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

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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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Recipe Rating



  1. did you know that ALL your homemade products have Dihydrogen Monoxide -- and DM kills people EVERY DAY!!!! ... sorry for the sarcasm.. but seriously.. if you are going to contest that all products on the shelf are dangerous.. blecause you think for example glycerine and glycerol is different or bad.. then .. it would also be safe to assume that you don't know that you are using Dihydrogen Monoxide in ALL your products, and THAT's DEADLY

    1. Hi again, KP. Actually you are wrong on several points here.

      1. No, not all of my Homemade Products contain H2O. In fact, you obviously didn't read this post b/c this one doesn't have it.

      2. No, I don't contest that all products on the shelf are dangerous, but most are. Even those that are labeled as "natural". Many companies are lying.

      3. The way that Di-hydrogen Monoxide (water) kills people is by drowning which is a different application than putting something on your skin.

      If you have another claim to make, I'm open to engaging you on it but please refrain from nonsensical accusations. Thanks.

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing. What is the shelf life? No water means no bacteria and it won't go rancid, correct?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi there. I would consider the shelf life of the components and go from there...it would depend on the age of your ingredients. Fats do go rancid as well. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thank you for providing these options for those of us who are interested in the most pure products to put on our skin. Also, these companies are not required to list every ingredient they use. Especially in the cosmetic industry. Who know what they are putting in their products! Whatever they can do to make a profit, they will, regardless of the consequences to their customers. They have a real credibility and ethical problem. Vote with your dollars, folks. Don't use or buy this stuff. Make your own!

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful wealth of information regarding your homemade skin care items. I have been reading the labels on skin care products, cosmetics, and hair care products that are sold nationwide. I have a friend who worked for the FDA and there are lots of shortcuts they take when it comes to testing and approving product sales. I have only tried making the one shea butter mositurizer. Once again I appreciate all the time .devotion, and sharing of a much needed topic for everyone, Have a safe and blessed life.

  5. Hi ...Iam thinking of making your lotion and putting the finished lotion in a bottle with a screw on cap. So when you said to whip up to desired consistency, I can then pour the mixture into the bottle. Will this desired consistency harden in the bottle after it sits? I have all these bottles to fill for gifts and I want to make sure the final product comes out the narrow neck of the bottle. Thanks!

    1. I don't think this will harden. I did not make the recipe but I don't think so. Hope it works! It might be more of a wide jar lotion than a narrow neck lotion, however. Maybe make a small batch and see.

      1. Thanks...I was referring to your whipped shea butter moisturizer that you said was your favorite lotion. I was wondering if it was more of a lotion to put in the bottles...I thought you had made the recipe.

  6. I just found your blog! First of all, THANK YOU so much for the research, effort and time that you put Into your article about essential oils. I don't use one of the companies that you mentioned and would be curious to know what you found out about the one I use. However, you stated that was not your plan and I respect that. Thank you for telling me about RMO. I will try their oils and see if I like them as well or better. . I am concerned that some of the products from the company I use are not made with all healthy ingredients. Also, thank you for your homemade recipes even though you also have products you sell, which I want to try as well. I have sensitive dry skin and I am still learning what oils work best on my face as well as essential oils that don't irritate. Any advice on this dilemma would be helpful:)

    1. You are so welcome. Glad to have you here! Sorry but I'm not sure I am understanding you - were you looking for feedback on a company? I hope to have more DIY products soon. I have just been swamped. And that being said, I can't make everything -- and I don't want to make something and recommend it if it isn't good. Let me know what is going on w/ your face and possibly I can help. Sometimes w/ sensitive skin no essential oils are recommended. Just depends on how sensitive and what you are sensitive to.

  7. Hi! Love your website 🙂 I was curious, when finished, will this lotion easily melt? I am a truck driver and cannot always run my a/c so sometimes it can get up to 80 degrees in the truck. I have a fridge, but wasn't sure if the lotion would harden since there are butters, or if it would separate. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. At 80 it would for sure melt. I would suspect keeping it in the fridge would be best. That's a tough job!

    2. I just want to say kudos to you for making the effort to be healthier and using/making your own lotion. Many moms I talk to don't want to bother with trying non-toxic anything for their families because they too busy and work. Yes, its hard but once you KNOW about toxins in products you use everyday on yourself or your family, I found it hard to keep buying/using them. A truck driver doesn't always even go home everyday so I find it admirable, that you are interested in making the effort to educate yourself and make your world less toxic, whether by putting your money where less chemicals are used or making it on your own. It's worth it!

  8. I was wondering if you think it would work to add a bit of raw honey to the mix? Also, can I work with the ratio of 3:1, plant butters to liquid oils, to change batch sizes, or does it only work 12 tbsp to 4 tbsp?

  9. I like ozone layer 2 ingredient hand and body.... its pumpable shea butter and rosemary. no water or glycerin 🙂

  10. I love your blog and look of the recipe, but wanted to ask why is doesn't use an emulsifier? I've been searching the net for simple recipes, but they all seem to bang on about the importance of emulsifiers so the cream/lotion doesn't separate. In your experience does this keep well without separating? Also I notice you don't heat, just mix everything together - again this makes it a lot simpler than most recipes out there!

    1. Hi there. I haven't done much learning about emulsifiers. I simply tried this b/c a reader told me it was great and I loved it. I had no issues w/ it separating b/c it turned into a solid. I hope it works for you!

    2. The reason this recipe doesn't use an emulsifier is because it is not a true lotion, it's a body butter. Lotion needs an emulsifier because it combines oils and water which would naturally separate. The emulsifier keeps the water and oils from separating. A true lotion also requires a preservative because of the water it contains.

      1. Hello there. Good points. The only thing I would add is that a lotion could be an alcohol base, correct? In which case, depending on the alcohol, it's possible that no emulsifier would be needed. Thanks again.

  11. i am planning to make this process to automated process, so how much is the quantity of bees wax to put inside of this mosturizer.

  12. Regarding the graininess of shea butter: that is waxy, tiny little balls. If your shea is heated over 170 degrees and allowed to slowly cool, these balls form. They dissolve quickly, but the texture is slightly unpleasant. I buy unrefined shea and heat it to 175 degrees and hold it there for 15 minutes. Then I pour it into a heavy plastic canister and put in the fridge or the freezer if I have room. Heating it and holding it allows all the grains to dissolve completely. The rapid cool-down prevents the formation of the grains. Then, when I use it I make sure I don't get it over 120-130 degrees. No graininess. You can also speed up the whipping process if you put your container in an ice bath during whipping. This facilitates the rapid cool-down if you get it a little hotter than you planned, plus as it cools it does the 'fluffywhip' thing. Have fun!

    1. How interesting. Is there a reason you need to heat it that high so that the grains might happen? Thanks and sorry for the delay?

  13. I've been attempting to make my own lotions. All have been too greasy...even though recipes say "non-greasy." I have dry skin but I don't like oily products. Any ideas?

  14. This recipe looks so good, just checking, is it suitable for the face? Also, as I tend to use a day face moisturiser with a SPF, and looking at the their recipes for a sunscreen could you just add the zinc oxide to make this a sunscreen, or there's also bees wax listed, which ingredient actually makes it a sunscreen? Thank you...

    1. I would think you can for sure try it for the face. The zinc oxide makes it a sunscreen. I've made my own as well - beeswax makes it more waterproof and solid.