Why I Stopped Using Moisturizer from Stores--and My Favorite Homemade Lotion

{I've been making my own homemade personal care products for awhile now, in an effort to keep toxins off of our bodies.  

Now, in addition to recipes for eye makeup remover, alcohol-free hair spray, body wash, hair rinse, sugar scrub and lip scrub, you can add this recipe for a homemade shea butter lotion from Andrea of MomsAware.}

Lotions on a store shelf - why I stopped using store bought moisturizers

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like dry skin either. I do everything I can to keep my skin soft.

However, I no longer do so with conventional moisturizers.

Due to a health crisis in 2008, I dramatically altered my lifestyle. This included a radical dietary shift and elimination of chemicals.

I began to read labels.

Here is the label of a popular moisturizer priced at less than $10.00.

store bought moisturizer ingredients
Look at all of the chemical ick in there. No thanks!

While much research is needed to learn the specifics of these various compounds, this moisturizer, like most, consists of a small amount of natural ingredients with large amounts of water, emulsifiers, penetration enhancers and preservatives.

What are the natural ingredients? Water and oat flour at least. Glycerin is considered to be natural by most people.

Glycerin is a wonderfully emollient by-product of soap making. However, many companies use diethylene glycol, a petroleum based chemical, to derive glycerin. There is no way to know for this product, since companies are not required by law to share this information.

Wondering about the potential toxicity of the remaining ingredients in this product? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. The EWG even offers an excellent wallet size Shopper’s Guide to Safe Cosmetics.

Want to skip the additives and stick with a natural moisturizer?

4 Options for a Natural Moisturizer:

1. Dry Skin Brushing

I rank this as number one when it comes to maintaining soft skin. It is simple, cheap, and effective. I began dry skin brushing initially to boost my lymphatic system and circulation.

I was shocked by the skin softening effect. Never has my skin been softer. For more on the overall health benefits, as well as brushing methods, see this article on the benefits of dry brushing.

2. Butters

Butters are plant-based fatty oils. Generally found in solid form, these emollients include mango butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter, and shea butter.

When purchased from a reliable supplier you can be assured that these are naturally derived with no additives. Butters offer add protection since they are not as easily absorbed as semi-fatty oils. Starwest Botanicals offers a good selection of butters as well.

3. Oils

Popular skin softening oils include Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil, Castor Oil, Sunflower Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, as well as Avocado Oil. Look for organic, so as to ensure no chemicals are used during the extraction process.

Wondering about the difference between cold-pressed, expeller pressed, refined and unrefined?

Semi-fatty oils are more easily absorbed than butters. The amount of residue will vary depending on your skin type. Safflower oil is the driest of the oils and is absorbed most rapidly.

{Note from Adrienne:  Many say that coconut oil is comedogenic, which means it can cause breakouts. Just keep an eye on this if you choose to use a moisturizer including coconut oil on your face.}

4. Waxes

Beeswax and jojoba fall under this category.

Jojoba is generally purchased as an oil but is technically a wax. It contains myristic acid which is similar in composition to human skin.

Jojoba traps water inside the skin without clogging pores which makes it an excellent moisturizer for those with acne or inflamed skin conditions.

Beeswax is not absorbed by the skin but creates a nice layer of protection. It must be heated and therefore is often used in combination with oils and butters.

Would you like to create your own moisturizer uniquely suited to your skin? Consider a combination of the above ingredients.

Following is my favorite and simplest homemade shea butter lotion which combines shea butter with coconut oil.

Where to Buy Ingredients?

You can shop for the ingredients for this homemade shea butter lotion at Starwest Botanicals. Get the shea butter and any other oils you would like to use.

For essential oils, Adrienne did a series on the company that she went with for her family.  It was a ton of work and cost a lot of money.  You can go here to read about the best essential oils, or skip to the end here.

blending homemade shea butter lotion with stand mixer
Shea Butter Being Whipped into my Favorite Homemade Lotion.
shea butter lotion in glass jar

Whipped Homemade Shea Butter Lotion

Print Pin Rate
Makes: 10 ounces



  • Place shea butter and oil combination in mixing bowl.
  • Begin the whipping process. Stop when you have achieved desired consistency. This takes several minutes at least.
  • Add essential oil before distributing the homemade shea butter lotion to containers. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Moving away from synthetic moisturizing products is not an easy process. Finding the best combination of ingredients may involve some trial and error.

But the effort is well worth it.

For More Homemade Personal Care Recipes, check out the following:

- Nourishing Hair Rinse
- Homemade Sugar Scrub
- Alcohol-Free Hair Spray
- Homemade Eye Makeup Remover


What Moisturizer do YOU use?

Andrea Fabry chopping vegetables in her kitchen

Andrea is a former journalist and the mother of nine children ranging in age from 28 to 12. Following a toxic mold exposure, Andrea and her family discovered the wonders of natural living. Andrea is the founder and president of momsAWARE, an educational organization designed to empower others to live healthy in a toxic world. You can follow her family’s journey at It Takes Time. She is also the owner of Just SoNatural Products.

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  1. Excited to try to make lotions and such. Noted that I need preservatives for one of the body lotions I want. I do not see which and how much and when do you add it in the process. Could you please help me with that??? Thank you so much in advance.

    1. Hi there. That is a complicated topic and depends on what you are preserving and what preservative you are using. It's beyond the scope of this post. Hopefully we can address that in the future. Thanks for reading!

  2. Can I give your site to another person who has discovered her family is gluten sensitive & she is inquiring about recipes ?