One of the first recipe requests I got was from Zil, looking for a DIY dupe for a Dove Shea Vanilla Body Wash. She was working through her drawers and shower, slowly finishing off bottles of store bought stuff and replacing it with natural DIY alternatives. This body wash was running out fast, and she had nothing to replace it with. I’m thrilled to finally have a natural DIY Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash alternative for her.

How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash

This body wash is based around gentle liquid soap, made from moisturizing oils—unlike the original which is basically a detergent. The original gets its lather from chemical surfactants, and is then rounded out with some thickeners, preservatives, artificial fragrances, and a wee bit of shea butter and sunflower seed oil (likely for marketing purposes as much as anything else).

Getting the paste soaking with some just-boiled water to soften it up.

Getting the paste soaking with some just-boiled water to soften it up.

After 8–10 hours of soaking we've got a nice, thick liquid soap.

After 8–10 hours of soaking we’ve got a nice, thick liquid soap.

I’ve used my basic liquid soap recipe for the paste, since it’s already got a healthy dose of shea butter in it, plus olive oil for an extra moisturizing kick, and coconut and castor for lather. I’ve softened the paste in water to create a thick, creamy body wash with luxurious lather.

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The vanilla hit comes from two places—some wee vanilla flecks, and vanilla essential oil. I’ve also added a drop of cocoa absolute to round out the scent and add some depth. It smells like real vanilla, which can be surprisingly un-vanilla-like if you’re used to artificially scented vanilla body products. Artificial vanilla fragrance oil is always amped up with something that makes it smell like cake batter or frosting, but you won’t find those notes here.

How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash
How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash

For an added dose of luxurious moisture I’ve added some melted shea butter for a super-super fat. I positively adore shea butter for dry skin, and this addition helps make a body wash that’s silky smooth and purely decadent.

How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash
How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash

The resulting body wash is thick and creamy, with a warm vanilla scent. It is gentle and lightly cleansing, and free of artificial surfactants and fragrances. I’m pretty darn happy with it, and I think you will be, too.

Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash

125g | 4.4oz of my basic liquid soap paste
110g | 3.7 fl oz just-boiled water

7g | 0.25oz shea butter, melted
50–60 drops 10-fold vanilla essential oil (or benzonin essential oil)
1 drop cocoa absolute
1/4 tsp vanilla flecks

Place the soap paste in a sturdy leftovers container with a sealing lid. Spread it out using the back of a fork, and top with the just-boiled water. Seal the container and let it sit for at least three hours. After the three hours, you can use the fork to twist up the paste a bit, and gently re-heat the mixture (I give it a quick 30 second blast in the microwave). At this point you should notice that the water is thicker and the soap paste is getting a bit softer. Re-seal the container and let it sit for a few more hours. The paste should have absorbed all the water after 8–10 hours.

Once you have your diluted paste (you should feel like the consistency is a bit on the thin side—this is ok as it thickens overnight after adding the shea butter) transfer it to a bowl. Stir in the melted shea butter, essential oil, absolute, and vanilla flecks.

Decant to a squeeze bottle for easy shower use and use as you’d use any body wash. Enjoy!

How to make Shea Butter & Vanilla Body Wash

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