This decadent Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter is lovely; it is rich and indulgent without being heavy or greasy. It smells softly nutty with a warm vanilla base note, and it’s scoopy and soft like a decadent custard. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be tempted to give it a taste… just to see… even though you know better 😂 If you love The Body Shop’s body butters, you’ll adore this mouthwatering formulation. Yum!
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The star emollient in this formulation is macadamia nut oil. I found this oil to be rather surprising; since macadamia nuts are so rich and buttery, I was expecting macadamia nut oil to be a slower-to-absorb oil, but it isn’t! It’s surprisingly lightweight and fast-absorbing, so even though I’m using it at 20%, this Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter is rich, but not greasy.
In the years I’ve been formulating I’ve worked through a few different bottles of macadamia nut oil and I’ve discovered that its scent can vary quite a lot. Refined macadamia nut oil has a reliably low scent, but unrefined macadamia nut oil can range from vaguely nut-ish to mouthwateringly nutty. Make sure you’re reading the description from your supplier and recent reviews to get an idea of what you’re purchasing. The unrefined bottle I have on the go now has a vaguely nutty scent.
Our emulsifier is Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, and this emulsifier is essential to this formulation. When compared to emulsifying waxes like Polawax, Olivem 1000, and Emulsifying Wax NF, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is comparably “naked”. I’ve written quite a lot about it in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia entry on it and in this blog post (and this one). The general gist of its awesomeness is that it just emulsifies—it doesn’t thicken or add richness—so we can use lots of oils and thickeners of our choice in a large oil phase and let them shine without the emulsifier making the end product overly thick and draggy. This emulsifier is essential for this formulation (it’s actually the same one The Body Shop uses in their emulsified body butters)! You need this emulsifier to make this formulation. If you do not have it you will be very firmly in re-development territory.
You’ve got a few options when it comes to scenting this formulation. For a natural option, I’d recommend using benzoin resinoid. It has a lovely, complex vanilla-y scent that I adore. You could also use vanilla oleoresin, though it is quite pricey and I find the scent tends to fade faster than benzoin resinoid does. If you’d like to use a fragrance oil there is no shortage of vanilla-y ones to choose from! Rather than choose a straight “vanilla” one, I played with some different dessert-y ones from Brambleberry that had strong vanilla notes. I made a Cinnamon Cocoa version and a Dark Chocolate Orange version; both were delicious! You can also choose to ignore the “vanilla” thing altogether and use any essential oil or fragrance oil that suits your fancy (making sure to mind maximum usage rates for leave-on products!)—just be sure whatever you choose will pair well with your macadamia nut oil if it’s a fragrant batch.
Making this Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter is just like making a lotion, though you’ll notice two small differences when you get to the blending part. First—it’s far thinner than lotions made with thickening emulsifying waxes when you first start blending, so you’ll need to be extra careful not to spray hot liquid everywhere when you start blending. Second—it’ll get all kinds of thick and glossy fairly quickly, so you won’t need to (or be able to) do a ton of blending. Once the emulsified body butter is filling up the head of your immersion blender like some lovely ice cream, scrape it out and switch to occasional hand stirring until cool.
The finished Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter is decadent—rich, thick, creamy, and very swoon-worthy. You’ll need to package it in some sort of wide-mouthed jar or tub as it’s far too thick to do well in a pump-top bottle. Enjoy!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Macadamia Nut Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetearyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used?
- Super Simple Moisturizing Lotion with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- A Quick Guide to Cetearyl Alcohol & Liquid Oil Ratios
Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter
Heated water phase
58.5g | 58.5% distilled water
10g | 10% vegetable glycerine
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 emulsified body butter, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid emulsion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. It will be very thin at first but will thicken up relatively quickly. Blend for about 3 minutes, leave to cool for five, and blend for another minute or two. At this point in time the emulsified body butter will likely be thick enough that you’ll have to do some serious digging to get it out of the immersion blender head. At that point in time switch to occasional hand stirring until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch.
When the emulsified body butter is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down phase. 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 emulsified body butter on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of emulsified body butter, 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 emulsified body butter. 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! You’ll want to use a wide-mouthed jar or tub for this formulation as it’s far too thick for a pump-top bottle. Use as you’d use any lotion or body butter. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this emulsified body butter 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 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 please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- You MUST use Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. If you do not have this emulsifier then this is not the project for you. Maybe try this instead?
- You can substitute another oil your skin loves instead of macadamia nut oil. I’d choose something quite light/fast-absorbing; a different oil pressed from nuts (like walnut oil, hazelnut oil, or sweet almond oil) would be in keeping with the theme of this formulation.
- You could try equal parts cetyl alcohol and stearic acid instead of cetearyl alcohol.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to leave this formulation unscented simply replace the resinoid/fragrance oil with more distilled water.