In theory, sandal season is on its way. I say “in theory” because right now the concept of spring seems more like a sad, mocking joke rather than the (supposedly) current season. It hasn’t been warmer than -10°C at 7am for weeks. Our highs are 10–20°C colder than is typical for this time of year. It’s still snowing nearly every day. Insert choice language expressing frustration and exasperation here. Hrmph. Anywho—in a showing of faith in the sun eventually remembering what’s up, I have whipped up this simple-yet-decadent foot butter, using just a handful of natural ingredients. It’s soft, silky, and rich without being too greasy. This Eucalyptus Mint Foot Butter leaves skin with a satiny finish and a touch of minty freshness. Lovely!
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This foot butter was borne out of a series of experiments I worked on as part of Formula Botanica’s Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation. I had a lovely chat with Lorraine and Gemma of Formula Botanica back in September, and they generously gifted me two of their courses in exchange for honest feedback and review. I am frequently asked about how and where to learn more about natural/DIY skincare formulation, and while I was aware of Formula Botanica I had no experience with their courses—but now I do! I am not yet done the Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation (as of this writing I’m in the midst of the body product section), but I’ve already created several things I’m really excited about and wanted to share! I’ll write a more comprehensive Formula Botanica review when I’m done for those of you who want to learn more 🙂
A large part of the coursework is experimenting with ingredients, ratios, and techniques, which I am loving. I know from personal experience that this is a great way to learn, but sometimes it can be hard to find the time to just plain ol’ experiment with no guaranteed end product, especially when I’m sharing two new recipes a week. As part of module two I ended up spending a couple days blending together different ratios of butters and oils, playing with whipping, mashing, melting, and more. It was awesome and so freeing to be able to come at it from an angle of “I wonder what will happen” rather than “this needs to work for X”. I filled pages of my Formula Botanica notebook with notes and observations, and used a lot of washi tape to distinguish my experiments from one another.
This particular butter blend came about after more than a dozen different experiments (many of which are still sitting on my shelves for observation… stay tuned for some lovely whipped butters if they keep holding up as they have!). I wanted something soft and rich; something I could press my thumb into easily. Something malleable and smooth, with good scoopability and slip. I wanted it to be decadent but not heavy or sticky. I played with a lot of blends of soft butters and liquid oils before hitting on this combination and these percentages. The ingredients look simple, but the results are decadent.
So, what are those ingredients? For soft butters we’re using a blend of mango and shea butters. Shea butter is a pretty classic choice for foot things as it’s very nourishing… but also rather heavy and greasy. It’s lovely for skin, and that heaviness works wonders on dry feet. Slather some on before bed, pop on some socks, and wake up to pampered feet (just be sure to wash those socks well!). I wanted to include shea for its skin softening goodness, but I also wanted to counter the greasiness with mango butter, which is pretty much the opposite of shea butter in terms of skin feel. It’s a rare butter with a dry skin finish, making it the perfect foil to shea. I also added a bit of cornstarch to the blend to further reduce the oily feel.
Our cool down phase is mostly safflower oil, though you could easily use a different light liquid oil. I’ve also included vitamin E to extend the shelf life of our concoction by slowing rancidity, and then of course our essential oils. Clean, herbaceous eucalyptus blends beautifully with bright, perky peppermint. Mmmm, foot pampering goodness.
Beyond the blend of ingredients, the technique is important, and something I learned from Formula Botanica. In order to skip the graininess that can happen with soft butters (especially shea butter), we’re cooling the whole lot in an ice bath and stirring until we reach “trace”, similar to soapmaking, before pouring. I am in love with this trick—my two month old experiments are still silky smooth with no hints of graininess!
Alright—for all that chat this Eucalyptus Mint Foot Butter is really simple and easy to make. A few plant-based butters and oils come together to create something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Enjoy!
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Eucalyptus Mint Foot Butter
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.
While the heated phase is melting, weigh the cool down phase ingredients into a small beaker or dish. I chose a lightweight beaker so I could use a scale precise to 0.01g—heavier containers are too much for my precise scale to handle.
Prepare an ice bath in a bowl that will accommodate your heated measuring cup—you’ll want a handful of ice cubes and some cold water.
Once the heated phase ingredients have melted remove the measuring cup from the hot water bath and place it in the ice bath. Stir constantly with a flexible silicone spatula, being sure to scrape down the sides frequently. After a minute, stir in the cool down phase ingredients.
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. If you’re a soap maker you’ll be familiar with this—we’re looking for a rather light trace. Refer to the video to see it in action! If in doubt, stir and chill longer, giving it more time to obviously thicken up, otherwise it may not set up properly.
At that point pour the mixture into a 60mL/2oz tin. Leave it to set up for at least an hour before using—it should appear solid. The set-up time will vary depending on ambient temperature (if you’re somewhere quite hot, popping it in the fridge would be a good idea).
Because this salve 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 this batch calculator from Making Skincare. As written in grams this recipe will make 50g (1.76oz).
- You can use all shea butter or all mango butter if you don’t have both butters. All shea butter will make for a greasier product, all mango butter will make for a drier product.
- You can use wheat starch or arrowroot starch in place of the cornstarch.
- A different lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed will work well instead of safflower oil.
- You can use eucalyptus radiata essential oil instead of globulus. I haven’t tried all the different varieties of eucalyptus; I suspect many of them would work well.
- You can also use a different blend of essential oils
- If you want a stronger minty sensation you can increase the peppermint by 1% and decrease the safflower oil by 1%.