Body butter is a many-splendorous thing. It nourishes and moisturizes your skin, softening and supple-ing things up. It can smell great, and I find it’s one of the few things that actually does anything for my stupidly dry feet. Unfortunately, all the wonders of body butter can be offset if you don’t know when to use it, where, and how.

Body butter, by definition, is a combination of different oils and butters. No water-based products—that would make it an emulsion, and therefore a lotion. Body butters can really be any texture, from whipped to practically solid, as long as they’re at least semi-solid and pure fat.

Make sure you shave your beeswax down into small bits. It has the highest melting temperature of all the ingredients, and smaller pieces will help it melt faster.

All these great, natural, non-pore-clogging fats can be great news for parched skin. However, like many good things, more is not better. More makes you very slick and oily until your epidermis manages to gulp down that 40-gallon drum of moisturizing power you threw at it. And, unless you’re a stripper, this is probably not a look you’re going for, especially if your body butter stains clothes. I’ve had people complain that “that lotion you gave me makes my hands super greasy!” There’s your problem. It’s not lotion, in the same way a smoothie is not olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada). So, some guidelines, to maximize your powers!

  1. Apply lightly. Think of it as lip balm for your hands. If you’re the type who is temped to put on lots (ahem, me, cough), add more beeswax to your formula to harden things up.
  2. Rub it in well when using it on your hands. Think of it as a mini-massage.
  3. For ninja-style moisturizing power, apply it before bed, and wear a pair of PJ’s your not terribly concerned about. You’ll wake up so smoothy-smoothe you’ll think a ninja gave you a midnight spa treatment.
  4. For super-dry, ridiculously rough spots, exfoliate after a nice pre-bedtime soak in the tub. Then apply your body butter (and possibly a pair of socks), and go to bed.
  5. Don’t use it on your hands directly before handling anything oil-sensitive, like tracing paper, books, or delicate fabric.

Pure, raw [sv slug="shea-butter"] looks a bit gross, but it’s wonderful on your skin!

I like this shea-based body butter for daily use. It’s pretty firm, so if you’re not sure if you like hard body butters, use less beeswax to start with. You can always gently re-melt the butter and add more beeswax. For the olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada), I prefer to use calendula-infused for the added (supposed) healing benefits. Just put a handful or two of dried calendula flowers into a clean 500mL (16oz) mason jar, and fill with olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada). Let it steep in a sunny spot for at least two weeks before using. You can, of course, use a different oil if you want.

Basic Shea Body Butter

115g | 4.05oz unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
50g | 1.76oz olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
12g | 0.42oz beeswax (USA / Canada)
3g | 0.1oz Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
Essential oils (I used grapefruit and cardamom)

Melt the fats and Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) together over medium-low heat. Stir in the essential oils, and then pour into tins. Move to the fridge to set up, as a fast chilling time will keep the unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada) from going grainy.