“Love the skin you’re in.” Though it may be cliche, take a moment to think about why you wouldn’t want to take care of your body’s biggest organ. After all, your skin is one of the first things others notice about you, so it pays to keep it in the best shape possible.
There’s just one problem. Most of us do a pretty terrible job of tending to our skin. Sure, we slather on some sunscreen on a hot summer day or casually rub in lotion during winter dry spells, but few people take the time to think about what’s really going on their skin. That’s a mistake. Your skin does more than look pretty, it’s actually a natural barrier, the first line of defense that keeps toxins from the outside world from getting inside you. However, your skin is far more permeable than most people notice.
Think of a nicotine patch. It works by allowing trace amounts of addictive chemicals to be absorbed directly through the skin and into the bloodstream. Just as skin is no barrier against a flood of nicotine, it also doesn’t prevent any other chemical from going through. This means that any chemical product you put on your body (bug spray, lotions, makeup) have every possibility of flowing through your bloodstream.
If that doesn’t scare you, it should.
Using Conventional Lotions? Think Again.
In today’s world, smelling amazing is no guarantee that something’s actually good for you. Your lavender scented lotion might be a pretty purple color and even come with flowers on the label, but chances are that most of the contents of that bottle never came close to a plant.
Below are some of the common chemicals used in conventional lotions and their effects on your body and the planet.
Paraffin: Made from petroleum, this chemical is known for coating your skin in a thin plastic covering, clogging pores and building up toxins along the way.
Parabens: A common cosmetic preservative in over 10,000 beauty products, parabens have been shown in studies to have connections with cancer, and they disrupt your body’s endocrine system by mimicking the hormone estrogen.
Propylene Glycol: Used as a moisturizer in many lotions, propylene glycol has been shown to inhibit skin cell growth and cause irritation, and some evidence points to it causing kidney and liver abnormalities.
Sodium laurel sulfate: Over 90% of personal care products have some form of sodium laurel, a chemical known for breaking down your skin’s moisture barrier so that it (and other chemicals) can easily get into your bloodstream. Studies have shown that SLS can lead to hair loss.
Ready to exchange these icky products for something a little less toxic? Keep reading to learn about the importance of taking care of your skin the natural way.
Natural Body Butters: The Quality Comes from the Ingredients
When it comes to taking care of your skin, nothing can compare to a natural body butter. Actually, “body butter” is a general term used to describe dozens of different body creams that are dense and full of nutrients that add extra hydration to your skin. Most body butters are filled with essential oils, vitamins, and nutrients that make them invaluable in a skin care routine. There is a huge range of ingredients that can be used to make body butters, all of which have distinct benefits that make them useful in a variety of ways.
In most cases, body butters are made from cold pressed oils that are extracted from nuts, seeds and fruits, and then combined with fatty acids and other forms of oil to thicken the consistency. Most body butters are solids at room temperature that melt from your skin’s heat when you slather them on, creating a deeply moisturizing treatment that lasts for hours.
Some of the best benefits of natural body butters are described below.
- Plenty of Moisture: Skin sucks in everything you put on it, but thankfully natural body butters will provide nothing but hydration. Nut-based butters are filled with emollients that provide skin soothing moisture long after conventional lotions have quit.
- Protection: The thick ingredients in body butters form a protective barrier over your skin to keep moisture in check. This prevents you from drying out in heat, hot sun or cold winter air that otherwise sucks away moisture. Instead of relying on parabens like other products, natural butters take advantage of the natural emollients found in nuts and seeds to trap moisture deep into the fatty layers of your skin for optimal moisture protection.
- Skin Nourishing Vitamins: No matter the type, body butters are rich in omega 3 fats that benefit you both inside and out. These highly moisturizing fatty acids help keep inflammation in check and make vitamins far more accessible for your skin to absorb.
- Reduce Wrinkles: Allowing your skin to dry out is a quick way to start looking old and faded. A better option is to protect yourself with moisturizing body butters that help your skin retain its elasticity so you keep a healthy glow, no matter your age.
- Softer Skin: Chronic, chapped skin is no problem when combated with the moisturizing power of homemade body butter. Regular treatments of this rich cream can eliminate dry, cracked skin and even clear up chronic conditions like eczema. Just slather on some body butter immediately after showering and your skin will stay noticeably softer throughout the day.
- Affordable: Are you currently paying a small fortune for your skin care products? Switching over to homemade body butters will save you money, and you’ll get to control exactly what goes in them.
- Cuticle Saver: If your cuticles look ragged much of the time, a gentle coating of body butter will help them stay hydrated and healthy, getting your nails back to top shape in no time.
- Stretch Mark Solution: Having children can be brutal for your body, but a little body butter can make those scars a little less visible. Regular treatments of body butter help the skin to heal and regenerate, which means you can hide the appearance of stretch marks before they get out of control.
Top Ingredients for Making Homemade Body Butter
There are so many ways you can make your own body butter, you’re truly limited only by your creativity. Whether you choose to stick to staple ingredients like coconut and shea butter or opt for something a little more exotic like cupuacu or jojoba butter, the possibilities of what you can do is endless.
While it’s usually best to plan on using a ration of 75% solid to 25% liquid oil for your natural butter, the oils listed below are some of the best to invest in when first getting started.
Almond Butter: You want to lick yourself all day when you make a butter with sweet almond oil. This thick, rich butter is great for moisturizing and is a smart way to hydrate a dry scalp.
Cocoa Butter: Known for being a highly stable fat, cocoa butter can last on your shelve for years and is flush with natural antioxidants. A silky smooth texture and delicate fragrance makes it useful for a wide range of products, and pregnant women have been relying on cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks for centuries. Because of the high moisture content of cocoa butter, it’s not always a great choice for oily skinned people.
Shea Butter: Definitely one of the most popular butters available today, shea butter has a unique fatty acid composition that makes it versatile for many products, including dry skin, massage creams, and sun protection. A great all around oil, everyone can benefit from a little shea butter in their life.
Jojoba Butter: If you need an intensive moisturizing boost that only the best can get you, jojoba oil is worth checking out. Perfect for treating eczema and psoriasis, jojoba oil works well on all skin types.
Coconut Oil: With a melting point so low it’s practically a liquid at room temperature, coconut oil gives your body a delicious tropical smell and is great for treating troubling dry spots.
Cupuacu Butter: Made from the cupuacu fruit (commonly grown in Brazil) cupuacu butter is a perfect ingredient to add to your homemade hair conditioner, though it should be used sparingly on your skin if you tend to be oily.
Two Ways to Make Your Own Natural Body Products
Interested in making your own body butter? These recipes will get you started!
Extra Hydration Body Butter
You could truly spend weeks trying out recipes for different types of body butter, but for your first batch, you’ll want to go for something as nourishing as possible. This recipe combines four types of butters into one batch in order to get you maximum skin hydration. Great for babies or anyone with sensitive skin, this butter also makes a good gift.
Take half a cup each of shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil, and olive oil, and combine them all into a double boiler on medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it all melts and remove it from the heat. If you’re looking for a particular scent, you can add between 10 to 30 drops of essential oil. Put the entire mixture into the fridge and let it cool for an hour, or to the point where it starts to harden but is still pliable. Take a hand mixer and whip the batch for 10 minutes until fluffy, after which it should be put back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Once set and somewhat hardened, you can store your butter in a glass jar with a secure lid and use it like any regular lotion. So long as your home is less than 75 degrees F, the butter will stay whipped. Any hotter than that, and you should store it in the fridge between uses.
Homemade Hand Lotion:
While not truly a body butter recipe, this lotion uses all natural ingredients for a hydrating blend that is too good to miss out on. Body lotion and body butter are more similar than they are different, but the difference comes from the liquid content. Lotions sometimes contain up to 70% water, and the moisturizing effects don’t go as deeply or last as long as body butters. Even so, lotions are great when your skin needs a quick pick me up but doesn’t want all the excess hydration of a true body butter.
Instead of water, this recipe relies on oil for its texture, making it more hydrating than other versions. To make your own lotion, combine a half cup of liquid oil (almond works well), with a quarter cup each of coconut oil and beeswax. Melt them together in a double boiler, stirring constantly so nothing burns. Once everything melts, add a teaspoon of Vitamin E and a few drops of essential oil. Pour the mixture into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, and dip in whenever you need an extra hydration boost. This product is best used within six months.
Simple Tips For Using Natural Body Products
Using body butters and lotions is a fairly straightforward process. In essence, you put a little butter on your hands and rub it in where you want it. Even so, the tips below can help answer some of your questions about use.
- Body butters are super concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Take a tiny amount and carefully warm it with your hands before putting it on your body so that it absorbs more easily into your skin.
- The kinds of butter you purchase for your body butter is crucial. Look carefully on labels for terms like “unrefined,” “crude,” and “cold pressed,” as these are signs that the oil was extracted through natural methods, not high heat that destroys the butter’s natural nutrients.
- So long as you store your butter in an airtight container, it should last for a year or more.
Your skin does a lot for you, so it pays to take care of it. By relying on natural skin care remedies like body butters, you’ll be keeping your body’s biggest organ in top shape. Add some homemade body butter to your skin care routine, and your skin will stay hydrated, healthy and beautiful, at almost no cost to you.