Today we’re revisiting a project I first shared in May 2014—a rich body lotion inspired by a popular LUSH product—as part of my Bee Better work. This six-years-later update features a new emulsifier, fully percentage-ified amounts, clearer instructions, and a hefty dose of moisturizing vegetable glycerin for super-soft skin. It smells wonderfully of roses and lemon and leaves your post-shower skin feeling fantabulous!
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The biggest change I’ve made to this new-and-improved version over the 2014 one is I’ve made it cationic. The original from LUSH uses the soap-based (anionic) emulsifier combination of stearic acid and triethanolamine (I found this article interesting!). Back in 2014, I called for a “complete emulsifying wax”—judging by the photos I used Ritamulse SCG as I can see its characteristic big, flat flakes in the oil mixture. I didn’t acquire a cationic emulsifying wax until early 2016 when I was finishing the manuscript Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care. I ordered my first bag of BTMS-50 from Windy Point and it was love at first use! It is a super easy-to-use complete emulsifier that lends a beautiful powdery finish to our products and a very distinctive “conditioned” feel to the skin and hair. In addition to the gorgeous skin feel, cationic emulsifiers can also improve water resistance in formulas (source), which is a great characteristic for a product designed to be applied in the shower and lightly rinsed.
The oil phase of the LUSH product is pretty extensive, with six different oils and butters. I’ve used five, trying to keep it to the more readily available ones. You can further reduce that all the way down to two if you’d like—I’ve given details for that in the substitutions list at the end of the post. The oil phase is 27.5% of the formulation, which is on the higher side of what I’ll usually do (I’m usually a 12–20% oil phase kind of person). This means the end product is gorgeously thick (helped along a bit by the butters and 1% cetearyl alcohol) and maintains some good richness when massaged into wet skin in the shower.
Our water phase is simple: distilled water, fragrant rose hydrosol, and moisturizing vegetable glycerin. The amount of glycerin (20%) is way higher than it was in my 2014 version (~3%). Glycerin is the second ingredient in the original, so there’s definitely a good amount of it in there, but I likely dialled it way back in 2014 over concerns about tackiness. I’ve since started working with much higher concentrations of glycerin and I really like it. Even if you don’t, since this is a wash-off product I don’t think you’ll notice any unpleasant tackiness.
Back in 2014, I included a homemade goji berry infusion in the product as the original contained a small amount of goji berry juice. I didn’t do that here as I’m not convinced it did much of anything—you could if you wanted to, though. I’ve read that such infusions can be problematic for preservation, but in my experience, the 2014 version lasted for close to a year with no issues (it never spoiled, I just used it up). I used Liquid Germall Plus as my preservative then and I’m using it again here.
The cool-down phase features a few lovely things. Some vitamin E helps delay the onset of rancidity, and a titch of gorgeous lemon slices fragrance oil compliments the rose hydrosol beautifully for a stunning rose-lemon scent blend. The original one also included notes of vanilla and geranium, and you could easily incorporate some benzoin and geranium essential oil if you wanted to channel that. Some allantoin adds some soothing, anti-irritation goodness, and silky polyquaternium 7 further amps up the cationic conditioning goodness. Liquid Germall Plus (INCI: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate) rounds off the formulation as our preservative.
As part of the percentage-ifying of this formulation I’ve better refined and defined the essential oil blend. The 2014 version called for one drop of rose absolute for a 200g batch. I’ve since learned through my Formula Botanica coursework that the maximum usage of rose essential oil is very low (0.012% by the IFRA & a much higher but still low 0.6% from Tisserand & Young) due to its high methyl eugenol content as methyl eugenol is a suspected carcinogen. Without the 2014 version being in percents (and given how much a “drop” can fluctuate) I don’t know if that version complies—it’s likely within the 0.6% guideline, but I don’t know about the 0.012% one. Between the high price and the low usage rates of rose essential oils I’ve really started to prefer using rose hydrosol or rose wax for rose scents these days—hence the rose hydrosol in this formula!
I’m really enjoying using this in the shower. I’ll portion a few generous spoonfuls into a shower-safe container (I usually use a half-cup plastic leftovers container) and coat myself in it quite liberally once I’m done sudsing and shaving (heck, you could use this stuff to shave with, too!). Directly before I get out of the shower I’ll gently rinse off any clumps of the body conditioner, and once I’m out I’ll gently towel dry. There’s also no reason you couldn’t use it as a rich hair conditioner 😄That’s it—enjoy!
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Argan Rose In-Shower Body Conditioner
Heated oil phase
5.5g | 5.5% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
7g | 7% sweet almond oil
5g | 5% refined shea butter
4g | 4% argan oil
3g | 3% cupuacu butter
2g | 2% refined cocoa butter
1g | 1% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
0.1375g | 0.14% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.15g | 0.15% lemon slices fragrance oil
0.3g | 0.3% allantoin (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
1g | 1% Polyquaternium 7 (USA / Canada)
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh it. Add enough hot distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, you’re done! Transfer it to a jar; I used a 100mL (3.3fl oz) screw-top plastic jar from Yellow Bee. To use, I recommend scooping a single-use portion amount of body conditioner into a shower-safe container (I usually just use a small plastic leftovers container) and take that into the shower with you. After you’ve sudsed up, liberally massage the body conditioner into your skin, rinsing off any excess before you get out of the shower. I recommend not taking the parent batch of the body conditioner into the shower, where you’re likely to incorporate shower water into it. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body conditioner contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (allantoin, glycerine, polyquaternium 7) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could replace the rose water with more distilled water, though this will eliminate the rose note.
- If you want to use a rose fragrance oil or essential oil instead of the hydrosol, you can replace the rose hydrosol with more water and add the fragrance oil or essential oil to the cool-down phase, removing the amount from the distilled water to keep the formulation in balance.
- I’d start with about 0.5% fragrance oil. This will likely make for a more strongly scented product with a stronger lingering after-shower scent.
- The IFRA limits Rose Otto to 0.012%, Japanese Rose essential oil to 0.2%, and cabbage rose to 0.025%.
- You could also use rose wax; I’d include it at 1% in the heated oil phase.
- You could try a different cationic emulsifying wax instead of BTMS-50 (BTMS-25 or Varisoft come to mind), but please make a small sample batch first to ensure everything works well and you like it before making a larger batch.
- The oil phase can be simplified to 11% liquid oils and 10% butters, using what you have. I’d recommend keeping some argan oil as that’s part of the theme, but I realize it is a somewhat indulgent ingredient.
- I recommend sticking with refined and/or low-scent oils and butters to allow the rose and citrus notes to shine.
- You could try cetyl alcohol or stearic acid as an alternative to cetearyl alcohol.
- You can use a citrus essential oil instead of the lemon slices fragrance oil. You may wish to use more (~0.5%) as they don’t tend to be as strongly scented as fragrance oils; remove the additional amount from the distilled water to keep the formulation balanced.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.