You’ve almost certainly heard of the rather dairy-product-sounding “body butter”; but what about the equally dairy-ish body yogurt? Think of body yogurt as body butter’s ultra-light cousin: a fast-absorbing and super-slippy body moisturizer that is low on rich oils and high in hydrating humectants. It is perfect for the hot summer months if you want all of the hydration of richer moisturizer, but none of the heaviness or greasiness.
So, in this blog post we’re whipping up a cheery pink Strawberry Body Yogurt. This is a light Bee Better-ing of 2021’s Strawberry Kiwi Body Yogurt; I didn’t set out to re-vamp it, only intending to make a better video for the original formulation, but I ended up learning some things and making enough changes that I thought a new post was warranted.
This updated version features more easily customizable ingredients, a lesson or two I learned the hard & gross way, and an improved making process. Let’s get to it!
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What on earth is a body yogurt?
A body yogurt is an ultra-light emulsified gel-cream style body moisturizer that gets the bulk of its viscosity from a gelling ingredient, giving it a really fun wobbly consistency. I first heard of them in a Formula Botanica blog post, but as far as I can tell, they were created by The Body Shop.
Body yogurt is a great choice for hydrating dry skin as it’s very rich in humectants, and it’s especially great in the summer as it won’t leave you feeling greasy.
The ingredient list for the Strawberry Body Yogurt on The Body Shop website is as follows:
Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Butylene Glycol, Methylheptyl Isostearate, Parfum/Fragrance, Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylyl Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Fragaria Vesca Juice/Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Juice, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Seed Extract/Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, CI 14700/Red 4.
I recently purchased one and found the ingredient list of that one had some noticeable differences.
Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Parfum, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethiconol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragaria Vesca Juice/Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Limonene, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Seed Extract/Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract,Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, CI 14700/Red 4, CI 19140/Yellow 5.
The one I purchased and used features two silicones (dimethicone & dimethiconol) and uses Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate while the website ingredient list includes no silicones (opting for Methylheptyl Isostearate instead—a natural ester) and use a natural emulsifier (Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate). The ingredient list discrepancy may indicate The Body Shop is moving towards some more natural ingredients in this product, but I guess it’s a slow move as I purchased my tub of Strawberry Body Yogurt after seeing the different ingredient list online.
The wobbly bit
The Body Shop usually uses carbomer (neutralized with sodium hydroxide) to give their body yogurts a thick, wobbly, gel-cream consistency. I’ve used Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) because it doesn’t require neutralizing like carbomer does, and I did see The Body Shop use it in their limited edition Lime Blossom body yogurt earlier this year.
I’ve used slightly less Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) in this updated formulation than I did in 2021 as I finally shelled out $20 for my own tub of a Body Shop body yogurt and discovered the 2% I used in 2021 made a far firmer yogurt than theirs.
Another update I’ve made is moving the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) to the heated water phase. I usually prefer to include gelling ingredients in the heated oil phase as they can’t clump there and hydrate well once the phases are combined, but this formulation uses so much gelling ingredient that I found it did better with a bit of a “head start” in the heated water phase.
While Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) is very easy to work with, it does have one weakness: electrolytes. While it is more tolerant of electrolytes than Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex AVC), I still find electrolytes change its consistency, and not for the better. In order to ensure your product has the desired viscosity and consistency, don’t add electrolyte-rich ingredients like sodium lactate, aloe vera, or hydrolyzed proteins.
If you’re looking for an alternative, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (Aristoflex AVC) should work. I’d also give soft xanthan gum a try. Since 2021 I have tried using hydroxyethylcellulose in a similar formulation and that ended up being neat, but not quite yogurty—I called it a Raspberry Mint Body Custard.
The hydrating goodness
We’ve got oodles of hydrating goodness in this body yogurt! The first hydrating thing is water—the OG hydrator. After that, a bunch of humectants help that water stick around for as long as possible so it can work its watery magic on your skin.
The Body Shop uses a blend of glycerin and butylene glycol. I chose to use propanediol instead, but if you don’t have it you could definitely use glycerin or butylene glycol instead (propylene glycol will also work).
I’ve also included some Hyaluronic Acid. I got a bit fancy and decided to use equal parts high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, but you could absolutely use all of one or the other. Studies have found 0.2% hyaluronic acid to be effective, and given how expensive it is, that’s what I’ve done here (and usually do). I turn my hyaluronic acid into 1% solutions and use those in my formulations; 20% of a 1% solution in a formulation results in an overall concentration of 0.2% hyaluronic acid.
Back in 2021 I used Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate for my body yogurt because that’s what The Body Shop used in theirs. Fast forward to now, and in my never-ending quest to mix things up, I tried using Emulsifying Wax NF instead. It… did not go as planned! I ended up with something that looked like lumpy body cheese (yikes) rather than the dreamy, silky body yogurt I was after 🤮).
Why? The cetearyl alcohol in Emulsifying Wax NF + Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (aka Sepimax ZEN) and you’ve got what I’ve seen described as the “cheesecake effect” in manufacturer documentation. So, if you’re thinking of swapping out the emulsifier, learn from my cheese and avoid ones that contain fatty alcohols.
Oh, and a cool side note: my patron Clare tried out my 2021 formulation without and Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate at all (replacing it with more distilled water), relying solely on the Sepimax ZEN to emulsify, and reported these results: “The only difference between them is that the one with only Sepimax has a habit of pulling cleanly away from the sides of the container when it is tilted, while the version with both emulsifiers sticks to the sides like a regular lotion. It was nice to skip heating and cool-down, and personally I think it feels the same on the skin. So for anyone who doesn’t have GS/PEG100S, I say go ahead and try it!”
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A touch of richness
Since a body yogurt is supposed to be really light, the oil phase needs to be pretty small. I decided to lean into the summery strawberry theme with some gorgeous strawberry seed oil, but I recognize this is a pretty fancy carrier oil that many people won’t have. Luckily, it’s very easy to swap out! Feel free to use another lightweight carrier oil like Grapeseed Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Safflower Oil, or Sunflower Oil instead. You could also try an ester like Neossance® Hemisqualane, Coco-Caprylate, or Isoamyl laurate for an even lighter finished product.
I’ve also included some Dimethicone 350; this ingredient serves two important roles. Role #1 is more richness and emollient goodness. Role #2: preventing tackiness. I’ve found that ultra-light formulations that are low on oil and high on humectants can very easily be tacky, and a bit of dimethicone seriously helps reduce that. I believe The Body Shop’s product contains quite a bit more than I’ve used as it is the fourth ingredient on their list, with a second silicone (dimethiconol) popping up later in the ingredient list as well. If you’re extra sensitive to tackiness I’d try trading 2–3% of the strawberry seed oil for more dimethicone. You could also try swapping the dimethicone for cyclomethicone for an even lighter finished product.
Have fun with it!
It’s pretty easy to swap out a few ingredients in this formulation to create different themes; The Body Shop does this across their entire line! Try different colours, fragrances, and carrier oils to create different themes. Here’s a couple ideas; just keep the percentages of oils/butters, dye, and fragrance the same:
- Raspberry seed oil + pink/red dye + raspberry fragrance
- A blend of mango butter and liquid oil + orange dye + mango fragrance
- A light carrier oil + pink/red dye + rose fragrance
- Almond oil + no dye (use more water) + almond fragrance
- Passionfruit oil + orange dye + tropical fragrance
In 2021 I also had some fun swapping part of the distilled water for a hydrosol; I used a strawberry hydrosol with kiwi oil to make a strawberry kiwi body yogurt. This gave us a natural strawberry scent (yum!), but also made the formulation a lot more expensive, which is why I decided to use a fragrance this time instead. You can definitely still use a hydrosol if you prefer, though—I’d start with 20–30%, removing that from the water. You can keep the fragrance (or essential oil), or replace that with more water.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Distilled water in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Propanediol 1,3 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Hyaluronic Acid in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Dimethicone 350 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- How to naturally scent lotions with essential oils and natural fragrance oils
- Ten Projects to Make with Hyaluronic Acid + HA Q&A
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
Strawberry Body Yogurt
Heated water phase
179.385g | 59.795% distilled water
15g | 5% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
30g | 10% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution (USA / Canada / New Zealand)
30g | 10% high molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution (USA / Canada)
4.5g | 1.5% Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (USA / Canada / UK / Australia)
0.015g | 0.005% water soluble red dye
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. The Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) will kick in quickly, dramatically thickening the mixture, so you’ll need to blend longer than usual to give it time to fully turn over and blend. Avoid the temptation to pump the blender up and down as this will whip air into the product; just wait as everything slowly cycles through the blades of the blender and becomes smooth and uniform.
Once the mixture is smooth, scrape out the head of the blender with your spatula and switch to hand stirring. Because the body yogurt will already be very thick you don’t have to worry about stirring it too much. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.
Now 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’ve used a wide-mouthed jar for this formulation; I chose a clear one so the colour could really shine through. I think this product is too thick for a pump-top bottle, but I think it could work well in a soft squeeze tube.
Use as you’d use any body lotion. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this formulation contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. With good manufacturing practice and proper preservation, this formulation should last at least a year. 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 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 300g.
- 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.
- Please read the blog post for alternatives to Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN), dimethicone 350, and propanediol.
- If you do swap out the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, choose something that does not contain fatty alcohols like cetearyl alcohol or cetyl alcohol.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of the strawberry seed oil I used.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to use an essential oil instead of a fragrance oil, please read this.
The hyaluronic acid, red dye, and Liquid Germall™ Plus were gifted by YellowBee.
The Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate was gifted by Mystic Moments.
The fragrance oil was gifted by Bramble Berry.
The strawberry seed oil was gifted by Simply Ingredients.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.