Body Care

DIY Lotion Bars

You were beginning to think I only ever do my nails, weren’t you? I do other things too! 😀

It’s been a busy month — I was fasting for Ramadan, which made my brain a little fuzzy; I was trying desperately to get some dissertation work done while fuzzy-brained, but finally gave up towards the end; I started a 31-day nail art challenge, which turned out to be rather demanding; and, well, I’ll admit I’ve also just been plain lazy. But Ramadan is over now and I’m slowly getting back into schedule with everything.

Today’s post is about lotion bars. For those of you who don’t know what these are, the name is kind of self-explanatory they are body lotion in solid bar form. You rub the bar all over your skin (pretty much like you would a bar of soap, but without the washing post-use). I have been making my own lotion bars for several months now — in fact, since before I started this blog  — and feel that I can never go back to using commercial body lotion ever again! My skin dries out very fast (usually within a couple of hours of applying body lotion) but with these lotion bars, I can go a full 24 hours or so before I need to moisturize again. And those of you who know about these and purchase them from Lush and other such stores for exorbitant prices, give this DIY a shot! It is way cheaper and, I daresay, better because it skips at least 3-4 chemicals listed on Lush products and is composed of only three simple ingredients.

Lotion Bars

The basic recipe calls for coconut oil, beeswax and, optionally, cocoa/shea/mango butter. Most recipes recommend using a butter both because it helps to keep the bar solid at room temperature and because butters tend to retain moisture better. I made my first batch of lotion bars with some cocoa butter I had purchased from a cocoa plantation in the Dominican Republic and this was very good & potent. However, I didn’t like how the chocolatey fragrance just overpowered everything else, so I came up with an even simpler alternative that uses only oil and beeswax; I find that there is little difference between the two variations in terms of effectiveness. I usually add in some essential oils for fragrance and for their healing properties, but these smell gorgeous even without the essential oils because of the slight honey smell from the beeswax. I am yet to try this with shea/mango butter.

The Recipe

You will need:

  • Coconut oil – ½ cup (use 1 cup if you’re skipping the butter)
  • Beeswax, small pieces* – ½ cup
  • Shea/Cocoa/Mango butter, grated – ½ cup
  • Essential oils of your choosing (optional) – about 20-30 drops in total**

* Read more about beeswax later in this article

** See suggestions for essential oils blends later in this article

Steps:

1. Warm a pot of water until it starts to simmer. Pour the beeswax pellets or pieces into a container — I use a clean metal can — and place the container in the warm water, making sure that no water can get in. Do not melt beeswax in a microwave or over a direct flame; the melting point of beeswax is just under 65ºC and it can catch on fire if overheated! Always use the double boiler method.

2. Once almost all the beeswax has melted (it will turn clear), add in the coconut oil and the butter (if using). Stir with a craft stick to ensure even heating. Take off the stove once all the oils have melted & blended.

3. Add in the essential oils of your choosing and stir the mixture. It will begin to cool immediately, so pour into molds as quickly as possible. Let set until opaque and firm, about an hour. You can speed up the process by placing the molds in the refrigerator. Enjoy your new lotion bars!

I love my insect mold (the red one on the bottom right) and use it for everything! I think it makes the cutest lotion bars. You can also pour the oil mixture into clean, empty lip balm containers for your own DIY lip-balm or cuticle balm. In fact, you can chop up a tiny piece of lipstick and add that into the warm oil mixture for a tinted lip balm! Alternatively, you can pour this into an empty Altoids tin for a DIY beard salve. I prefer the natural yellowish hue of the beeswax, but you can colour these by adding in soap or oil-based skin-safe colourants. Food colouring will float to the top and will not work!

Because the ingredient list is so simple, you can make practically any moisturizing product with this recipe. {Trivia: both coconut oil and beeswax are edible, the latter in the sense that it is not toxic to humans; so if you made bars out of just these two ingredients, you could technically eat them too!} Although I do not eat them, I use my lotion bars to moisturize my skin, the ends of my hair, my lips and my cuticles, and to tame any flyaways in my hair. A light application of this also adds great shine to your hair.

 

Oils typically do not add moisture to your skin; they only retain what moisture is already present. Therefore, the best time to apply these bars is immediately after a shower. They might take some getting used to because they are slightly more greasy than commercial lotion; just give the oils 10 minutes or so to absorb and you should be good to go! As I mentioned earlier, there is a world of difference between these bars and commercial lotions. Give it a try & I am quite sure you won’t be disappointed!

About Beeswax

Beeswax is the wax produced by honey bees to build cells in a beehive, store honey and protect larvae and pupae. Beeswax is an extremely strong material and can store up to 22-30 times its weight in honey! When collected from the hive, beeswax contains a large amount of impurities, and must be clarified and filtered before it is ready for cosmetic use. Beeswax is used in cosmetic application (balms, make up, hair pomade and salves) due to its considerably superior ability to retain moisture. It is this ability to retain moisture that makes this such a crucial addition to the lotion bars; beeswax melts readily when applied to the skin and forms a strong protective barrier that prevents loss of moisture from the skin.

You can buy beeswax, either in bead, pellet or block form, at several online stores or from your local beekeepers. Beeswax never goes bad, and can be reheated and reused, so there’s no fear of it being wasted; if nothing else, you can always melt it down into candles! I bought a 1-lb block from a local candlemaker, have made 6 batches of the above recipe since, and still have at least two more recipes’ worth of beeswax left!

One last note about this: Beeswax is incredibly difficult to grate, as I learnt the hard way. If possible, buy your beeswax in the form of pellets. If your beeswax comes in a big block, the most efficient method that I have come across is to place the block in the freezer for a day or two, then use a hammer to break it into small pieces. Freezing makes the beeswax quite brittle and it breaks easily. Another option is to melt down the entire block over a double boiler, and pour into small containers (ice-cube trays or silicon muffin liners work well).

Disclaimer & Some Essential Oil Blend Suggestions

Finally, a word about essential oils. The purpose of essential oils (EOs) is not just to add fragrance, although that can be lovely. Many EOs have wonderful healing properties. Citrus oils can rejuvenate skin and be very refreshing, although they can cause burns if the skin is exposed to sunlight immediately after use; peppermint can also be very energizing; lavender is soothing and relaxing; rosemary boosts circulation; tea tree is a powerful antifungal and antibacterial oil.

Essential Oils

EOs are extremely potent and cannot be used straight on the skin without diluting in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, jojoba, etc.). Certain oils, such as cinnamon, are infamously tricky and must be used with special care. Please read up about essential oil use before adding them; I am very wary of most EOs and always try to err on the safe side, and I bear no responsibility if you over- or misuse your EOs! Essential oils, while useful in many ways, are serious business and must always be handled responsibly. I add no more than 20-30 drops in total to the amounts specified in this recipe.

{I have used bold font, underlining and italics to emphasize my point; you must take me seriously now!}

That being said, here are some of my favourite combinations:

  • Energizing citrus blast: 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops tangerine + 5 drops lemon
  • Rosemary-citrus: 15 drops citrus EO (any or blend of grapefruit, tangerine, orange, lemon, bergamot) + 10 drops rosemary
  • Orange creamsicle: 15 drops tangerine/orange + 7-10 drops vanilla (technically, vanilla is not an EO, just a concentrated solution)
  • Peppermint cream: 15-20 drops peppermint + 5 drops vanilla
  • Relaxing blend: 10 drops lavender + 5 drops rosemary + 5 drops lemon
  • Oriental spice blend (my absolute favourite!): 10 drops star anise + 5 drops cinnamon
  • Antifungal/healing blend: 10 drops tea tree + 10 drops lavender
  • Decongestant blend (smells just like VapoRub): 10 drops lavender + 10 drops eucalyptus + 10 drops rosemary
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5 thoughts on “DIY Lotion Bars

  1. Making your own cosmetics is really fun and healthy too. I made some moisturising cream years ago now and gave some away as Christmas gifts. I fragranced them with lavender and the liquid from some cooked basmati rice! I might have to write a post about that combo!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m trying to remember but i did it because i love the fragrance of rice and i thought it would go well with lavender. It did smell divine! I will have to did out my stuff – not sure how much i have left or even the recipe! Will be fun to try again and will let you know when i do 😆

        Liked by 1 person

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