Today’s DIY is another Bee Better project—an update of the Summer Shimmer Body Lotion I shared back in 2015 (over five years ago!). This lotion is lightweight and packs a serious shimmery punch to leave you glowing like a summer sunset. You can easily customize the summer shimmer by choosing a mica that’s perfect for your skin tone, too. Enjoy!
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One of the biggest changes I’ve made to #BeeBetter-ify this formulation is fully percentage-ifying it. The 2015 original was sort of done in percentages; the ingredients that were measured in weights (everything except the essential oils, mica, and preservative) added up to 100g, showing I started the formulation thinking in percentages but got rather complacent when it came to what was effectively the cool down phase. This might be because I lacked a scale that could measure anything less than 1g (and all those ingredients would’ve likely been less than 1g), but it’s been half a decade—I don’t fully remember.
I’ve kept the majority of the ingredients from the original, with a few additions. I’ve used the same emulsifying wax (Ritamulse SCG) and the same carrier oil (safflower oil), but I also incorporated some ultra-light C12-15 alkyl benzoate for its gorgeous skin feel and general fast-absorbing loveliness. I also dropped the oil phase from 25% to 17% to make the lotion extra hot-weather-friendly, incorporating 2% cetyl alcohol to make up for some of the loss in viscosity from reducing the size of the oil phase.
This version definitely has a lot more mica. The 2015 version called for 3/8 tsp for a 100-ish gram batch—I’m pretty sure the 5% in this version is closer to a tablespoon, volume-wise. That’s 24/8ths of a teaspoon, or 8x as much! 5% mica means the finished lotion offers some noticeable colour and shimmer to the skin. I experimented with putting the mica in the heated water phase since it’s not heat sensitive, but I found that to be really messy, so I moved it to the cool down phase for a bit of mess containment.
The finished lotion is lovely; lightweight, shimmery, and fast-absorbing. It’ll leave your skin lightly moisturized with a lovely, summery glow. Enjoy!
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Summer Glow Body Lotion
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. 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 it. Add enough hot distilled water 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. This method minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once that’s done, all that’s left is packaging it up! Since this lotion is quite pigmented, I recommend putting it in something that can’t spill, like a pump-top bottle or squeeze tube. It’s technically viscous enough for a wide-mouthed jar, but the mess factor would be pretty substantial.
To use, smooth over your skin and enjoy the shimmer! The mica will rub off, so don’t put a bunch of this on and then wear white or sit on light-coloured furniture that can’t be wiped off.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body 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 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 can replace the aloe vera juice with more distilled water, or a hydrosol to add some scent to the finished lotion.
- You could use propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerine.
- You can use a different complete emulsifying wax instead of Ritamulse SCG. Olivem 1000, Polawax, and Emulsifying Wax NF will all work.
- Isopropyl myristate (IPM) or more safflower oil will work instead of C12-15 alkyl benzoate.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the safflower oil.
- You could use cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol. You could also replace the cetyl alcohol with more safflower oil, though this will make for a thinner end product.
- For the mica: I recommend choosing something summery, like gold, bronze, or copper (or a blend!). You could also have quite a lot of fun with more off-the-wall colours for a more “editorial” effect that would be great for festivals and costumes!
- If you want to use less mica, replace the lost mica with more distilled water.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.