Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tension Relief Body Lotion

Store-bought lotions and body butters contain long lists of unpronounceable ingredients and acronyms. Why expose your skin to a battalion of lab-made chemicals when you can make your own lotion at home with just a couple of natural ingredients? 

I made this lotion with an essential oil combination that sometimes helps with headaches and general tension. To test it, I put a few drops of each oil in a carrier oil and dipped a washcloth in it. I put the washcloth on my headboard last night and woke up feeling more refreshed than I have in a long time. Feel free to substitute your favorite essential oils or oil combinations for the lavender, peppermint, and chamomile. You can also alter the ratios. The ratio I gave yields a strong peppermint scent over more subtle lavender and chamomile scents.

This lotion may go on a little oilier than you are used to, but that's actually a good thing. Let the oils absorb into your skin and they will leave it super-soft. This is especially wonderful for dry winter skin and would probably feel great on the feet and covered with spa socks. The scent lingers a lot longer than commercial lotion... I can still smell it 30 minutes after rubbing it into my arms... so it is probably best applied at night unless you don't mind smelling like peppermint for a while.

Ingredients for homemade lotion.

Tension Relief Body Lotion

1 cup pure cocoa butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup almond or apricot oil
1 tsp vitamin E oil (optional)
15-20 drops lavender essential oil
15-20 drops chamomile essential oil
10-15 drops peppermint essential oil

Put the coconut oil and cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler. You made need to immerse the cocoa butter container in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to soften it so it can be scooped out easily. Melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter. Remove from heat, stir, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes (or if it's cold outside, you can stick it on the porch).

Coconut oil and cocoa butter in my improvised double boiler.
Coconut oil and cocoa butter. 
Fully melted coconut oil and cocoa butter. It doesn't take long to melt them because of the low melting points. Coconut oil melts at 76F and cocoa butter melts at 93-100F, which is why chocolate melts in your mouth. If your home is warm (above 75F), you will start off with liquid coconut oil. Coconut oil has a low melting point, but melting it does not change its properties so it is fine to use either melted or solid.
 Stir in almond or apricot oil and essential oils. Adjust the essential oils according to your preference. Place in the refrigerator or another cool place until the mixture is partially solidified. This can take a while - about 40 minutes in the refrigerator for my batch.

Partially-solidified mixture right out of the refrigerator.
Whip with a hand-mixer or stand mixer, scraping the sides often, until a butter-like consistency is achieved. This will take several minutes, longer if the kitchen is warm. If it is still runny, return the mixture to the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes and then whip again.

Whipped for 30 seconds.
Whipped for 3-4 minutes. It now has a consistency similar to buttercream.
Scoop lotion into a clean glass jar. It may continue to set over the next 12 hours. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and won't mold because there isn't any water in it, but it should be kept in a cool place. This batch made 2.5-3 cups of whipped lotion, enough to completely fill an old pickle jar.

Finished lotion. 
Notes: The thickness of this lotion can vary depending on temperature and oil content. The first batch I made in December has a thinner texture more like a commercial lotion. The batch I made today set up thicker, more like a body butter. It may seem a little thick, but your body temperature will melt it.

The essential oils can be replaced with any skin-safe essential oils you choose. Amount needed will vary depending on scent strength of the oil. An unscented lotion can also be made by leaving out the essential oils. The lotion will still carry a faint aroma of chocolate and coconut.

Shea butter can be used instead of cocoa butter. Mango butter might also work, but I haven't experimented with it because of Turbokid's allergy.

I don't own a double boiler or a stand mixer, so this became an exercise in hand-mixer endurance. The whipping is very easy with a stand mixer since you can just turn it on and scrape down the sides on occasion. I improvised a double boiler by placing a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan containing about two inches of water. If you do this, make sure the boiling water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl and let the bowl cool before chilling it. Thermal shock is nothing you want to play with.

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