This silky Hemp & Shea Hand and Body Lotion is another Bee Better project, riffing on and updating the Healing Herbal Hemp & Shea Lotion I shared back in October 2014. This version keeps many of the same ingredients and very much riffs on the same themes of soothing, boosting healing, and moisturizing the skin—things I just can’t get enough of in the winter!
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First things first, this updated version is fully in percentages and weights. 2014’s version used a combination of volume and weight measurements. The weighed-out ingredients total 200g, showing I was kind of thinking about percentages (1% = 2g), but then I went and tacked on a few teaspoons of this and some drops of that, and left the preservative selection up to the individual maker (you can definitely see the fossils of my no-preservatives-past in the comments on the 2014 version). This updated 2020 version is properly percentage’d and preserved, in keeping with everything I’ve learned in the last six years.
One of the biggest things I remember about the original was that it was only pumpable for about the first half of the lotion—after that, it stagnated in the bottle like the last two inches of a Slurpee. I made sure to remedy that with this Bee Better version! The oil phase for this version is quite a lot smaller; 13.5% vs. approximately 25%. With a smaller inner phase, we get a less viscous lotion that is much more pump-bottle compatible.
Ingredients-wise, things in the oil phase haven’t changed much. Deep green unrefined hemp seed oil and rich shea butter star—just less of both, in keeping with the smaller oil phase. Both of these ingredients have their own smells; the hemp seed oil smells a bit “green”, and the shea butter has its characteristic nutty/smokey scent. At such low concentrations, I barely notice the scents in the end product, though they do come through a wee bit, mingling nicely with the hydrosol and essential oil to create a soft, herbal, final scent.
Our emulsifier is Ritamulse SCG; I really fell in love with this emulsifying wax when I first discovered it. I believe it was the third emulsifying wax I tried, after Emulsifying Wax NF and Polawax, and compared to those two emulsifying waxes, Ritamulse SCG creates thicker emulsions with a really neat powdery skin feel. It’s also more substantive and boosts the moisturizing awesomeness of emulsions!
The water phase in the 2014 version featured an herbal infusion of marshmallow, calendula, comfrey, and chamomile. I honestly really liked this; I’ve moved away from in-water tea-style herbal infusions in recent years because some readers reported preservation challenges, but I genuinely never had any issues in that department. In this version, you can get the chamomile element from some chamomile hydrosol (I used sweetgrass instead as I’m out of chamomile hydrosol and love sweetgrass hydrosol, but it’s totally up to you!) and I used calendula extract for the calendula part, but if you want to, feel free to try the herbal infusion route. I’d just recommend using 0.5% Liquid Germall™ Plus (the maximum recommended amount) to ensure it remains stable.
And last but not least, a tiny touch of dark patchouli essential oil. Just 0.1% is enough to softly (but stubbornly!) scent the entire batch. Patchouli doesn’t mess around! If you aren’t a patchouli fan feel free to swap it out—the 2014 version used lavender essential oil, and that was also lovely. Enjoy!
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Hemp & Shea Hand and Body Lotion
Heated water phase
48.9g | 48.9% distilled water
20g | 20% sweet grass hydrosol or chamomile hydrosol
5g | 5% sodium lactate
5g | 5% vegetable glycerine
3g | 3% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
2g | 2% colloidal oatmeal (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
0.3g | 0.3% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.3% allantoin (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 1.5% calendula extract
0.3g | 0.3% bisabolol (USA / Canada)
0.1g | 0.1% dark patchouli essential oil
0.1g | 0.1% 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 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 20–30 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, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. 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. 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. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I used a green 100mL (3.3fl oz) pump-top bottle from YellowBee—I thought the green was a great fit for this formulation 😄I would recommend sticking with a pump-top or squeeze tube/tottle for this formulation as it’s a bit runny for a tub or jar.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this lotion contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event that 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 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 100g.
- 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 (panthenol, colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, bisabolol) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use a different hydrosol, or replace it more distilled water (or aloe vera juice).
- You could use all vegetable glycerin instead of a combination of glycerin and sodium lactate. You could also use propanediol instead of one or either.
- You can use a different complete emulsifyin wax instead of Ritamulse SCG: Polawax, Emulsifying Wax NF, and Olivem 1000 are all good choices.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.