DIY Lotion Bars
Lotion bars are handy little meldings of moisture-giving oils that your skin will love. Unlike normal lotions, they are solid and contain no water so there is no need for a preservative. For the new DIY-er, lotion bars are the perfect introduction as they are very easy to make.
Lotion bars are my go-to on any trip or holiday as they are so lightweight and compact. They are also mess-free. Need to moisturise your legs (or face) after shaving? No problem, simply rub the bar up and down your legs a few times and you’re done. Need to target sun burnt skin or moisturise after a hot day? Just apply the bar. There’s no getting cream all over your hands or trying to palm off the excess onto someone else because you pumped too much out the bottle (this is me, much to my boyfriend’s annoyance). Like shampoo bars, lotion bars also cut out the plastic packaging and waste associated with conventional lotions, and are 100% natural and chemical free.
Lotion bars can also be easily tailored to suit your needs. Add zinc oxide to help soothe a rash and for sun protection; add in eucalyptus, lemongrass and citronella to make an insect and mosquito repellent in bar form; add in special oils to treat eczema; or add wintergreen and menthol to relieve pain and inflammation; the options are endless.
A lotion bar contains hard oils (butters), beeswax to keep it solid, and some soft carrier oils. All these ingredients are typically added in equal proportions, ie. 1/3 butter, 1/3 oil, 1/3 beeswax or 1/4 butter, 1/4 oil, 1/4 oil, 1/4 beeswax, depending on how many oil and butter combinations you want to use. Beeswax can leave a slight waxy feel on skin if too much is used so you may want to play around with small amounts until you find the right consistency. If you want a vegan alternative to beeswax, try a plant wax such as candelilla, carnauba, soy or kahlwax. Try different carrier oils according to your preference, but stick to light, quick-absorbing oils such as grapeseed, hazelnut, safflower, hemp or jojoba if you want the least greasiest bar.
I like to add arrowroot powder to many of my DIY cosmetics. It lends a soft, velvety feel when applied to the skin and makes any lotion less greasy. It also helps the product penetrate the skin better. It is one of my favourite DIY ingredients, is ultra versatile, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about making their own products.
Like any oil based recipe, you may substitute any oil or butter for another, just make sure that you swap like with like. For instance only substitute a hard oil for another hard oil. The skin properties of the bar will change depending on which oils you choose, as each oil is unique.
One last tip before you make your lotion bar: if you make a mistake, add too much or too little of an oil (or beeswax), or want to try a different oil ratio, you can simply remelt your bar and add in extra ingredients. As long as you keep the overall ratios the same your bar will still harden.
Basic Lotion Bar Recipe
2 T cocoa butter (I grate mine for easier melting)
1-2 T beeswax or plant wax
Essential oil of choice (optional)
1 T arrowroot powder (optional but it helps cut the greasiness)
Melt all the oils, butters and beeswax together. Stir in any essential oils and lastly blend in the arrowroot powder, if using. Pour into a mold and leave in the freezer to harden. Store in a cool, dry place. To use, warm the bar between your hands to melt then rub into your skin. Remember, a little goes a long way with lotion bars. You don’t need multiple rubs, one or two should be enough or your skin may feel greasy. Personally, one rub per patch of skin is perfect for a moisturised, soft, and completely non greasy feel.
Bronzing Lotion Bar
I was curious about the idea that a lotion can give a bronzed look, as my summer tan has faded completely (and I am very fair skinned). I played around with a couple of combinations and found that cocoa powder can really do the trick (coffee and tea also work but contain a bit much caffeine). Combined with cocoa butter your skin will smell so yummy too! Please note this isn’t a full on self-tanner and it will wash off with water, but if you want a quick, light bronze solution, this lotion may work for you.
1-2 T cocoa butter
1 T beeswax or plant wax
1 ½ tsp carrier oil of choice
Cocoa powder, adjust according to how dark you want the bronzer
1 T arrowroot powder
Melt all the oils and the beeswax together. Blend in the arrowroot powder and cocoa. Test the mixture on a patch of skin as you go to see how much cocoa to add. It will appear much darker in the oil mixture than when you apply it to your skin so don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks the colour of chocolate. When you are happy with the bronze look, pour the mixture into a mold and leave in the freezer to set. Store in a cool, dry place.
As with any self tanning lotion, this lotion bar works best on clean, smooth, exfoliated skin. Apply the bronzing bar and use your palms to rub in circular lotions for even coverage.
Vanilla and Ginger Body Lotion Bars
60 g cocoa butter
30 g virgin coconut oil
15 g apricot kernel oil
23 g beeswax
3 drops ginger essential oil
2 drops vanilla
Melt the cocoa butter, beeswax and coconut oil together. Stir in the apricot kernel oil then lastly add the ginger and vanilla oil. Pour into molds (I use silicone cupcake holders) and leave to cool. Alternatively, pop in the freezer until set. Store in a cool, dry place. To use, warm the bar between your hands to melt then rub into your skin.
Coffee Massage Bars
1 ½ tsp coffee bean oil
1-2 T cocoa butter
1-2 T beeswax or plant wax
1 T carrier oil of choice
Whole coffee beans or adzuki beans
Melt the oils and wax together. Arrange the beans at the bottom of your mold then pour the oil mixture over them and leave to set. Use the beans side of the bar to gently massage your skin while enjoying the invigorating coffee aroma.
Alternative massage bar options: leave out the coffee bean oil and substitute the coffee beans for adzuki or other beans, and use an essential oil combination. A good combo for inflammation and pain is clove bud, cinnamon, peppermint and rosemary. Or try a soothing geranium, lavender scent.
Lotion Bar for Eczema
A lotion bar is an excellent way for eczema sufferers to target problem areas. Use the basic lotion bar recipe but substitute in oils that are specifically for treating eczema. Shea butter is a good hard oil for eczema and here are some other oils:
Melt all the oils together, pour into a mold and leave to set. Use daily.
Insect Repellent Lotion Bar
Use the basic lotion bar recipe but add in an insect repelling essential oil blend. Try one or more of the following: citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, clove bud, thyme, lemongrass and lavender essential oil.
Melt the oils and beeswax together then add in the essential oil blend. Pour into a mold and leave to set. To use, rub the bar on exposed skin and enjoy an insect-free evening!
We hope you enjoy making lotion bars, and we would love to know what variations you come up with.