make your own creamy hand & body lotion recipe

April 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm 36 comments

as someone who both works with her hands and lives in an arid climate, sometimes my skin gets scary dry.  double whammy=yuck + ouch!  i’ve tried lots of different hand creams, but as with so many things, i couldn’t find exactly what i wanted (intensively moisturizing, long lasting, organic, inexpensive, minimal ingredients) so i turned to making my own.  this lotion has no water, so it’s really moisturizing–i use it all over–and it sinks in faster than you might imagine.  i have hyper-sensitive skin, but this seems to soothe, never irritate or clog pores.

it’s simpler than you would think, especially if you have a stand mixer.  but don’t bail if you don’t have one!  i started making this lotion before that fabulous invention found it’s way into my life.

feel free to tweak the recipe to make it exactly what you want (don’t like the smell of cocoa butter? don’t use it!), but here’s the base i work from:

shopping tips: i find these items in their pure form at my local health foods store, but they’re also available online.  i like to go organic where i can, but it’s up to you.  beeswax helps this lotion have staying power even after hand washing, but it’s hard to chop if you buy it solid so look for chunks.  if you don’t like the smell of coconut oil (beach!), try versions that have been refined; they have less smell.  if you don’t like the smell of cocoa butter (chocolate!), there are unscented versions, though personally i’d never touch them.  lanolin actually does not clog pores, but some people are allergic to it, as it comes from sheep’s wool.  this recipe will work without it, but it helps penetrate the first layer of your skin, keeping it moisturized for longer.  add the essential oils of your choice; i usually add sweet orange, lemon, and lavender.


  1. create a double boiler with the bowl you’re going to stir in (the bowl from your stand mixer or any old bowl if you will be using a hand held mixer or whisk) and a heavy bottomed sauce pan by putting about a cup of water in the sauce pan and the double boiler in the pan.
  2. start by melting the beeswax in your double boiler over medium-low heat.
  3. once that’s melted, stir in the sweet almond oil and coconut oil, reducing the heat to low.
  4. when it’s all liquefied, remove from heat and add the cocoa butter and lanolin, stirring until blended.  tip: place your stirring tool into the heated mixture now so that it comes to the same warm temperature; this will give you creamier cream.
  5. transfer the bowl with contents to your stand mixer (or a counter if you’re using a hand mixer or whisk).
  6. stir until the mixture comes to room temperature.  this is the part that a hand mixer makes soooo much easier because you can just walk away, leaving it on low speed.  but if you’re using a hand mixer or whisk, just come back at regular intervals and stir.
  7. once the cream has cooled, add the glycerin and whip it into a frenzy.  you’ll get the same effect as if you whipped butter: a lighter, airier cream.
  8. once it’s reached the consistency of whipped butter, add the essential oils of your choice.  start with 10 drops and increase from there.
  9. package into containers–i reuse old (clean!) lotion containers, but you can purchase new ones, use glass jars, or even plastic storage.
  10. enjoy your fabulous new lotion!

handy tips and pointers

  • use a sharp knife and an easy wash cutting board (not wood) to chop beeswax.
  • use utensils that are easy to wash (again, i don’t recommend wood) because this recipe is very oily and waxy.  i use the same silicone whisk from start to finish.
  • as the mixture cools, it tends to cool at different rates, causing harder chunks to form.  if you want the creamiest cream possible, get everything to start out at the same temperature by heating your stirring implement(s) as recommended.  don’t try to rush the cooling process by using an ice bath or placing the lotion mixture and bowl in the fridge.  trust me, i’ve tried this: chunky city.  you’ll still get a line of harder lotion at the top of the mixture (see picture), so try what i do: scoop these chunky bits out and use it separately.
  • cleaning becomes sooo much easier if you wipe everything off first with a paper towel!  otherwise it takes forever to get everything squeaky clean.
  • wash out old containers with soap and water and make sure they’re completely dry before you fill with lotion.
  • if you find that your lotion loses its creamy consistency later in life, especially if it’s exposed to cold for a while, bring it back to cream-tastic-ness by setting it–in its container–in a sunny window or a bowl of really hot water.

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and now for something completely different viola gets dressed

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. motheroak  |  October 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    got the ingredients and can’t wait to try it… sounds like a perfect recipe for the desert. How long does this lotion last? Does the wax help to preserve it like it would in a salve? thanks!

    • 2. dogwood & poppy  |  December 6, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      It usually only lasts as long as it takes for me to use it all up (!), which is about 2 months, but I’ve made double batches and kept it in a cool dark place where it’s still been good after 6 months. If you add essential oils, the scent decreases with time, but I think you’re right about the wax extending its life.

      I don’t think you have to worry about the cream going “bad” because all the ingredients are stored at room temperature and they last years. Just keep your cream sealed when you’re not using it and it should be fine for months and months. If you want to be extra cautious, you could always pop leftovers in the fridge and store them there.

      Thanks for your question–hope you love love love your cream like I do. Which reminds me, I’m running low…


  • 3. evelyn  |  December 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    thanks amy! i am finally about to get around to making the lotion. minus the lanolin, which i would love to include but my body does not seem to like it right now. =) i’ll let you know how it goes! i am in an arid climate too but prefer not to buy lotions that are full of chemical ingredients.

  • 4. evelyn  |  December 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Ps, i also infused the coconut oil with chamomile from my garden… yum!

    • 5. Amy  |  December 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Mmmm…awesome idea! Way to make it your own.

  • 6. evelyn  |  December 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    hmmm. looks like you did not say when to add the glycerine. i will add it in the last step, that is probably the safest as the glycerine probably does not need heating. for some reason i thought the recipe had jojoba oil but does not… just as well as I am running out of it!

    • 7. Amy  |  December 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      Oops! Sorry about that! You can add the glycerin at the last step or wait until the cream has cooled, which is probably better if you haven’t added it yet. I’ll fix the directions!

      • 8. evelyn  |  December 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        that’s ok, it worked fine. seems like a nice lotion so far, thanks for the recipe!

  • 9. cassandra  |  December 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Sounds like a great recipe! Does it go on greasy?

    • 10. Amy  |  December 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      this recipe is a little greasy, but it’s so worth waiting a few minutes to put clothes on for the results. I actually whipped up a batch yesterday and experimented with adding some distilled water when the body butter was still creamy and soft (before it hardens like butter) and it seems to absorb much better.

      I added about 1 and a half cups of water (use distilled so nothing gross grows in your final product) to the recipe and really like how it absorbs faster and seems to penetrate better. something to try if you’re interested! next time I’m going to push it to see how much water I can add and will be creating a link for the lighter recipe soon. let me know if you try it out!


  • 11. send a pamper package « dogwood & poppy  |  February 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

    […] know someone who needs soothing? how about some fabulous body cream, handmade moisturizing sea salt soak, luscious lip balm, and a delicious tasty treat. awesome! whip up some sea salt soak with this simple recipe. get more handmade by sending some of my ultra moisturizing body and hand cream. […]

  • 12. whipping up some lotion « dogwood & poppy  |  June 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    […] that time again….time to make more of my homemade lotion. i’m intrigued by these lotion bars from little house in the suburbs. if you decide to make […]

  • 13. vitameatavegamin « dogwood & poppy  |  August 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    […] my neighbor asked me if i’d been working out and tanning. nope, but i had just put on some of my homemade lotion. the glistening tricks the eye, you see. true story Eco World Content From Across The Internet. […]

  • 14. Caeli  |  September 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Hi I have a question I have solid blocks/bricks of olive oil vegetable glycerin and goats milk glycerin, how do you add these in once everything has cooled? What type of glycerin are you using and what form is it in ( liquid or solid) thanks!

    • 15. Amy  |  September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      this sounds so cool! i’ve never seen solid glycerin–i use a liquid form myself–but i would think that if you shaved off some chunks into the mixture while it’s warm, you could mix them in very easily. let me know how it turns out!

  • 16. Sam ENG  |  January 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

    My wife suffers from dry skin. Mostly, it’s her hands that become very dry. In fact, in the winters, her hands become so dry that they literally start to crack and bleed. It became so severe this past winter that I knew we had to try something, and so went online to find a lotion that might help.

    To be honest, my wife is fairly resistant to applying lotions, even though her hands are cracked and dry. AFter alot of research on healthy lotions (since my wife is a health nut), I found the Made from Earth Holistic Honey Lotion. It does not have a strong odor. After you apply it, your skin feels instantly soft. While other lotions we tried seemed to put a layer of greasy lotion on top of the skin, Made from Earth Honey Lotion seems to absorb into the skin leaving the skin surface smooth without any kind of oily or greasy film. She loves it and I am so happy I was able to give it to her!!

  • 17. Patti  |  February 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

    You can safely extend the life of your lotions by using a few drops of carrot seed extract or vitamin e – fyi

  • […] make your own creamy hand & body lotion recipe | dogwood & poppy. […]

  • 19. Ashley  |  April 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

    How much does this recipe make? I’ll be storing it in 2oz jars.

    • 20. Amy  |  April 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      this recipe makes about 27 ounces. i can fill up about 8 four ounce jars with this recipe.

  • 21. gretchen  |  April 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    I’m looking forward to trying your recipe after I finish up my last batch. Just wanted to say that a grater (I especially like the microplane zester for this purpose) works great for the beeswax.

    • 22. Amy  |  April 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      thanks for the awesome tip!

  • 23. Megan  |  December 11, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I’m super excited to make this today!! I’m going to use avocado oil and mango butter though!! Also, did you know you can buy beeswax in little pestules on line? Super easy to measure and use, no chopping required!!!

    • 24. Megan  |  December 11, 2013 at 9:25 am

      I’m having difficulty getting it to whip. It has been over two hours since I started and it is still very very runny. While I’m sure it will work fine, I was hoping fir a “fluffier” or at least thicker texture….did I do something wrong?

      • 25. Amy  |  March 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

        Nope…sometimes mine doesn’t whip up as well from batch to batch. Sometimes I have to let it sit up overnight to really cool down. You can just turn your machine off and let it sit. Hope that helps!

  • 26. Amy  |  March 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    just one question – do you measure the ingredients by volume or by weight? Measuring the beeswax in flake form – it’s light and 3 oz in a measuring cup did not look right. Could you comment? Thanks very much!

    • 27. Amy  |  March 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Good question! You could measure either way, but I measure by weight. If you wanted to measure by volume, it would be by the amount of melted beeswax (because you’re right! In the flake form it wouldn’t be enough). Enjoy your lotion; I’m about to whip up a batch myself!!

      • 28. Amy  |  March 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        Thanks Amy – for the confirmation – makes sense what you say about melting for volume. My husband and I were standing there with the measuring cup and the Starfrit scale going ….”Oh dear.” so thanks for putting that to rest!

  • 29. Alicia  |  March 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Is there a way to measure the ingredients without weighing them? I don’t currently have a kitchen scale…but I really want to try this recipe!

    • 30. Amy  |  March 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      You don’t need a scale–I didn’t have one when I first concocted this recipe! You can do what I did, which was estimate, or use liquid measures for everything. Melt the beeswax and solid oils in the microwave (going slowly and covering with a paper towel in case there are any splatters!), and go from there! (So that would mean using fluid ounces instead of weight.)

      • 31. Alicia  |  March 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

        Awesome! Thanks so much. 🙂

  • 32. Amy  |  March 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    One more question – in step 1 and 2 it sounds like you’re melting your bees wax in a cup of water – is that correct? The “and the double boiler in the pan” is a confusing instruction. Thanks again!

    • 33. Amy  |  March 30, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Sorry for the confusion–I use a double boiler to melt all my ingredients. If you don’t have one, you can make one by placing a bowl into a large enough pot with a little water in the bottom. The water turns into steam, which gently melts everything without burning it. You’ll want to melt all your ingredients in a bowl–not actually in any water; there’s no water in the recipe–but if you’re wanting to melt the beeswax for measuring purposes, use a glass measuring cup in the microwave, just to get the right amount. If you’re using a scale, I would just put the double boiler (or bowl) onto your scale, zero out the weight, and add the beeswax. Hope that clears it up!

      • 34. Amy  |  March 31, 2014 at 11:31 am

        Perfect – thanks very much. I assumed as much and it turned out great. Thanks again!

  • 35. Cait  |  November 29, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Can you substitute shea butter for the cocoa butter?

    • 36. Amy  |  December 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      You sure can! I prefer cocoa butter, but if you like shea go for it!!


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