Today we are making something deliciously simple and summery—some beautifully bronzed Cocoa Butter Shimmer Bars. The ingredients are fairly simple and reasonably customizable, meaning you can shimmer in any colour you please, and there’s a pretty good chance you have everything on hand to make these bars (or some version of them) so you can join me in shimmer land straight away!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
The base of these beautiful bars is cocoa butter—mouth waveringly fragrant, melts right-around-body-temperature, brittle cocoa butter. Cocoa butter not only gives these bars their decadent scent, but it also forms the bulk of the structure and skin feel of these bars. I don’t recommend swapping it out, though you could use deodorized cocoa butter if you don’t like the scent of chocolate.
I formulated these to melt relatively quickly on contact with the skin, but given that I wanted them to be handheld friendly, they couldn’t liquify on skin contact—that would be messy! Cocoa butter melts at 34°C, which is a few degrees below body temperature. When you handle a nugget of cocoa butter you’ll find it slowly softens enough that you can spread it on the skin, but it doesn’t start to pool like coconut oil does. I wanted to include a bit of softer, fast-absorbing mango butter and liquid C12-15 alkyl benzoate, so I included a bit of extra stearic acid (cocoa butter already contains stearic acid, so that’s why I’m saying “extra”) to counter the softening effect of those ingredients.
That’s the base wrapped—let’s talk about the shimmer! I used a blend of bronze mica and gold biodegradable glitter, and swoon. Both were a gift from Ivan at YellowBee, and are part of their newly expanded mica selection and their brand new collection of biodegradable glitters! They come in three varieties—allure, glamour, and reflections. Allure is the finest glitter, while Glamour is a bit larger and more sparkly. Reflections are colour shifting/iridescent. Traditional glitters are made of micro-plastics (the same ones that are polluting our waterways), so it’s fantastic to have a more earth-friendly alternative!
We’ll melt the base ingredients, stir in our cool down phase, and then cool the whole lot in an ice bath until we know the mica and glitter will stay in suspension while the bar sets up. I tried this formula in both a free-form silicone mould and in a push-up tube—both options work beautifully, so feel free to choose whatever appeals to you from a packaging and application standpoint. Now—let’s get our shimmer on!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Cocoa Butter Shimmer Bars
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 heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant bowl or heat-resistant glass measuring cup —the sort of thing you can comfortably stir in. Place the bowl in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water. You should also prepare your mold or tube so you’ve got it on hand.
Once the heated phase has melted, remove it from the heat and stir for a minute, giving the container a chance to cool a bit. Then place the bowl in the ice bath and stir constantly for about one minute, until the mixture has cooled a bit but hasn’t noticeably thickened or started to opacify. Weigh in the cool down phase ingredients.
Stir to combine, and then continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until you reach “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a “trace” for an instant. We want the mixture to seem viscous enough that we can be confident the glitter isn’t going to sink to the bottom during cooling.
When you have reached trace, transfer the mixture to your mold or container. For one batch I used one half of a spherical silicone mold to create a couple little half-domes, and then I put a batch into a 30mL (1fl oz) push-up tube. Both approaches work well, so choose whichever seems best to you. Transfer the mold/tube to the freezer to set up for about thirty minutes before letting it come to room temperature. That’s it!
To use, massage into your skin. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body butter bar 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.
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 200g.
- 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 please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- I do not recommend substituting out the cocoa butter or stearic acid. You can use deodorized cocoa butter if you prefer, but if you wish to use a different brittle butter or try a different fatty thickener, please make some small test batches before scaling up so you can ensure the skin feel and melt speed/temperature work for you.
- You can use a different lightweight, fast-absorbing carrier oil or emollient in place of the C12-15 alkyl benzoate. Suggestions include Neossance® Hemisqualane, isopropyl myristate (IPM), camellia seed oil, grapeseed oil, or even macadamia nut oil (which would smell amazing in combination with the cocoa butter!)
- A different soft oil would work instead of mango oil, though I’d recommend choosing something faster absorbing like cupuacu butter or murumuru butter rather than shea butter, which is much greasier.
- Feel free to choose your own colours of mica and glitter. I used bronze “Sunkissed Shimmer” mica and gold “Allure Pale Gold” biodegradable glitter from YellowBee. You can also use all mica, a blend of different micas, or more glitter and less mica—it’s up to you! I would recommend sticking with a biodegradable glitter to avoid introducing more micro-plastics into the environment.