10 g Emulsifying Wax NF (or polawax, or BTMS-50 )
- 4 g Cetyl Alcohol
- Combine your water part ingredients, including the distilled water and glycerine in a pyrex or heatproof beaker/jug and then put to one side. This is our ‘water part’.140 g Distilled Water, 6 g Glycerine, 10 g Shea Butter, 12 g Sweet Almond Oil, 10 g Emulsifying Wax NF
- Combine your oil part ingredients, including the e-wax, cetyl alcohol, shea butter, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil in another separate heatproof or pyrex beaker/jug. This is the 'oil part'.
- Now place the 'water part' and the 'oil part' in a water bath or double boiler. You can set up a water bath by simply pouring a few inches of water into a pan and leaving it on the stove to warm. You don’t want it to boil, keep the heat very low.
- Let your oils and waxes melt together. Depending on the temperature you’ve set your stove, this can take about 20 mins. If it’s still not melting, turn the temperature up and keep a close eye on it.Once everything has melted, add your water part to your oils part.
- Remove your pyrex jug/beaker from the water bath and give it a good vigorous stir while it cools. I find it easier to use a milk frother for this but it's optional. But keep the beater as close to the base of the jug as possible as not to add too much air. You don’t want bubbles, you want thick lotion.Depending on the emulsifying wax used this could take a while, it may not fully thicken right away, so persevere with it.We need to wait for our mixture to cool to 40C (104F) before we can add our cooldown ingredients. You can use an ice bath to speed this process up. As this will also speed up the thickening process, you will need to stir continually. You dont have to use an ice bath, you can just stir for a couple of minutes then pause for a minute and repeat until it has cooled.
- Measure out your preservative following directions for your chosen preservative. And also add your vitamin e and lavender essential oil. A pipette really comes in handy here, as we’re using such small quantities. I find the best method for this is placing your jug onto a scale, set it to zero and then add your preservative a drop at a time until you have enough. This will make sure no preservative gets left in a cup or ramekin.Then stir thoroughly.2 g Preservative
- Decant your mixture into your chosen storage container. If you’re using a jar with a wide lip you can use a spatula or spoon. If you’re using a bottle, you can make use of a funnel. Your container must come with a lid, and must be made of glass, PET plastic or aluminium.1 Pump Bottle
How to Store, Use and Gift a Homemade Lotion
Storing a DIY body lotion is pretty simple. If you’ve used a preservative, it sits happily at ambient temperature. Try to keep it out of direct sunlight if you’re using a fully transparent jar or bottle. You can store it in the fridge if you like, which will extend the lifespan of your lotion. If you’re not using a preservative, this is a requirement, not a suggestion.
To apply this, treat it like you would any lotion. Apply to large areas of the skin and rub it in using a circular motion.
This makes an absolutely fantastic gift, especially as it’s homemade. If you’re planning to gift, think about the different essential oils you can use to tailor it just for them. Maybe they like a specific fragrance, or have dry skin and could use something with an extra punch.
Take a look at our oils guide to get a better understanding of how to tailor your essential oils for a variety of different ailments.
FAQ & Troubleshooting
What’s The Difference Between a DIY Cream and a DIY Lotion?
Creams and lotions are very similar products. They’re both creamy emulsions and are used to moisturize the skin. However, creams tend to be a little on the thicker side and are used on the face. Usually, a cream comes in a cosmetic pot where the product can be scooped up onto the finger to apply on the face.
Lotions on the other hand, do the same job, but are thinner and used to moisturize skin on the body. These can be stored in pouring and pump bottles, as lotions can be too thin to scoop with a finger.
So, DIY body creams and DIY body lotions are often used interchangeably, and that’s okay because there isn’t a huge difference between the two.
Is a Lotion Recipe the Same as Body Butter?
Lotions and body butters are very different. Traditionally, a lotion is an emulsion. However, a body butter is supposed to be ‘anhydrous’, meaning there is not water in the formula at all. This means that lotions are lighter and less greasy, whereas body butters are heavier and richer in moisturizing ingredients. Those with dry skin will benefit more from a body butter over a lotion.
However, many store-bought body butters are actually emulsions. The Body Shop body butters, for example, aren’t actually body butters at all – they’re thick creams. This is often why there is confusion between the two.
Why Is My Lotion Splitting?
There are a few reasons your lotion might be splitting, let’s take a look.
If your lotion is splitting immediately, it’s likely because you haven’t whisked properly. When you mix your water part with your oil part, it’s important to whisk continuously. This is especially important if you use an ice bath to cool your lotions before bottling. If you don’t, it can split.
If your lotion is splitting after bottling, then it’s likely your e-wax is the problem. Either you’ve not used enough or it’s not a total emulsifier and needs either a co-emulsifier or stabilizer, such as cetyl alcohol, to keep it together.
How Long Does Homemade Body Lotion Last?
Providing you’re using a broad-spectrum preservative, effective against both gram positive and negative bacteria, your lotion should be safe to use for up to 12 months. Be sure you’re using a good quality preservative, from a reputable supplier that has a good stock turnover.
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So there we have it, how to make body lotion at home.
Today we learned how to combine water and oils to produce a lotion, as well as how to make use of a preservative and store it well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my DIY body lotion recipe. I can’t say this enough, a preservative is very important for this recipe. However, if you’re going to make do without then it’s absolutely vital that you store it properly and throw it away after 2 weeks.
When you’re confident with your skills, you absolutely should consider gifting. This is a fabulous present to receive, and I myself have had nothing but beaming smiles from my giftees when they open one of these homemade lotions.
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Discussion (4 Comments)
Wonderful!! I just finished! I used ewax and am wondering how it compares to BTMS25 (I don’t have 50) any noticeable difference or not worth the price difference??
Thank you so much! I’m just getting to know emulsifiers!
You should be fine with BTMS25. It’s essentially the same thing, except it has a lower concentration of the active emulsifying compound. So it may mean that you need to add a little more if you get separation issues. I have had a lot of success using BTMS25 in my hair conditioners, and find it actually provides better skin and hair conditioning power. So you might find that your cream feels better on the skin!
I am a major fan of lotion, I but crazy amounts and I never ever thought I could make my own and use essential oils to make a scent I not only would love but that would add some benifits to my body! I dont know how I was happy with the store bought lotion now. Thank you so much!
I’m so glad you’ve found the wonders of making your own lotion! It’s really an amazing skill to have. I hope you enjoy making your own homemade things!