In this post I’m sharing two lighter whipped shea butter formulations—Lavender Calendula and Coffee—and I’m sharing the easiest formulation strategy for creating lighter, less greasy body butters. Let’s go!
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The original formulation
These colourful, non-greasy whipped shea butter formulations are evolutions of the “winter” formulation I shared in this post: Perfectly Pillowy Whipped Shea Butter. Please make sure you read that entire post as it covers a lot of absolutely essential information. If you live somewhere warmer or cooler than I do you will likely need to use a different percentage of shea butter for these formulations; how to determine this is covered in that first blog post. Please read it!
Today we’re introducing five changes/modifications that I’m often asked about, resulting in a more colourful, fragrant, and lighter whipped body butter. These simple strategies can be implemented with any anhydrous body butter formulation, so take note 😄
All of these additions are coming out of the liquid oil portion of the original formulation. If you don’t have any of them (or if you’d like to use more of any of them), simply adjust the liquid oil to keep the formulation adding up to 100%.
There are several make-it-less-greasy strategies out there, but today we are using the easiest one. Simply swap 20% of the liquid oil in the formulation for Isopropyl Myristate. That’s it. You can do this with any body butter formulation that contains at least 20% liquid oil. This will dramatically reduce the oiliness of the formulation, and usually without requiring any sort of redevelopment work. Simply swap in the isopropyl myristate (IPM) and make the body butter as usual, and it’ll (sort of magically) be lighter!
If you don’t have isopropyl myristate (IPM) you could try a different ester like C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Coco-Caprylate, or Isoamyl cocoate, but I do find isopropyl myristate (IPM) is better than other esters I’ve tried for reducing greasiness.
While this swap definitely helps lighten up the body butter, please understand that anhydrous body butters will always be rich; after all, they are pure fat! When we talk about a “non-greasy” body butter, it’s kind of like talking about “healthy” cookies. A cookie can be healthier other cookies (oat raisin vs. double chocolate, perhaps?), but it’ll still never be on the same nutrition level as salad. It’s the same with a lighter anhydrous body butter—it can be lighter than other anhydrous body butters, but it simply cannot be as light as something that contains lots of water, like a lotion or emulsified body butter. If you are comparing this 100% fat body butter to a 15% fat lotion you will definitely find this body butter to be greasier than the lotion. 100% fat simply cannot compete with 15% fat!
Add some colour
We’ll add a bit of on-theme colour with 1% of a colourful mica. I’ve used a purple one for the lavender formulation and a brown one for the coffee formulation.
Micas are a really easy way to colour our formulations as they are stable, can be added directly to the body butter, and at 1% they’ll easily blend in and colour the formulation without staining the skin or clothes.
Make room for the mica by dropping the liquid oil by 1%.
Add some scent
A wee bit of essential oil or fragrance oil scents each formulation: lavender essential oil for the lavender calendula formulation, and a Caffe Latte fragrance oil for the coffee one. I’ve used half a percent for each; if you want to use more or less, simply adjust the liquid oil to keep the formulation adding up to 100%. You could also use different essential oils and/or fragrance oils; just be sure you’re checking the IFRA information to be sure 0.5% is ok for category 5A formulations.
Add some botanical skincare benefits
Including a small amount of an oil-based botanical extract is a very easy way to get a bit botanical goodness into this formulation.
Most botanical extracts you’ll find are in a base of glycerin or propanediol, which are water soluble, meaning you can’t use those extracts in this water-free formulation. Look for an extract with a base of some sort of oil; mine are in a base of Medium Chain Triglycerides (also called Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride) and they’re from Bramble Berry (gifted). Check the INCI of the extract to be certain it’s oil based.
To include an extract in the formulation, simply reduce the liquid oil to make room for it. The usage rate for these Bramble Berry extracts is up to 6%; I settled on 4% and removed 4% from the liquid oil to keep the formulation balanced.
If you don’t have an oil-based extract you could easily make your own herbal oil infusion and use that instead of the liquid oil in this formulation.
Using a homemade botanical-infused oil will impart more of the scent of the botanical into the formulation (especially if you use a coffee infused oil!), so keep that in mind when choosing your fragrance oil or essential oil. You might even opt to eliminate the essential oil/fragrance oil entirely and let the infused oil shine!
Extend the shelf life
A small percentage of Tocopherol (Vitamin E) helps extend the shelf life of the formulation by slowing rancidity. I didn’t include this in the base formulation as I was trying to keep it as simple as possible, but if you have it I’d recommend including it at 0.5% in that formulation, too (reducing the liquid oil accordingly to keep the formulation adding up to 100%)
This formulation does not require a broad spectrum preservative like Liquid Germall™ Plus as it does not contain any water.
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Making the butter
The manufacturing process is pretty much identical to the 2-ingredient version; the only difference is adding the new cool down phase to the butter after it’s been frozen.
This formulation is designed to work in temperatures around 19°C/66°F. If you live somewhere warmer or cooler, it will be too soft or too hard, and you will need to adjust the base formulation. The original blog post addresses this problem and clearly explains the solution—please read it!
Relevant links & further reading
- Shea Butter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sunflower Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Isopropyl Myristate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coloured Mica in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Calendula in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Do I need to add a preservative to this recipe? How long will it last? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- In-depth articles on things that can go wrong with body butters:
- Similar formulations:
Lighter Lavender Calendula Whipped Shea Butter
Lighter Coffee Whipped Shea Butter
The timing mentioned in these instructions is for a 50g (1.76oz) batch; if you change the batch size significantly, the times required for melting, chilling, whipping, etc. will also change. I’ve provided descriptions of what you’re looking for at each stage, so go by those rather than the mentioned times if you’re making a different batch size.
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 water phase into a small bowl that you can heat and whip the butter in later. Place the bowl in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
I’m often asked about the little stainless steel bowls I use for small batches of whipped body butters—they’re Kirkland (Costco) brand. I picked them up at a thrift shop years ago, so I have no idea when Costco sold them.
While the shea butter melts, weigh out the ingredients for the cool down phase into a small bowl and set that aside.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15–20 minutes; the mixture should be a soft solid and the top should be ‘frozen’ over. A gooey centre is ok, but if it’s still liquid in the middle and sloshes about when you tip the bowl, give it a few more minutes in the freezer.
Once the mixture has frozen, use your spatula to scrape in the cool down phase.
Grab your electric beaters; you’ll want the attachments you’d use to cream butter and sugar together if you were making cookies or a cake (the whisk attachment will work if yours is sturdy; mine is pretty squishy). Depending on the size of your bowl you might just need one beater rather than both of them.
Whip away for about three minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once the body butter starts to soften and collapse a bit, pop it back into the freezer for another five minutes.
Whip again for another three-ish minutes, until the body butter is light (both in consistency and colour) and makes soft, marshmallowy folds when you stir it.
Leave it to fully come to room temperature. If you’re making this for the first time, l recommend leaving it overnight.
Once it’s settled at room temperature, give it a poke and make sure you’re still happy with the consistency—that it hasn’t melted into a puddle or anything unpleasant (If you live somewhere quite hot, please read this). If it’s too hard, whip in a bit more liquid oil and wait. If it’s too soft, add more shea butter, gently re-melt, and re-whip. If you make any changes, make sure you wait to ensure it stays soft at least overnight before packaging it up.
When you’re happy with the consistency of your whipped butter, it’s time to package it up! I gently scooped mine into a 1oz frosted glass jar from YellowBee (gifted). Be careful not to crush the butter and ruin its whippy gorgeousness—do not pack it into your jar or tin.
Use as you’d use any body butter or lotion, remembering that a little goes a long way. Enjoy!
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 or two 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.
- 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.
- Substitutions/alternatives for most ingredients are discussed in the post above; please read it.
- I don’t recommend substituting the shea butter. Unrefined will likely work, though.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or apricot kernel oil instead of sunflower seed oil.
- You can use a different oil-based botanical extract.
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to use a fragrance oil instead of the essential oil, please read this.
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The shea butter, purple mica, and brown mica were gifted by YellowBee.
The sunflower seed oil, calendula extract, coffee extract, coffee fragrance oil, and frosted glass jars were gifted by Bramble Berry.
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