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.

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

Updated March 2023

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No freeze-whip-freeze?

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!

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

The carrier oil

I’ve used both safflower oil and sunflower oil in this formulation as they’re inexpensive, lightweight, and I had them on hand. Feel free to use a different lightweight oil, like sweet almond, apricot kernel, or grapeseed. Don’t over-think this part too much 😄

Want to add some colour?

To naturally add an orange colour to this body butter, you could 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.

Another fun way to add a bit of colour is to sprinkle to surface of the finished, packaged body butter with a wee bit of a theme-suited mica. This is totally optional, but it’s pretty and shimmery!

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

Make it not-greasy!

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.

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

The essential oil blend

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.

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

A fragrance oil alternative

In the time since I shared this formulation back in 2018 I’ve become sensitized to citrus essential oils, and now they all make me really itchy 😭 I suspect this is from using old citrus essential oils, so learn from my mistake and keep your inventory fresh!

Thankfully I can still use citrus-scented fragrance oils, so I’ve created a variation on the 2018 formulation that uses a fragrance oil instead of an essential oil blend. I choose Bergamot & Clary Sage fragrance oil from Mourouge; it’s a complex, expensive, high-end-perfume-y scent. If you’re looking for something a bit more fruity/juicy, check out Lemon Slices from Rustic Escentuals and Citrus Mist from New Directions. You can also abandon the citrus theme all together and use a different fragrance oil you love; just be sure it’s approved for use at 0.25% in leave-on products (most should be; that’s a pretty low usage rate).

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

Why it can’t go grainy

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.

That said… if you let body butter melt (by leaving it in a hot car, for example), it can absolutely go grainy as it re-solidifies. Take care to keep it protected from temperature fluctuations so it stays smooth.

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

Whipped Citrus Shea vs. Perfectly Pillowy Whipped Shea

In the years since I originally published this formulation I’ve also shared a gorgeous Perfectly Pillowy Whipped Shea Butter. These two formulations have many similarities, and a few key differences.

The largest difference is the liquid-to-solid balance. This formulation features more solids (shea butter) and less liquids (liquid oils). This makes it a bit more thermally stable (aka less likely to melt) than its Perfectly Pillowy cousin. This also makes it a bit firmer. It’s still soft, but not quite that soft. I highly recommend trying both to see!

The second biggest difference is cold processing (this formulation) vs. hot processing (Perfectly Pillowy). If your shea butter is a bit grainy out of the bag/tub, try using it in my Perfectly Pillowy Whipped Shea Butter formulation instead of this formulation; the hot processing smooths out all the grains 🙂

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

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Relevant links & further reading

Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

The essential oil version

32.25g | 64.5% refined shea butter (USA / Canada)

5g | 10% isopropyl myristate (IPM) (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)

11.8g | 23.6% safflower oil

0.25g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.4% lemon essential oil
0.25g | 0.5% orange essential oil
0.25g | 0.5% grapefruit essential oil

The fragrance oil version

32.25g | 64.5% refined shea butter (USA / Canada)

5g | 10% isopropyl myristate (IPM) (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)

12.375g | 24.75g sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada / UK / NZ)

0.125g | 0.25% Bergamot & Clary Sage fragrance oil
0.25g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)

Mica for sprinkling (optional, but lovely)

The instructions are identical regardless of which version you’re making.

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 container; I used a 4oz paperboard jar from YellowBee. Thanks to all the air we’ve whipped in, a 50g (1.76oz) batch will mostly fill a 4oz jar.

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.

Substitutions

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.

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter

How to Make Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter