Handmade body butter that doesn't feel greasy? Not a myth, it can be done. Here's how.
What is body butter?
Body butter can be anything from a very rich 100% shea butter product to a lightweight body cream that resembles more a lotion. There's no clear definition.
For the purpose of this discussion, let's just say that homemade body butter is a rich body cream that's 100% oil-based. It's made of natural butters (like shea, mango or cocoa butter) and varying amounts of liquid oil to help make it soft and lightweight. A lot of times body butters are whipped to make them spreadable and airy.
What's the difference to a lotion? It's mainly the water content. Lotions can contain up to 70% of water, while most body butters don't contain any water. They're essentially made of 100% fats and oils.
Recommended reading: Body butter vs lotion vs body oil
Why does my body butter feel too greasy?
When trying homemade body butter for the first time, you might be surprised at how heavy the texture feels. Especially, if you're used to store-bought body butters that also contain water and other ingredients to speed up absorption.
When we talk about a greasy feel, we usually mean that the product stays on top of the skin and absorbs slowly. If you want your body butter to have a dry finish without feeling tacky or slippery. Here's what you can do:
1. Choose the right ingredients
Keep in mind that not all butters and oils are created equal. Meaning that the ingredients you choose for your body butter greatly affect the end result. If you want to create a body butter that absorbs fast, you need to pick a butter that has a speedy fast absorption rates.
While it's best to experience absorption rate and skin feel of each ingredient for oneself since a greasy feel is somewhat subjective, it's not always possible. That's why I've compiled absorption rates and skin feels of some common butters/oils/fats into this handy dandy chart:
|Ingredient||Absorption Rate||Skin Feel|
|shea butter||very slow||greasy|
|grape seed oil||fast||dry|
|rosehip seed oil||very fast||dry|
|camellia seed oil||fast||satin|
|olive oil||average - slow||slippery|
|sweet almond oil||average||soft|
|castor oil||very slow||sticky|
You can probably tell where I'm going with this: avoid using slow absorbing butters/oils that have a greasy skin feel and you'll have a divine non greasy body butter.
Now, the most common body butter recipes out there call for shea butter combined with coconut oil, olive oil and the likes. Well, you've just combined the heaviest ingredients possible and your end product will be just that - heavy.
But if you start looking at ingredients examining their performance on the skin, you'll see that it can be very easy to create a less greasy product choosing the right ingredients.
My absolute favorite is my mango body butter - 2 carefully chosen ingredients and boom! you have yourself and fast absorbing body butter with a satin smooth finish. Amazing!
2. Adding starch/clay
Probably the most popular "remedy" for greasy body butter is adding some sort of starchy powder or clay to the formula.
Cornstarch, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder and kaolin clay work quite well in making body butters feel less oily. They help absorb and bind some of the excess oils and create a somewhat dry finish on the skin.
How much cornstarch should you add to body butter?
Start with 1 teaspoon per 150g of oils/butters. If that's not enough you can slightly increase the amount. If you add too much it will start to create small clumps on the skin.
3. Whip it up!
I'm a huge fan of whipped body butter and I know many of you are too! There's just something so luxurious about this fluffy cloud of goodness. Aside from that, it also helps make body butter fell more lightweight.
Through the whipping process air is incorporated into the mixture which makes it softer and more spreadable. Where there are tiny air bubbles there can't be any oil. You will also be able to cover a bigger area with less product allowing you to apply a thinner layer on the skin.
4. Add Isopropyl Myristate
Isopropyl Myristate (IPM) is a lightweight ester or synthetic oil. It helps speed up absorption time or oil-based products.
You can add it to your body butter instead of a liquid oil. In my non-greasy shea body butter, I used it in combination with rosehip seed oil and really liked it.
Keep in mind though that IPM is not considered a "natural ingredient" and has a slight tendency to clog pores.
There's a time and place for a thick, heavy feeling body butter. It can be very beneficial for healing and protecting very dry rough skin.
However, if you're looking to make a lightweight body butter that can be used almost as a lotion, you have many options. Choosing the right lightweight butters and oils is probably the easiest and most effective choice. Adding starch/clay and whipping it up are easy options too.
You can use IPM in place of liquid oils which will give you great results as well.
What's your go-to remedy for greasy body butter? Let me know in the comments.