Whipped Shea Butter
You’ll need just four basic ingredients to create this decadent body butter. It’s not greasy, you don’t need to heat anything up, and half of the ingredients are easily substituted. If you’ve never made a whipped body butter before, or you just want to understand how they work a bit better, this post is a brilliant place to start.
What is whipped body butter?
We’ll start with a brief overview of what a whipped body butter is. Basically, it’s a soft butter that has been further softened with just enough liquid oil that it can be whipped up, and will stay soft and whippy throughout its life. If it’s too firm, the butter will seize after whipping and won’t be soft and scoopy. If it’s too soft, it’ll melt readily and won’t remain light and airy. Make sure you watch the video for a bit of a show-and-tell featuring different consistencies! Once you have that basic soft butter and oil blend down, you can incorporate other ingredients to customize the formulation (depending on what you’re incorporating, this may require adjusting the oil and butter ratios). Have fun experimenting!
This is a very simple body butter formulation, and that’s the point.
The shea butter in this formulation is the star ingredient—there’s more shea butter in this formulation than anything else. I’ve selected shea butter for this formulation because it’s very popular and easy to get. It’s also lovely on the skin! If I have dry, irritated skin, you’ll find me slathering myself in shea butter.
Shea butter provides the structure of the formulation; because it’s soft (rather than brittle, like cocoa butter), it provides a great base for a body butter that will be soft when it’s done.
We’re using sunflower oil to soften the shea to that just-right consistency, so it can be whipped up nicely and stay soft and beautiful. You could use any liquid oil (or blend of liquid oils & emollients) for instead of sunflower oil, but I do recommend choosing something that is relatively fast absorbing and has a nice skin feel (castor oil, for instance, would not be a great choice!). Good options include grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and jojoba oil. You could also try other liquid emollients like isopropyl myristate (IPM).
For all of shea butter’s strengths, it is a very slow absorbing butter, meaning products made with a lot of it can feel greasy and heavy on the skin. That’s where corn starch comes in! The starch counters the greasiness, making for a much lighter feeling finished product. If you don’t have corn starch you could easily use a different starch like arrowroot starch.
We include a small amount of vitamin E as an antioxidant, to extend the shelf life of the body butter by delaying the onset of rancidity. Because this formulation does not contain any water, no broad-spectrum preservative is required.
Weigh the shea butter into a small bowl that’s deep and large enough for whipping in. You’ll need an electric mixer fitted with one beater for batches 100g (3.5oz) and smaller (as written here). Start by mashing the shea butter up a bit with the beater to get it into smallish clumps, and then fire up your electric mixer and whip the shea until it is smooth and uniform.
Add the corn starch, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E. Stir/mash the mixture around a bit to roughly combine, and then whip away! You’re looking for the mixture to be whippy and smooth, and it will noticeably lighten in colour. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl and beater a few times to ensure a thorough, even blend.
Once the butter is lightweight and whippy, gently scoop it into a wide-mouthed tub or jar, and that’s it!
Shelf Life & Storage:
Because this body butter is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year or two before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
SUBSTITUTIONS & TROUBLESHOOTING
If your body butter is too hard, reduce the amount of shea butter and increase the liquid oil. If your body butter is too soft, reduce the amount of liquid oil and increase the shea butter. If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil or fragrance oil, reduce the liquid oil by 0.5% to make room for 0.5% essential oil of choice. Be sure to watch maximum usage rates for the specific essential oil(s) you are using.