Inspired by this How Did You Make This? post, the fact that I had plenty of shea butter and the need to start testing handmade holiday gifts, I whipped up these solid lotion bars. It was seriously one of the easiest beauty recipes I’ve ever tried (discounting that “put a drop of baby shampoo in water to make makeup remover” BS). This is a proper beauty recipe where delicious natural ingredients become a new product that’s better for you and cheaper than store bought.
The peeps over at HDYMT chose to use a hot plate, which I recommend if you have one, but I did alright with my microwave. They also use a paper coffee cup and popsicle stick, which I don’t think is really necessary. You can easily limit your waste by just wiping down your measuring cup and spoon with a paper towel while the mixture is still melted. A decent soaping up or run through the dishwasher will take care of the rest.
First, gather your ingredients. These quantities will make two cups melted, or eight 2 oz. bars.
100g solid oil or butter
100g liquid oil
Essential oil (optional)
And gather your hardware:
Scale (a digital scale is useful for all sorts of things around the house)
Microwaveable container with a spout (think Pyrex measuring cup)
Silicone molds (I used these cute Ikea baking cups)
If you don’t have resources for oils and waxes nearby and don’t mind living without Amazon’s ubiquitous two-day shipping, I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. MRH is definitely the earthy-crunchy organic jam for oils, butters, essential oils, teas, spices and soap making tools. And what’s in that jar? That’s just a deliciously motivational Riesling.
If you have oils and butters around the house and don’t want to buy new ingredients, then rock on. But if you’re shopping for oils and you’re not sure which you want to use, consider the following:
Shea and cocoa butter are both excellent emollients that remain solid at room temperature. Cocoa butter smells mildly of chocolate, and is often used to treat stretch marks, while shea butter is often lauded for its healing effects against skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne, and has a nuttier smell. Coconut oil is lighter than both butters and doesn’t smell as heavy or earthy either.
As far as oils are concerned, jojoba is non-greasy, has a great shelf life and boasts anti-inflammatory properties; apricot kernel oil is high in vitamins A, C and E; olive oil is super moisturizing and readily available at pretty much any grocery store; avocado oil is full of free-radical fighting vitamin E and helps prevent aging; almond oil is high in vitamin B and helps even out skin tone.
Once you’ve decided on your oils and any scents, it’s time to start melting shit!
Step One: The first think you’ll need to do is break down your beeswax. Unless you have wax pellets or perfectly weighted out bars, in which case you can do a victory dance for the next ten minutes. The easiest way to break down the wax is just by slicing at it with a knife until you have the amount you need.
Step Two: Scoop equal parts of solid oil or butter into your microwavable dish, along with the cut wax and liquid oil. To make eight 2 oz. bars, use 100 grams of each.
Step Three: Microwave on high one minute at a time until the solid oils are melted. Check on it every thirty seconds or so once the beeswax starts to melt in. You don’t want to heat the oils so hot that they begin smoking. It’s like heating up those little containers of Sally Hansen body wax, which you’ll be familiar with if you’re a cheap ass who does her own bikini waxing like yours truly.
Step Four: Once your oils are melted, give them a good mix and add a few drops of any essential oil you wish to add.
Step Five: Immediately after your mixture is melted and scented, pour it evenly into your molds (which should be waiting for you on a clean, stable surface, but I don’t have to tell you that). They’ll cool in mere minutes, and you’ll be able to safely pop them out of their molds after ten minutes.
Keep them somewhere cool and dry (and not in your steamy bathroom, despite the seeming convenience). To package them as gifts, whip up some little pouches or cinch them in a bit of loose fabric with a ribbon, depending on your level of craftiness (or sobriety).
If you have an overlock machine, making fabric bags out of scraps is really very simple.
If you’re feeling extra cheesy (read: lazy in my case) snag a printable tag, like this bumble bee design from Gina’s Designs (Thanks, Gina! Sorry I called your tags cheesy, but… well, you know…).
If you’re feeling more high fashion and less Vera Bradley, try using a square silicone ice tray as a mold and packaging the bars in clear cellophane bags with simple tags printed on vellum.
Whether you give these as gifts or keep them for yourself (but srsly, do you really need eight of them? How dry is your skin, my dude!?) these bars are a cheaper, healthier alternative to commercial body butters and they’ll keep you moisturized all day long, even in the winter.