Non-Greasy Hand & Body Cream

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If you’re looking for a homemade lotion or hand cream that will nourish your skin, look no further.  This recipe is super nourishing, super versatile and super simple.  And I’ve updated it with essential oils suitable for your skin’s needs.

jar of hand & body cream

I love making as many of my personal care items in order to cut down on toxins in our home and on our bodies.

I’ve made Eye Makeup Remover, Alcohol-Free Hairspray, Sugar Scrub, Nourishing Lip Scrub, Hair Rinse, Homemade Body Wash, and more. I’ve been looking for homemade lotion recipe that works for a long time, and I finally have it.

I’ve bought so many lotions and creams in my life, but have really wanted to go to making homemade lotion myself.

I have this ridiculous bent towards DIY stuff.

I can’t stand forking out a ton of money for something when I can make it for a fraction of the cost myself.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I am opposed to buying high quality things.

In fact, I’ve been using a pretty pricey hand and body cream for the past 6 months that I really love, but I’ve been hoping to have a DIY version for my home that I could also recommend to all of you.

I asked all of my great readers the other day for recipes for DIY lotions and one reader had a recipe that really appealed to me.  So I tried it, and–we have a real winner!

This homemade lotion is:

non greasy
super easy to make (no fancy tools–just melt, stir and pour)
smells great
has flexible ingredients (so you can pretty much use what you have on hand)

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Why Hard Lotions Didn’t Work for Me

It’s a cross between a smooth lotion and a hard lotion.  Are you familiar with those hard lotion bars that are all the rage now on the internet?

While I love the concept, I have found that the hard lotion bars are a little tough for me to use.

Mostly, I think it’s because I’m a little too impatient to wait for the bar to soften.   Does anyone else get frustrated with this?

I find myself trying to rub the hard lotion into my skin before it’s had time to soften and as I watch my skin pulling and stretching, I think, “That can’t be too good for my skin, can it?”

And frankly, it doesn’t feel too good to be pushing and pulling.

So, for right now, I am using the hard lotion bars that I have for lip balm.  They work pretty well for that, and I don’t think my lips are getting too stretched out :-).

Anyhow, this lotion is solid at room temp (maybe I should call it “Nourishing Not-So-Hard-Lotion”), but it isn’t super hard and softens up really quickly in your hands, even in our pretty chilly home.  Our home is heated only to about 60 in the winter.

See what I mean about frugal?  Every time I think about moving the thermostat up, I think about the 2-3% of my heating bill that I’ve heard you save for each degree you lower your thermostat.

Let’s just say we all like long underwear around here :-).

Just yesterday, I used my Homemade Sugar Scrub and followed it with this Hand Cream and my hands felt super soft and revitalized last night.  The moisture left from the scrub and rinsing it off is sealed into your skin by this hand cream.

A very frugal way to treat yourself, or someone you love.

This recipe is easily adaptable by adjusting the essential oils that you use. Here are some ideas….

Essential Oils for Different Skin Issues

This lotion recipe uses essential oils. While they aren’t necessary, adding them can turn your lotion from being simply moisturizing to something that really addresses what is going on with your skin.

Formula Notes

UPDATE 12/16:  I have been doing a lot of research into DIY personal care products and have found that there are some concerns with them. Unless you are going to add a broad spectrum preservative to this lotion, please plan to use this within 3 days and store it in the refrigerator.  Otherwise, leave the aloe vera out of the recipe or substitute with a liquid fat.  The consistency of the resulting product will differ but the shelf life will increase.

1.  For essential oils, use whatever you like with the suggestions above being good for different issues.  I used orange, which was really heavenly smelling, especially combined with the fragrance of the coconut oil.  Somehow I felt like a creamsicle :-).  I guess if I used the cocoa butter I would smell like chocolate covered candied orange peel (I’m working on a recipe for that), or something like that.  Lavender would be very soothing as well.

2.  I love how versatile this recipe is.  I used extra coconut oil and shea butter since I was out of cocoa butter and it still turned out great.

3.  This makes a small amount–just enough for one of these small canning jars like these.

mason jars with lids

4.  Please note that some (including me) who have made this have had issues with it not solidifying.  I suspect it has to do with the type of shea butter used.  I think if you use a raw shea butter, the resulting product is liquidy.

Of course, you can make more to stock up, or for gifts.

Some people mentioned in the comments that their lotion didn’t solidify. I’m guessing that is due to different temperatures or perhaps that quality of the ingredients used.

Even if yours is liquidy, you can still use it.  In fact, one idea is to put it in a pump bottle. Some upscale lotions are like this including one I am trying out right now.

white transparent pump bottle

This bottle would be just perfect for that:

Two nights ago, I put a little warm water on my arms, legs, hands, feet, and elbows, and smoothed this lotion all over before going to bed.
This morning, my skin is obviously nourished and much happier.

There were other recipes that readers shared that I thought sounded great, so I am going to be working on more lotions in the future, hopefully my next one will be one that is liquid at room temp.

In the meantime, enjoy this treat for your skin.

Where to Buy Ingredients

For essential oils, I recommend checking out the company I recommend in my Best Essential Oils Series.

Preservative Notes

Since this lotion has aloe vera in it, you will need a preservative to keep it from spoiling.

I recommend Germall Plus at a concentration level of 0.5% to avoid using parabens.

Alternatively, you could omit the aloe vera. The resulting cream will be a bit different, but then bacterial growth isn’t likely due to no presence of water or aloe.

More Homemade Personal Care Products You’ll Love

Homemade Shea Butter Lotion – non-greasy and great for all skin types including aging skin and acne-prone
Homemade Lip Scrub – so healthy you can literally eat it!
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse – makes your hair super healthy!
DIY Sugar Scrub – get spa results without the spa prices
Black Cumin Face Oil Blend – get amazing skin without paying a hefty price

homemade hand cream in glass jar with essential oil bottle
tub of cream and small amber bottle

Nourishing Hand and Body Cream

5 from 1 vote
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  • Heat the shea butter, coconut oil, and cocoa butter over low heat until melted.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the aloe vera juice, liquid oil, and essential oils and stir to combine well.
  • Store in container of your choice.  I used small canning jars.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Not Wanting To DIY?

If you aren’t really in the mood to make your own lotion, or just are out of time, you can buy clean lotions too. I’m really careful to avoid using anything with artificial fragrances.

Two great options are Beautycounter and Oliveda.

I personally love and trust Beautycounter for so many reasons. They test all of their products and are completely transparent.

You can read more about what makes Beautycounter special here. Just so you know, I’m super picky about things like honesty and transparency, and this company totally makes the grade for me.

Do you have a favorite homemade lotion recipe to share?

Photo credits – Naomi Huzovicova

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Recipe Rating



  1. I’d love to know more about the concerns you mention around homemade personal care products. Could you provide a link to some of the information you’ve been reading out there? Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi there. There are all kinds of things–not blending well enough (i.e. for sunscreen), using substandard ingredients that aren’t tested for contamination / heavy metals, bacterial contamination, improper / insufficient amounts of preservatives, etc. Does that help? I should do a post about this.

  2. What is the yield on this recipe please? You may have already said but I couldn’t see it, thanks!

    1. Hi there. It would be just about the sum of the amounts of the ingredients so about 5/8 of a cup. Enjoy!

  3. Would the lotion still work if you doubled the coco butter instead of putting in the shea butter???

    1. I think it would work without it. You could try water as well but I do think a reader tried omitting it and it worked. Hope it does!

      1. I have a recipe for a hand cream that is very greasy and I’m looking for something that is not, so I will try this one without the Aloe Vera and then let you know how it turns out and how I like it. The one I have now has peppermint in it, and I think I’ll use it in the next one too. I purchase my essential oils from “Melaleuca” The Wellness Company, in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

  4. Hi Adrienne,

    I absolutely love your work! This article was so useful. So much so that I linked to this article in my latest Blog post.

  5. I’ve been making creams and lotions for over 8 years and I started making him because I have psoriasis and eczema and I find that this recipe that you have is one of the best that I have come across so far mainly because it does not have any multi fires or preservatives in it as these to affect my eczema I have done variations on your formula ie replacing certain things and trying different oils and it still seems to work out very well one of the main ingredients that I’ve tried adding and replacing with his hemp oil I finally seems to suit a lot better but as for the rude remarks of the other person he’s not fair some people like me just cannot deal with emulsifiers and preservatives especially preservatives finally a recipe that I can use after a long long look thank you very much keep an eye on your site as this recipe is a good you may have more thank you very much

  6. How do you expect this “lotion” to come out properly, when your not making it correctly to begin with? For anyone looking up recipes for lotion, or hand and body cream please do your research! First issue here is you never want to measure your ingredients by cups, spoons… and so forth… you measure by weight, using a scale, grams, and ounces. The next issue here is your mixing together butters and oils which is fine, but turns then adding a liquid (the Aloe vera juice) once you do that you then need an emulsifier. Emulsifying wax, and stearic acid will then thicken the lotion back up. And of course a preservative like optiphen at 1% would be good. Then you can call it a lotion.

    1. Hello Mary –

      Yes, to make this correctly a scale would be best but this was done for the person with little time and needing something to whip up easily. I agree with you about needing the emulsifier. Interestingly, the formula works for me fairly easily so not sure why that is. I am consulting with a skincare expert to work on things going forward on my site and will be including more information about emulsifiers and preservatives from that point so that’s something I hope you can look forward to as much as I am :). Thanks for commenting and for reading!

      1. Hi Adrienne,
        Wow Mary sounded kind of mean to you ?
        I did the recipe as written and it turned out great. I disagree it does not need an emulsifier. It was easy. And i can leave it in the fridge for preservation if it lasts that long.
        I’m a professional pastry chef & baker & the measurements worked fine. Some people are “weight snobs” actually any liquid can be measured accurately in Tbs. or cups in a liquid glass cup measure.
        Thanks for sharing! Love it ?
        Anne Kenney

        1. Thanks so much, Anne and so glad it worked well for you. I hope to have some creams soon with no need for an emulsifier regardless :).

          1. Thanks ! I just reread my post and saw 2 question marks that shouldn’t be there, oops that was accidental. Disreguard the question (?) marks ?
            Its cream, I love it.

        2. I thought she sounded pretty uppity about it all. She’s sharing her experience. Nice to offer options but you can be nice about it. Just sayin….

    2. Wow Mary, way to be rude..I think it was nice of her to share her thoughts and recipe for her lotion, it may not be professional and she doesn’t claim it to be. You can be helpfully instructive without sounding like a know it all..

      1. I agree, Christal! I was very impressed, Andrienna on how you handled Mary’s rudeness with such class. I will never understand how trolls just spend their time being rude and negative.
        I have been using your recipe for months…and absolutely LOVE it. It is the only thing that keeps my dry, Tucson skin moist. 🙂 So thank you! And thank you for your kindness with “everyone.”

    3. Sharing knowledge with one another is one of the wonderful things about the internet; however, might I suggest doing so maturely? Obviously Mary’s mother neglected to teach her manners and politeness. Share your knowledge but do not be a punta when you do so!

      1. Not nice. Maybe you need to learn manners :). I get it – misspellings bug me too – but I have even seen English majors from top universities mess up I/me, etc. And now w/ all the online AI stuff, who knows what anyone is going to know how to spell….we’re doomed. In more than one way. P.S. Sorry for the delay in approving your comment. Lots of spammy ones and rude ones to weed through.

  7. I don’t think you use a jar of this in 3 days. plus, oils and water (aloe) do not mix and you need an emulsifier plus a preservative /ecocert approved/ just to be safe. You can do yourself more harm with unpreserved lotion/ cream than with 1% preservative in it.
    If you want to learn how to formulate cosmetics professionally, have a look at Formula Botanica, accredited online school

    1. Thanks! Many choose to not worry about expiration / contamination but I wanted the information in there. Yes that is a good online school- thanks for sharing!

  8. Looking forward to trying this lotion recipe and giving as gifts! What sort of preservative would you recommend? This is the first time I am making a cream/lotion and I don’t want to give something to someone that could be harmful. Thank you!

    1. Sorry but I’m not up on how to determine what kind of preservative to use. I hope to learn more in the future!

  9. So I missed the note about using a raw shea butter making it liquidy and used just a 50/50 mix of that and coconut oil. Anything I can do?

  10. Hi! You mentioned in your update that you suggest using liquid fat instead of aloe vera for a longer shelf life. Do you have any suggestions on which would be better for the skin?

    1. Hi there. It would depend on your skin somewhat but jojoba is considered to be great for the skin.

    1. It’s a little thicker but should work pretty well. Hopefully it does! Maybe make a smaller batch b/c I haven’t tried it.

  11. In response to comments on the cream not solidifying, the answer could be in the method.
    I mix similar ingredients although not in the ratios. After trying different methods, the one that gives me a solid looking outcome is the extent to which you heat the shea butter:

    heating till it’s just about to go liquid (some liquid bits and some soft bits), then add the coconut oil. The residual heat will melt the coconut oil. If not heat for a few more seconds. Stir

    I melt the cocoa butter separately then add it to the mix

    Add rapeseed oil
    Add the essential oils

    Stir and Leave to cool. Stir as it solidifies to ensure proper mixing.

  12. I am allergic to shea butter,do you have a substitute or could I just use morecoconut oil?

    1. Hi there. I haven’t personally used one. There are a lot of choices. I would probably do essential oils to a point and then something more natural to aid with the preserving.

  13. I feel happy when i google and saw your homemade barth soap and hand body lotion. I like it and i want to know how to make hand body lotion.

    1. Hi Davida – it depends on which one you use and how much. I’m sorry but I’m not an expert on preservatives and can’t make shelf life claims. I hope to learn more about this to share later.