April 23, 2014

Homemade cat shaped grease bar: A viable lotion replacement

Making lotion is not too hard, and quite interesting from a chemistry point of view. But it does take a little time and it is unfortunate that emulsifiers and preservatives are required. I read about anhydrous moisturizing products at the excellent Point of Interest! blog, and have wanted to try making such a product.

The basic formulation is pretty much like chap stick: 1/3 oil, 1/3 butter, and 1/3 wax as a starting point. The thought of rubbing a huge tube of lib balm all over myself was a touch intimidating, so to get everyone (well my daughters anyway) more excited to try the anhydrous lotion bars, I purchased a silicone hello kitty mold on Amazon. The cavities ended up being smaller than I had imagined, but we decided to give it a go.

We put 50g beeswax, 50g mango butter, and 50g coconut oil into a beaker. Luckily I had all this stuff on the shelf. Once you build up a basic inventory of these cosmetic type materials, they are useful for a number of products like soaps, lib balms, leather treatments, etc.

The beaker was heated on the stove until all components were melted and mixed well.

The kitty mold was filled up in all cavities with only a tiny bit left over.

The mold was placed in the freezer for a short time to hasten the solidification, since certain small people were very eager to try it out.

At first, the kitty bar is offputting. It does not much resemble using lotion. The basic recipe above makes a fairly hard, waxy, bar which you can't exactly rub yourself down with. My technique is to rub my hands rapidly together to generate some heat by friction, with the kitty bar between my palms. This gets a small amount of the material off onto the hands, which can then be used to rub it elsewhere. When applied in this way, it feels like you are putting almost no material on and it is difficult to distribute. For a little while afterwards, the applied areas feel just a little tacky.

But it does soak into the skin after a time, and then it is highly effective. Just a wash with water on your hands won't take it off as easily as a normal lotion comes off. Washing with soap necessitates a reapplication. I've even been using it on my face as a post shave moisturizer, and my skin feels buttery and vibrant.

I have been using the kitty bars exclusively for the past few months and found this type of product to be a workable, and in some ways even superior, replacement for lotion. It doesn't need emulsifier or preservative, and is very fast and easy to make. Lasts way longer than a similar volume of lotion. Very inexpensive, but homemade lotion is not that expensive either. You can also rub it on your lips while applying elsewhere.

This formulation might be ok for summer, but in winter it is too hard. So I'll try dropping the wax fraction next time. The glide is pretty poor, so perhaps I'll also try putting in some cetereyl alcohol which I have around from making lotion.


Bob Gates said...

very interesting, does skin actually absorb the lotion or does it just get sluffed of into cloths and bed sheets? The girls will grow to be very competent at just about everything.

Holly Gates said...

It does absorb, after a little while. I haven't noticed a big oil spot where I sleep yet anyway!

SunGold said...

What is "mango butter"? My imagination says it's a Body Shop lotion/butter/cream, but that makes no sense in this context.

Have you since tried reducing the amount of wax for a slightly softer product?

How do you like the coconut oil? I've sometimes found it drying.

All questions aside, I'm going to try this today - just as soon as I get a nice Hello Kitty (or other) cool tray!

Holly Gates said...

Mango butter is a blend of mostly triglycerides, with some tannins and polyphenols expeller pressed from the seeds of mangos:


I think I got mine from Amazon:

It is a fairly hard solid at room temp.

We still have not finished the first batch of kitty bars, but we have moved entirely to using kitty bar instead of lotion. Takes a little getting used to, but I like the result. I think the coconut oil has been fine. There is maybe four cats left in a bag in the freezer, so we will probably need to make some new bars in a month or two.