Basic body butter ingredients

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.

Key ingredients

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.

Tip: There's no need to use huge amounts of oil and butter when you're testing out a formula. 30g of finished product is more than enough to run a patch test with.
Tip: There’s no need to use huge amounts of oil and butter when you’re testing out a formula. 20g of finished product is more than enough to run a patch test with.
This is what the mixture looks like after the butter and oil have melted
1. This is what the mixture looks like after the butter and oil are melted using a double boiler
The mixture after its been in the fridge for a couple of hours
2. Next, I cool the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours; this is what it looks like once it solidifies
This is what the mixture looks like after being whisked for 3 minutes
3. Using an electric hand mixer, I whisk the hardened mixture for 3 minutes; notice how the butter has doubled in size
Applying the butter on my hand
4. Applying the whipped butter on my hand; it rubs in fairly easily but does not leave my hand feeling greasy

 

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