Butter me up

Lately my skin has been sandpaper rough and lizard scaly. Dry as a desert. I’ve tried lotion a few times but decided what I really wanted was a good body butter, something rich and emollient, to use after showers and lock in lingering moisture.

I hadn’t worked with cupuacu butter before, but I wanted my butter to be silky and light, not heavy and greasy so shea butter was out of the question and cupuacu is described as having a satiny, almost silicone feel. It’s expensive, so I didn’t use a lot but it really is awesome. I also used lanolin and fractionated coconut oil to round out the “emollient, but non-greasy” finish. You could use grapeseed or hemp and get great results, too.

The one ingredient you can’t substitute is the stearic acid. I’m afraid it’s non-negotiable. The combo of stearic acid and liquid oil comes from experiments done by Marie over at Humblebee and Me. It had a creaminess that I associated with beeswax, but without any of the tackiness or waxiness that can come with wax. It was just… creamy. Buttery, but not greasy, and with more staying power than plain butters.

Winter Body Butter

12g cetyl alcohol
20g lanolin butter type (you can make this more creamy and less thick by using 10g butter style lanolin and 10g liquid lanolin but I like the thick, rich end result from using the “butter” type of lanolin)
28g cupuacu butter
25g fractionated coconut oil
15g hempseed oil
4 drops vitamin E oil Or 0.5g rosemary oleoresin
8 drops each lavender, helichrysum, and chamomile OR 20 drops Honey I Washed the Kids fragrance oil are my choices

Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the stearic acid, lanolin, cupuacu butter, fractionated coconut oil, and grapeseed oil into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. You can also use a double boiler or even a thick saucepan on very low heat, but watch carefully so you don’t scorch the oils. Voice of experience here; the measuring cup method is best.

Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and set it aside. Let it come to room temperature about 10 min. This is important so it doesn’t crack during the next step! Prepare an ice bath by placing a couple ice cubes and some cold water in a shallow bowl. Place the measuring cup of the melted oils in the ice bath for short spurts, stirring continuously—it will start to get a bit cloudy and then start to thicken up. Keep stirring to ensure you get a nice, creamy final consistency.
When the mixture is cool, thick, and creamy, add the vitamin E and essential oil or fragrance oil, and stir to combine. Transfer to a small (4oz) jar or tin—I used a wide mouth glass Mason jar, and later when I made it a plastic jar from Bulk Apothecary. Enjoy!


Dedicated recipe

This is Little Debbie. She recently left us for the next life. 

Little Debbie was a friend of mine IRL, a sweet, sweet, kind and caring soul, and a fan of my writing. She credited me for teaching her how to make a lotion, among other things. In July, I packaged up all my tiny 15 ml vials of essential oils and shipped them to her with warnings about the phototoxicity of citrus oils and how patchouli gets better if you age it. She seemed to be delighted. It would be the last time we would talk before she would die. 

When I wrote today’s post, all I could think was how much Little Debbie would appreciate it. It’s really nothing but a thick, super thick, lotion, so thick it’s now a body butter. It beats anhydrous or oil only butters because it contains water, and the combination of oil and water on your skin is magical at moisturizing. So without further ado: today’s post. 

I’ve been in the mood lately to formulate a good, extremely moisturizing body butter. Not something anhydrous and greasy, but a rich emulsion that sinks in and delivers a power packed punch of oils and butters. In addition, I’ve loaded it with humectants. The oils are rich in linoleic acid and GLV, phytosterols, anti-oxidants, and vitamins A and E. These things help with moisturization and damaged skin, inflammation and can have anti-itch properties. 

Humectants: We need as many humectants as possible! I’m thinking a minimum of 3% glycerin because it helps with skin hydration and restoring skin’s barrier functions. We could increase this to 5% if you have really dry skin, but you might find it a bit sticky. I also like using sodium lactate and either hydrolyzed silk protein or just plain silk peptides. As a humectant, sodium lactate is a great inclusion because it has been shown not only to increase ceramide synthesis and increase desquamation rates, but it also increases skin’s plasticity (which is sadly lacking in dry skin) and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. The down side is that it can make you more sun sensitive, so you want to use this at 2.5% or lower. I include it at 2%. 
I also we recommend and use honeyquat, which is a skin conditioner and great humectant. You can use it at up to 5% according to my supplier, but I find it smells a little fishy at times and at 3% it’s easy to cover with your fragrance oil or essential oils and you still get the benefits. 

Hydrolyzed proteins: I do love my hydrolyzed proteins, and a little goes a long way. All of the proteins or amino acids form a film on your skin and moisturize. Something like oat protein won’t penetrate your skin, but will form a film.Vegekeratin, which is a blend of various proteins will form a film and will penetrate your skin. Let’s add them at 3% in our water phase.

Oils: There are far too many choices here, but we want to emphasize something with GLA or linoleic aci, so that narrows it down a bit. We could choose something like apricot kernel oil (good linoleic acid, good ß-sitosterol, but a little light) or macadamia nut oil (great ß-sitosterol, not enough linoleic acid, a little drying) or rice bran oil (good phytosterols in general, good linoleic acid levels), but I like  avocado oil and hemp oil for maximum moisturizing. Great levels of linoleic acid and high levels of ß-sitosterol make this the ideal choice for a dry skin moisturizer. Avocado doesn’t feel dry on your skin, it’s inexpensive, and easy to find. Hemp absorbs quickly and leaves a great afterfeel. 

Butters: Okay, butters are vital for this recipe as they offer maximum occlusion and emolliency. They have oleic acid and stearic acid, both of which are great! Mango butter is generally my first choice for a moisturizing butter as it contains a lot of stearic acid, and it isn’t as greasy as shea, which is also a great ingredient. If you don’t have shea or butter or are allergic to it, then cocoa butter is a great choice as it is an approved barrier ingredient. It will, however, make your butter very stiff, so it’s not usually my first choice. Occasionally you’ll see me use 2/3 mango butter and 1/3 cocoa butter to get the benefits of both. 

Emulsifier and thickener: BTMS can be a very dry feeling emulsifier, so although it is conditioning to skin, it might feel too dry for someone with very dry skin. Emulsifying wax would be my first choice – Ecomulse to be exact – because I don’t have access to other emulsifiers at the moment. So I’d suggest Ecomulse. Because we aren’t changing the oil phase amount, 6% is just fine. And I’m using cetyl alcohol because it is more glidy than stearic acid. You can use stearic or cetearyl alcohol or any other thickener you like. Heck, you can leave the thickener out if you really want because the butters contain stearic acid, so they will thicken. I like the emolliency and glide of cetyl alcohol, so it stays in. Btw, you’ll notice I recommend either Ecomulse OR 50/50 Ecomulse And BTMS. I like the conditioning benefits of BTMS but the powdery finish of Ecomulse. I’ve been criticised as one Is anionic and one is cationic, but this doesnt seem to effect their emulsifying properties. 

As a note, combining BTMS and cetyl alcohol together is a great idea – it will be substantive to your skin, meaning it will actually form a film on your skin. This is a great idea for people who want to reduce TEWL.

Cool down phase – extracts and other additives: Leaving out the preservative is not an option, so I’ll use my liquid Germall Plus at 0.5% in the cool down phase. I like adding fragrance or essential oils at 1%, but you can reduce this to 0.5% or 0% if you want. Choose something you really like or an essential oil that offers some qualities you want in this body butter (I am using Meyers Lemon Fragrance Oil, because it allows me to haves a citrus body butter without the phototoxic results of true citrus essential oils. 

This has already gotten very long, so rather than explain how to actually make the body butter I’m going to refer you to my lotion making post here
Happy making, and here’s a recipe for body butter! 


60g water, Freshly Boiled (oat milk?) Make oat milk with 100g water and 1 Tbsp Oats. Bring water To hard boil,add oats, Let Sit Til Cool, Strain. Use 60g For Recipe. I

3g glycerin

3g Honeyquat

3g Oat Protein (hydrolyzed protein of your choice-wheat, baobob, etc or use vegekeretin)

1/4 tsp allantoin

1/8 tsp powdered (not concentrated) aloe vera (or sub 25g of the water for aloe vera juice)

1/4 tsp silk peptides (or 2g hydrolyzed silk protein)

1/4 tsp niacinamide

Mix Well, keep warm 
5g avocado oil

5g hemp oil

12g mango butter

3g cocoa butter

3g cetyl alcohol

6g Ecomulse OR 

3g Ecomulse With

3g BTMS 50 OR

6g BTMS 50

Melt Together in Double Boiler. Remove From Heat. Whisk in Water Based Contents. Heat Through. Remove from heat and place in bowl. Keep whisking as cools. Once reaches room temperature and thickens slightly, add COOL down phase. 
1g Liquid Germall Plus preservative (you can use 0.5g if you leave out the Oat Milk and aloe vera)

1g Meyers lemon so you can have a citrus balm. Maybe with 10 drops coconut.  

0.5g Chamomile Extract 

2g Green Tea Extract 

Whisk in thoroughly. Decant to 4 oz jar. Label and keep in dry environment. Best not to store in bathroom. Even with preservative our kitchens are less then sterile so watch for signs of contamination and toss if looks or smells weird. Take no chances; your health is important! 

Half the battle

If you’re like me, and you use shampoo bars, you’re familiar with acidic rinses. The most common one is apple cider vinegar and water, with or without a few drops of essential oils to offset the vinegary smell. Thankfully the smell doesn’t linger after you rinse the vinegar out, and your hair ends up shiny and soft. However, after realizing I was never going to get the hang of bath bombs, I had 5 lbs of citric acid to make use of. I decided to create a hair rinse that would add shine and softness to my hair, by brewing a tea of hair healthy herbs and adding citric acid to make my acidic rinse. I change up the essential oils periodically, but the basics for the rinse itself remains the same. 

Somehow I failed to get the marshmallow root in this picture, but it’s a critical part of the tea because of the polysaccharide chains it has in it that add strength to your hair shaft and make it detangle. Bamboo and horsetail are natural occurring sources of silica, which makes your hair slippery, and silky. In store products, silica is introduced in chemicals like dimethicone and cyclomethicone, but here we are avoiding these synthetics and getting our silica naturally. It still works great at leaving your hair silky and smooth. 

I mix up about 20 oz at a time-enough that we will be using a preservative. I like to make a month’s worth and not have to worry about it. My bamboo comes in the form of tea bags, my horsetail in capsules, and the marshmallow root comes in bulk. How you’re able to find these things may differ. 

I allow the tea to brew overnight, on the counter, then the next day when it’s at room temperature, I strain it, add preservative, essential oils, and (optional) polysorbate 80. The polysorbate suspends the essential oils in the tea so that only a gentle shake is needed before each use. If you want a solubilizer that isn’t polysorbate, you can try red turkey oil, just a 1/2 tsp. That should be enough to suspend your essential oils without being so much that it makes your hair look greasy. 

Finally, per 8 oz of tea, add 1 tsp of citric acid so you have an acidic rinse to neutralize the pH of your hair after using an alkaline shampoo bar. The combination of citric acid, which will smooth the keratin scales on your hair shaft, bamboo and horsetail, which will add slip to your hair, and marshmallow root, which will add shine, should make for a great rinse. I’ve been using this rinse for over a year and can’t recommend it enough. 

Here’s the recipe:

For the tea:

4 bamboo tea bags or 4 tsp bamboo 

8 capsules horsetail or 4 tsp whitetail

4 tsp marshmallow root

20 oz boiling water. 

Pour water over herbs and allow to come to room temperature. Steep several hours or overnight. Strain. 


2 1/2 tsp citric acid

Preservative of choice, used at manufacturer recommended rate

I prefer Liquid Germall Plus, at 0.5%

My essential oil blend lately has been: 

10 drops bergamot

10 drops michelia alba

5 drops helichrysum

1 tsp polysorbate 80

I store my rinse in a repurposed pop top bottle, because I can direct exactly where I want the rinse to go. Avoid the roots of your hair, as it will look greasy faster, it will stay clean longer if you only apply rinse to the ends of your hair and avoid your scalp. Let sit about 3 min then rinse with cool water. 

The rinse isn’t pretty, it’s definitely very much like herbal tea. 

My favorite lip balm

I think I’ve shared the base of this recipe before, but this new essential oil blend I have for it makes it so divine it bears repeating. 

A “London Fog” tea is a strong cup of Earl Grey, to which sugar, vanilla extract, and cream has been added. It’s absolutely divine. I’ve attempted to recreate the scent here by adding benzoin, with it’s strong vanilla notes, palmarosa, which is decidedly tea like, and bergatapene free bergamot (I’m using the bergatapene free version so my lips won’t sunburn, as citrus essential oils like bergamot are photo toxic-best to be safe). 

This really smells good. When I added the essential oils my husband called out from the living room, “What are you making? It smells great!” I explained it was lip balm and he thought this would make a great lotion (I actually got the idea off a website that made a London Fog lotion, so he’s probably right). He’s a dedicated fan of bergamot, though. We both are. It’s versatile and unisex, refreshing and cheery with it’s sunny citrus notes. 

The lip balm recipe itself is probably my absolute favorite because it doesn’t use coconut oil. Coconut oil is so good for so many things, but in lip balm, which goes through a lot of temperature changes (your warm pocket, hot or cold car, reasonable house, etc.) it can become grainy. This doesn’t affect the quality of the lip balm at all but it makes it unattractive. To some degree, shea butter can do it, too, but I’ve had less trouble with this shea-rich recipe that’s intensively moisturizing and luscious. I especially love this during the dry times and end up with tubes or pots stashed everywhere. Making London Fog flavor was a stroke of genius second only to when I came up with chai spice. 

Here’s the recipe: 

(Makes 4-5. You can easily double it, I always do!)

5g beeswax

5g shea butter

3g cocoa butter

5g avocado oil

3g castor oil

5 drops Vitamin E

2 blobs benzoin essential oil (benzoin is a sticky resin, so set the bottle in hot water to thin it for a few minutes before you try to pour it. It’s still blobs instead of drops)

4 drops palmarosa essential oil

4 drops bergatapene free version bergamot essential oil

Have fun! Be sure to get the bergatapene free version of bergamot or take care not to use this lip balm if you’ll be outside or risk burns on your lips outside. That would be truly horrific. Don’t risk it. Substitute something like litsea cubeba or lemongrass. 

Quick and Easy Sugar Scrub

Normally I make emulsified sugar scrubs, which contain emulsifying wax and other emulsifiers like stearic acid and cetyl alcohol to thicken the scrub and suspend the oil. It makes the oil, shea butter, and sugar turn into creamy lotion in your hands as soon as you get a little water in your hands and also rinses clean in your bathtub, taking all the oils down the drain instead of leaving an oil slick behind that’s potentially dangerous as a fall hazard. With all those benefits, why would I go back to a basic coconut oil scrub? 

Well, some people don’t have emulsifiers and don’t want to invest in them but still want to make DIY projects. And, with a few simple precautions it’s easy to safely make a fun sugar scrub. 

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

1 cup coconut oil- room temperature soft, but not melted

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c white sugar

2 tbsp Castile soap (like Dr Bronners)

30-40 drops essential oils of your choice 

Using a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil, essential oils, Castile soap, together. Start beating in the sugar until it’s like wet sand. Store in an water proof container like a Rubbermaid or Gladware container. 

To avoid having to use a preservative and to avoid contamination of the entire container, just scoop out what you will use for one shower into a plastic bowl and take that bowl into the shower with you. Never take the master container in the shower with you and dip into it with wet fingers. That can cause your container to become moldy. Do not scoop a small amount into a glass container like a glass bowl or Mason jar and take that into the shower with you. If glass breaks in the shower, it can be very dangerous. 

To use, rub together in your hands and rub over your body where you have dry skin (your legs, your hands, your elbows, etc…it’s even safe to use on your face as long as you only rub gently). Rinse with warm water and wash with soap if you feel overly oily from the coconut oil. I tried this before shaving and found that my legs were so dry they soaked up the coconut oil and only needed to be rinsed, but my face needed to be washed with face wash. It’s different for everyone. 

Because there are no emulsifiers you have to be cautious that this will make the bottom of your tub slick. Be careful! I don’t want anyone to slip and fall! 

Let me know how this recipe works for you and if you modify it! I’m interested in any changes you creatively come up with! 

Easy three ingredient make up remover

This one is inspired by Marie at Humblebee & Me, although her version is slightly different and calls for Olivem 3000 instead of Polysorbate 80  ( although she does mention the polysorbate as a possible workaround). I didn’t have Olivem 3000, but I did have a bachelorette and two weddings in one week to attend and was in need of a way to get off the eye make up that goes along with those kinds of shenanigans and events. This works genius. I also use witch hazel in mine, where she does not. 

Here’s the recipe:

For a 1 oz bottle (which will last awhile unless you wear tons of eye make up daily), mix 

6g fractionated coconut oil

6g polysorbate 80 

12g witch hazel 

That’s it! You can measure directly into the bottle with a funnel if you tare between items and shake well once it’s capped. I use waterproof eyeliner from MAC and mascara I make myself or my waterproof Benefit brand and it came off with very little scrubbing in any case. Shake well before every use, and you will probably want to wash and moisturize your face after using. 

Happy making!