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No matter the season or the climate, skin can get dry and irritated. And if you are living off the grid and working with animals and soil, you also likely know all about dry cracked hands as a result of washing your hands so often. Out of habit, you may simply purchase lotion from the store to soothe and moisturize your hands, feet, legs, arms, and even your face. But just how much do you really know about the lotions that you are putting onto your skin? Even organic lotions contain ingredients that are not necessarily always considered to be safe. Aside from the potential for safety concerns, there is also the high cost associated with store-bought lotions.
So just what can you do in order to ensure that you are using all-natural products on your body, and still not spend a small fortune on lotions and potions to help keep your skin moisturized and supple? The answer is quite simple! You can make your own lotions. With just a few basic ingredients, you can whip up a few batches of lotion that will not only save you a fair amount of money but will also leave you wondering how the stuff bought in stores ever passes for body lotion!
Commercial Lotion Ingredients
Have you ever read the ingredients list on a bottle of shampoo or body lotion? The odds are pretty good that the only thing you can recognize on the ingredients list is water. An incredible amount of research is done on these products, all with the goal of producing a lotion that has a pleasing scent, is absorbed rapidly, and is thin enough to be squeezed or pumped out of a bottle. While your skin will generally have a light, sweet smell and remain soft after an application of body lotion, you should be acutely aware of the fact that you are rubbing nothing more than chemicals and water into your skin.
Here are some of the chemical compounds commonly found in body lotions:
- Bisphenol A
- Ammonium lauryl sulfate
While an ingredient like lanolin may be known for being all-natural and non-toxic, it is important to note that it is actually grease or a wax that is derived from the wool of sheep. This means that even through extensive processing, any chemicals used to treat the wool or the sheep will be present in the lanolin. Other ingredients that are used in commercial lotions and other beauty products are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and can even have a marked effect on reproductive health. All of that – from a body lotion!
Making Your Own Lotions And Potions
Whether you are affected by the knowledge of what your lotions contain or not, it can be very fun and simple to make your own body lotion. From smoothing body butters to body bars that can be rubbed on troublesome dry spots, there are almost endless choices to help you get your skin soft, supple, and sweetly scented!
Let’s start with some simple ingredients that you may already have on hand right now.
- Vegetable shortening
- Vegetable oil or coconut oil
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
- Vitamin E capsules
- Essential oils
A double boiler is very helpful in making your own lotions, as is a stand-mixer with a beater that will give you a nice fluffy lotion, just like meringue!
Lotion bars are a very popular choice in lieu of making an actual lotion. This is because they are typically a lot easier to store, and don’t require special bottles or containers to pump or pour out of. You can keep them in your purse, in your kitchen, in your barn, or in your bathroom. Lotion bars are solid when kept at room temperature but start to soften once held in your hands. This allows you to quickly apply the lotion to those spots where it is needed or to just rub into your hands and cuticles. Here is a very quick recipe to get you well on your way to making your own lotion bars.
- 4 ounces of coconut oil
- 4 ounces of Shea butter
- 4.5 ounces of beeswax
- Measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- Double boiler
- Ice trays – plastic or silicon
- Measure out your ingredients carefully.
- Heat the water in the double boiler.
- Combine all of the pre-measured ingredients and stir well as the ingredients start to melt.
- Once completely melted, carefully pour the lotion mixture into the ice trays. A turkey baster can help to make this less messy.
Allow the lotion to cool completely before removing the bars from the ice trays. To speed up the process, you can pop the ice tray into the freezer for an hour. Store in an airtight container kept at room temperature. For a bit of extra fun, get some of the silicon molds that are used to make cupcakes that are in the shapes of flowers, hearts, stars, etc.
For a rich and decadent body butter that you can scent using your favorite essential oil, try this very easy recipe.
- 1 cup of Shea butter
- ½ cup of coconut oil
- ½ cup of almond oil
- Favorite essential oil, like lavender or mint
- Measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- Double boiler
- Glass bowl
- Storage jars
- Melt the Shea butter and the coconut oil in the double boiler.
- Remove from heat and allow the melted lotion mixture to cool for at least thirty minutes. It won’t harden in this time, but it will cool down enough so that the scent of the essential oil doesn’t evaporate when you add it.
- Stir in the almond oil and the essential oils. Twenty drops is a good starting point; if you want a stronger scent, then add more with your next batch.
- Allow the mixture to partially solidify. You can put it into the freezer for twenty minutes to get it to this point.
- Scoop the butter-like mixture into your stand mixer’s bowl and whip it until it starts to look like meringue or whipped butter.
- Pack the body butter into your storage jars. Mason jars will work well for this.
When you rub the body butter onto your skin, it will immediately melt and leave your skin feeling oily. Don’t panic and rub it off; this is what it is supposed to do. Within a few short minutes, the nourishing body butter will be absorbed by your skin, leaving behind silky smooth skin that isn’t at all oily. Consider storing some of the body butter in the fridge for a nice soothing relief from sunburn.
Homemade lotions and body butters are a much healthier choice for your body over the commercial brands that are heavily marketed to convince us that rubbing carcinogens into our skin is a good idea. Once you have braved skin lotions, perhaps you can move onto homemade sunscreens, lip balms, body scrubs, and more?