I have just spent a very happy couple of hours topping up my stock of butters and oils in preparation for making a new batch of body butter and entering this month’s Soap Challenge (I’ll blog about that next week).
Making my own body butter has been a revelation to me. I had long been a fan of L’Occitane’s Shea Butter which ticked all my boxes – organic √ fairly traded √ pure ingredients with no chemical nasties √ – all except one, price. It currently retails at £28 for 150 ml which seems a little ‘lumpy’ to me. I was sure I could make it myself much cheaper, after all it only contained one ingredient. So I went online, bought some shea butter, melted it down and poured it into a container. It was moisturising but, boy, what a struggle to get out of the jar! So there ended my adventure in body butters, until …
… I got into cold process soap making. Strange connection you may be thinking, but those of you who make soap will know that soap sites invariable contain links to other homemade skincare and cosmetics. In researching more about soap I stumbled upon tutorials for body butter and, guess what, you’re meant to whip it! Who knew? Okay, probably lots of people, but it was news to me.
So, armed with my electric hand whisk and a little patience (after melting and blending your butters and oils, you need to thoroughly chill everything before whipping it), I whipped up a batch of the most luscious, gorgeous body butter I’ve ever tried. It has a wonderful mousse like texture and I love that I can have total control over what I put in it. Because I don’t add any water there is no need for chemical emulsifiers or preservatives so it is 100% skin loving.
It’s been months since I last made a batch but I have just about used up my last tub so it’s time to make a new batch. After a very pleasant morning Googling of the properties of various butters and oils (including a sneaky peek at what some other leading brands put in their products – well if it’s good enough for Liz Earle, it’s more than good enough for me!). I now have my formula …
75% of the recipe is solid oils and butters. I’ll be using:
- Coconut oil – organic – it melts quickly on skin contact and is an ideal moisturiser on all skin types particularly dry, itchy or sensitive skins.
- Mango butter – non-hydrogenated – although a solid, is still quite a soft butter so helps prevent the finished product getting too hard at room temperature. Mango butter is an excellent skin softener with, apparently, healing and regenerative properties.
- Shea butter – unrefined, wild harvested, fairly traded – in the past I’ve used refined shea but trying unrefined this time sourced from Akwaaba Social Enterprise Ltd, which is a co-operative of 130 ladies based in norther Ghana, West African. Suspect it will be creamier in colour and probably have a more distinctive smell but that doesn’t really concern me. What is a plus for me is that being unrefined means it hasn’t passed through so many chemical processes, so more of the beneficial properties remain.
The other 25% will be liquid oils, which help create the soft texture. There are so many wonderful oils to choose from, all offering different skin loving properties. I found it so hard to choose, I’ve ended up with 10 different oils in my formula:
- Avocado oil – unrefined, organic – although a heavier oil, avocado is reported to penetrate deeply into the skin and is high in vitamin A and D.
- Wheatgerm oil – unrefined, cold pressed, organic – naturally rich in vitamins A, D and E and many of the B vitamins. Vitamin E is great for promoting skin cell formation, and for nourishing and rejuvenating dry, mature, dehydrated skin, and reducing scars, stretch marks and damaged skin (it could have been made just for me!). It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.
- Jojoba oil – organic – jojoba helps promote healing of the skin as it has antimicrobial properties. In composition, it closely resembles the skin’s natural sebum so is easily absorbed and tolerated even by those with the most sensitive skin.
- Marula oil – a less well known oil, it is beginning to hit the headlines as the latest wonder ingredient in a number of skin care products. It contains powerful antioxidants (60% more than argan oil) and a high concentration of nutrients, minerals and essential fatty acids that protect against environmental aggressors, reverse photo-damage, boost cellular activity, hydrate at the deepest levels and repair the skin. What’s not to like!
- Borage seed oil – cold pressed – also know as Starflower, borage is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid) which helps locks moisture onto the skin
- Rose hip oil – cold pressed – known as a potent anti-aging treatment to help reduce wrinkles and fine lines. A rich source of vitamin A and essential fatty acids, it is good for scar tissue, stretch marks, damaged and dry skin.
- Cranberry seed oil – cold pressed, unrefined – quite the luxury oil as this costs almost three times as much as any of the others, however, it promises to pack a punch with high levels of vitamin E as well as other anti-oxidants (in fact higher than found in any other vegetable oil!). It is easily absorbed and is highly nourishing and moisturising.
- Pomegranate seed oil – cold pressed – another oil high in antioxidants. These help neutralise free radicals which cause skin aging.
- Grape seed oil – glides smoothly on to the skin with moisturising properties. It has mildly astringent and antiseptic qualities and can assist with skin repair.
- Apricot kernel oil -organic – readily absorbed into the skin, it is said to slow down the aging process and to be of great use in treating inflamed skin.
While many of the oils and butters I’ve chosen are packed with vitamins, I’m also planning on adding a little natural vitamin E, not only for it’s benefits to the skin but also for it natural preservative action which will help extend the shelf life of my finished body butter (as I said, it does take me quite a while to get through, even when I do give some away to friends).
I’ll not add any colourants as I like the natural creamy white, but I will add some essential oil to fragrance it. I’ve added a blend of lemongrass, lavender and geranium to my shopping list – can’t wait to see how it smells!
If you’re intereste, I shopped with The Soap Kitchen (www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk). Their customer service is excellent (they have given me a call in the past when they spotted a mis-match between the number of jars and lids on my order – they were right, I had made a mistake!). I tend to shop around a little but always come back to them as they offer a great range at highly competitive prices. I reckon this batch will work our at under £5 per 150 ml. A little better than L’Occitane!