DIY Beauty: Aileen’s Homemade Whipped Shea Butter Lotion

We haven’t posted one of these in a while—and this is a goodie! Here’s why: I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve spent a very pretty penny on whipped shea butter in my day, especially for the ones that smell like vanilla and/or citrus. I’ve also given this as a luxurious gift to friends, and they always love it (boys too). But not once did I think of whipping my own, and scenting it with my favorite essential oils. This is a genius plan for the holidays, and also a great gift if you have any friends who are expecting (though in that case, we suggest going scent-free or just using a bit of vanilla).

Name: Aileen

Hometown: Minnesota
Product: Shea Butter Lotion (creative, I know)
Ingredients: Shea butter (I forgot to take of picture of this in its raw form, but it is solid, yellow chunks when its raw), shea oil, vitamin e oil, tangerine essential oil
How: My sister and I (because this is more fun with company) walked to the coop and bought some raw shea butter and the essential oil for scent.  I already had the shea oil and the vitamin e oil from earlier lotion-making adventures.  We melted the shea butter on low heat on the stove until it was liquid.  Then we added the shea oil and the vitamin e oil and stirred them all together.  We poured the mixture into a bowl, which we then placed in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Then we used a hand mixer to whip the lotion (which was still mostly liquid) for a few minutes.  Then it went back in the freezer for a bit (5 to 10 minutes).  Then we whipped the mixture again and put it back in the freezer.  We continued with the “whip the lotion, put it in the freezer” routine until it was the texture of a thick lotion.  Then we added the essential oil, whipped it some more, and put it in jars.  One of my favorite parts of making this is that you don’t have to wash your hands if you get some on you – you can just rub it in. :)  My least favorite part about making this was how difficult it was to clean the pot, bowl, and utensils – it takes a lot of soap to get everything clean.
The shea butter lotion feels nice and smooth, is yellow in color (the color of the shea butter), and smells like summer (well, tangerine).
As I mentioned, we have made this before.  I gave jars of this to friends and family as Christmas presents and everyone has told me they really liked it.  It’s especially good in the winter (it usually gets very cold, but always gets very dry in Minnesota in the winter).  It can be a bit greasy if you use too much, but I like how it actually moisturizes all day and makes my skin not itch (like, almost instant relief) from the dry air.  It doesn’t take more than about an hour to make a bunch of this (it takes longer if you make multiple batches) and it feels so nice!
I have ordered the shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs in the past (along with the shea oil and vitamin e oil), but I won’t do it again.  When I got it it was grainy, which I later learned happens when shea butter is heated too much, which destroys some of the beneficial properties of shea (this especially bugged me because the shea butter was advertised as raw, which it obviously was not).  I’ve loved everything else I’ve ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I’m going to stick to my local source (the coop) for my shea butter.
Thank you for doing this challenge!  I’ve been learning a lot about DIY stiff lately with essential oils and using them to simplify my routine somewhat.  I am an avid reader of your blog and I can’t thank you enough for helping to open the world of healthy personal care products and rituals to me.  Almost everyone around me thinks I’m weird for caring about what’s in my lotions and makeup (not to mention that I put oil on my acne-prone skin…the horror! :) ), but I’m hoping things like making this lotion for them will help open their eyes.
Aw, thanks Aileen, and keep spreading the word! It feels like people are starting to catch on. :) Now, who’s gonna whip up some shea?
[Note: We still have plenty of great recipes in our inbox, but we want more! Don’t forget to send yours.]

24 Responses to “DIY Beauty: Aileen’s Homemade Whipped Shea Butter Lotion”
  1. Rebecca says:

    Love, love, love shea butter! I have to try the back and forth from the freezer w/whipping thing…I’ve been lazy about that. I hadn’t heard about the graininess of shea related to overheating…I’m inclined to trust MRH but I may contact them about it. I know I’ve had problems with butters getting grainy when cooled too quickly.

  2. Sarah says:

    A fellow Minnesotan! Yay! I love this recipe and whipped shea butter is my go to in the winter as well. I’ve never whipped my own and I’m definitely going to have to try this! (also what a great gift idea :)

    xoxo Sarah

  3. Sara says:

    I love these recipes! But one request: Can you include how much of each ingredient we’re supposed to use? And what size jar the recipe will fill up? Just saying, “you need these ingredients and mix them all together!” isn’t enough for the DIY newbie to get started. I rely on the experience of those who’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with proportions!

  4. Panda says:

    Great idea! I’m going to try this when it gets cooler and I need something thick to keep my skin hydrated. I love the idea of using this for gifts too.

  5. Jessica says:

    Just wondering what the amounts are for this recipe. I must try it! I’ve been having a hard time finding a good clean moisturizer for me super dry skin.

  6. isis says:

    this is a sweet cream, but it is better NOT TO HEAT THE SHEA!

    shea does not like heat. it goes rancid very quickly and looses many of it nutrients when you cook it.

    it is better to whip it in cake mixer over long periods of time or find another way to break down the chunks, and then use a hand mixer.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Aileen will surely give the details, but for those wondering about proportion, generally a 3:1 butter to oil is a good place to start.

    @isis, I basically agree with you, though I do heat my shea VERY gently, double boiler style, and keep it opaque (it’s just softened, not completely melted).

  8. aileen says:

    Hi! I feel so honored to have my recipe posted!!

    For those wondering about amounts: I don’t measure (sorry!) and just mix some oils with some shea butter. It’s probably about a 1:4 oil to shea ratio. I just buy some shea in an amount I think I’ll need, depending on my plans for it (gifts vs. personal use, for instance) and I put the lotion in canning jars or some blue glass ones from MRH. I put in the Vitamin E because it’s good for skin and it’s a preservative, but I don’t use very much of it. Adding shea oil just makes the lotion more emollient and easier to spread on your skin – you could really use any oil.

    As far as heating goes, I heat it on the lowest setting on the stove and stir continuously just until the chunks are gone, so it doesn’t actually get very wam (probably only to the melting point of shea butter). I tried just mixing it with a mixer and it did not combine very well. The graininess in the shea butter from my first batch was not really a problem when it came to using the lotion, I just read that it meant it wasn’t as good for your skin as shea butter that wasn’t grainy.

  9. Jaime says:

    Love it!
    I have been wanting to try this one
    I love this method as well and will give it try!

  10. Chelsea says:

    Thanks Aileen for the recipe!

    And to the creative diyers out there–What else does everyone like to use as their oils? Jojoba?

  11. Rebecca says:

    @Chelsea, for more luxurious oils I like pomegranate and sea buckthorn (just a teeny bit though – that one turns things very yellow). My less expensive favorites are sunflower and of course coconut.

  12. Erika says:

    Siobhan, I think we should do this! Since we haven’t made pickles in over a YEAR (@!#$$), I think the next step is shea butter lotion. If you get the hand mixer, I’ll, uh, provide the counter space? (Hey, that’s a rare commodity in NYC). Say yes.

    Thank you Aileen for such a cool recipe!

  13. Sarah B. says:

    This sounds great! On the Evan Healy website it says they make their whipped shea over a period of 4-6 hours or something while the oils are being added. I want to try just leaving it in a mixer for a while to see what kind of difference it makes.

    Oh, and bonus: If you sub sugar / cream / milk for the shea and oils, you can make ice cream this way. Just sayin’.

  14. mangomadness says:

    Lovely! I’m really digging these DIY Beauty posts!

    I make a DIY Body Butter with unrefined shea butter and extra virgin organic coconut oil. Next time I make a batch, I’ll make it with my DIY Vanilla-Infused Coconut Oil.

    P.S. There is no need to whip and re-whip the shea butter/oil mixture so many times. Simply, let the mixture completely set in the refrigerator or freezer and then whip until it gets all fluffy, airy and nice.

  15. mangomadness says:

    @Chealsea: I’ve read about folks making shea butter mixes with all types of plant oils online — jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, argan oil, etc. Experiment and see what you like best!

  16. Emilija says:

    Feeling inspired, I headed out to buy all of these ingredients today – only to stop in my tracks when it came to the citrus essential oils. “Do not put this on your skin,” the sign warned, “PHOTOTOXIC”. The internet tells me that it’s best not to put citrus oils on your skin, as when they react with sunlight, they become phototoxic, which results in a sunburn-like irritation. The tangerine oil in Aileen’s recipe does sound wonderfully summery – but be careful with those oils, everyone! (I’m going to run with trusty ol’ lavender instead.)

  17. jessica says:

    @Aileen (hi!!)
    Graininess from Shea (and sometimes, although to lesser degree, Cocoa) doesn’t happen because it was over-heated, necessarily. It happens because Shea butter is made of different types of fat that solidify at different speeds, creating little tiny grainy balls of like-fats that are attracted together during crystallization (or, hardening). Also, it’s 100% fine for skin. Nothing has changed about the butter (its not an indication of rancidity…that, you can SMELL, and it smells like crayons, of all things!)
    So, Shea butter can change states and get grainy just hanging out in your apartment. My advice is to pop your Shea in the fridge after you have poured them into your jars for a few hours. This helps them crystallize so quickly that the different fats can’t cling to their buddies and start a grainy party in your jar. If your Shea does end up gritty from temp changes in your home or during travel, you can actually just sit the jar in a bowl of just-boiled water (so hot, but not very hot) and let it melt until liquid, then back in the fridge it goes. Of course, it will lack the fun whipped consistency, but you still have some very good Shea at your disposal!

  18. Rebecca says:

    @jessica, thanks for that info – I was pretty confident my MRH gritty shea was fine but I appreciate the specifics. I have noticed that when I use smaller containers and keep lids off while in the fridge/freezer, I get better (that is, smoother) results. I assumed it was because of more even cooling, and I think that goes along with what you are saying.

  19. Chelsea says:

    @Rebecca and Mango. Thanks for the tips! I’m soooo close to ordering supplies so I can start making my own everything. I’ve been scrolling through the comments in past posts gleaming little nuggets of gold here and there.

    @Jessica –thanks for that confirmation as well. Back to filling up my shopping cart at MRH!

  20. aileen says:

    Wow! I didn’t know lumpy shea butter was somethine other people encountered. I’m glad it turns out there’s nothing wrong with it – we all know the internet is not always trustoworthy. :) Thank you Jessica, for your awesome help. :)

  21. Grace La Rock says:

    For an easier clean up. Take a dry paper towel and wipe all the oil you can away. This will save all the soapy mess.

  22. Stella says:

    Hi Alexandra, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Will try this when I get my hands on some shea oil. About the cleaning. A friend of mine gave me the idea of using used coffee (from your coffee pot) to clean. Ground coffee scrapes grease away. I also discovered that using baking soda helps really well. The best for me though, was using the heavy-duty hand cleaner from Ecover. Works really well, even with beeswax.

  23. Lynette Foxen says:

    I have just purchased all of the ingredients to make this and I’m very excited to give it a try. I intend to put this in hand pumps. Does this recipe allow for this? If not, can I add extra almond oil to make it the correct consistency?

  24. Deborrah says:

    Clean up is easy if you use the right soap. I use Dawn degreaser liquid dish detergent. Rinse your things off with hot water first, then put some Dawn in the mixing bowl and add your beaters, spoons, spatula and measuring cup. The grease will float off easily. It takes seconds.

    Secondly, if you use a stand mixer there is no need to melt the butter and destroy all the wonderful healing properties of raw shea, raw coconut oil and other raw ingredients. Why cook them when you can just set your mixer to low and let the ingredients blend gently over a period of about 3-5 minutes? As long as your Shea is fresh it will be soft to the touch and blend easily with other butters and carrier oils.

    Work clean! No pets in the area, clean hands, clean everything you will be using really well with soap and hot water, and spray each item and your storage container with bleach then let air dry to kill bacteria and everything else that might ruin your product. One of the worst things in the world is to think you are using something nice for your skin then look at it under a microscope and see all the grossness growing in your butter.

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