Today’s formulation is a soft, creamy butter that works beautifully for haircare and skincare. Depending on how you use it, it can be a super-concentrated leave-in hair conditioner, a hair serum, a regular-strength leave-in hair conditioner, or a body butter. It’s versatile, luxurious, and smells fantastic. Let’s dive in!
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The base ingredients
For fabulous skin feel, hair-smoothing magic, and self-emulsifying goodness, I’ve included some BTMS-50. I adore this ingredient. It gives skin care formulations the most divine, luxurious feel and leaves hair softer and more manageable. Swoon!
I grind my BTMS-50 up in my DIY-only coffee grinder so it melts more readily. The grinder in these photos is made by Cuisinart; I picked it up at a thrift store. It’s bigger than the rest of my coffee grinders and easier to clean thanks to the removable grinding bowl, but it does leak powder (I think this would be fixed with a layer of cling film, though).
I’ve made several hair balms before, but after falling in love with C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls) last year, I knew I needed to make a hair butter instead! Something rich, soft, creamy, and… well… buttery!
To achieve that dreamy, creamy consistency, I’ve thickened this formulation with C10-18 Triglycerides, also known as “Butter Pearls”.
Learn more: A Quick Guide to Butter Pearls and Liquid Oil Ratios
The majority of this creamy hair butter is a blend of three different lightweight emollients. I’d say camellia seed oil is the star from the theme point of view as camellia seed oil is made from the same plant that tea is made from—pairing beautifully with the green tea wax that’s also in the formulation.
Isoamyl cocoate is extra-light, helping keep the butter from weighing down the hair or feeling greasy on the skin.
And fractionated coconut oil (or medium chain triglycerides—either will work and products sold as fractionated coconut oil are often actually medium chain triglycerides if you check the INCI) rounds out the lightweight emollients as an inexpensive, readily accessible option.
You can trade these emollients around, using more of one or even all of one—just be sure to keep it to 72.2% of the formulation. Changing the emollient significantly will definitely change the formulation, but it should still work well 😊
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Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is a stable oil soluble ester of vitamin C, boasting the benefits of vitamin C without the challenges for formulating with L-Ascorbic acid (the most common form of vitamin C). According to Simply Ingredients, “Oil Soluble Vitamin C can also be used at 0.5% in an oil serum applied to hair for cuticle repair. The ester in our Oil Soluble Vitamin C reacts with the amino acids of damaged hair and makes the hair more hydrophobic, leaving it feeling shinier and healthier.” Hooray!
As gorgeous as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is, you don’t need it for this formulation. Simply replace it with more camellia seed oil if you don’t have it.
Green tea wax
This fun ingredient gives the formulation a slight green colour, boosts creaminess, and imparts a soft & earthy scent to the finished butter. It also pairs beautifully with camellia seed oil, rounding out our green tea theme.
If you don’t have this ingredient you can easily replace it with more of one of the liquid emollients. You could also use a different floral wax, like rose wax!
Radiant orchid fragrance oil
This sweet, complex, powdery fragrance compliments the earthy scent of the green tea wax beautifully, adding some high notes to the scent blend. This fragrance oil is part of Bramble Berry’s new Sweetheart collection, and it’s fabulously fancy-smelling.
You can definitely use a different fragrance oil or essential oil instead—just be sure it’ll pair well with the green tea wax + is ok for use at 0.3% in leave on products.
Half a percent of Tocopherol (Vitamin E) amps up the antioxidant content in this butter and helps extend the shelf life by slowing the onset of rancidity.
How to use this formulation
There are so many ways to use this product!
For the hair
You can use it like a soft-solid hair serum and apply it directly to your hair. Work a small amount between your palms to warm it up and distribute it, and then work your hands through your hair.
Because this formulation contains an emulsifier, you can also apply it with water.
I like to warm a small amount of product between my palms, work in some water (it’ll emulsify and get all slippy-feeling), and then apply that to my hair, adding more water to my hands as needed. This creates a sort of leave-in conditioner from concentrate, and it is a brilliant part of my wavy refresh routine.
You can also apply the butter to wet hair; just take care to keep the product in the jar dry (I wouldn’t apply this in the shower).
For the body
You can also treat this formulation like a body butter or body balm; simply massage it into dry skin like you’d apply any moisturizer. Remember that it is anhydrous (so it’ll be richer than a lotion)—start with less than you think you need.
Can I use this on my beard or moustache?
Will this melt in hot weather?
As this is an entirely anhydrous product without a high concentration of wax, it will absolutely melt if it gets hot enough. That said, it’ll be more heat stable than a whipped body butter thanks to the BTMS-50 and C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls).
If you live somewhere hot (meaning the product will be stored around temperatures of 30°C or higher) I recommend increasing the percentage of C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls), decreasing the fractionated coconut oil/Medium Chain Triglycerides to make room for it.
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Relevant links & further reading
- BTMS-50 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Isoamyl cocoate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Medium chain triglycerides in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Fractionated coconut oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Camellia Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Why is my body butter melting?
- Can I use this product on a part of my body other than where the title suggests? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- How to naturally scent lotions with essential oils and natural fragrance oils
- More hair balms & conditioning butters:
Green Tea Conditioning Hair & Body Butter
3g | 10% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
4.5g | 15% C10-18 Triglycerides [Butter Pearls] (USA / UK)
6g | 20% isoamyl cocoate (USA / Canada)
6.66g | 22.2% medium chain triglycerides (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)
9g | 30% camellia seed oil
0.45g | 1.5% green tea wax (USA / Germany)
Cool down phase
0.15g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.15g | 0.5% tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (USA / Canada)
0.09g | 0.3% Radiant Orchid fragrance oil
If you don’t have a lab hot plate, 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 glass measuring cup (if you’re using a water bath) or beaker (if you’re using a hot plate). Place your vessel on the heat to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes, the BTMS-50 and C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls) should be completely melted through. Add the post-heat phase and stir to combine, leaving the mixture on the heat until you’re certain the mixture is smooth and uniform (this will only take a minute or so if you’re making the same batch size I am).
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until it’s gained a bit of viscosity. Weigh in the cool down phase ingredients one at a time, stirring between additions.
Continue stirring the mixture until you reach a fairly thick “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a 3D “trace” for a moment. The mixture should appear opaque. 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.
I didn’t end up needing an ice bath to bring this formulation to trace as the batch size was fairly small and BTMS-50 sets up quite quickly. If you’ve scaled this formulation up you may want to use a cool water bath (rather than an ice bath to avoid chunks) to speed trace along.
Once you reach trace you can pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I’m using a 30g (1.06oz) paperboard jar from YellowBee (gifted). If you’re using a paperboard jar, take acre to pour the product into the base of the jar rather than the lid 😂
Leave the jar on the counter to set up, and that’s it. Use instructions are in the post above; scroll up!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, 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 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 30g. This is quite a lot of product if you’re exclusively using it in your hair, but you might want to scale the formulation up if you also plan to use it on your body.
- 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.
- Instead of BTMS-50:
- You could try BTMS-25, but keep in mind it has half the amount of behentrimonium methosulfate and more thickening/hardening ingredient (cetearyl alcohol). You may need to do some re-development work with this swap.
- I don’t recommend Varisoft® EQ 65 (Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol); it’s just not very good.
- You could try Cetearyl Alcohol instead of C10-18 Triglycerides (Butter Pearls); this will make for a waxier final product. You could also try a blend of cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid; I’d start with 70% cetearyl alcohol and 30% stearic acid.
- You can use a different lightweight ester instead of Isoamyl cocoate. Isoamyl laurate, Coco-Caprylate, and Neossance® Hemisqualane are all good options.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of fractionated coconut oil/Medium Chain Triglycerides and/or Camellia Seed Oil.
- You could use a different soft, fragrant wax instead of green tea wax. This will impact the scent and colour of the product. Rose wax is lovely!
- You can also replace the green tea wax with more of one of the liquid ingredients. This will impact the scent and colour of the product.
- The Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is optional; replace it with more camellia seed oil if you don’t have it.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- The fragrance is optional; replace it with more camellia seed oil.
- You can use a different fragrance oil; just be sure it meshes with the scent of the green tea wax + the relevant IFRA limit is adhered to.
The paperboard jar & BTMS-50 were gifted by YellowBee.
The Radiant Orchid fragrance oil was gifted by Bramble Berry.
The green tea wax, oil-soluble vitamin C, and butter pearls were gifted by Simply Ingredients.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.
Have you thought of making a formulation for a natural detangler like this one on Amazon, called Fairy Tales Tangle Tamer Detangling Spray?
Do you know of anywhere to source butter pearls in New Zealand or Australia? I have tried but couldn’t find any in NZ
Hi Riyana, I haven’t been able to find any! I was thinking of trying a mix of cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid as recommended here. I was also wondering whether adding some cera bellina might work? I also can’t find green tea wax but was considering infusing some camellia oil with green tea as a substitute.
I love green tea wax, products with multiple uses and concentrated, travel-friendly stuff so this will be tested out as soon as i get the midding ingredients. Btms 50 is surprisingly hard to find where i live, though I can get pure behentrimonium methosulfate so may need to make my own.
When using this as a body butter, do you think mixing it with some water in your hands (or simply using it on wet skin) would make it work like some kind of instant body lotion, like the method you explained for using it on hair?
Update: I made it and it does indeed work like that, it’s like a body lotion concentrate you can mix in your hands. I used broccoli seed oil because my hair seems to like it and added a tiny amount of golden mica for some sparkle. Great stuff for hair and skin. Next time I might try to make the whole thing a little bit softer just to see what that’s like 🙂
I’ve made this, it’s fantastic. I’m on my third test batch.
First batch was cheapo version, without tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, Green Tea Wax or Butter Pearls (I followed the substitutions and used Stearic Acid and Cetearyl Alcohol), it came out lovely enough for me to buy the tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.
Second batch had magic tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, but Butter Pearls are sold out so I cribbed the 75% Palmitic Acid 25% Stearic Acid Butter Pearl content. (Makingcosmetics.com has sustainably sourced Palmitic Acid?) I’ve also used Orange Wax instead of Green Tea because that’s what is on hand.
This stuff is brilliant. A dab of this butter will emulsify into a lotion on wet skin, and it’s great in hair when worked into an easy-spreading leave-in conditioner: just take a whisper of butter in your hand a work in a bit of water to make a lotion.
Next batch is using the Butter Pearl replacement mix and some grapeseed and plum kernel oils that I need to move, and Rose Wax.
10/10, will definitely make this again. And again.
Thank you Marie
Hi, can I mix Isoamyl cocoate and coco caprylate together in a formula?