If you adore the combination of sweet, rich cocoa and intoxicating coffee, this Rich Mocha Body Lotion will be right up your alley ☕️ It stars gorgeous unrefined cocoa butter and espresso-coloured, ultra-fragrant coffee oil—you’ll be tempted to taste it, which I don’t recommend but would definitely understand! This formulation is a Bee-Bettering of a February 2015 project, incorporating lessons and some new ingredients from the intervening 6.5 years.
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
The star ingredients in this updated version are the same; unrefined cocoa butter and cold-pressed coffee oil. Unrefined cocoa butter has been a favourite ingredient of mine since the first tub I purchased in pre-Humblebee & Me days—it’s a beautiful brittle butter that smells like the best kind of chocolate and YUM. Coffee oil is pressed from coffee beans, and it’s a rather interesting ingredient. Many places sell it as an essential oil, but as far as I can tell it’s really a carrier oil—a very fragrant one, but a carrier oil nonetheless. New Directions Aromatics lists it as an essential oil made by cold-pressing the beans, but the COA reveals a fatty acid composition that is all carrier oil, not essential oil. I’ve used it at 2%, which creates a pretty strongly coffee-scented final product. If you’d prefer your lotion to be more on the chocolate side of things I’d drop the coffee oil to 1% and replace that leftover 1% with more cocoa butter.
2015’s version had a 25% oil phase, with my standard-at-the-time 5% emulsifying wax (from the photos it looks like I used Ritamulse SCG) and then 20% oils/butters. This worked well, but made for pretty dang thick finished lotions because 25% is a pretty decent oil phase size and Ritamulse SCG is an emulsifying wax that also thickens our emulsions. I know now that such a lotion is not pump-top friendly, but 2015 me was more… optimistic about such things. This updated version uses Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate instead of a thickening emulsifying wax so I can keep the oil phase the same size for a similar level of richness, but it’s far less viscous so it works well in a pump-top bottle.
Other developments/upgrades included fully percentage-ifying the formulation and adding some pure powdered caffeine to the cool down phase. Caffeine helps reduce puffing and water retention, so you’ll usually find it in facial products, though it definitely makes appearances in firming body products as well. I mostly included it because it seemed very fitting in a product that smells like coffee! If you don’t have it, feel free to replace it with more distilled water.
The finished lotion is both surprisingly rich and surprisingly light; it’s richer than you’d guess from the viscosity, and lighter than you’d guess from looking at the formulation on paper (or the screen, I suppose). It smells divine, glides across the skin like a dream, and leaves your skin feeling soft, moisturized, and wide awake. Enjoy!
Relevant links & further reading
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cocoa Butter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sweet Almond Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Caffeine in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used?
- Bee Better intro video + projects
- 5 Common Questions about Lotion
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Rich Mocha Hand & Body Lotion
Heated oil phase
3g | 3% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
10g | 10% cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% coffee carrier oil (roasted)
8g | 8% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada)
2g | 2% cetyl alcohol (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 recommend a pump-top bottle or soft squeeze tube for this lotion. Use as you’d use any lotion. Enjoy!
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 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 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 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 (Caffeine) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try Propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin, though I find it can be a bit draggy at higher concentrations. I would use it at 4% and add more distilled water to make up the difference.
- Do not substitute the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate.
- I don’t recommend substituting the cocoa butter as it is part of the theme. I also don’t recommend using deodorized cocoa butter here.
- If you don’t have coffee oil you could try using 10% of a DIY coffee-infused liquid carrier oil instead of the sweet almond oil and coffee oil.
- You could swap the coffee oil for a coffee scented fragrance oil; simply replace the coffee oil with more sweet almond oil and include ~0.3% of the fragrance oil in the cool down phase (adjusting the water to make room for it).
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like grapeseed or sunflower seed instead of sweet almond oil.
- You could use Cetearyl Alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol.
- If you’d like to make the lotion thicker you can swap a few % of the sweet almond oil for more cetyl 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 use a fragrance oil, please read this.
The brown pump-top bottle was gifted by YellowBee.
The cocoa butter was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.
The coffee oil was gifted by Plant’s Power.
The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate was gifted by Mystic Moments.