Today, we’ll take a look at what goes into making body butter, a staple bodycare product found in bathroom cabinets all around the world. In this post, you’ll find out:
- the key ingredients you need to make a basic body butter
- the difference between a body butter and a body lotion
- the kinds of body butter you can make yourself
- what happens when I make a basic whipped body butter.
Despite the long list of ingredients you’ll often see on the label of a commercial body butter, to make a basic body butter you only need two ingredients:
- A butter (some examples being shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter)
- A carrier oil (some examples being sweet almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil)
Together, the butter and oil work to moisturise, soften and condition our skin. When applied, the thick, butter-like texture can act as a barrier on our skin, protecting it against the elements.
While it is entirely possible to create a basic body butter by combining just one kind of butter (e.g. mango butter) with one kind of oil (e.g. sweet almond oil), many DIYers like to mix a combination of butters and oils, since different butters and oils have different properties and scents. Some people also like to scent their body butters with essential oils, or add a few drops of natural vitamin E (Tocopherol), an anti-oxidant, to slow down the oxidation process occurring in the product.
Body butter vs body lotion
Given that butters and oils are common ingredients in the formulations of both body butters and lotions, the most obvious way to tell the difference between a body butter and a body lotion is by their texture and consistency: while body butters tend to be much richer and have a thick butter-like texture, lotions are thinner, more lightweight, and are easier to apply. This difference in texture and consistency is mainly due to the ratio of water (and any other water-based ingredients) being much lower in a body butter recipe than it is in a lotion recipe. In fact, you will find that many DIY body butters are referred to as anhydrous, meaning there is no water at all in their formulas. The richness of body butters does mean that some people find them a bit too greasy or heavy – so the good thing about making your own body butter is that you can experiment with different ratios of butter to oil to create something that is most suited for your needs.
Different kinds of DIY body butter
Leave it as a smooth butter in a container, have it whipped and made into a cream-cheese-like texture, or make a hard lotion bar* – there are many choices as to how you “present” your finished product: a lot of it depends on where you live (for example, if you live in a colder climate you may prefer a softer butter that’s easier to apply) and how you normally use body butter in your daily routine (for example, many people keep their lotion bar in a soap dish and use it as part of their after-bath or after-shower moisturising routine). The main thing to bear in mind is that the ratio of butter to oil may need to be adjusted depending on the texture and consistency you’re after. In the near future I’ll be sharing recipes for different kinds of body butter creations I’ve made – so keep an eye out for them!
[*I’ve always wondered why people use the term “lotion bar” to describe something that’s hard and frankly, feels nothing like a lotion…?]
The following photos show what happens when I make a basic whipped body butter using 3 parts (15g) mango butter and 1 part (5g) sweet almond oil.