Lotion bars are a decadent mix of butters, oils, wax and other nourishing additives. The moisturizing ingredients help protect and condition the skin from outside elements. Lotion bars contain all of the goodies that lotion contains, except for water or water-based ingredients. Because no water is used, a preservative is not needed.
Lotion Bar Ingredients
- Lotion bars are hard enough to hold in your hand but melt on contact with skin. Wax is what hardens them up and keeps them solid in warm temperatures. Beeswax is the standard in waxes to use for lotion bars but you could certainly experiment with others, especially if you’re looking for something vegan friendly. Here are some wax choices:
- Beeswax - Beeswax provides a protective barrier on the skin, locking in moisture. Beeswax comes in both yellow and white pastilles. Beeswax has a melt point of about 144°-147°F.
- Candelilla Wax - Candelilla Wax is a natural non-animal based wax. Plants producing Candelilla Wax grow in Mexico, in the North Central Plains, and the Chihuahua Desert. It is a very hard wax with a melt point of about 155°-162°F.
- Carnauba Wax - Carnauba Wax is a natural non-animal based wax. It is known as "queen of waxes” and comes in the form of hard yellow flakes. Carnauba Wax has a melt point of about 180°–187°F.
- Butters add protective barriers to the skin and help to add emolliency to lotion bars. Butters can include Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter or any other natural cosmetic based butter or butter blend.
- Cocoa Butter - Pure Cocoa Butter is thought to reduce skin dryness and improve elasticity.
- Shea Butter - Pure Shea Butter is high in vitamin and mineral content, which is thought to benefit dry skin.
- Mango Butter - Pure Mango Butter is thought to exhibit excellent moisturizing properties while countering the drying effects of bar soaps and cleansers.
- Tucuma Butter - Tucuma Butter is considered to have high levels of Lauric, Myristic and Oleoic fatty acids, which are all thought to moisturize the skin.
- You will want to choose oils that have a long shelf life. Different oils offer different results in lotion bars based on their properties. Some examples:
- Lighter base oils for a more absorbing lotion bar.
- Medium oils.
- Heavier oils for a heavy lotion bar.
Additives in Lotion Bars
- Anything that is oil-soluble can be added to lotion bars. Never add anything water-based, as it will separate out from the lotion bar. Some additives include:
- Fragrance - You can fragrance lotions bars using both fragrance oils and essential oils. The typical usage rate for both is about 2% of the total lotion bar recipe but double check IFRA guidelines to make sure you comply.
- Smooth & Creamy Lotion Bar Additive - Lotion Bar Additive helps to create a smooth and creamy lotion bar when shea butter is used. Shea Butter can sometimes be grainy. This helps prevent that. The usage rate is 5%.
- Vitamin E - Vitamin E T-50 is an excellent antioxidant for products containing oils. It will help prevent oils from turning brown and going rancid. The usage rate for Vitamin E is 1%.
- Botanical Extract - (Oil Soluble) - This extract blend contains Calendula Flower Bud Extract thought to be moisturizing, soothing and possess antiseptic qualities. It also contains Aloe, Irish Moss and Marshmallow. This product allows you to add rich attributes to your formulations! The usage rate is 0.5-5%.
- Colorants - You can add color to your lotion bars by using an oil-based colorant such as Oil Locking Mica.
- Tapioca Starch Powder - Tapioca Starch in a lotion bar helps to cut down on the greasy feeling. When added to the melted base it can be clumpy, so stir well. The usage rate is 1 teaspoon for every 4 oz. (115 grams) of lotion bar base.
Molding and Packaging Lotion Bars
Lotion bars can be molded in individual cavity molds and packaged in metal tins. Be sure that the mold you use fits into the metal tin by length, width and height. Sometimes you have to fill a mold only 3/4 of the way full to have the height fit.
An example of this can be found in this video
. Notice how the Flowers Guest Mold
is filled about 3/4 full to fit the height of the 2” Silver Shallow Metal Tins
Lotion bars can also be poured into lotion bar tubes
. This serves as the packaging and also makes it easy for the end-user to use the lotion bar stick. You can see a video on creating lotion bar sticks here
How to Formulate a Lotion Bar Recipe
Creating a recipe for lotions bars is super simple! You can formulate your own lotion bar recipe by using the formula below.
Liquid Oil - 1 Part
Butter - 1 Part
Wax - 1 Part
Fragrance - 2% of total above
Basic Lotion Bar Example
Avocado Oil - 150 grams (5.29 oz.)
Mango Butter -150 grams (5.29 oz.)
Beeswax - 150 grams (5.29 oz.)
Fragrance - 9 grams (0.32 oz.)
Modifying a Recipe
The above formulation is recommended as a starting point. If you want a harder lotion bar with a higher melt point, use more wax or a wax with a higher melt point. If you want a softer lotion bar that melts quicker on the skin, use more liquid oil or a wax with a lower melt point.
- A heat-safe container
- Scale to weigh ingredients
- Spatula or spoon
- Hair net and gloves
Step 1 - Melt the wax and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler.
Step 2 - Once melted, add the liquid oil and any additives.
Step 3 - Pour into tubes or into cavity molds.
Step 4 - If cavity molds were used, unmold and put into tins to package.