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Friday, February 1, 2013

DIY Natural & Incredibly Moisturizing Lotion Bars

Dry, itchy skin and winter seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly--don't they? At Christmastime, I made some peppermint foot scrub to give away as gifts and wanted some great lotion or moisturizer to go along with it. Checking out my trusty friend, Pinterest, I ran across some lotion bars and was intrigued. I made a few of them, in miniature size, for Christmas gifts and the ladies in my family loved them! They were a huge hit. I hope they aren't reading this post, because they are getting these bigger bars as Valentine's Day gifts (shhh!!).

These simple-to-make, moisturizing bars melt at body temperature and absorb beautifully, leaving extremely dry skin feeling soft and hydrated. Scaly alligator legs be gone! Eczema say goodbye! No nasty chemicals, lab-created scents, or preservatives required. This combination of ingredients also makes a fantastic lip balm.

Keep in mind that because these do melt very easily, you are NOT going to want to keep them in the bathroom or any other warm location. With the the wind chill factor, it was 13 degrees below zero this morning in my part of the world! If you live in a warmer climate, you may want to keep them in the fridge to be on the safe side. A puddle of liquid where your lotion bar used to be wouldn't be fun at all!

I make my bars with coconut oil, grapeseed oil and beeswax. I have read other recipes that use shea butter or cocoa butter in place of coconut oil, but I have not had much luck finding shea or cocoa butter without ordering online. This LouAna coconut oil is not what I use to cook with, however, it is one of the least expensive brands out there and I felt it would be fine for a body lotion. You could opt to use a pricier, organic coconut oil if that is more your style. Grapeseed oil is more easily absorbed into the skin than avocado oil, which I have seen in other recipes. Not to mention it is almost impossible to find avocado oil in my experience. The block of 100% beeswax I purchased in the candle making section of Hobby Lobby, with a 40% off coupon. It isn't cheap, but it goes a long way!

I picked up a soap mold (for just under $3) while I was at Hobby Lobby to use for my bars. They have all sorts of soap molds that would be fun for various gift-giving occasions. Don't forget that silicone baking molds also work spectacularly and come in many cool shapes. I used a silicone mini muffin mold when I made my first batch for Christmas gifts. Because I needed to make about a dozen and didn't have much beeswax (I had found some tiny beeswax circles with the sewing stuff at Jo-Ann's and used those), I opted to make mini bars at Christmas. They happened to be perfect for cuticles!

Feel free to add a couple of capsules of vitamin E (just poke with a straight pin and squeeze them into the mix) or a few drops of your favorite essential oil. I think lavender, vanilla or something citrusy like grapefruit seed oil would be nice. If you are making lip balm, stick with the original recipe and add a couple drops of peppermint or vanilla essential oil.

Decide how many bars you want to make and use one part coconut oil, one part beeswax and one part grapeseed oil. That means if you use 1 cup of one, you'll use 1 cup of the others. I used 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of each and made 3 bars.

The first thing you will need to do is to grate some of your beeswax using a sturdy metal box grater. Grating it makes it melt and measure easier. Pack the beeswax shreds tightly into the measuring cup to eliminate the air and get a more accurate measurement. 

Next, find a fairly deep skillet and add water. You will simmer the water on a medium heat and create a double-boiler of sorts, using a heat safe glass bowl or measuring cup. Make sure that the water is as high or higher than the ingredients in your cup. Don't try to do 2 c. of each ingredient in a standard size skillet with 3 or 4 inches of water.

Carefully stir your ingredients, keeping water out of the mix, until the beeswax and both oils are completely liquefied. This took almost 10 minutes for me as my beeswax was a bit stubborn. This is what it looks like when it is almost completely dissolved. Just be patient and keep stirring. Resist the temptation to crank up the heat, however. My soap mold said not to use with liquids higher than 150 degrees, so I was careful to measure my liquid lotion. I was happy to see that it was only 120 degrees when fully melted.

If you are using vitamin E oil or any essential oils, this would be the time to add them in. After everything is fully liquefied and well-mixed, place your mold onto a plate or cookie sheet (mine is not in this picture--oops!) and carefully pour your lotion into the molds.
Place the mold into the refrigerator for several hours until you are completely sure that is cool all the way through. Turn molds upside down and tap very gently to remove. They will melt as you touch them, so use a spatula to lift them or work quickly. If you have a lotion bar that comes out looking deformed or doesn't release easily from the mold, you can easily throw it back into your measuring cup and reheat it. After it liquefies, simply pour it back into the mold and try again.

My sister and I think these 2 oz. empty roll up containers would be the ultimate way to make and store lotion bars. That way you could apply them without using your hands and melting your bar. The shipping on the site is free with a $30 order and the containers could be reused over and over again. While you are there, grab a couple of small lip balm tins and make a few as Valentine's Day gifts for friends or your kids' teachers!

Natural & Incredibly Moisturizing Lotion Bars

For 3 bars (4 oz. size) you will need:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup grated and tightly packed beeswax 
Vitamin E capsules (optional)
Essential oils (optional)
1. Place both oils and beeswax into a heat-safe glass bowl or measuring cup. Put the bowl or cup into a large, deep skillet and fill the skillet with water, to at least the depth of the ingredients in the cup/bowl. This will create a water bath in which to slowly and indirectly melt the oils.

2. Turn the stove to a medium/low heat and simmer the water while gently stirring the oils. Do not use a high heat and be sure to stir frequently. Wait patiently until all 3 ingredients have completely liquefied.

3. Place mold of choice onto a plate or cookie sheet and carefully pour the liquid lotion into the mold. 

4. Put mold into the refrigerator for several hours, until bars are completely cooled and hardened. To unmold, invert onto a cookie sheet or cutting board and tap lightly. Handle with a spatula or work quickly to avoid melting the bars with the heat of your hands. Bars can be melted down and molded again if they come out looking undesirable.
5. To use lotion bar, rub gently with your hands and then apply lotion to the body or rub the lotion bar directly onto the legs, torso, etc. Store in a very cool and dry location, as bars will begin to melt at temperatures above 76 degrees. A tin, travel soap holder, or other small container with a lid will keep your soap dust and germ-free.

Do you like DIY project tutorials such as this one? Let me know if you enjoyed this post, that way I'll know whether to do similar tutorials in the future!

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