Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Creating whipped butters - choosing your butter

I do love my whipped butters! The feeling of whipped shea butter on my horribly dry skin in the winter or after a long and too sunny camping trip makes me so happy. It really is amazing how simple they are to make, but as with anything in the creation of bath and body products, it's all about the ingredients. Choosing the right oil with the right butter can turn a whipped butter from "it's okay, I guess" to "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"

If you want to play along, but are just joining us, here are the previous Newbie Tuesday posts...

Newbie Tuesday: Learning about oils & butters - an introduction
Newbie Tuesday: Testing the skin feel of our oils
Newbie Tuesday: Creating a body oil
Newbie Tuesday: Pushing the schedule back - more thoughts on skin feel of our oils
Newbie Tuesday: What did you learn about the skin feel of your oils?
Emollients - oils, butters & esters

The basic recipe I use for a whipped butter is this...
80% butter
19% oil of some sort
1% fragrance or essential oil
and sometimes an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E if I think I might have it for a while.

You do not need to add a preservative to a whipped butter as it doesn't contain water. An anti-oxidant like Vitamin E at 0.5% is a good idea if you've used some very short lived oils - like grapeseed or hemp seed - or if you are making a large batch that you might have longer than six months. Since I tend to coat myself in the stuff and rarely have a 4 ounce/120 ml container last more than four weeks, I tend to leave the anti-oxidants out.

The first step is to choose the right butter. I generally start with shea butter because cocoa butter turns solid after whipping - and it's not fun to have to dig your nails into a container to get some loveliness out - and mango butter can get a bit dry and crumbly. This isn't to say that you can't use these butters - remember, the beauty of making our own bath and body products is that we can make whatever choices we wish - but we generally don't use them as the main butter in a product. Coconut oil is not suitable for this application as it melts at 76˚F (24.4˚C) and it won't hold its shape for very long, and I've found babassu oil can melt at lower temperatures, too. There are other butters you can choose - click here for those butter descriptions - but it seems like shea butter is the best place to start if you've never made a whipped butter before.

Here's a thing - shea butter can be quite greasy. It seems that the more refined the product becomes, the greasier it feels. If you like something a little less greasy feeling, then don't go for the ultra refined shea butter I prefer. Less refined versions might have an aroma to it, slightly to intensely smokey or nutty. (I don't like earthy smells - patchouli almost kills me! - so I don't tend to like unrefined shea butter!)

When it comes to the oils, it's all about the skin feel you want. Shea butter is generally very greasy feeling - the more refined it is, the greasier it seems to feel - so you'll have to do some experimenting to figure out the precise skin feel you want without compromising the whippiness of the product. As we saw in the previous posts about oils and skin feel, you tend to like things that feel less greasy, so the key to making an awesome whipped butter is to figure out which one will offer that less greasy feeling.

When considering the oil you like, consider what you learned about oils when you made your body oil. If you didn't like sunflower then, you're not going to like it now!  

I suggest trying your shea butter neat, which is to say, take a bit out of the package and try it on your hand or arm. Do what we did for the other oils - investigate it.

If you find your shea butter is grainy, we need to temper it first. Don't count on those grains going away without tempering it. (It might, but don't count on it!) Why does it get grainy? Because at some point the shea butter melted slightly and cooled down very slowly. Some of the fatty acids solidified into crystals, and others didn't. If we temper the shea butter, we make it less likely we'll get grains in the final product. (If you don't have grains, you don't have to worry about this process. And the less refined, the more likely it is you'll get grains. I use ultra refined and I have never had grains with it!)

Look at the different types of shea butter you can get! The first picture is of refined, the second of raw gold shea butter, (which I bought from Creations from Eden, before you ask!), and the third of organic unrefined. You can see there are some serious differences, eh?

If you want to use cocoa butter, I suggest melting it a bit and pouring it into some kind of mold - nothing fancy necessary, perhaps a cup - so you aren't rubbing shards on your skin. Notice when it starts to melt on your skin. Notice how hard it has become after melting. Ask yourself the questions below. How do you think this will feel as a whipped butter? How do you think you can get this out of the container?

And note that althought black cocoa butter looks and smells amazing, it isn't suitable ingredient for a leave on product. The colour really is that dark!

My first whipped butter was a cocoa butter whipped butter and it felt really lovely, but it was a serious pain to get out of the jar and I had to dig into it with my nails to get some out. I used 20% oil, 20% mango, and 60% cocoa butter for the second batch, and it was still really really hard, but I loved the skin feel after getting it out of the container, so I didn't mind. 

If you want to use mango butter, take some out of the container and rub it on your skin. How does it look? How easy was it to get out of the container? When did it melt on your skin? How do you think this will feel as a whipped butter?

Now that you've introduced yourself to your butters, think about a few questions that will help you decide which butter will be the star of your lovely whippiness...
  • Is this a greasy or dry feeling butter? Did it melt upon skin contact? Is it silky? Did it feel draggy (meaning did you have to put some effort into rubbing it into your skin)?
  • Is it soft or brittle or somewhere in between?
  • How did the butter look?
  • How did it smell? Did you like the smell? Will you have cover it up with a fragrance or could you leave it unscented?
  • How easy was it to get out of the container?
  • Was it grainy? Did you have to temper it?
  • How does it feel when applying it? After 5 minutes? After 10 minutes? After 30 minutes? After two hours?
And so on.

As I mentioned before, cocoa butter isn't the best choice for a whipped butter. It'll keep its shape well, but it's hard to get out of the container. By all means try it, but be aware that it will be quite hard. I suggest trying it at up to 30% with another butter...but that's just my opinion. We're here to help you develop what you like, so try what you want here! 

If you find it is greasy feeling, you can reduce that by adding a less greasy feeling oil. If you find it's too dry, add a greasier feeling oil. If it feels heavy, add a lighter feeling oil.

If you have a butter that has an INCI of hydrogenated vegetable oil and something like "avocado oil" or the Latin name for it, that's not a real butter as such. It's oil that has been turned into a butter by using something like Lipidthix. You can use this butter to your heart's content, but check that it can be melted well. Sometimes these things come apart when you melt them, something I found with soy butter and shea-aloe butter.

Wow, that was a long post! Let's take today to think about what oils we might like to add to our whipped butters and reconvene here tomorrow around the same time to make our whipped butter!


Michele Clarke said...

Butters! I have tried Mango and Shea. While loved mango with avocado oil, I discovered through trial and error I itch from mango. I switched the liquid oil thinking it was avocado last year.

I was very excited when I mixed some silicones with my last batch. However I used mango instead of shea. I really thought I ditched the mango. Silicones really make a difference. WOW. My husband now uses it.

I tried Cocoa in products I purchased and some lip balms and really don't like the feel. In lip balms I feel I have to keep reapplying.

Shea doesn't feel greasy to me. I love it! ;-)

In large amounts it can stain clothing. I tested on an old shirt and it left some grease marks even after pretreating the area. I use it neat that time and smeared it in.

I can't use shea in my sugar scrub. My face really broke out and I am still trying to balance my skin again.

Diane said...

Absolutely right about the seabuckthorn berry - 3 drops per fl oz of blend is about right I think. If that's not enough just add a drop of the straight stuff to the lotion to be applied, to taste.
What I liked last summer, if you already have a moderate amount of sun color, is a 50/50 combination of rose hip and tamanu (calophyllum inophyllum) and dilute if desired with sesame.

I am a definite fan of kukui - another big tropical nut, like tamanu, bound to be good for your skin.

and I must have the go-to squalane, blended or straight - this "olive oil liposol" is light as water. Not sure about the -ane or -ene but get the olive oil, not the shark's liver extraction.

For whipped butter day, I just got some, so I'm going to try mango butter and sesame oil, different proportions. Can't wait!

Lise M Andersen said...

Oooh! Love Dianes Squalane idea! I do a lot of whipped butters and am partial to shea with a titch of cocoa butter and a mix of drier oils. Agree with you Susan about dark cocoa butter! It's great in a cream cleanser though (looks and smells divine)

Chaeya said...

I've never done a whipped butter before, so I'm interested in trying. I use mainly unrefined shea butter a lot, but I believe it may be a bit too grainy and dark for what I would like to see. I have Mango and Coco Butter, but again I agree that knowing my taste, I won't like these whipped. I would like to try some refined or ultra refined shea for that, as I really like the feel of those. I don't mind the greasiness and I can easily offset it if I want with other oils and ingredients.

Looking forward to playing with this.

Anonymous said...

Hi chaeya
I love shea butter too but the one i have has such astrong smell! How do you manage with yours?


Stephany&Stacia said...

Thanks so much for this post! Especially describing the different butters! My first attempt at body butter was just cocoa butte and coconut oil. Like you said about cocoa butter it was way too hard, and the coconut oil was way to oily, but it was EV food grade coconut oil so I added sugar and it turned into the best cupcake frosting ever! :)

Anyways, my question is could we make lotions with butters instead of oils? Like if I wanted to try 20% shea, 8% natramulse and 72% water,and hydrosols? Also, if possible, do you think it could be something nice or not?

Thanks for everything Susan!

Michele Clarke said...

Stephanie that will be very thick. I used 15% and I barely could squeeze it out of the Malibu container

Stephany&Stacia said...

Thanks Michele,
So maybe 5 - 10% butter? 90 - 95% water and hydrosols? Do you think that would work?

Birgit said...


I have been reading your blog for a long time and have been a big fan. Thanks! Here's my question, the summer has been really hot here in Pacific Northwest, and all my butters melt. Which is fine, except that in many cases they separate and solidify "in layers". I have tweaked my recipe many times, trying to get it to stay solid, but having no luck. So is there a way to have a whipped body butter (anhydrous) that would not melt in warm weather? I have been adding more and harder solid oils (cocoa butter, shea). I have even been adding emulsifiers (and I actually quite like the feel of it when used on wet skin), but even those melt. I am losing hope. The good thing is that fall is coming, so my problems will be over for the next nine months :-) But change of weather isn't the real answer. So if you have any advice on the topic, I would be thrilled.
P.S. I have also worked on whipped personal lubricant (basically cocoa butter and coconut oil with a few additions) and massage butter, and those also melt from beautiful white fluff into sad separated puddle with some foam on top. So not very sexy.
Thanks again for this amazing blog.