A theme centred around rich, indulgent, glowy goodness definitely needs a rich body cream, and this one fits the bill beautifully. Not only does it moisturize, hydrate, and soothe, but it also contains an all-natural active to help even out skin tone and reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation!

How to Make Candlelight Body Cream

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I kept the water phase relatively simple; distilled water, hydrating humectant-y glycerin, and skin-soothing + moisturizing panthenol (Vitamin B5). If you wanted to amp up the luxury factor of this lotion you could easily swap 20% of the distilled water for a 1% hyaluronic acid solution; learn more about that here!

The oil phase for this formulation is 24%; a size that can feel greasy if you use a lot of heavier oils and butters. I included some rich shea butter as I wanted this to be a very moisturizing, indulgent lotion—but I tempered that richness with some light coco caprylate and some powdery, slippy cetyl alcohol. The cetyl alcohol also helps boost the body of this cream without weighing it down.

If you’ve been following me for the last year you’ll know I’m in the midst of an enduring love affair with the emulsifier Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (swoon). For this formulation, I decided to take it back to the classic Emulsifying Wax NF. If you don’t have emulsifying wax NF you could easily use Polawax or Olivem 1000 instead. You could also use Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, though you’ll need to make a few adjustments. I’d start by tweaking the emulsifying wax/cetyl alcohol balance to 2.50% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and 5.50% cetyl alcohol (-2.5% emulsifier, +2.5% cetyl alcohol), seeing how that turns out, and adjusting from there.

Our cool down phase features a new to me ingredient; Natra Pep Pea (INCI: Pisum Sativum [Pea] Extract) [gifted]. This all-natural ingredient is a peptide that helps improve skin tone, brightening and evening out the complexion. “Pea peptide acts as a tone improving agent for a more uniform complexion, perceptively diminishes skin blemishes, smooths and evens texture for healthier, flawless looking skin and visibly reduces dark spots and hyperpigmentation” (source). Very cool! I included it in a body formulation as I’ve got some post-inflammatory erythema (leftover red spots from angry things like acne and ingrown hairs) that could use some encouragement to move along, but this active would definitely be brilliant in facial care formulations as well! Because its preservation system includes benzyl alcohol the active does smell like almonds, but I didn’t notice that coming through in the finished formulation.

The finished cream is thick and scoopable—definitely the sort of thing you’ll want to put in a jar or tub rather than a pump-top. It’s brilliant for moisturizing, hydrating, soothing, and brightening in the midst of these darker, drier, colder days. Enjoy!

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Relevant links & further reading

Candlelight Body Cream

Heated water phase
58.5g | 58.5% distilled water
10g | 10% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)

Heated oil phase
5g | 5% Emulsifying Wax NF
3g | 3% cetyl alcohol(USA / Canada)
3g | 3% coco-caprylate (USA / Canada / UK / EU / NZ)
8g | 8% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% jojoba oil (USA / Canada)

Cool down phase
4g | 4% Natra Pep Pea (pea extract) (Canada / USA / UK)
0.5g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.3% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.2% warm fragrance oil
0.5g | 0.5% warm gold mica

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 or glass beaker. 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 the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase 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 before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.

Now it’s time to weigh out and 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, all that’s left to do is package it up! You’ll want to use some sort of wide-mouthed tub or jar for this formulation as it’s quite thick. Use as you’d use any body lotion (it’s also great for hands!). Enjoy!

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this cream 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.

Substitutions

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 formulation 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 formulation, 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 (glycerin, panthenol) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
  • Polawax or Olivem1000 will work instead of Emulsifying Wax NF.
  • I don’t recommend swapping the cetyl alcohol. If you have to, cetearyl alcohol is a far better option that stearic acid as it is slippier.
  • A different slippy ester will work instead of Coco-Caprylate; click that link for suggestions.
  • You can use refined or unrefined shea butter.
  • You could use a different soft butter instead of shea butter.
  • You can substitute another midweight oil like Meadowfoam oil or Abyssinian Oil for the jojoba oil.
  • You can replace the Natra Pep Pea with N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) as it has similar skin-brightening effects. A blend of equal parts N-Acetyl Glucosamine and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) would be even better, though be sure to check the pH of the formulation if you include niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and adjust if required (read the encyclopedia post on it to learn more!).
  • You can replace the Natra Pep Pea with a hydrolyzed protein (oat, rice, baobab, quinoa); this isn’t a swap for the skin-brightening benefits, but it’ll boost moisturizing.
  • If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
  • If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
  • You can drop the mica and replace it with more water if desired.

Gifting Disclosure

The glycerin, panthenol, emulsifying wax NF, gold mica, and packaging were gifted by YellowBee.
The shea butter was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.
The Natra Pep Pea was gifted by Voyageur Soap & Candle.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

 

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