Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It is also directly exposed to nasty chemicals from the air and the products you use every day.

While you can’t control everything you are exposed to in the environment, you are in control of what goes in your body-in terms of food and beverages-and in this case, on your body.

These homemade body butter recipes not only leave your skin moisturised, but absorbs in a couple minutes, lasts for ages, and smells yummy, too!

So, let’s get to it!

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Here’s some things you’ll need to know when you shop for your ingredients.

When shopping for your ingredients you want to look for certain qualities so you get the best for you (and the planet).

Unrefined

You want your ingredients to be pure. Refined ingredients can be treated with petroleum, cut with other oils, or heated which destroys many of the beneficial properties. This also includes no hexanes which is a crude oil chemical used to extract oils using heat from seeds.

Cold-Pressed

Since heat destroys some of the goodness in the oils and butters (this is true with food as well), you want to look for cold-pressed products as the method ensures no heat applied.

Organic

Organic means there will be lower levels of manufactured pesticides, herbicides and no artificial fertilisers. Look for the Soil Association certification. See below.

Soil Association

The Soil Association was formed by farmers that recognised the connection between farming practices and the health of the planet. The association is a well known certifier of organic farming practices for food, textiles, and beauty ingredients.

Cruelty-Free

There is really no need for animal testing for these products so choosing an ethical brand that doesn’t test on animals is just good practice, good for animals and good for the planet.

Sustainble Palm Oil

Palm oil is under fire for destroying the rainforests, but the truth is the ratio of land use to the amount of oil produced is better than other options out there. So instead of boycotting palm oil completely, look for the label to say sustainably sourced.

Fair Trade

Fair trade means that the company is doing its part to combat poverty by supporting workers in other countries. This can mean sustainable practices or providing a living wage. It gives the workers from developing countries a larger say in their exports to developed countries. You may see stamps like the Certified B Corporation, The British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS), World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Fairtrade Certified, Fair Wear Foundation, or Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP).

Packaging

While in an ideal world everything would be in a recyclable container that isn’t single-use plastic, it is hard to come by. Do the best you can.

When it comes to oils however, there are some things you do need to look for and are important.

Your oils should be in glass and not just any glass- dark glass. Oils are susceptible to damage from light so having a dark glass bottle helps along with storing the bottles in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or fridge. Depending on the oils they can also break down plastic and absorb nasties, so glass is the way to go.

The only oils I struggle finding in glass are some of the carrier oils like grape seed because I use so much and buy big bottles.

I know this is a lot to think about and not every product will be able to tick every box. Do the best you can, and you will decide which features are most important to you. The cold-pressed and unrefined should be non-negotiables and the others are bonuses.

Now to round up your ingredients for your body butter.

You will need the butters and carrier oils of your choosing, coconut oil and some essential oils for fragrance. For my recipes I use Shea butter or a mix of Shea and Cocoa butter.

Here are some choices you have when it comes to butters and carrier oils. You can tweak my recipe by interchanging the ingredients you want based on your needs.

Moisturising Butters

Shea Butter*

Shea Butter comes from the Shea tree in Ghanna and is actually an edible butter. It is rich in vitamins A, E, and F and is thought to have anti-inflamatory, and anti-aging properties. Shea butter contains several fatty acids and plant sterols including oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids which is important when it comes to melting as you will see in the trouble shooting tips below.

Shea butter can be used in hair, skin, and lip balm recipes.

While shea butter isn’t usually listed as an allergen and isn’t regarded as posing a threat, it is technically a tree nut, so if you have a nut allergy it is worth doing a patch test before using shea butter.

Apply a small amount to the inside of your wrist and wrap it up so it won’t wash off. Leave for 48 hours. If there is no reaction you are good to go. If you react at any time in the 48 hours, rinse off the butter with soap and warm water and call your GP for further advice.

Cacao/Cocoa Butter

Cacao butter comes from cacao beans that grow on tropical evergreen trees in South America. Purchasing it in chips or drops helps as this is a very hard butter. Cocoa butter has a high amount of oleic acid as well as stearic and palmitic acid. It is also packed with antioxidants giving it a longer shelf life.

 

Cacao butter is good for skin products and soaps as well as for baking.

Mango Butter

Mango butter is extracted from the seeds of the mango but is harder to find unrefined. It contains higher levels of vitamins A and E than shea butter as well as some vitamin C. Mango butter also has oleic and stearic acids.

Mango Butter is good for body care recipes and for soap making. It can be used in small amounts for hair products as well but can leave your hair heavy as it is super oily.

There are many other butters out there; more exotic ones that are often sourced from the Amazon. I haven’t tried them yet as 1. they are more expensive and 2. are they a sustainable option? Seems I have some more research to do!

Carrier Oils (aka Base Oils)

Carrier oils are the oils that you use to dilute your essential oils. On their own they have some pretty amazing benefits as well. I don’t use all of these in my recipes but have listed some of the more popular ones and you can decide for yourself which ones you would like to use if you want to change up the recipes.

The top three in the list are the ones I keep stocked in my cupboard and it is worth noting that Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil are tree nut oils and should be avoided if you have a nut allergy.

If you are prone to skin allergies or have a nut allergy, do a skin patch test before using any new oils or butters to be sure.

Put a small amount on the inside of your wrist. Cover the oil with a cloth bandage and don’t rinse for 48 hours. If there is no reaction you are good to go. If you have a reaction or discomfort before then, rinse immediately with soap and water and seek further advice from your GP.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the jojoba shrub that is native to semi-arid regions of southern California, Arizona, and the northwest of Mexico.

Jojoba is actually a wax and its composition leads to a long shelf life. It contains a large amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (particularly gadoleic acid) which are great at helping your skin maintain moisture. (Do NOT ingest jojoba oil though as it is high in erucic acid which can lead to heart damage)

Jojoba oil also contains beneficial ingredients like vitamins E and B complex.

The oil itself is fast absorbing and works for all skin types as it won’t block your pores.

I currently use jojoba oil as makeup remover and love it.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is typically a secondary product created by the wine industry made from the discarded seeds. Grapeseed oil also contains high amounts of fatty acids (especially linoleic acid) which help your skin maintain moisture.

Grapeseed oil also has a higher amount of vitamin E than olive oil and has been found to improve skin’s moisture and elasticity making it a good choice for mature and dry skin. It can be used as a face moisturiser for oily skin without worsening acne. It’s a light and easily absorbed oil which is one reason I like it.

I love grapeseed oil and use it as a moisturiser for my face as well as an ingredient for my homemade body butter.

Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil comes from a rose bush grown mainly in Chile. The oil is pressed from the fruit and seeds. Rosehip oil is high in fatty acids (especially linoleic and linolenic acids) which help your skin maintain moisture.

Rosehip oil is also high in vitamin A and C which promote skin turnover and regeneration. The texture is smooth and light and a little bit goes a long way.

Rosehip oil has a shorter shelf life so don’t buy huge bottles unless you can use it quickly.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is made by pressing the whole fruit from olive trees traditionally from the Mediterranean region. Olive oil is also high in fatty acids (especially oleic acid) which help maintain skins moisture. Be sure to get unrefined, cold pressed olive oil. Refined oils in the cooking aisle are often mixed with other oils like rapeseed oil.

I’ve only recently started to use this in my skin care, however whenever my girls or I bump our face, I grab some olive oil and rub it on the spot as it will keep the bump from turning purple. My Sicilian grandmother did this for my mom and my mom did it to us, so I guess subconsciously I did know it was good for skin.

My aunt was kind enough to share that olive oil makes a lovely personal lubricant as well. Ahhh! I did check that olive oil is safe for sex but it will break your latex condoms so don’t use it with condoms.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil was originally created for cosmetic use but is also edible. It is made from the actual fruit of the avocado and when cold pressed will be the colour of the fruit.

Avocado is also high in fatty acids (especially oleic acid) and vitamin E. Avocado oil is great for skin care because of how fast and easily absorbed it is into the skin.

Studies have been done on avocado oil and show it can treat skin wounds. Had I known this I would have tried it on my c-section scar.

It is good for treating anything from dry skin to helping with acne as well.

Avocado oil is good to have on hand for after-sun care as well.

Sweet Almond Oil*

Sweet almond oil comes from a tree originating in Iran but California is now the largest producer. Almond oil like the previous oils are full of fatty acids and is also contains vitamins E and A making it a good choice for a variety of skin types and a very common oil in massage therapy.

Sweet almond oil is great for skin and nails and has antifungal properties that can help with athlete’s foot and ringworm.

If you have a nut allergy do not use sweet almond oil. If you are unsure do a small patch test on your wrist. Cover it for 48 hours and then check. If there is no reaction you are good to go.

Apricot Kernal Oil

Apricot kernel oil is pressed from the pit of the apricot. The oil is rich in oleic and linoleic acids which helps your skin maintain moisture. It also contains vitamins A, C, and E. Apricot kernel oil is a good substitute for sweet almond oil if you have a nut allergy.

Despite coming from apricots the oil is not edible so don’t eat or cook with it.

Apricot kernel oil can be used for skin and hair and is suitable for all types of skin.

Argan Oil*

Argan oil comes from the nut of the argan tree that grows in Morocco where it is often used for cooking and dipping. It is full of fatty acids (especially oleic and linoleic) which are helpful in maintaining your skin’s moisture. (Are we tired of hearing that, yet??) It also contains vitamin E as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.

You will probably notice that it is an especially popular oil for hair care products, but can possibly have beneficial effects on the skin like increasing elasticity.

While allergies to argan oil aren’t common, if you have a nut allergy you will want to do a patch test as well. Put a small amount on your wrist and cover for 48 hours. No reaction means you are good to go.

*Considered to be tree nut oils and should be avoided by those with tree nut allergies

There are plenty more carrier oils out there but these are ones that are easily available and offer a good starting point as you experiment as they aren’t too expensive.

Additional Ingredients

Coconut Oil*

Coconut oil is also considered a tree nut and the oil is taken from the meat of the coconut. It is often used in baking and cooking but is really high in saturated fat which is what makes it slow to go rancid. On the flip side this helps your homemade beauty products from going rancid as well.

When used on your skin it is can be helpful as a moisturiser as well as reducing symptoms of eczema. I personally did not find it helpful, but when you have eczema or dermatitis you are willing to give anything a shot to see if it works and just because it didn’t help me doesn’t mean someone else isn’t benefitting from it.

Look for virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil.

*If you have a nut allergy you will want to avoid using coconut oil in your skin care routine.

Vitamin E Oil

In our body butter we are using vitamin E oil for the antioxidant effects. It is not a preservative, but in recipes with no water, a small amount of the oil lengthens the shelf life of your butter and keeps your product from going rancid from oxidation (exposure to air).

Essential Oils

Essential oils are very high concentration oils and can have negative effects on your skin from bad reactions leading to an allergy, to contact dermatitis. When adding essential oils stick to a 1g per every 100g of carrier oils and butters this is 1%.

Because of their concentrations do not apply essential oils directly to your skin. And please, do not ingest essential oils.

Some essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy in the first trimester but there is plenty of conflicting information on the internet, so do your due diligence if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

From my research, Lavender oil is fine to use in pregnancy when used as directed and since I felt relaxing would be good while I was pregnant, this was the only scent I used.

Trouble Shooting

Making your own body butter is just about following a recipe. But can I tell you how many times I followed a recipe to have it turn out awful?

Plenty!

But you know what? The recipe may have been a turd but I always had the option to try again and fix it and you always have that option as well.

Things happen and can change the consistency or smells of your body butter or any homemade product.

If it is your first time making body butter, you can cut the recipe in half and make a smaller batch so you don’t waste your ingredients (and money) while discovering what works best for you.

So, here are the most common problems you may encounter and ways to fix them.

My body butter is too hard.

Your body butter can get hard and turn almost solid if it is stored in a cold environment. One way to fix this is to remelt your butter and let it reset.

You can also change the ratio of your butter and carrier oils from an 80/20 ratio to a 70/30 if the storage environment is usually cold.

My body butter is too melty.

If your body butter is too melty consider storing it in your fridge.

You can also try to remake the butter using a 90/10 ratio of butter to carrier oil as opposed to an 80/20.

My body butter is too grainy or gritty.

I’ve only had this happen once in the almost 7 years of making it, but the culprit was my shea butter. Shea butter contains oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids which all have different melting points. Stearic acid taking the longest to melt.

This means a couple of things: first it could mean that during the double-boiler step if the shea butter wasn’t melted long enough the grains of stearic acid may not have had enough time to get warm enough to melt.

You can fix this by remelting your body butter gently (the essential oils are susceptible losing their benefits to heat) either again in a double boiler or on a reduced power in 15 second intervals in your microwave.

Alternatively, if your body butter is stored in an area where the temperature fluctuates enough to melt the butter and then it firms back up, this can also cause the grainy texture.

If your body butter doesn’t stay firm at room temperature, remelt your butter and then consider storing it in the fridge.

Tools for making body butter

Before you begin it’s important to make sure you have not only the ingredients but the right tools as well.

Kitchen Scale

Even if you choose not to use my recipe, don’t ever use a recipe that measures in anything but weight as you won’t get a consistent body butter from one occasion to the next.

Double boiler, aka a sauce pot and a mixing bowl

You can get an actual double boiler, but to save yourself money and additional storage space, you can easily use a saucepan and bowl in your cupboard.

Silicone spatula

The silicone spatula makes getting your body butter out of the bowl and into the jar easily without leaving any behind. It also won’t break down like plastic and is easier to clean than a wooden utensils.

Glass Jar for Storage

Look for one with a seal. You can always reuse containers from previously purchased body butters as well but they might not create as good a seal which may affect the shelf life of your recipe.

Hand, Stick, or Stand mixer

If you want your body butter to be whipped you will need a mixer. You could let your body butter solidify on it’s own or in the fridge and it will be more of a balm. I have done this before and it works just as well. You just need a little more pressure to scoop out what you need than you would with the whipped version.

Pregnancy Bump Butter Recipe

This is the recipe I used during both of my pregnancies and even getting huge the second time from gestational diabetes, I did not get stretch marks in either pregnancy. (My mom and sis both got stretch marks during their pregnancies, so I had mentally prepared myself for getting them figuring it was hereditary).

I applied the butter after showering and whenever my stomach got itchy or felt tight. I put some in a small jar that I could keep in my purse when I was out so I always had some to rub on. I can’t say that this is the sole reason for not getting stretch marks but I would like to believe it helped.

Shea Butter 200g

Coconut Oil 100g

Grapeseed or Jojoba Oil 50g

Rosehip Oil 35g

Vitamin E Oil 4g

Lavender Essential Oil 1-2g (approx. 20-25 drops is 1g)

Melt the Shea Butter and Coconut Oil in a double boiler. When everything is melted, turn the heat low and let it continue to melt another 5-10 minutes. Give it a stir.

Let the butters cool for 30 minutes.

Add the carrier oils and essential oils to the butters and give it a stir.

Let the mixture continue to cool and almost solidify- you can speed up the process in the fridge.

Once the mix is almost solid give it a mix with your mixer until you have a whipped consistency.

Use your silicone scraper to scoop your body butter into your glass jar.

Enjoy your body butter for the next 6-9 months.

Every Day Body Butter Recipe

Now that I am not pregnant, I try different ingredients and have found this combination has been great at keeping my skin moisturised during the colder months.

Shea Butter 200g

Cocoa Butter 100g

Coconut Oil 100g

Grapeseed Oil 40g

Olive Oil 35g

Rosehip Oil 20g

Vitamin E Oil 5g

Essential Oils 1-2g (approx. 20-25 drops in 1g) I like lavender and ylang ylang.

Melt the Butters and Coconut Oil in a double boiler. When everything is melted, turn the heat low and let it continue to melt another 5-10 minutes. Give it a stir.

Let the butters cool for 30 minutes.

Add the carrier oils and essential oils to the butters and give it a stir.

Let the mixture continue to cool and almost solidify- you can speed up the process in the fridge.

Once the mix is almost solid give it a mix with your mixer until you have a whipped consistency.

Use your silicone scraper to scoop your body butter into your glass jar.

Enjoy your body butter for the next 6-9 months.

To use: Scoop out the desired amount with clean dry hands, or a spoon. Let the butter melt with your body heat and apply to the desired areas.

 

I hope you try making your own body butter and love it as much as I do. Let me know any fun scents you come up with in the comments below.