Something that Nature Made

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I’m just like my father. I inherited his nose, mouth, and waxy skin. A birthmark that flanks his right ribs is my birthmark too. Mine looks like a tiny Lake Erie, his Lake Superior. Were it not for my mother’s piercing soft features, there’s a strong chance I would have grown up looking like dear-old-dad in a wig.

I also inherited my dad’s sense of curiosity and his eagerness to create. Somewhere along the way, this proclivity to discover drove me to learn how to make lotion.

This is something my dad, of course, had already tried. He made a habit of whipping together shea butter and essential oils to ease my brother’s eczema. Our family’s KitchenAid would stir for hours as the shea butter transformed into a lightweight cream, to which my mother would reply, “can’t we just get this at Rite Aid?”

It turns out that lotion bars are a bit easier to make than my father’s shea butter remedy. The solid bar turns into a lightweight emollient when it touches warm skin, providing ultra hydrating and portable moisture.

Beeswax, shea, and cocoa butter are the foundation of most lotions bars. An endless variety of oils layer the bars to meet skin needs and moisture preferences. Food grade oils, such as olive, grapeseed, almond, and coconut are preferred because of their higher inspection standards. Keep in mind that oils range in weight. Some lighter oils include rosehip seed, jojoba, grapeseed, and black currant. Olive, macadamia, and avocado are heavier, while almond, apricot and sesame oils round the middle weights. Experiment with oils, like I do, to find what works best for you.

I prefer my lotion bars to have a light scent. A few drops of rose, sandalwood, bergamot, or patchouli oil lighten the nutty aroma shea butter tends to cast.

The lotion bars are a welcome change from my drugstore staples. If you too have (or wished you had) inherited the DIY gene, here is the recipe:

Lotion Bars

–    Two parts beeswax*
–    One part coconut oil
–    One part shea butter
–    One part grapeseed oil
–    ½ part avocado oil
–    ½ part apricot kernel oil
–    Optional: essential oils for fragrance

In a double broiler, melt the beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter together. Once liquefied, remove from heat and quickly stir in the grapeseed, avocado, apricot kernel, and optional essential oils. Pour the mixture into molds of your choice—ice cube trays, small plastic cups, and muffins tins are excellent options. The lotion will take no longer than 30 minutes to set. For harder lotion solids, increase the amount of beeswax. Make sure to store in a cool place during warmer months.

*Do not use beeswax if you are allergic to bees.

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