This simple homemade shea butter lotion recipe needs only 3 ingredients and is the perfect creamy moisturizing solution for your whole body (and your face too). It’s non-greasy, frugal, super nourishing, and can be even used for acne-prone skin.
You’re going to love how easy it is to whip up this creamy body butter in no time and you’ll also love how great your skin feels and looks!
Why Make Your Own Homemade Body Lotion?
Store-bought lotions often have lots of ingredients that aren’t so lovely, if you know what I mean. When you make your own lotion, you control the ingredients and can make a stellar lotion without added synthetics that simply aren’t the best for your health.
Part of the problem is that most store-bought lotion contains water, which necessitates adding in preservatives, something I prefer to avoid if at all possible.
Sample Label for a Standard Store-bought Lotion
Here’s a label of a popular moisturizer that, though priced attractively, has some not so pretty ingredients.
Basically, this moisturizer consists of a small amount of natural ingredients with large amounts of water, emulsifiers, penetration enhancers, and preservatives. No bueno.
Also, add to that mix quite a bit of pesticides that are almost for sure included as well because the ingredients aren’t organic.
I mean really–what are the natural ingredients on the above label?
Basically water and oat flour, plus glycerin is considered to be natural by most people.
Now, glycerin is a wonderfully emollient by-product of soap making. However, many companies use diethylene glycol, a petroleum based chemical, to derive glycerin. There’s no way to know how the glycerin for this product was produced, however, since companies are not required by law to share this information.
So basically you might be putting petroleum linked glycerin on your skin. No thanks.
To get away from all of this, you can buy better quality, truly clean products, or you can make your own.
And that’s where this homemade whipped body butter comes in.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is fat that comes from the nuts of the shea (otherwise known as karite, nku, and bambuk) tree. Shea trees are found in the equatorial belt of central Africa in the area between Sudan and Gambia.
This rich nut fat is solid at warm temperatures but melts on contact with your skin. Unrefined shea butter is off white naturally, but it sometimes colored with a light yellow tint for marketing purposes.
Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea butter had many benefits for skin, making it a great main component of homemade lotion and body butter. It contains anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, and has quite a bit of both vitamin A and vitamin E, making it a skincare powerhouse.
The vitamin E in shea butter is alpha tocopherol, which has the highest antioxidant activity of all eight forms of vitamin E. Vitamin E is found in your skin’s sebum, but as you age, your skin produces less of it, so using a lotion recipe with shea butter can be especially beneficial for aging skin.
Shea butter is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, with the main constituents being palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acid.
Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need
Here’s a short list of what you’ll need to make this DIY shea butter lotion recipe. For the amounts and full instructions, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
hand mixer or stand mixer
mason jars or other containers (glass preferred)
shea butter (I recommend raw organic shea)
another carrier oil
arrowroot powder (optional, but recommended)
essential oils (optional, but recommended)
vitamin E oil (optional, but recommended for more benefits and preservative action)
Essential Oil Options for This Homemade Body Butter
As with other homemade skincare products, you can add essential oils to make this homemade lotion with varying scents and add additional benefits to your finished product.
Here are some optional oils to consider adding.
- Carrot Seed
- Clary Sage
- Tea Tree
- Roman Chamomile
Note that while citrus oils do have benefits for skin, you’ll want to avoid exposure to direct sunlight at least for several hours if you use a lotion or cream that has them in it since citrus oils make the skin photosensitive.
Also, if making this for children, you’ll want to use less essential oil.
Important Tip to Make This Whipped Body Butter Recipe Non Greasy
If you’re not a fan of greasy body lotions (and ummm…who is?), you’re going to love this part.
The simple step of adding humble arrowroot powder creates a non-greasy lotion for both your body and face. Yes, it’s that simple.
Arrowroot is a great oil absorber. It’s often used for removing oil stains from clothing and it’s also a great ingredient in DIY dry shampoo. In fact, in our house we often use arrowroot on its own as a super quick, “I didn’t have time to wash my hair” fix. It works.
Arrowroot absorbs some of the oil in this recipe for a DIY lotion that is the perfect consistency and the perfect non-greasy treat for your skin.
While arrowroot is the starch I like to use for this purpose, you can also use cornstarch or tapioca starch and get just basically the same result.
Can you substitute other butters for some of the shea butter?
Yes, you can make body butter with a combination of various plant butters like mango butter and cocoa butter.
Combining shea butter together with other butters will produce a lotion with additional benefits for your skin. Just make sure to reduce the amount of shea butter by the amount of the other butter you add to keep the ratios correct.
For example, if you choose to add a 1/4 cup cocoa butter to the recipe, reduce the shea butter by 1/4 cup.
Can you add beeswax to this homemade lotion recipe?
Yes, you can and here’s why it’s a great idea to do just that.
Beeswax helps seal everything in. Just like it’s a great coating for making DIY cling wrap, it’s great for sealing in your skin to prevent evaporation of moisture. By doing so, the deeper layers of your skin can replenish their moisture more easily.
You can add about 25 grams of beeswax per cup of butter and other oils in your homemade body butter recipe.
What’s the shelf life of DIY shea butter?
This lotion should last at least 6 months, however with the added optional essential oils and vitamin E, you might find yours lasting longer than that.
What’s the difference between unrefined and refined shea butter?
Refined shea butter is heated at a high temperature and sometimes even treated with chemical like hexane. It’s white due to the refining process.
Do note that unrefined shea butter is a bit grainy, but it becomes smooth soon as it’s applied to the skin.
Refining also removes the shea butter smell that some love, while others do not.
I prefer to use unrefined shea butter due to the added benefits. I’d like to get all of those benefits on my skin, thank you!
Does shea butter clog pores / cause acne?
There are mixed opinions on this with some saying that shea butter is comedogenic and others saying that it is not. I personally, after reading the opinions on this, I think that it’s likely that you can use shea butter and a lotion or cream made from shea butter on your face without concern, but of course you will have to try it for yourself.
What carrier oil is best for this DIY lotion?
There are lots of options that make great carrier oils for this recipe including palm oil or coconut oil or liquid oils like olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, and almond oil. Here are some of the best options to include in this recipe.
Jojoba Oil: Jojoba is said to be the closest carrier oil to our skin’s oil, making it an ideal carrier oil. It is anti-inflammatory with Vitamin E and B-complex vitamins that help with skin repair.
Grapeseed Oil: This oil has high amounts of fatty acids, vitamin E, and also has antibacterial properties. The combination of Vitamin E and proanthocyanidins in grapeseed oil help skin produce collagen and improve skin tone.
Sweet Almond Oil: Sweet almond oil is rich in vitamins (including A, and E), minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It’s known for helping to address scars and wrinkles.
Apricot Kernel Oil: This oil is known to nourish the skin and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It boosts radiance and helps with skin tone. It also has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects, all of which can help to heal blemishes which will help your skin barrier do its job to protect against environmental stressors like weather and pollution.
Coconut oil: This is a great option, but it’s important to note that coconut oil is known to be comedogenic so while coconut oil in a body butter is a fantastic idea, but it’s best for you not to use it on your face.
More Non Toxic Personal Care Recipes
Here are some other great homemade personal care product recipes to help you clean up your beauty routine.
Homemade Hairspray – works great for a natural hold with no toxins
Homemade Sugar Scrub – get spa treatment on the cheap with this lovely scrub
Homemade Tooth Powder – a nice flouride-free option for clean teeth
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse – truly a great alternative for conditioner!
DIY Hair Masks – lots of great options to nourish your hair with things you have in your pantry!
Whipped Homemade Shea Butter Lotion
- 3/4 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup carrier oil I use a combination of Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Plum Kernel Oil.
- 5-10 drops essential oil Roman Chamomile. Carrot Seed Oil and Lavender all have skin nourishing properties and are great choices.
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch or tapioca starch. Optional ,but recommended to make a non-greasy lotion.)
- 4-6 drops vitamin E optional, but recommended for antioxidant and preservative benefits
- Place shea butter in the top of a double boiler. You can also place it in a regular saucepan, but you'll want to be especially careful not to burn the shea butter.
- Melt the shea butter over low heat. Remove from heat when melted.
- Add the arrowroot (if using) to the carrier oil in a small bowl. Mix well.
- Add the carrier oil mixture to the shea butter. Whip the shea butter and oils with a hand or stand mixer. Stop when you have your desired consistency. This should take at least several minutes.
- Add essential oil before distributing the homemade shea butter lotion to containers. Enjoy!
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.
Have you ever made your own homemade lotion?
I’d love to hear how it went!
Note – This post was originally published in Sept 2013 and was completely rewritten with new images added.