When I was a kid I had the most absurdly dry hands—the kind of dry that hurts. I can remember having hands so dry that lotion stung, and they’d crack and bleed. I think I was about twelve or thirteen when I realized I was sick of having sore lizard hands and it was in my power to do something about it. I started carrying lotion around in my backpack and things improved immensely, and I’ve never looked back. My hands are still pretty prone to dryness, though—between diligent washings and our very dry climate the answer to “want some hand lotion?” is always an emphatic yes. So, I thought I’d baby my hands a bit with this Chamomile Winter Hand Butter.
Want to watch this recipe instead of read it?
The inspiration for this project came from my experiments with stearic acid and olive oil. After I made my notes on all the individual ratios I melted them all together and stirred that mixture as it cools—and I was rewarded with a really interesting, creamy butter-like mixture that I was quite taken with. It had a creaminess that I associated with beeswax, but without any of the tackiness or waxiness that can come with wax. It was just… creamy. Buttery, but not greasy, and with more staying power than plain butters. Downright lovely, really. That got me to thinking about creating a super awesome wax-free hand butter that would be rich like something containing wax, but a bit lighter on the hands to prevent the trail of greasy fingerprints waxy salves can leave behind.
The bulk of this hand butter is a blend of some oils and butters that are great for dry skin. Lanolin is pressed from sheep’s wool, and is a classic ingredient for battling chapped, irritated, dry skin (it’s often used alone as a balm for chapped nipples for nursing moms). Cupuacu butter has a beautiful, satiny finish and can hold over 400% its weight in water! Jojoba oil has a makeup similar to our skins sebum, and hemp seed oil is rich in omega fatty acids and has anti-inflammatory properties. All awesome things for winter hands!
I’ve thickened up that blend of oils and butters with stearic acid to create a final product with the most decadent, creamy, buttery final product—it’s divine. The consistency is so unlike anything else I’ve created that I really, truly hope you give it a try. I even love this on my lips, where it’s not quite a lip balm, but doesn’t liquify and run off as pure butters do (stay tuned for specific lip things in this vein!). It’s divine, I love it, and I really hope you’ll try it. Swoon.
Want to watch this recipe instead of read it?
Chamomile Winter Hand Butter
0.125g | 1 drop vitamin E oil
3 drops South African chamomile essential oil (Eriocephalus punctulatus)
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the stearic acid, lanolin, cupuacu butter, jojoba oil, and hemp seed oil into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and set it aside. Prepare an ice bath by placing a couple ice cubes and some cold water in a shallow bowl. Place the measuring cup of the melted oils in the ice bath for short spurts, stirring continuously—it will start to get a bit cloudy and then start to thicken up. Keep stirring to ensure you get a nice, creamy final consistency.
When the mixture is cool, thick, and creamy, add the vitamin E and chamomile essential oil, and stir to combine. Transfer to a small jar or tin—I used these adorable 25mL glass jars from Voyaguer. Enjoy!
Because this hand butter is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
These substitution suggestions are pretty broad, and as such will definitely impact the outcome of the recipe. You’ll still get a soft salve/butter, but that’s about all I can promise!
- You can use a different soft butter instead of the lanolin and/or the cupuacu butter; something like shea butter or mango butter will work
- You can use different liquid oils instead of the two listed
- Under no circumstances can you use anything but stearic acid for the stearic acid!