This marvelous body butter is many things I thought it couldn’t be. It is rich in skin-loving shea butter, but not at all greasy. It smells deliciously of citrus, but isn’t photosensitizing. It is lightweight and whippy (and stays that way!), but you don’t have to do the freeze-whip-freeze-whip thing. You don’t even need any heat. Seriously.
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
This body butter is cold processed—a thing I learned as part of my Formula Botanica coursework. They taught cold mashing, but I got frustrated with bending my forks on my surprisingly hard February shea butter, so I gave whipping a try. Obviously the end consistency is very different than it would be if I’d stuck to mashing, but I was thrilled with the end results of some of my smashed-then-whipped experiments. When you’re choosing your shea butter for this recipe, make sure it’s smooth when you start as we aren’t incorporating any heat that could smooth things out. Take a bit and rub it between your fingers and onto your skin; if it’s grainy or feels crystallized it’ll feel like that in the end product, which would be a bummer. Be sure to choose your smoothest shea for this project!
I’ve used safflower oil here as it’s inexpensive, lightweight, and I have quite a lot of it at the moment. Feel free to use a different lightweight oil, like sunflower, sweet almond, apricot kernel, or grapeseed. You could also swap 1-2% of the liquid oil for an orange one, like sea buckthorn or buriti, for an even stronger citrus visual (the essential oils do contribute some colour)! Just be sure to keep in mind the strength of the colour of the oil; sea buckthorn seed oil is not as orange as the fruit oil, and there’s sometimes quite a lot of variation between batches. I have two bottles of sea buckthorn oil from New Directions; one can be used at 20% without issues, the other can only be used at 1% or less unless you’re aiming for that Oompa Loompa look! When it doubt, start with less.
Our last base ingredient is isopropyl myristate; an incredibly lightweight ester that, almost like magic, makes this shea-heavy body butter absurdly light and fast absorbing. If you don’t have it you can replace it with more of the liquid oil, but if you are no lover of greasy skin feel you should grab yourself a bottle of isopropyl myristate. It’s inexpensive, versatile, and has a wonderfully long shelf life.
We are using real citrus essential oils in this body butter, keeping the usage amounts well below the photosensitizing threshold. Sweet orange essential oil is not photosensitizing, while lemon is above 2%, and grapefruit is above 4%. “Skin should not be exposed to sunlight or UV lamp irradiation for 12–18 hours, if any of the following are used at levels higher than those indicated. However, there is no risk of phototoxicity if the maximum levels are observed: angelica root (0.8%), bergamot (0.4%), cumin (0.4%), grapefruit (expressed) (4.0%), laurel leaf absolute 2.0%, lemon (expressed) (2.0%), lime (expressed) (0.7%), mandarin leaf (0.17%), orange (bitter, expressed) (1.25%), rue (0.15%), taget oil or absolute (0.01%).” – Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals (2nd Edition) by Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young. At 0.4% for lemon and 0.5% for grapefruit we are well below the photosensitizing limit.
Because this whipped body butter is entirely cold processed it comes together very quickly, and the shea can’t go grainy on us. Brilliant! You will need electric beaters for this project; I find the shea is far too stiff to thoroughly bust up without some electrical help (ask my poor forks). Once you’re done whipping you’ll be rewarded with a lightweight, marshmallowy butter than keeps its lightweight consistency like a dream. Ooo-er. Let’s dive in!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter
5g | 10% isopropyl myristate (IPM)
11.8g | 23.6% safflower oil
Weigh the shea butter into a deep bowl and whip it with a set of electric beaters until it is uniform, light, and fluffy. Add the isopropyl myristate, and beat again until the mixture is light and thoroughly combined. Add the safflower oil, and whip again until the mixture is uniform, light, and fluffy.
Weigh the vitamin E and essential oils out into a small dish. Add a scoop of the whipped body butter and stir to combine before transferring that mixture back into the master bowl and whipping to combine.
That’s it! Transfer to a 50g/2oz container; I made a double batch and used a 4oz paperboard jar from YellowBee.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body butter is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
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 50g.
- I don’t recommend using a different butter, or using unrefined shea butter in place of the refined shea butter.
- You could use a super lightweight, fast-absorbing oil in place of the isopropyl myristate (IPM), but this will make for a significantly greasier/oilier end product
- You can another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed in place of the safflower oil
- You could use a different essential oil blend if you want