It’s that time of the year, when the cooler weather is causing our skin to lose water and natural oils resulting in itchy, dry and cracked skin. As humidity drops, our skin loses moisture faster, coupled with indoor heating it can be a double whammy for dry skin conditions. As a nurse practitioner, my hands take a beating at work with multiple washings and the use of hand sanitizer. I also work with yarn, having picked up a crocheting habit which further removes moisture from my hands. I have found that in addition to using handmade soap that contains glycerin (this is a natural occurrence when you make soap by hand), a rich moisturizer or lotion, and a lotion bar can be an effective dry skincare routine. Plus, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate as we do lose water through our skin, more on that below.
One main difference between lotion bars and lotions or creams is that they do not contain water; also known as an anhydrous product. So, you won’t get added moisture in the form of a lotion bar, but you will get a nice occlusive barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). TEWL, the amount of water in the skin that evaporates into the external environment on average can be 300-400 ml/day, well over a cup a day. So, lotion bars can be helpful in preventing TEWL. Another benefit is that they do not contain a preservative for those who may have a sensitivity to those ingredients.
I have noted that If I apply a lotion or cream and, then, wash my hands, it feels as if it is easily rinsed off in between washings and quickly wicked away from the skin when working with yarn. Whereas, if I use a lotion bar or hand salve it seems as if I still have a bit of protection that lasts longer with less frequent application. I also don't need to apply as much product with a lotion bar.
If you are not a fan of the feeling of a lotion bar or salve – they can be thick and take a few minutes to sink in, apply it at night before going to bed. You can even apply it over your moisturizer to help lock in the water in the lotion or cream.
You can easily make a lotion bar at home with a few simple ingredients! Here is a basic formula to get you started.
You can play with this natural beauty formula based on your individual skin care needs. For example, thick oils like olive, rice bran, or avocado for super dry skin. Or, for a silkier application, fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil. If available, cold pressed organic oils make for a high quality natural and organic skincare product.
The basic formula is:
Beeswax 30% (for vegans use 20% candelilla wax and increase soft oils to 50%)
28% hard butters (shea butter or mango butter)
40% oils (your choice or a combo of oils to equal 40% such as olive, sunflower, rice bran, avocado, etc….)
1% lavender essential oil
1% vitamin E
Keeping the math simple, we’ll use 100g. This will make 3.5 oz, so plan for your mold appropriately. You’ll need a kitchen scale, a double boiler or candy melter, a mold – an ice cube tray will be fine (will make about 3 cubes), and formula ingredients as below:
30 grams beeswax
28 grams shea butter
40 grams sunflower oil (or your choice of oils to equal 40 grams)
1 gram lavender essential oil
1 gram vitamin E
After weighing the ingredients with a kitchen scale, combine the wax, butter, and oil and place into a double boiler (preferred method) or a candy melter on low. Allow the ingredients to melt completely and stir with a clean or sanitized spoon to combine thoroughly.
Next, remove from heat and add the lavender oil and vitamin E when the mixture is below 156 degrees fahrenheit.
Pour into molds and place into the refrigerator to reduce the graininess that can occur when shea butter cools slowly.
Once they have solidified, this may take 30 minutes or an hour for larger molds, remove from mold and enjoy. Hold the bar in the palm of your hands to let your body heat start to melt the lotion bar and massage onto dry areas.
You can also find our lotion stick under the Body section of our website, it is a lotion bar in a roll up tube for convenience.
Jamie is a serendipitous soapmaker with a love for all things DIY, health, and wellness. She is an Advanced CP-HP Soapmaker with certification from the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild. She holds a Diploma in Advanced Organic Cosmetic Science from Formula Botanica. Before starting Lathering Lotus, she worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Professional Yoga Therapist. She lives with her husband, two daughters and her labradoodle near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.