With farm chores, gardening, working with fiber and playing in the kitchen, my skin takes a beating. Every time I walk through a door, I'm washing my hands. My hands get so dry, they crack until they're painful and bleeding.
Lotion works if you can take the time to let it absorb, and don't mind leaving lotion-y handprints all over everything. It's hard enough to keep my fiber piles under control, without having it all stick to my hands. The answer to all my problems is Lotion Bars! This is lotion that is hard, almost like soap, and that seals and protects your skin from all those things that dry it out.
I've seen lotion bars at farmers' markets and craft shows, but just didn't get what the big deal was. This year, halfway through the cold weather days, my hands were bad enough I had to give it a shot. I bought a little bar at a fiber show and loved it! Of course, like everything I see at craft shows and such, I figured there had to be a way I could make them myself.
I've taken on enough little projects at this point, that I'm used to learning things are a lot easier than I would have thought. That being said, lotion bars are REALLY easy. The hardest part is gathering up the ingredients, because these aren't things most of us have hanging out in our homes. Some items you can find at the grocery or local craft store. Anything else, you can find easily online.
Here's what you need:
- Coconut oil or palm oil
- Shea butter, cocoa butter, or mango butter (or combine them)
- Optional: Vitamin E oil, essential oil fragrance
- Double boiler (or large pot and glass measuring pitcher)
- Wooden spoon
- Silicone mold, plastic deodorant container, or plastic lip balm container
- Medicine syringe or dropper
I keep all my soap/candle/lotion items in their own box, so I don't ruin everything else in my kitchen.
Add equal parts of coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in your glass measuring pitcher. I use 3 ounces of each, or you can use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of each. (This makes 4 bars, fills 2 deodorant containers, and 4 lip balm containers.)
Place your pitcher in a pot with one inch of water – double boiler style. Heat on high to melt all ingredients. The beeswax does take a little longer to melt, so don't worry. If you want to add a meltable dye, do it now.
Once everything is melted, remove pitcher from heat and mix in Vitamin E oil and essential oils, if you're using them. I made a batch of orange-honey. For oils that don't come with a drip-top, I use a medicine syringe. I used 10 milliliters of orange oil, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of raw honey. (If using honey, and it isn't melting well, return mixture to heat just long enough to blend honey.)
Pour liquid into molds. Silicone cupcake molds work great, if you want to keep your lotion bar on a small dish, or in a small metal tin. Plastic deodorant containers or lip balm containers also work. The first time I tried them, I wasn't sure if the warm liquid would leak out the bottom, but it doesn't! The deodorant and lip balm containers make the lotion easy to keep with you and easy to apply. A 5-millileter syringe fills the lip balm container perfectly. (I use the lip balm containers so I can carry lotion in my pocket. Most lip balm recipes use twice as much beeswax as the oils and butters, but that's really the only difference. If you want to use this recipe as lip balm, you certainly can.)
That's it! Measure, melt and pour. Easy peasy! The lotion appears to set up quickly, but give it a few hours to really harden up. When it's done, your lotion should have a consistency similar to soap. To apply, just rub it onto your skin. The heat from rubbing will melt it just enough to transfer to your skin.
What I like best is I can apply it to the back of my hands, without leaving me with greasy fingers. Because of the wax base, it also withstands a couple of hand washings before needing to be reapplied.