Monday, November 26, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - whipped butters

Some of you will be surprised to learn that making whipped butters is incredibly easy* and something you could make for Christmas this year. It really is an easy project that doesn't take much time. What does take time is choosing the right oils and butters for the task. Then choosing some lovely packaging!

I've already written a really detailed post on making whipped butters so I won't go into the greatest of detail here before suggesting you click on the link...but I do have a few helpful hints! 

When it comes to choosing a butter, you really have two main choices - shea butter or mango butter. You can use cocoa butter, but you'll make a very very stiff butter that will have to be removed from the container with your nails! And you can use other butters, but why go stampeding for the more expensive ingredients if you're never used the staples? And they're staples for a good reason! Shea and mango butter feel quite lovely on our skin, but they are quite different in what they bring to your product.

Shea butter has a more greasy feel than mango butter, but it seems to be softer when whipped. Mango butter will feel less greasy, but it will create a stiffer product. Try the butter on your hand and see if you think it to be too greasy. If you do, choose a drier feeling oil like hazelnut, fractionated coconut oil, or macadamia nut oil.

When making products for the winter, my first choice is always a shea butter and soy bean oil combination. This is quite a greasy feeling whipped butter, but I love what it does for my elbows and legs in the colder months!

I get the cute swirl on my whipped butters by putting it into a piping bag with a 1M icing tip! I love the 1M icing tip! I use it for so many things! 

I encourage you to bookmark the Emollients - oils, butters & esters section of the blog if you're interested in learning more about oils and butters. Read a bit, then try the oil on your hand neat. Notice the skin feel, the viscosity, the smell of the oil. Write down your thoughts. Try another one, and so on. Eventually you'll learn what you like and don't like in an emollient!

As a final note, learn all about the shelf lives of the oils you use. If you go with shea butter, it has a two year life span from when you opened it! (Always write the date of opening on the container!) If you choose something like rice bran oil, you'll get a shelf life as long as the rice bran oil, up to one year. If you choose grapeseed, you will have 3 months or less. Make sure you put the suggested expiry date on your products!

Please choose your fragrances carefully. I know we all like essential oils, but they need to be treated with the utmost respect. Citrus based essential oils have the potential to increase sun sensitivity and minty oils probably aren't the best choice for products that go near mucous membranes like bath products. Make sure you are using them at safe usage levels. If in doubt, use fragrance oils instead. (Click here for the section of the blog about essential oils.)

*I know I talk a lot about honing your craft, learning all you can before selling, then I go and say that making whipped butters is easy. If you have a good recipe, it is easy. Melt slightly, put in freezer, take out, whip, package, rejoice. Creating a recipe from scratch, then tweaking it, is the hard work. You can find a recipe and make it, but what happens when you run out of that oil. The craftsmanship comes when we know how we can alter a recipe without actually trying it or being able to figure out what each oil brings to the party and so on. 

Previous Newbie Tuesday Christmas present posts....
Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - helpful hints
Newbie Tuesday: Creating Christmas presents - bath salts


Anonymous said...

How do you get it in the jar like that, it looks nice and neat. Mine's always a mess.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I put it into a piping bag with a 1M tip and pipe it into the jar. If I don't, it ends up pretty messy!

Unknown said...

Hi I didnt know where to post this so am asking it here. Can Tamarind seed powder be used in lotions or body butters just to thicken it a bit? Finding ingredients where I live is a nightmare! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi AJ. I have no idea. I would suggest that you ask the supplier from whom you bought the tamarind seed powder for more information. While you're there, I'd ask about the suggested usage rate, when to add it, any special considerations for preservation, and anything else you might think important. Sorry I can't be more helpful - I've used the liquid version of this extract, but not the powders.

Unknown said...

Thanks Susan. I've tried heating it dissolved it in water first, it turned like was wondering if it could be used in place of guar gum perhaps?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi A.J. Again, I have no idea. I've used the liquid version of this, but I can't even start to think about what you might do with the powder. I really encourage you to talk to your supplier and get all the information you can, including when to add it, how much to use, how to preserve it, and so on.

To be honest, I don't like thickening my products with things like guar gum or xanthan gum as I find the skinfeel is weird...

Unknown said...

Thank you Susan. Well let you know if I can do something useful with it

Anonymous said...

I'd love to make a creamy, fluffy, body butter using cocoa butter. My customers are partial to my cocoa butter soaps and have asked if I can formulate a body butter with it.

I know it 'should' go rock hard (and does, in my experience), but then, how does Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula keep their 'cocoa butter lotion' from going hard?

Aside from the silicones they use, plus parabens and other nasties, why couldn't we make a cocoa butter body cream/whipped butter without the problem of it solidifying?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Please put your name at the end of your post if you're going to be anonymous - it lets me know who you are!

As for Palmer's, it looks like it has very little cocoa butter in it. And I didn't see any parabens in the ingredient list for the product I saw at

If I'm not referring to the right product, could you please put a link in a comment so I'm not spending all day looking for it?

Are you new to the blog? If so, welcome! I do get a little worried when I see safe ingredients referred to as nasties. We have readers with many different philosophies, and I'd ask that you respect those perspectives. I don't want people who like parabens and silicones - like me - to feel judged by those who choose not to use them!

As for making something that wouldn't solidify, it would depend upon how much cocoa butter we use in the product. If you are using 5% to 10%, you won't have problems. 50% is going to be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

In order to make a whipped body butter, I have been reading up about the benefits of lots of different oils. I have come up with a recipe that includes four different types of butters (avocado, mango, shea, and aloe) and about 7 different types of oils (olive, sweet almond, coconut, argan, meadowfoam, macadamia nut, and castor), plus extracts! Because the recipe includes many different types of butters and oils, I will have to use each in fairly small quantities. My question is, how small a percentage is too small for the benefits of a certain oil to be cancelled out (if that's possible). Is there any kind of scientific/chemical drawback to using so many different types of oils? Or does it make a better whipped butter for the skin to include a little bit of everything?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Art! I've written a post on your question that will be ready on Monday. Here's the link for it - Question: Is it okay to use small amounts of lots of oils?

Anonymous said...

Hi,I have tried making the body butter recipe 80:20 Shea to oils but although the cream starts out lovely and soft it then hardens overnight. Would love to give as Christmas presents but want it to stay fluffy!!


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Toni. Then add more oils. You'll have to experiment to find the right ratio of oil to butter that keeps it fluffy.