Saturday, 7 July 2018

What on earth is a lotion bar?

This week I made some lotion bars. I don't know about you, but I had never heard of them before. It turns out that they are a solid form of skin softener, much like lotion in a bottle, but in a bar. I came across them by chance last week while watching a knitting podcast. I had to investigate.

Basically, they are a combination of natural fats and oils that can be scented with essential oils. When set they are used by rubbing them over the skin, rather like you would use a bar of soap but without the water. They are really simple to make - I mean REALLY simple. I have always loved making my own beauty treatments (when I was growing up my Mum's bathroom looked like a war zone after some of my 'experiments') so I had to try it.

This is the basic recipe that I used. Equal measures of shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil. As simple as that. The recipes I read were all American which meant 'cups' were mentioned as units of measure. But as long as you are using equal quantities it doesn't matter how much or how little you use. You could use a tea spoon of each for a very small quantity.

I found a seller on Ebay selling 25g bags of shea butter and used 25g each of the coconut oil and beeswax which I happened to have at home. These small quantities made 12 little 'bars' for my own use. You need to use a 'double boiler' or 'bain marie' style set up. I used a jar sitting in a saucepan with water (see below) and set it over a low heat until everything was melted. It took about ten minutes. Then I poured the liquid carefully into an old silicone mould I had in the cupboard. I have read that they last for six months to a year but they do need to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat - otherwise they melt into a puddle of goo.

My 'double boiler' in action

Lotion bar recipe:
25g of shea butter
25g of coconut oil
25g of beeswax
Essential oils of your choice


Put all the ingredients into a double boiler and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Heat all the ingredients using a low to medium heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Once everything has melted and combined, add the essential oil to suit your own sense of smell. Pour CAREFULLY into a silicone mould or ice cube tray. Leave to cool and set (you can put the moulds in the fridge to speed this up).

I did not use any essential oils in my first batch but did for the second. It actually took more oil than I expected to get a subtle scent so it really is about trial and error. Just add a little at a time until you get a scent that you like. You can mix essential oil scents too. I used patchouli and rose. The natural smell of the oils is very pleasant though.

As I work with paper so often I find that my finger tips get very dry and rough. Since I started using the lotion bar my fingers are much less dry. Definitely a thumbs up from me.

If you would like to know more, the best article I read on the subject is by Little Pine Low Carb. She goes into lots of detail about using beeswax (or not using beeswax) and gives some wonderful recipes. I now know what people will be getting for Christmas this year. By the way, the mixture makes great lip balm too.

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