Breaking Out The Vintage MD

Cassandra is off being inspired at the HOW Conference in San Francisco this week so we invite you to enjoy a post from last fall on how to make your own hand lotion bars. (Alex admits to selfishly choosing this post because the recipe employs beeswax.)


Originally published on October 29, 2012

Making Your Own Hand Lotion Bars

Guess what I did? I made my own solid hand lotion. It was something that I've wanted to try for a while (and actually had the supplies sitting there waiting) but I kept putting off. I thought it was somehow going to be complicated or take forever.

Au contraire mon frere. It was simple and quick. (I think start to finish was under 30 minutes.) And the results yielded the best hand lotion I have ever used. It was even superior to similar natural ones I purchased.

Pretty little pots of awesome.

There are many, many tutorials out there and I'm pretty sure I looked at most of them in my research. In the end, the recipe I decided to try was this:

4 oz shea butter
4 oz beeswax (I used pellets)
4 oz avocado oil
essential oils for scent (I used a lovely blend from Lucky Mojo)

To get started, you need a double-boiler setup. You can purchase a proper double-boiler but I used a metal mixing bowl over one of my saucepans and it worked great. You just have to make sure you have the proper heat-resistant tools to lift the bowl off the saucepan easily when you need to take your concoction off the heat. Practice taking the bowl on and off the pan steadily before you heat anything up. The last thing you want to do is spill the hot lotion. It will result in a trip to the emergency room for burn treatment or a kitchen counter that will forever seem waxy and smell like rose geranium.

Another thing I need to mention is that once you heat up this concoction in a pan, bowl, or is now contaminated. Don't use it for food anymore. My metal mixing bowl is now marked "lotion only".

The next thing you need are containers to pour your hot lotion mixture into. If you have soap molds you can make lotion bars. Once cooled, you just pop out the lotion bar and rub it on your hands like you would a bar of soap. These are so fun and if you can find a cute container to fit them would make great holiday presents. I chose to use 4oz glass canning jars. I have to sort of "scrape" the lotion out of them...but it's not big deal. I sort of have a thing for little glass jars with something gorgeous inside. It's my hang-up, most people would probably prefer a bar. Whatever you use should be heat-resistant though.

Now get started....

On a counter a few feet away from your stove, put down some newspaper and lay out your jars, molds, etc. ready to be filled with the hot lotion. (I used about 6 jars for the recipe above.)

Then, get water simmering in a pan. Make sure that when you put your second pan or bowl atop the pan with water that the water is not high enough to touch the bowl/pan above. Here is a great tutorial on double-boilers.

In your top bowl/pan, put the shea butter and the beeswax. Once the water is simmering, put this bowl/pan on the simmering water pan and stir constantly. Because you won't ever want to use this utensil again for food, I found that a disposable wooden chopstick worked awesome for stirring.

You will only stir for a few minutes before this mixture is completely liquified. Once this happens, pour in the avocado oil and keep stirring. As soon as it looks mixed and right, take this off the heat and pour into your molds/jars. You do not want to overheat the mixture or your ingredients can start getting weird on you. But don't worry, it's obvious when it's time to get off the heat. The oils will be completely liquid and a light golden color. 

Now is when it's handy to have a friend helping you. This mixture begins to cool quickly, so as one of the molds/jars gets poured, someone needs to follow behind and add the scent oils in and stir in well (but fast) with a toothpick. You don't want to heat essential oils so they get added at the last. As far as how much essential oil to add is up to your preference. I was generous with mine and have no regrets.

I let my lotion cool for about 10 hours before I deemed it ready for use.

Some recipes call for alternate ingredients like coco butter or jojoba oil, but this recipe felt right to me. What I might add next time is some vitamin E. (You can buy it as oil or just squeeze the contents of capsules right in with your essential oils.) This is supposed to act as a preservative from what I understand. You can order all the materials you need online or if you are as fortunate as me, buy them at a local natural pharmacy.

Sorry there are not more photos here but I was making these on my own and needed both hands. :)  But please take my word for it, these are simple and fun to make. This is the best lotion for crafters whose hands take a lot of abuse.

- Cassandra

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