Homemade Lotion Bars

by Daisy on 11/23/2008

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What is a lotion bar? It is a soap-hard manifestation of moisturizer you can make yourself that doesn’t go bad and doesn’t contain:

. . . and stuff like that.

And lotion bars are child’s play to create. So easy. The only somewhat exotic ingredient is beeswax, and that really isn’t exotic at all. Ask your local beekeeper or find some online or in some craft stores. Vegans can substitute candelilla wax for beeswax.

I have a Cadillac lotion bar recipe, but I will lead with the, um, shall we say Ford Escort of lotion bars.

EVERYMAN’S LOTION BAR RECIPE

1 part vegetable shortening
1 part vegetable oil
1 part beeswax

Melt the shortening and beeswax a double boiler or a little pan in a bigger pan of simmering water. Stir in the vegetable oil. Pour into cups/molds and let cool. Pop out of “mold” and it’s ready to use. The beeswax will fragrance the bars with a nice, light honey smell, or you can stir in a little essential oil before you pour it into the molds.

To use: Let the warmth of your hand melt a little of the bar and rub into dry skin–hands, feet, elbows, etc.

Yes, it’s oily at first. It’s REAL. And it does absorb in.

Here’s the Cadillac version:

LUXURY LOTION BARS

1 part shea butter
1 part avocado oil
1 part beeswax
1200 IU vitamin E (1 lg. capsule) per every 6-8 oz. other oils
essential oil (optional)

Melt shea butter and beeswax in a double boiler or small pan in larger pan of water on the low heat setting of the stove. Stir in avocado oil and vitamin E and essential oil (optional). Pour into mold(s) and allow to cool. Pop out of mold if desired or leave it in a dish and scrape off a little as needed.

Note: Shea butter can occasionally become grainy. To avoid this, use just enough heat to get your ingredients to melt. Once your ingredients are blended, cool your mixture quickly by pouring into shallow container(s) in a cool room or popping it into the fridge to cool (not the freezer).

P.S.: A little light reading about that stuff in lotions and other bath and body care products:




{ 312 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris December 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi there. Just made the lotion bars. I used sweet almond oil, beeswax and shea butter with a combo of different essential oils. My question is what can I add, if anything, to make the bars a bit more colorful. As for myself, I am not concerned about the color, but I am making these as gifts for Christmas and would like them to be a little “prettier”. Thanks for the info.

Tomato Lady December 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Chris–You can use colorants designed for soapmaking, found at soapmaking suppliers like Brambleberry. I would also feel confident using food coloring, especially a dab of the concentrated cake icing coloring–the paste kind.

Joyce December 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Chris, you could take a rose design made of metal or hard plastic and press it in the top of the soap before it is completely hard. Just an idea…use any design you like.

Joyce December 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Ginny,
I am trying to get the ingredients together to make lotion bars for my daughter…34, with 4 kids from 15 to 2 and she has hashimotos, gerd, and fibromyalgis…so far. I am wanting to know if you a mixture ratio of the essential oils to make the bars, say 4 0z. of the main ingredients.
Also, where would I go to get the best oils aromatic…??? I live near Tulsa, OK.

Jenny December 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I’m intrigued by the Ford Escort version. I have some nice olive oil at the moment, but I only have butter-flavor shortening. I’m not willing to smell like butter, but I also have not yet gone into the kitchen and sniffed it, so maybe I’m borrowing trouble. I was only given a tiny bit of shea butter for Christmas, so I think my first bar is going to be correspondingly tiny. Until I can find a good source for it, I’ll be picking up some plain shortening at the grocery, because I got a good supply of beeswax, and I desperately need a lotion bar. Thanks for the recipe!

Leigh Ann December 31, 2011 at 8:46 pm

This is wonderful! We live in the desert and could really use this! Found you on Pinterest.

Michelle January 2, 2012 at 1:52 am

I have 100% soy wax for candle making. Will this be a suitable replacement for bees wax ?

Tomato Lady January 2, 2012 at 7:44 am

Michelle–Yes, although I’ve never tried it personally, I understand it is a fine substitution for beeswax.

Loretta January 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Soy wax can be skin safe or not, check your source. It will make a much softer bar, more of a salve unless you mix it with a harder wax such as bees or candelia

Liz Slater February 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

So here’s the burning question for MY pea brain. I’ve gotten soaps before that started to smell rancid if they weren’t used pretty quickly. It was that cooking oil kind of rancid. Which oil will last the longest without going rancid?

Thanks for the help,
Liz

Tomato Lady February 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Liz Slater–This article may help answer your question: http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/MailbagMonday/f/Keep-Soapmaking-Oils-Fresh.htm
The more superfatted the soap, the shorter the shelf life of the soap. It also will depend on the type of oil used to superfat–some oils have longer shelf lives than others. Coconut oil is a good place to start–it’s an overall good soaping oil that contains lots of lauric acid, a saturated fat.

sue February 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

Could you use this for a bath soap?

Tomato Lady February 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

sue–Nope, just lotion. They won’t soap up. You have to mix oils with lye/water solution to make soap.

sue February 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Made the cadillac version today! So excited to be putting natural things on my skin!! Thanks so much!!!:)

julie February 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for the recipe! How many drops of essential oil do you normally use?

Tomato Lady February 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

julie–Oh, it varies. I’d say 6-10, depending on the oil. Experiment around and see what you prefer. And you’re welcome!

Tiffany February 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’ve purchased what I need to try your “Cadillac” version. I’m hoping to give it as a gift. What I need to know is how time intensive is it? My son has an abbreviated pre-school day, so I have about 3 hours or less at home alone each day. Is that enough time to get it all set and cleaned up, as well, or should I wait until I have no other agenda? I also had to purchase my beeswax and shea butter in large blocks (the shea butter is in a tub, actually.) I’ve read most people are grating the solid items with a cheese grater. Is this the best way to go about it, or are the blocks easily chopped up before melting? And one other question/suggestion: as a big fan of Alton Brown and Good Eats, one thing I’ve seen him do when he’s melting on low heat or simply keeping something warm is to set a heating pad on high in a bowl with the smaller bowl on top. Would this be sufficient heat to melt the beeswax and shea butter without the shea going grainy on me? I know the beeswax has a higher melting point, so maybe I would have to melt it separately and add it to the lower-heat mixture. I apologize for bombarding you with questions, but I’m really excited to try this out! Thanks!

Tiffany February 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

argh! I also meant to ask if the Vitamin E is meant as a preservative or additional emollient/oil? I wasn’t able to find it in the IU you mentioned. Could/should it be left out?

Tomato Lady February 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

Tiffany–It’s a really fast project. In 3 hours you could make up a batch and still have time for a cup of tea and a nice nap! Solid beeswax blocks are quite hard, as in, Miss Peacock in the kitchen with a block of beeswax hard. Plus, it has to get pretty hot before it melts, so the smaller the pieces the better–shredding will help with that (just don’t shred your knuckles). You can also put it in a bag and tap it with a hammer (take it outside on a solid surface if you do that) which would give you smaller chunks. I don’t think a heating pad will get it hot enough, but definitely melt the wax first, then you can probably even remove it from the heat and then add the shea butter. You can always put it back on the heat if it isn’t melting completely. The vit. E is a dual purpose ingredient, but feel free to leave it out–I often do. You don’t have to use the exact amount in the recipe–just a squirt of whatever. And don’t apologize! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask ‘em. Let me know how it turns out!

cher February 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm

im excited to try this!! i love love love making things. i found u on pinterest!! im going to definantly do the cadillac version (as i own one ;-) ) and im going to add patchouli, mabey do a batch with nag champa too. thanks for all the info. im sure i will have questions when i get started. also love the colorful way u have with words… reads nice

Martha Buck February 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

I found your garden bar recipe in Birds and Bloom. I made it yesterday, using the small fruit cups and it is beautiful. However, the bars are white – can I use food coloring or will it rub off on your hands. Also, how do I clean my pots and bowls to get the beeswax, coconut oil off.
Thanks
Martha

Tomato Lady February 21, 2012 at 9:44 am

Martha–A small bit of coloring would be unlikely to color your skin. As for cleaning the bowls, I try to wipe it off while it’s still warm with a dry rag, or rewarm them a bit until soft. It should come off easily then. Once the visible stuff is off, just wash normally with hot, soapy water. Hope you enjoy your bars!

Liz Slater February 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I’ve tried coloring these and failed miserably. Anyone do so successfully?

lisa February 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Love the recipes..
just made the Everyman’s recipe & used baby oil.. aw……….smells wonderful :-)

thanks SO much for all your recipes & advice .

lisa

Cindy March 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I need to know if I melt 1 pound of Beeswax, how many bars of lotion will that yeild? Also, when measuring the other ingredients, how many cups of Crisco and oil do I use for 1 pound of Beeswax? Thank You!

Tomato Lady March 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Cindy–You need to use equal parts of each, so for one pound of beeswax, use one pound of solid fat and one pound of liquid fat=so 3 pounds total. The number of bars you get will depend on the size of the bars. First determine the volume of the bars and divide that into three pounds. If you have a scale, weigh the Crisco and oil and use one pound of each.

Rachael March 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm

How do you feel about olive oil for the “oil” part? Any side effects I haven’t thought of, like an odd scent? I have extra virgin on hand with a 2-year distant expiration date. in addition to the beeswax, the other ingredient would be shea butter. Thanks for the recipe.

Tomato Lady March 3, 2012 at 6:57 am

Rachael–Sounds like a good bar. Just smell the olive oil you have–I’ve gotten the odd bottle that smelled a little weird. If it smells good to you, you’ll probably like it in a bar, especially once it’s diluted with the other ingredients.

Sara March 6, 2012 at 2:00 am

Hi,

I got a small amount of bees wax enough to make a few sample ice cube size bars would be my assumption. I am starting with the “Ford recipe” to see what I like with out ordering a bunch of supplies.

I have a large container of coconut oil that I am not using would I subsititute that for the crisco? I think I am confused because it is solid form but melts to liquid?? And if I can substitute the Crisco with coconut oil, can I subsitute the Vegetable oil with sweet almond that I have on hand? If those two would work as a sub, I think they would be great with lemon oil!!! Then after cutting garlic and onions and washing I can rehydrate and cover the onion smelll in 1 step!

If anyone has tried adding in glitter, please let me know what you used and when you added it in! I saw some in store with glitter/shimmer that were fantastic I am assuming you have to use a really fine glitter or edible shimmer dust for cookies but not sure when to add it in…maybe right after adding to the mold when you add in Ess. Oils?

Thank you so much.

Tomato Lady March 6, 2012 at 6:46 am

Sara–You can sub coconut oil for shortening, but bear in mind that it does have a lower melting point so your bars may have a softer consistency in warmer temps. Making a small batch like you intend will probably let you know whether you want to make any more like it with the coconut oil as the weather warms up. You can use the sweet almond oil in place of the veg oil–sounds nice! Skin care/soaping supply places will sell cosmetic glitter–I’m not familiar with the edible stuff. If it’s easier to find I don’t see the harm in trying it in your sample. Good luck!

Rachael Myers March 10, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hello~ I am new to all of this and your recipe looks easy to try….. My question is how much is a part? I know its a silly question but I have no clue what it is….. Thank you so much…
Rachael

Tomato Lady March 10, 2012 at 10:41 am

Rachael–A part can be anything you want depending on the amount you want to end up with. It’s just a way of showing the relationship of one ingredient to another. Say you want to end up with 12 oz finished product. Use 4 oz shortening, 4 oz oil, and 4 oz beeswax. Equal parts of each ingredient. HTH!

Karen March 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm

If I don’t have a double boiler can I use my crockpot?

Tomato Lady March 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Karen–Yes, but I don’t have a double boiler either. I just put a little pan inside a bigger pan with a little water in the big pan. Works great!

Martha Buck March 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I made the lotion bars once and they were white. A friend suggested using a wax crayon so I did. I used 1/2 crayon and I have beautiful lavendar bars. It melted nicely.

Becky Thompson March 21, 2012 at 4:50 am

Can you tell me where to find the ingredients in the Luxury Lotion Bar? Online would be best for me but stores would work.

Ivory Soap March 21, 2012 at 5:39 am

I like brambleberry but I think TL likes essentialwholesale

ce_do March 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’m interested in using your recepie to make a salt scrub bar for travel. Any suggestions? I’m worried that the salt will sink to the bottom as it cools, or that I would wind up with a very solid cake. I guess I can just re-melt it if it dosen’t work the first time around!

Tomato Lady March 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

ce-do–I’m not familiar with putting salt into a lotion bar. I have heard about salt scrubs (not in bar form) and in soap made with salt. This recipe makes a bar for moisturizing/conditioning, and is not water-soluble.

Stacey March 25, 2012 at 7:36 am

I tried making the cadillac version and I’m having issues with it being too greasy and it starts melting very easily at room temperature. Is there one of the ingredients I should add more of or an extra ingredient I should put in to help it remain solid more like the Lush ones?

Thanks!

Tomato Lady March 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Stacey–Problems with it being too melty usually mean too little wax. Try remelting a portion of the batch and adding a small amount of beeswax. Did you weigh your ingredients?

nancy March 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm

On the ingredients for the “LUXURY LOTION BARS”, is that cost-effective to make vs. buying? Compraed to say Burt’s Bees, etc?

Tomato Lady March 30, 2012 at 6:02 am

nancy–I’ve never costed it out, but I imagine as with most things, it depends on the quantity made and the thriftiness of the ingredient purchase. Using home-hive beeswax, local beekeeper wax, or finding good sales, etc. will impact the final cost.

Ivory Soap March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Dunno. I haven’t priced it out.

Liz Slater March 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm

For me, it’s less about the cost and more about controlling ingredients. It’s hard to find a lotion with NO aromatics, and almost impossible to find a lotion bar that is truly unscented. I am a singer with severe allergies and making my own bars is the only way to go for me! However, these are really dirt cheap to make.

Allie April 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Do you think that you could put ground almonds and rice in this to create an exfoliating bar like lush’s Buffy bar?

Tomato Lady April 2, 2012 at 7:16 am

Allie–I’d never heard of the buffy bar before, so I had to look it up. I was surprised to see it was a lotion bar used in the shower or bath, never tried that before. It seems like it would be roughly the same thing (no pun intended) but as I’ve never tried it, I can’t say for sure. If you give it a go, please let me know how it went. If your homemade one worked, it would definitely be a lot cheaper than the lush product at $12 for a 3.3 oz. bar. Yikes!

Karen April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Can the luxury bars be frozen? I want them to last till Christmas and my refrigerator space is limited…

Tomato Lady April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Karen–Hm. I don’t see why not. Just put a label on so nobody takes a big bite out of them!

Gretchen April 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

LOVE your recipe! My mother-in-law bought me a Burt’s Bee’s version a while back and when I ran out, I realized it was cheaper to make my own. I just LOVE the Cadillac version; I have dry skin and it makes my hands feel wonderful! I can’t wait to make it as gifts :) I put in vanilla and chai essential oils—smells heavenly! For those who are interested, http://www.thesage.com is a great place to get really top quality essential oils for pretty cheap. The chai is a special blend they make; its all natural and smells just like the tea! They also have great prices on shea butter, etc. With your recipe and her supplies, I’ll be well supplied with moisturized, healthy skin for a long time! Thanks again!

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