If you adore body butters but prefer lighter, non-greasy formulations, then this is the post for you! Today I’m sharing my top formulation strategies to create lightweight anhydrous body butters. Let’s dive in!

Why is my body butter greasy?

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What is body butter?

If you go shopping for a body butter you’ll find a pretty wide variety of formulations, but for the purposes of this discussion, I am defining body butter as an anhydrous product (one that doesn’t contain water) that is mostly comprised of butters as these are the type of body butters most home crafters create. These butters can either be plant-derived butters (like shea butter or mango butter) or pseudo-butters made with hydrogenation (or a blend!). Body butter is designed to be applied to the skin to soften and moisturize it.

Depending on the formulation and the ambient temperature where you live, your body butter formulations may include a hardening wax like beeswax or candelilla wax.

How do you know it’s greasy?

What is unpleasantly greasy or oily is very much a personal thing, but you’ll know when you think a formulation is too greasy for you. It’ll feel like it’s lingering on the skin, and you’ll leave shiny, oily fingerprints on touchscreens and paper. It might feel more oily than greasy, but generally speaking, it’ll linger on the skin and feel heavier and richer than you wanted.

Why is my body butter greasy?

One of the first things to think about is your expectations—remember that body butters are generally comprised of lots and lots of fat. If you’re used to emulsified body butter products, like the ones sold by The Body Shop, you’ll almost certainly find an anhydrous body butter a heck of a lot heavier.

If you’re already a good friend of ye ol’ totally-made-from-fat body butter, the next thing to look at is what those fats are. Different fats/butters/oils have different skin feels and absorb at different speeds. If your body butter is made entirely (or mostly) from heavy feeling, slow-to-absorb butters and oils (like shea butter or oat oil), that will make for a heavier, greasier end product.

How can I make a non-greasy body butter?

Use lighter, faster-absorbing butters

Try swapping some of the heavier butters (like shea butter) in your formulation for lighter, faster-absorbing butters like mango butter. It’s amazing how big of a difference this can make!

If you aren’t sure which of the carrier oils/butters in your formulation might be the slippery culprit, try each one neat on the skin. Massage it in and see what you think! You can also look them up in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia to learn more.

Sample formulation: My Autumn Spice Whipped Body Butter blends shea butter with lightweight mango butter and macadamia nut oil for a non-greasy finished product.

Incorporate lightweight esters

Swap some (or all) of the liquid oils in your formulation for something ultralight like isopropyl myristate (IPM), coco caprylate, or C12-15 alkyl benzoate. Faster absorbing oils can also help, but holy moly, do give isopropyl myristate (IPM) a try—its ability to lighten up greasy-feeling products is amazing.

Sample formulation: This Whipped Shea Citrus Body Butter includes 10% isopropyl myristate (IPM) to offset the greasiness of lots of shea butter.

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Try making it harder

Feelings of greasiness can be reduced by simply applying less product, and you can encourage more sparing product application by making your product harder/firmer to discourage extravagant scoops and over-application. You can harden your body butter by incorporating waxes like beeswax or candelilla wax and/or fatty hardeners like cetyl alcohol and stearic acid.

Sample formulation: I made my Argan Rose Conditioning Hair Balm pretty darn hard so it’s difficult to over-apply.

Try raising the melting point a titch

The faster a body butter melts, the more likely you are to feel like it’s oily. Try raising the melting point a wee bit so it doesn’t melt as quickly; I like a bit of stearic acid or cetyl alcohol for this job.

Sample formulation: Some hardening cetyl alcohol keeps my White Chocolate Peppermint Body Butter Bars from melting too quickly.

Incorporate clay and/or starch

Starches and clays can do a lot to reduce the oily feel of a body butter; I especially like cornstarch because it’s so readily available. Check out this formulation for an example of how to incorporate it, and how much to use.

Sample formulation: My Super Simple Whipped Shea Butter includes some starch to keep the shea-butter-heavy formulation from feeling too rich.

Make an emulsion instead

Maybe purely fat-based body butters just aren’t your jam. That’s totally ok! Emulsified body butters are a lighter, but still downright decadent, alternative.

Sample formulation: My Macadamia Vanilla Emulsified Body Butter is divine!