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.


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:


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:

{ 328 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda April 26, 2012 at 5:38 am

I recently made a bar lotion using beeswax, shea butter and Vit E. The recipe I used didn’t use equal amounts and the bars are REALLY hard! Do you think if I did it again with equal amount of beeswax and shea butter it would be a little softer? Also, I did it in the crock pot with a crock pot liner – no mess!

Tomato Lady April 26, 2012 at 7:11 am

Brenda–That proportion always works for me. Did the recipe you used have a larger proportion of beeswax? That’s what makes it harder.

Brenda April 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

Yes, it did. Thanks!

Rachel May 9, 2012 at 7:58 am

I’ve been wanting to make these so badly and now have Mother’s Day as an excuse (you know, with an “experiment” bar to keep for myself of course). To make them more convenient to carry around, I was thinking of pouring the mixture into a low, wide tub with a lid on it instead of a mold. Is the solidified bar soft enough to be warmed up by rubbing your fingers on it? Or would you recommend I adjust the proportions somehow?

Daisy May 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

Rachel–I think it would work. I often sort of carve off a bit with my nail anyway and you could use it like that if it were in a tin. If you did want it softer, just reduce the proportion of beeswax a little and that will do it.

Melissa June 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

Hi, I think I have had some trouble with the consistency being too hard because I measured the beeswax when melted, in a half cup measuring cup. Then added 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup coconut oil. It came out too hard for my liking, so I re-melted and added 1/2 cup more olive oil. Still seemed too hard, so I added another half cup coconut oil. It seemed perfect, but it isn’t solid enough to travel. And when I made homemade pizzas which require a very hot oven, my extra supply in the kitchen cabinets became funny. I tried again last night to remedy the problem, by re-melting everything and adding another half cup of melted beeswax. I don’t know if I have fixed this yet or not. At this stage, the bars are quite solid, and when I hold one to melt some off in my hand, it becomes very sticky and unpleasant for a few minutes, then after working it around on my hands, it melts then after a few minutes it absorbs beautifully. I adore how my hands feel afterward!

Melissa June 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

Should the beeswax be melted prior to measuring, or grated and measured dry?I

Daisy June 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Melissa–The easiest way to do this is to measure everything using weight. That way, not only do you not have to melt anything because you’re worried about air spaces taking up room but not weight, but everything is always going to be in the proper 1:1:1 proportion. I don’t know why yours didn’t turn out the first time, but I’m glad you seem to have got it fixed in the end!

Melissa June 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Lightbulb moment! Weighing then would have fixed it! I just realized, even though I thought I was measuring them the same, I wasn’t. My shortening (coconut oil), wasn’t melted! Duh! That would make the difference! I will make a new, small batch later. Weighing the ingredients. I bet it will be perfect! Thanks so much!

Tanya Leavitt July 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm

AWESOME! I got some bees wax from my mom from when she had the little buzzy bugs. I made some up and cant wait to try it. Thanks for sharing with me.

jilly July 20, 2012 at 3:28 am

You’re gonna have to be more specific about that “1 part” thing.

Daisy July 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

jilly–One part can be anything, one half cup, one cup, one tablespoon. Just use the same measure per part. For example, lotion bars require equal parts of each ingredient (except the optional essential oil). So, for 12 ounces total ingredients, use 4 ounces each of the wax, liquid oil, and solid-at-room-temperature oil.

Kaycie July 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Quick question: when you say “equal” parts, how do you measure liquid to equal beeswax and crisco? By ounces, by weight?

Ivory Soap July 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm


mrsdress July 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm

i am new to this homemade stuff and would like to make the cadillac soups of course

can you please explain to me what part as in cups to measure im a lil lost
thanks cant wait to make these

Daisy July 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm

mrsdress–You can make any size batch you prefer. For a small sample batch, try 2 oz. each beeswax, shea butter, and almond oil. This will make one big bar or a couple small ones so you can see how it well you like them.

Rockin' Robin July 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Just made my second batch. I was afraid of grainy shea so I turned off the heat just before adding the shea. First batch was not “grainy” in the purest sense but tiny bits of shea would be on my skin once in a while. I used to buy this stuff but now I made extra strong citronella for my neck so I don’t have to spray on bug spray around my neck!!!

Anyone with any ideas on how to make it SPF? Shea has some UV properties but not nearly enough….

zeliasgrand August 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I just made up two sample batches of these, using equal parts beeswax, grapeseed oil and shea butter, with a little essential oil for scent. I used volume rather than weight so my bars might be a little more oily/buttery than they should be, but they did harden up very quickly, so I am not too worried about it. I am taking the samples to coworkers and friends for “testing” and if they approve, then I plan on making a LOT to include in boxes of favors for a baby shower. It was surprisingly easy and I hope that they turn out okay when used!

Tiffany August 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Hi! I’m really looking forward to making this, but I have some questions :) Does the shea butter need to be raw or unrefined or…I don’t know, regular? I just googled “Where to buy shea butter” and got all sorts of different “kinds”! Where would I find avocado oil and beeswax? Thank you!

Daisy August 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Tiffany–I’d go with the unrefined. It has more of what is good about shea butter still intact. You can find everything in the recipe from most online soapmaking suppliers, plus you can get beeswax from local beekeepers or from hobby stores. Have fun!

Melissa Y. September 6, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I love the idea of making these for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions for packaging? I would prefer to make bars but cant think of a good way that the recipients could keep these bars with them (i.e. in their purse).

Daisy September 7, 2012 at 5:31 am

Melissa Y.–I usually put them in small cellophane confectioner’s bags found in the candy aisle of the hobby store and tie them with ribbon or sisal. For gifting them with long-term storage containers, you could save altoids boxes and cover them with washi tape or buy specialty metal boxes (they come in different shapes) from cosmetics/soaping suppliers. Other suggestions welcomed!

Liz Slater September 7, 2012 at 5:43 am

I found that they sometimes get sticky in cellophane (I’m in South Arkansas ). I use cotton drawstring bags I found online, and I stamp them with my custom stamp. Mine are round with a pawprint on top.

Daisy September 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

Liz Slater–Cute!

Christy September 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

Hi Daisy/All,
Does anyone know if either of these recipes would work to make lotion candles? I was thinking that, if you have to mold the lotion anyway, why not put into jars with wicks and use for home fragrance and skin care at the same time? Thank you and love the site/book!

Daisy September 11, 2012 at 4:55 am

Christy–I’ve never heard of lotion candles! I’m very behind the times, I guess. I wish I could help!

Christy September 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

Hi Daisy ~ a lotion candle is a candle that, when heated, you can use the warm wax as lotion. I’m going to give it a try this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Daisy September 11, 2012 at 7:28 am

Christy–Interesting! Looking forward to hearing how it turns out!

Martha Buck September 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

Can you be a little more specific regarding the drops of essential oil? I have used my own spices but they need a little more fragrance. Also, can we use extracts for cakes, etc in place of the oil? (It is 89% acholol, so not sure.) I found that a childs crayon makes them in beautiful colors. One crayon is enough.

Martha Buck September 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I tried the cute plastic soap molds from the store and they melted when I poured my wax in. How long should the lotion mixture be allowed to cool before filling the molds? Also, the directions on beeswax say to heat to 175% and thats pretty hot. Thanks for any input.

Martha Buck September 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

The recipe I use calls for 1/2 cup 0live oil. My question is: How long before the olive begins to smell rancid?

Daisy September 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Martha Buck–I’ve had some for as long as a year before they were used up and they were fine then. Beyond that I don’t have any experience.

Daisy September 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm

MB–I pour mine in immediately or it starts to cool and isn’t pourable. Could be the molds. Some plastic is more heat-resistant than others.

Daisy September 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

MB–I’ve never tried crayon colors or extract. Essential oils have a much greater concentration than extracts, so you don’t need very much. For one and a half cups of lotion bars, I might use 1/2 to 1 tsp of essential oil.

Molly September 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

Can’t wait to try this. Have no idea where to buy shea butter but will see if I can find it.

TK Garrett September 26, 2012 at 4:38 am

To find shea butter, check your local whole foods supermarket. Mine is 20 minutes away but worth the drive when I’m in the creative mood. It sells the unrefined shea from Ghana.

Jen October 6, 2012 at 6:35 am

Hi, would this work with coconut oil/beeswax/veg oil?
Many thnks

Mary Lomax October 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

I just found your recipe and I wondered if this would make good lip balm if I put some into small containers. What do you think?

Daisy October 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Mary Lomax–Yes, it is okay for that, although a little harder than some. I also have a lip balm recipe on the site if you are interested in that one:http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/11/homemade-lip-balm.html

Daisy October 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm


Mikki October 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm

i love lotion bars! I use 1:1:1 shea, coconut oil, beeswax. I add a little tea tree oil to some of mine for my husband’s eczema. If I may make one suggestions: it sounds like measuring by weight is working for your bars, however, your ingredients don’t have the same density. A half cup of olive oil won’t weigh the same as a half cup of beeswax or shea butter. You can measure by volume by placing your solid substance into water and measuring the water level. That will account for air-space as well, since the water will fill the voids.

sherri burkett November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

Thank you for this recipe! It’s just what I was looking for! I love the scent of vanilla. Can you use baking vanilla extract as fragrance or do you have to use an essential oil?

Daisy November 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

sherri burkett–You can use extract, but I don’t know how strong it would be as I’ve never tried it myself. Can’t hurt it, though.

Alyssa November 11, 2012 at 2:40 am

To combat the “Grainy Shea Butter” melt the shea butter ahead of time and put it in the freezer. and then when you are ready to make whatever product just melt it down again to whatever proportion you need and it wont be grainy. Just a tip I picked up when experimenting with lip balms. Works like a charm

Daylicious November 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Im just about to start im going to go with coconut oil olive oil and beeswax im thinking I should go with the 1-1-1 ratio for a lotion bar and then make a lip balm just with coconut oil and beeswax 1-1 ratio does this sound right, ive been reading for days and thats my conclusion wish me luck.

Daisy November 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Daylicious–I’ve never tried the 1-1, but I reckon it’s fine. If you want to try our lip balm recipe, here it is: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/11/homemade-lip-balm.html
Good luck!

Helen November 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I really want to try this, would it work if I added some of my favorite perfume…???

Daisy November 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Helen–I’ve never tried adding perfume. If you decide to try it, I’d put some in a small test amount first as perfume is pretty changeable esp. when heated. That said, it might work.

jared December 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Zinc oxide should work as an SPF. Its what is in Burt’s beeswax lifeguards choice lop balm so it has to be safe. Added bonus, you get a funny pale glow to sport at the beach!

dee December 12, 2012 at 11:46 am

what kind of beeswax to use from craft or candles making. could someone tell me please trying to make them for Christmas and how to measure the block and the lotion.

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