Today I’m sharing my first Bee Better 3.0 project; a soft and creamy Shealoe Emulsified Body Butter that’s an evolution on a shea butter and aloe vera heavy formulation I first shared in 2014, and then revised in 2019. This updated 2021 version uses a new emulsifier to create a product that is lighter, softer, smoother, and easier to apply. It’s definitely better, and you should make it 😄
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Once I started playing with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, it didn’t take me long at all to whip up some super shea-heavy emulsions. The naked-ness of Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate makes it really well suited to shea butter-heavy emulsions because it doesn’t add to the richness of the butter, which can get overwhelming, heavy, and draggy in high concentrations. Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate allows me to use a serious schwack of shea (say that ten times fast!) while still getting a silky smooth, ultra-spreadable finished formulation.
Since I love shea butter for dry, irritated skin, all of my shealoe projects have been very soothing/moisturizing themed, and this one is no different! The water phase features soothing and fragrant lavender hydrosol, anti-inflammatory aloe vera, moisturizing vegetable glycerin, and regenerative panthenol (Vitamin B5). I also included some fantastically anti-inflammatory + soothing colloidal oatmeal; in the video, you’ll see me put it in the heated water phase, but it’s far less messy to put it in the heated oil phase! It cooks a bit and swells into an uncooperative oaty, porridge-like blob when heated with the water 😂
Unsurprisingly, the oil phase is mostly shea butter at 25%. I used a lovely unrefined shea butter from Baraka Shea Butter as I quite like the smell of unrefined shea, especially when it is combined with subtle lavender notes from the hydrosol and the slight oat-y scent of the colloidal oatmeal. If you’re not a fan of the scent of shea, though, you can absolutely use refined shea butter instead. At 25% you’re definitely best off using refined shea rather than trying to mask the unrefined scent with fragrance oil or essential oil. I’ve found the scent of unrefined shea butter doesn’t really “cover up” well once it starts coming through in the finished product as it does here—you just end up with the scent of shea butter + whatever you’ve tried to mask it with.
The oil phase also includes a small amount of lightweight fractionated coconut oil, some silky & slippy cetyl alcohol, and a wee bit of xanthan gum for added slip and stability. Our emulsifier is Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, and that is essential. If you don’t have it, you can’t make this version of the formulation. The 2019 version of this project uses Polawax instead, and while I don’t think it is as good as this 2021 version, you can make it without Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate.
Lastly, the cool down phase features our preservative (Liquid Germall™ Plus), some soothing calendula extract, and a touch of ultra-light cyclomethicone. The cyclomethicone helps further improve the slip and application of this formulation, but you could easily replace it with more distilled water if you don’t have it. Unlike the 2019 version, silicone isn’t integral to good application for this formulation thanks to the new emulsifier.
The finished Shealoe Emulsified Body Butter is decadent and delightful. It’s soft and whippy and scoopy—brilliant for dry skin, with a lovely application. It’s a big improvement on the 2014 and 2019 versions, and a great way to use shea butter without feeling greasy or sticky afterwards. I hope you love it!
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Shealoe Emulsified Body Butter
Heated oil phase
3.5g | 3.5% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
25g | 25% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
5g | 5% fractionated coconut oil
2g | 2% cetyl alcohol
0.3g | 0.3% xanthan gum
2g | 2% colloidal oatmeal (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 black screw-top jar from YellowBee. Whatever you choose, make sure it has a wide mouth; this emulsion will thicken up in the day or so after making, so while it may seem pump-top bottle friendly at first, it won’t be for long. Watch the video to see what I mean!
To use, smooth over any skin that could use some extra softening and love. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream 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 (panthenol, colloidal oatmeal, cyclomethicone) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- You could replace the aloe vera juice with more distilled water. DO NOT use green aloe vera gel from the drug store.
- You can use a different hydrosol for a different scent, or replace the hydrosol with more water for an unscented final product.
- You MUST use Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. If you don’t have it, make the 2019 version instead.
- You can use refined or unrefined shea butter.
- You could try a different soft butter, like mango butter or murumuru butter, instead of shea butter.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed
- You could try cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol.
- You can try a different gum or gelling agent, like hydroxyethylcellulose or Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN), instead of xanthan gum.
- You can use a different botanical extract your skin loves in place of calendula.
- 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.
The black screw-top jar was gifted by YellowBee. The shea butter was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links. The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate was gifted by Mystic Moments.