So there you are, standing like Indiana Jones …
In a cave full of choices – I mean the grocery aisle – as you reach out for the lotion “made with natural ingredients” on the left. Sucking in your breath, you flip the label.
Water. So far, so good.
Sweet almond oil. You exhale cautiously.
Then just as your eyes scan the words iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, triethanolamine, and various parabens, a soft voice whispers,”You have chosen . . . poorly.”
Don’t worry, no one has to turn to dust this time. Just put the bottle back and make this simple lotion recipe instead!
If you’ve tried my three ingredient lotion recipe before, you are going to love this new version. Not only does it incorporate shea butter for more moisturizing oomph, it’s formulated to be crafted in small batches thanks to my recent discovery of a simplified technique for making homemade mayo and other emulsions.
It’s pretty magical, really. One minute you’ve got something that resembles oil and vinegar salad dressing, and the next you’ve got a luxurious lotion. No special skills needed – just a quick whir of the immersion blender.
Why Small Batches Are Best
Most homemade beauty products – lotion bars, deodorant, homemade foundation powder and coconut oil soap for example – have a relatively long shelf life because they don’t contain water. Because lotion contains water it is more vulnerable to bacteria and mold, so it’s best to make it in small batches that can be used up before it goes bad.
If you’d like, you can use a naturally derived preservative like this one made from Leuconostoc kimchii, the bacteria found in kimchi. Though I have some on hand, I rarely add it in because I typically use up my batches before it is needed.
Quick note: Just like with consuming raw milk and saturated fats, there are a lot of opinions on whether using lotion without a preservative is safe. Some say common sense should be applied, while others say never ever do it. I personally feel comfortable using it, and have been making it for years with no problems. I also happen to drink raw milk, eat lots of saturated fat and intentionally eat bacteria-filled foods like kimchi and water kefir, so there’s that.
Homemade Lotion Recipe (With Nourishing Shea Butter)
Makes about 6.5 ounces
- 1 tablespoon grated, tightly packed beeswax
- 1 tablespoon shea butter (I prefer to use unrefined shea butter since many refined types are extracted using hexane.)
- 1/2 cup oil (I used sweet almond oil in the recipe pictured above, but olive, apricot kernel, avocado, hazelnut, or another liquid oil will work. Coconut oil is not recommended because it tends to thicken and make the lotion solid.)
- 2/3 cup water
1. Measure your ingredients. I typically measure twice the amount of water I plan to use because some will evaporate when it is boiled.
2. Place the water you plan to use as a lotion ingredient in a pot and bring to a boil, then set aside and allow to reach the temperature of hot tea. (Hot, but not so hot that you can’t put your pinky in it.)
3. While you’re waiting for the water to come to a boil, melt shea butter and beeswax in a separate double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler you can use a stainless steel bowl set inside a pot of boiling water.) Once the shea butter and beeswax is melted, add the oil and allow to fully melt. Once fully melted, remove the pot from the burner and allow the oils to rest in the double boiler until the water has cooled to the temperature of hot tea described above.
4. Add oil mixture and water to a jar. Place immersion blender at the bottom of the jar and turn it on. Allow it to whir for 15-30 seconds without moving the immersion blender at all. Once the liquid at the bottom is emulsified (which means it has reached a smooth instead of separating like oil and water typically do), begin raising the immersion blender in the liquid to complete the immersion.
5. Once the lotion is fully emulsified, continue to blend every 5-7 minutes until the lotion has cooled to room temperature. Certain oils cool at a different rate than water, which can cause separation if they are not periodically mixed.
If you make up a batch and it separates, don’t worry! Just melt everything in a double boiler and blend it again, taking care to give it a whir with the immersion blender every 5-7 minutes until it is completely cool.