As soon as I settled on Candy Cane as a theme, I knew I wanted to try to make a lovely piped multi-colour body butter for it. And here it is! The ingredient list is fairly simple, the piping is fun (and easy once you’ve got the right gear!), and the final product is gorgeous. Let’s go!
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In the world of DIY, emulsified body butters are definitely in the minority. Anhydrous (or water-free) formulations tend to rule the roost. Emulsfiied body butters haev a lot of adantages, though, and I think they’re the better choice for gifting. Here’s why:
- They’re cheaper to make. Since they contain a good portion of water, they’re less expensive than products made entirely from oils and butters.
- They’re what your recipient is likely familiar with. Most commercially made body butters, like ones sold by The Body Shop and Bath & Body Works, are emulsified. They’re still rich, but nowhere near as rich as anhydrous body butters, and most people seem to prefer that. Many of my earlier body butter gifts were met with feedback of “it’s nice, but it’s awfully…greasy”, and in hindsight, they were right!
- They’re much easier to take care of. If a recipient leaves an anhydrous body butter in a warm car, a steamy bathroom, or a sunbeam the body butter can melt and go grainy. Emulsified body butters don’t do that.
- The water content means they hydrate and moisturize. Winter is dry, and our skin needs oil and water. This formulation delivers!
The origin story
This formulation is intentionally based off of my Easy Emulsified Body Butter from earlier this year; I wanted to show one (of a million!) ways that easy formulation could be modified and customized.
I included some moisturizing, skin-soothing actives in the form of panthenol (Vitamin B5) in the heated water phase and allantoin in the cool down phase (I include it there to reduce the chances of shardy-ness).
Some peppermint essential oil gives this Candy Cane Emulsified Body Butter a fresh, minty scent, and I’ve included a bit of mica for colour (more on that later, though). The biggest difference, though, is the emulsifier.
In this Candy Cane Emulsified Body Butter I I used Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate instead of Emulsifying Wax NF. I did initially intend to use Emulsifying Wax NF for this formulation, but found I wasn’t getting the results I wanted with it. The body butter was a bit heavier and waxier than I wanted it to be. So, remembering back to the emulsifier experiments I did earlier this year, I switched the emulsifier to Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and wow, what a difference! Given the results of that experiment I feel confident saying you could use many other emulsifying waxes, but I think Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is the best.
The piping secret
I’ve been wanting to make some beautiful piped things for eons; YayaDIY shares the most ogle-worthy videos of her piping her creations and swoon. I wanted in on that! I bought a piping set last year and the results were… not what I hoped for 🙈 Instead of luscious swoops and folds I dispensed a lot of wobbly poop-like squiggles.
After paying closer attention I realized the problem was the size of my piping set. I’d purchased something pretty average-sized for cake decorating purposes, but I needed something big to get the gorgeous results I was dreaming of. I found such a set at one of my favourite shops—Lee Valley. These piping tips are gigantic and have made my piping dreams come true.
To get the striped effect I laid out stripes of alternating colours of the body butter on a sheet of parchment, rolled it up, and gently slid that body butter filled parchment tube into the silicone piping bag that was fitted with my piping tip. It was pretty easy from there. Now, something to keep it mind is that you’ll lose about 50g (1.76oz) of product to the piping bag. You can recover it, of course, but it won’t pipe out nicely (the first 25g or so) / at all (the last 25g). That’s why I’ve made a much larger-than-usual batch size of this formulation; 450g allowed me to fill four 100g (3.5oz) jars with enough headroom to preserve the piping (we don’t want to smash it with lids!) and then top off the ugly scraps jar from a previous test batch.
If you don’t have a big piping set I think you could probably use a freezer bag with a snipped corner—just be sure you snip a fairly large opening. I’d say something at least the size of a quarter. That’ll give more of a smooth look, but should still be lovely!
You can also skip the piping all together and either colour the whole batch (double the mica, reduce the water) or leave it uncoloured (replace the mica with more water). You could also try swirling the batters together like a soap batter if you’re feeling experimental.
Red or green?
I experimented with both red and green for the colourful stripe, and I recommend green. I found using enough red mica to get a RED made for a body butter that also threatened streaking on the skin and staining of clothes if you weren’t careful, and using less mica resulted in pink stripes instead (which is still pretty, of course, but not really “candy cane” coloured).
A paler, pastel green is still green, and I ended up liking that option the best.
If you were feeling quite ambitious you could also do all three—red/pink, green, and white! That would look so pretty 😍
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Relevant links & further reading
- Distilled water in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Panthenol (Vitamin B5) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sunflower Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Shea Butter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Allantoin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Vitamin E in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coloured Mica in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- More on emulsified body butters:
Candy Cane Emulsified Body Butter
Heated oil phase
18g | 4% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
85.5g | 19% sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada / UK / NZ)
22.5g | 5% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
27g | 6% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
To colour half the batch
1.125g | 0.25% mica (green recommended, red is my second choice)
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 30–45 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. The emulsion will be really thin at this point, and that’s ok.
Stir constantly—and calmly—until you start to notice some clumps come up on your spatula.
Grab your immersion blender again and give the emulsion four or five quick bursts. That’s it. Do not pump the blender up and down, and make sure it is fully submerged in the emulsion.
As soon as you’ve done that you’ll notice the emulsion thickens up a lot. Now you can set it aside and weigh out your cool down phase into a small dish.
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—to weigh these ingredients. 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, and weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale.
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 incorporate the cool down phase. Add a blob or two of the emulsion to the dish containing the cool down phase. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of emulsified body butter. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Now it’s time to get to the candy cane stripe-y fun! Weigh the mica into a beaker, bowl, or measuring cup that can hold half of the body butter (225g for the batch size presented here). I used the beaker that held the water phase. Add half the body butter to that beaker (I did it about 80g at a time to make incorporating it easier) and stir until you’ve got uniformly green bunch of emulsified body butter.
Lay out a piece of parchment paper (or cling film—I prefer the extra structure of parchment) and scoop/spread four alternating lines of body butter: green, white, green, white. They don’t have to be super precise. Gently roll up the parchment around the body butter and slide that roll into a piping bag that is fitted with a really big piping tip. I used the large set from Lee Valley and they’re perfection.
Pipe the emulsified body butter into a clear tub or wide-mouthed jar so you can see the fun stripes! I used a 100mL (3.3fl oz) screw-top plastic jar from YellowBee. Take care to leave room for the lid so it doesn’t squash the pretty top of the emulsified body butter. The product will settle a bit, but the stripes and details will remain distinct.
Use as you’d use any body cream or body butter. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this emulsified body butter contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. With good manufacturing practice and proper preservation, this formulation should last at least a year. 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 formulation, 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 formulation will make 450g. This larger-than-usual batch size is intentional to allow for gifting + the loss of product to the piping process. If you don’t want to pipe (or gift), feel free to scale down.
- 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 please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- If you’d like a less substantial-feeling product, feel free to reduce the glycerin to 5–10%, adjusting the water accordingly.
- You could try using Propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- I wouldn’t swap all 15% of the glycerin for Sodium Lactate as this will introduce a lot of electrolytes to the formulation and will also raise the pH. If you want to include sodium lactate instead of glycerin I’d probably use 5% sodium lactate and 10% more distilled water.
- Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse), BTMS-50, or Emulsifying Wax NF will work instead of Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, though they won’t feel as nice. BTMS-25 and Olivem 1000 will also work, though I find they thicken up faster and it is harder to make a smooth emulsified body butter with them.
- You can substitute another light-to-midweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, Jojoba Oil, or Apricot Kernel Oil instead of the sunflower seed oil. I recommend sticking to liquid oils, but the formulation won’t break if you try something else—it just might feel different.
- You can use a different butter like Mango Butter, Cupuacu Butter, or Cocoa Butter.
- I do not recommend swapping out the cetyl alcohol in this formulation.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- You can use a fragrance oil instead of the peppermint essential oil; I’d recommend sticking to something candy-cane-ish 🙂
- If you’d prefer an unscented final product simply replace the peppermint essential oil with more distilled water.
The glycerine, panthenol, cetyl alcohol, vitamin E, and Liquid Germall™ Plus were gifted by YellowBee.
The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate was gifted by Mystic Moments.
The shea butter, sunflower oil, and green mica were gifted by Bramble Berry.
The peppermint essential oil was gifted by Simply Ingredients.
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