Massage lovers everywhere: prepare to fall in love. This silky, glide-y Coconut Massage Butter gives you eons of working time on the skin for a luxurious, satiny massage. It isn’t oily or greasy, but you’ll find your hands gliding over skin with a wonderful, soft slip. When you’re done the massage, this butter settles down to a soft, velvety finish that’s light and luxurious—the sort of thing you’re happy to leave on your skin. Swoon.

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

Post & video updated: July 21, 2022

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Up until now, my go-to for massages has been massage oil, and I’ve made some lovely ones over the years. Massage oils are super simple to make and work well, but they have one major downfall—they’re liquid. This means you’re left dispensing and steering a palmful of liquid oil, and often above sheets that you’d prefer not to soak in oil. I’ve thought about making solid massage butters in the past, in my pre-cetyl-alcohol-days, and always dismissed the idea as true waxes give products a tack and grab that is undesirable in massage products. However, as I’ve worked with cetyl alcohol and fallen in love with its silky, glidey goodness, the massage butter idea re-surfaced.

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

Predictably, the majority of the thickening of this Coconut Massage Butter comes from cetyl alcohol, with a bit more coming from the inclusion of some BTMS-50. BTMS-50 is a cationic emulsifying wax, and it’s a wonderful inclusion in this massage butter. The cationic, conditioning contribution leaves the skin feeling utterly wonderful—silky and a bit powdery. It’s divine. The emulsifying element means this massage butter washes out of sheets and other fabrics better than pure oils. You could also apply this massage butter to damp skin, and it will self-emulsify with any water on the skin, transforming into lotion.

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

I’ve always loved coconut oil in massage oils because it’s thin and really oily (this is the same reason I don’t typically love it in body butters, at least in high concentrations). I find coconut oil melts down to a thin liquid and sits on the skin, providing great, long-lasting lubrication for massages. At 40% it contributes a huge amount of the slip in this massage butter, as well as a subtle (and delicious) coconut scent.

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

We get even more slip from the inclusion of a small amount of dimethicone 350. Dimethicone is a silicone oil, derived from silica (sand is chiefly comprised of silica), and the 350 is the viscosity designation. 350 is considered medium viscosity; it’s about the same viscosity as castor oil (castor oil won’t make a good substitute for dimethicone 350—I’m only mentioning it because the viscosities are similar!) . Dimethicone contributes amazing slip, reduces tack, and helps protect the skin. You don’t have to use it (see the substitutions list for alternatives), but it really is amazing, especially in a massage product. It’s inexpensive, has a long shelf life, and is very versatile—you can include it in lotions, hair products, cosmetics, and more.

 

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

This massage butter is rounded off with some lightweight, glidey liquid oils and a touch of vitamin E oil to extend the shelf life. We’ll melt everything together, cool it in an ice bath while stirring, and then let it set up. You’ll be rewarded with a decadently soft, slippy massage butter that smells wonderfully of coconuts. I hope you love it as much as I do.

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Relevant links & further reading

Coconut Massage Butter

Heated Phase
2.8g | 7% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
3.8g | 9.50% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
16g | 40% virgin coconut oil

Post-Heat Phase
6g | 15% fractionated coconut oil (USA / Canada)
10g | 25% safflower oil
1.2g | 3% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)

Cool Down Phase
0.2g | 0.50% Vitamin E MT-50 (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 small saucepan.

Weigh the heated phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. Depending on where you live, you may need to microwave it to get the BTMS-50 to fully melt; mine never wants to melt in a water bath, so I used a few 15 second bursts in the microwave.

While the mixture melts: 1) weigh out the post-heat ingredients, and 2) prepare a cold water bath by combining some cold water and a couple ice cubes in a bowl large enough to accommodate whatever you’re melting the heated phase in.

Once everything in the heated phase has melted, remove the mixture from the heat. Add the post-heat ingredients one at a time, stirring between additions. This will kick-start the cooling process; the mixture will become cloudy as it cools. Once it has turned milky white, stir in the vitamin E.

Now it’s time to cool the massage butter to trace before packaging it up. Place the measuring cup containing the massage butter into the cold water bath and cool, stirring constantly, until you reach a medium “trace”; the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a 3D “trace” for an instant. The mixture should appear opaque with a viscosity similar to that of unwhipped heavy cream. Refer to the video to see it in action! This part can be a bit tricky as too much viscosity will mean the batter won’t pour into the container nicely, so be careful and make sure your packing is standing by.

Once you reach trace you can now pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I used a 50mL plastic jars from YellowBee (gifted). Leave it to set up for about an hour before using.

If the massage butter hasn’t set after an hour, you might not’ve brought it to a thick enough trace. Try gently re-melting the butter and bringing it to a thicker trace before pouring. If that doesn’t work, you might need a bit more cetyl alcohol. For this 40g batch I’d try melting in an additional 1–2g (take notes so you can replicate your results later!), and then once again bring the butter to trace, pour, and leave it to set up.

To use, scoop up a small amount of massage butter and warm it between your hands before applying to bare skin and massaging away. Enjoy!

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this massage butter 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.

Substitutions

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 40g.
  • 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.
  • For the BTMS-50:
  • Please don’t substitute the cetyl alcohol with anything else.
  • You can choose different lightweight, inexpensive, glidey liquid oils in place of the fractionated coconut oil and/or safflower oil (I use Apricot Kernel Oil in the updated 2022 video instead of safflower oil). You can also use all of one or the other.
  • You can use refined coconut oil or babassu oil in place of the virgin coconut oil, but you will lose the wonderful coconut scent.
  • For the dimethicone 350:
    • You could try a thicker dimethicone, like dimethicone 500.
    • Don’t use a volatile silicone like cyclomethicone or dimethicone 1.5; that won’t have the on-skin playtime we’re looking for.
    • You could try a natural dimethicone alternative, though I don’t find they work quite as well.
    • You could replace it with more liquid oil or coconut oil, though this will make for a slightly less awesome/slippy product.

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter

How to Make Coconut Massage Butter