(Heads-up...these links go to my supplies website, and sometimes to Amazon. I'm doing this for a living, so the Amazon links are affiliate links) I started making lotion bars when I noticed my hands were suffering from environmental exposure and from washing my hands so much during the COVID days in 2019/20. I had corporate clients reach out because they wanted to provide a caring way to show their gratitude to employees who were faithful to "show up" for work during a time when nobody really knew what was going on. I provided oatmeal bar soap, a 2 oz bottle of liquid hand sanitizer, and a 1 oz lotion bar, formulated with beeswax, cocoa butter, and sweet almond oil that had been infused with calendula. They were a hit, and I enjoyed using them so much that I added them to my regular line of products at Green Iguana Bath.
So why a lotion bar, instead of the standard tube of lotion? Easy. The ingredients! First, an anhydrous lotion bar does not need a preservative. Preservatives get a lot of negative press, but you MUST use one if you have water in your formula, or if your product will be exposed to water, as will a shampoo bar or sugar scrub because they're usually left inside the shower or exposed to water while they are being used. A lotion bar is usually stored in a drawer, or a pocket, in a backpack, a diaper bag, or a purse. They're generally not going to be exposed to water. Second, you control the ingredients when you formulate your own. The primary ingredients are beeswax, or candelilla wax if you're vegan, a hard butter like cocoa butter, and a soft oil like sweet almond. You can use safe fragrance oils, essential oils, or leave them unscented.
Formulating a lotion bar is easy and fun. There is a fantastic variety of butters and oils available on the market! Green Iguana Bath/Bubble-therapy carries a nice variety. Please check out our offerings! Each butter has different qualities and features. While I don't make any health claims as to the effects of the use of butters on the skin, their benefits are undeniable. If you're interested in plant butters and their uses, I REALLY recommend The Power of the Seed by Susan Parker I have a lotion bar bundle with Cocoa butter, Beeswax and sweet almond oil available here.
Want to make your own? It's not too difficult.
A quick starting formula for lotion bars is 1/3 beeswax, 1/3 brittle or hard butter, and 1/3 soft oil. You can go anywhere from here. Take into account how dry the skin is, and what else you might want the lotion bar to "do" when you decide on your oils. African Kombo butter, for instance, has a slight anesthetic effect. Cupuacu butter, in the Cocoa butter family, is a little more toward the oily side but is so nice on cracked skin, as well as in hair masks. I use Sal (Shorea) butter in my lotion bars because it offers a nice finish that doesn't feel too greasy. I also absolutely LOVE Mango butter and use it in my body butters. It's also great in lip balm. Kpangnan butter (pronounced "pan-ya") has a gorgeous powdery finish. Kokum butter is a boutique butter that is fabulous paired with Mango. To make your lotion bar, start small a batch of 100 g allows you to convert the percentages in a formula to grams. Use clean utensils, of course, and a heat -safe bowl. Molds of 1 oz and 1.5 oz are helpful, but you could use an ice cube tray or candy mold is you'd like. Melt all your ingredients together at as low a temperature as you can, because heat can destroy the "good stuff" in the butters. Plus you're working with it and you don't want to get burned. Methods include double boilers, microwave, or on a hot plate in a pan, but You get to decide which you prefer. Opinions on the best way to do this abound. As you can imagine. Being mindful of the nature of the oils can determine when you add them as well. If you're adding rosehip seed oil, for instance, you might want to add that after melting your hard oils so you'll preserve the vitamin C found in the oil. You can infuse your soft oils with botanicals like calendula, or lavender, rose buds, arnica, etc. for your desired effect. The sky's the limit, and it's easy to make the formula "yours" by your own tinkering, and adding what you like. To package your lotion bars, most people use tins so they can be transported. I use a 2 oz tin with a screw lid that will stay closed in a purse or backpack. To keep them from melting, don't leave them in a car or direct sunlight. It's ok if they melt, just allow them to cool and you can still use them. If you notice granulation, where the oils have drawn up into lumpy small granules that melt after you use friction, it isn't ruined. Heat until completely melted, then let it cool again, and it should be as smooth as butter. Melting points vary and the higher melting point oils will draw up and away from the melting oils, causing granules if the bar is kept above the melting point of a portion of the oils. Well, have at it, then! Stop by our Facebook group, Bubble Therapy and show us what you made! We would love to share your excitement! Send me a message if you have any questions!