Friday, July 16, 2010

Back to basics: Balms - choosing the right oils and butters

Choosing the right oils and butters can turn your anhydrous product into a balm. For instance, choosing an oil high in phytosterols like sesame seed, soy bean, or apricot kernel oil might help with inflammation. Choosing olive oil might help with post-sun exposure. Or choosing an oil high in Vitamin E, like wheat germ oil, might help with softening your skin. 

Let's say you're on a quest to help your really dry or trashed skin. You might want to create a whipped butter with shea as the base butter because it is a great occlusive and emollient. But what to choose as the oil? We could use something like borage oil - the GLA helps repair our skin's barrier mechanisms quickly - and it will feel dry with the greasiness of the shea butter. It'll also help with itching and moisturizing. We can use this at 10%, but we want to add another 10% to the mix. We can add 1% Vitamin E and 1% fragrance oil, but this leaves us with 8% left to add. What about calendula oil? It is supposed to help with wound healing, and it's also an astringent or dry oil. Sounds good to me! (Click here for the exotic oil comparison chart, or visit the oil and butter posts above for more information.) 

80% shea butter
10% borage oil
8% calendula oil
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil

Weigh the hard butter and oil in a heat proof container and melt slightly in a double boiler or microwave. When the butter has melted slightly - you can tell because it'll look melted and probably has a bit of oil around it - remove it from the heat and add your fragrance oil and Vitamin E. Start whipping! Whip until it has doubled in size. Spoon into jars and rejoice. It will harden over the next few hours. Enjoy!

If you wanted something that felt even drier, you could use mango butter in place of the shea butter. 

You could easily adapt this in a lotion bar format by using the lotion bar recipe. We know shea butter is softer than the other butters, so we'll use 30% beeswax and and 33% shea butter. But we don't want to use 33% borage oil or 33% calendula oil as they are kind of expensive and the suggested usage is up to 10% for each. We could throw in another exotic oil or two, but I'm thinking we could use an inexpensive carrier that offers moisturizing and contains lots of wonderful phytosterols and linoleic acid. Soy bean oil or rice bran oil would work beautifully here. 

30% beeswax
33% shea butter
10% borage oil
10% calendula oil
14% soy bean or rice bran oil
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil

If we wanted to use mango butter, we could substitute it for the shea butter, and you can substitute any oils for the oils used in either recipe.

Please click here for the oils & butters page with all the links and downloads! 

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating a new balm recipe! 


Madeaj said...

The shea butter bar with borage and calendula oils is just the recipe I was looking for. I had already looked through your pdf's on oils and butters and decided those would be perfect for my dad.

This is the balm bar I'm going to make next week.


Naomi said...

Do you have any Tamanu oil to add to your lotion bar for your dad? Tamanu reportedly heals scars. I have a burn that I've been treating with a similar lotion bar balm and it's healing nicely.

Madeaj said...

No I don't but I am going to get some for the next batch. I've been haunting on several online stores just looking at the description :-). It looks just right. Now I have a real reason to give into my product junky and buy some for my Dad.

I made the bars using jojoba oil, vitamin e and coconut oil. I love the way the straight oil feels on my skin. Not too greasy and I had some Aloe Butter so I used that and cocoa butter with a midge (technical term) of shea. I actually weighed everything in grams, I just don't have the weights with me as I write this. The bars turned out wonderful. I used foil cupcake for molds and they look pretty. Thanks Susan

Thanks Naomi for the suggestion of Tamanu oil.

Marina said...

Thank you for these wonderful recipes, Susan.

The "Shea Butter Lotion Bar with Borage and Calendula Oil" recipe totals to 109%. I think you meant to write 15% Soybean or Rice Bran Oil, not 24%. Please let us know for sure.

Thank you again for this wonderful blog!