This simple DIY shea butter lotion recipe (made with just 3 ingredients) is the perfect moisturizer for the whole body, face included, and may be used for acne-prone and aging skin.

I’ll guide you, step-by-step, through how to make shea butter lotion, using shea butter and no coconut oil (because coconut oil can and will clog pores). The final product is a non-greasy, 100% natural moisturizer, with a creamy consistency and skin-soothing properties.

Scooping shea butter lotion from a clear glass jar using pointer finger.
Shea Butter Lotion: Use on hands, feet, face, arms, and legs,

This recipe is used just like store-bought body lotions: to moisturize the face, hands, feet, legs, arms. Technically, this is more of a homemade body butter recipe: a thick moisturizing cream versus a pumpable lotion. (Make pumpable lotion recipe here.)

But whatever you call it, it’s one thing: AMAZING!

What is Shea Butter?

Shea butter comes from the “nut” (or pit) of the fruit found on the Karite Tree. It is soft, compared to cocoa butter, and has a strong scent when it’s purchased in an unrefined state.

I use unrefined shea butter in body-care recipes, but if you don’t care for the (natural) fragrance, I recommend using refined shea butter. Shea butter softens and moisturizes the skin, making it perfect for homemade lotion, shaving cream, and lip balm.

Homemade shea butter lotion in a clear glass jar on a bathroom counter.
Shea butter has many skin care benefits.

Benefits of Shea Butter

Shea butter is the main ingredient used to make homemade body lotion and many other skin care products.

  • It’s naturally rich in vitamins and fatty acids, like vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • It contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It’s ideal for sensitive skin and as an anti-aging product. There’s even evidence that shea butter could help with wrinkles.
  • Shea butter helps to combat dry skin. It’s an emollient: traps moisture on the skin without clogging pores. There’s also some evidence to suggest that it may help to alleviate eczema symptoms and soften scar tissue. Source: Medical News Today
  • Shea butter contains stearic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid, that allows the butter to spread smoothly on skin without tension. This makes it ideal for a body and face moisturizer since it will melt right into the skin!

I personally use shea butter moisturizer every night before bed. And I’ve seen the texture and softness of my skin improve.

How to Make

Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup unrefined raw shea butter
  • (optional) 15 drops essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons nourishing carrier oil (sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil)
  • (optional) 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • 4 ounce glass jar for storage
  • medium-size heat-safe mixing bowl
  • electric mixer: stand mixer with whisk attachment, hand mixer, or fork
  • medium-size sauce pan

Step-By-Step Instructions

Here’s the best way to make shea butter lotion, step by step.

Melt the shea butter in a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with water.
Step 1: Melt shea butter in a DIY double boiler.

Step 1: Melt Shea Butter

Heat the shea butter to melt it, don’t burn it. To avoid burning the shea butter, create a DIY double boiler. This will allow you to melt the shea butter without it directly touching the heat.

Place a medium-size glass bowl  over a sauce pan filled 1/4 the way full with water. The glass bowl should sit just on top of the saucepan, without touching the water in the pan.

Over medium heat, allow the water in the saucepan to simmer. Then add the shea butter and melt.

Once the shea butter has fully melted (about 2-3 minutes), turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the heat.

Add carrier oil to the shea butter in the double boiler.
Step 2: Add nourishing carrier oil to the shea butter.

Step 2: Add Nourishing Carrier Oil

Stir 1 teaspoon of arrowroot starch into the liquid oil of choice (grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, OR jojoba oil) and whisk to combine. Pour the oil (and arrowroot starch whisked in, if using) into the shea butter.

You can skip the arrowroot starch and add the oil directly to the shea butter at this step. The arrowroot creates a non-greasy lotion.

Step 3: Cool in the Fridge

At this point, the shea butter and oil mixture should be cooler (along with the bowl).

If not, allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then place the mixture in the fridge and allow it to solidify (about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on location in the fridge and temperature). 

Alternatively, speed up the process by placing the bowl in the freezer.

Adding drops of essential oil to the cooled shea butter and carrier oil mixture.
Step 4: Add essential oils to the cooled shea butter and carrier oil.

Step 4: Add Essential Oils

Once the mixture is opaque and firm (not solid as a rock), remove the bowl from the fridge.

Add the essential oil (or a combination of essential oils) of choice, if desired. Add up to 15 drops of skin-safe essential oils to this mixture. A few of my favorite essential oils to add are listed in the recipe below.

Whipping the lotion mixture with a fork.
Step 5: Whip the cooled shea butter mixture with a fork or electric mixer.

Step 5: Whip the Shea Butter

Use the whisk attachment and an electric mixer, hand mixer, or a fork to whisk the mixture until it appears “whipped.” This doesn’t take very long, just a few seconds using a mixer and a bit longer with a fork.

Spooning lotion into a glass jar.
Step 6: Spoon the lotion into a storage jar.

Step 6: Spoon Lotion into a Jar

Now you get to enjoy this amazing homemade lotion recipe and all its benefits (we’ll talk about the awesome benefits in a minute). Or, share the lotion as a gift.

Choose a beautiful glass jar and spoon your creation into the jar. Add a label, if desired. And store the lotion at room temperature in a cool place (like a bathroom cabinet) for up to 6 months.

Carrier oils: grapeseed oil, jojoba, and sweet almond oil.
Carrier oils: sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, and jojoba oil.

How to Choose a Carrier Oil

You can use shea butter alone as a body and face moisturizer, or you can mix it with a carrier oil to make a whipped body butter recipe or lotion (like this recipe).

Here’s what I recommend for a nourishing carrier oil to mix with the shea butter. The options absorb easily in the skin, making them the best options for a non-greasy lotion.

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil is made from a shrub that grows in Northern Mexico and the Southeast US. Jojoba is an emollient: a natural moisturizer that softens and moisturizes skin. Jojoba is the closest to our skin’s natural oil, making it ideal for all skin types.

Grapeseed Oil: This oil comes from pressed grape seeds. It has high amounts of fatty acids, vitamin E, and antibacterial properties. Grapeseed oil may be a great option for aging skin and for those with acne-prone skin.

Sweet Almond Oil: Made from sweet almonds and rich in vitamin A & E, fatty acids, and proteins.

Virgin Coconut oil is also an option, but as I’ll share in a minute, I don’t care for using coconut oil on my face. If you’re just using this lotion on your body, coconut oil may be a good option.

Spreading lotion on hands.
Scoop lotion from jar and use your hands to warm the lotion and spread it on your body and face.

How to Use

Scoop a small amount of shea butter lotion out of the jar using your finger, then rub between your hands. The heat from your hands will soften the shea butter. Massage into your skin: face, arms, legs, feet, dry patches, etc.

A little goes a long way.

For the face, apply this moisturizer after cleansing (my favorite natural face cleansers) and toning (a spritz of rose water is my favorite). If you use any serums, apply a facial serum before applying the lotion.

Lotion in glass jars on a cutting board.
Store the shea butter lotion in a glass jar, at room temperature, for up to 6 months.

What’s the Shelf Life?

This natural lotion recipe doesn’t use any preservatives. Store-bought lotions add preservatives to formulas out of necessity. Without a preservative, mold and other bacteria will grow in a water-based lotion.

This recipe doesn’t need a preservative because it doesn’t use water in the formula. This means you can make a long lasting moisturizing lotion, without using any preservatives and don’t need to worry about mold growth. Woohoo!

Store the final product at room temperature, in a cool dry place, for up to 6 months. I recommend keeping homemade shea butter lotion away from heat, like a hot steamy shower, since it will melt slightly. This recipe is intended for home use; not to be sold commercially.

Essential oils being held in the palm of a hand over a jar of lotion.
Add essential oils for their scent and beneficial properties.

How to Add Essential Oils

If you want to scent your own lotion, essential oils are the best way to do this! Along with their scent, essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin for nourishment, and provide antibacterial and soothing properties.

Add one essential oil or a combination of essential oils, totally 15 drops, to this lotion recipe. The best essential oils for homemade lotion are…

  • Roman Chamomile 
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Jasmine
  • Carrot Seed
  • Rose 
  • Lavender
  • Tea tree 
  • Sandalwood 
  • Geranium   
White homeamde moisturizing lotion in a jar on a bed of white towels in a basket.
This lotion is made without coconut oil so it doesn’t clog pores!

Lotion Without Coconut Oil, Here’s Why

You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t use any coconut oil. A lot of lotion and homemade whipped body butter recipes rely heavily on coconut oil.

Coconut oil is not the cure-all. Gasp, I know. That statement is practically heresy in the natural living community. Toothpaste? Coconut oil. Smoothies? Yep, coconut oil. A boo-boo? More coconut oil. We use it for everything! I’ve learned the magical oil isn’t always suitable for every need.

Many years ago, I decided it was time to ditch the toxins found in our bathroom. From lotions to body wash to makeup, the amounts of toxins I put on my body was astounding. With the urge for simplicity and natural living, I started developing my own replacements for things like foundation powder and lotion.

One of my very first DIYs was a simple homemade moisturizer using coconut oil. After a few weeks of using this moisturizer on my face, I experienced multiple break outs, daily peeling, and dry skin patches. Here’s why…

There’s nothing wrong with coconut oil, but from a skin care perspective, it’s not the best moisturizer option for the face. If you use it on your face, it’s likely to clog pores and cause breakouts due to its chemical composition.

Shea butter does not clog pores and is the best moisturizer option. So skip the coconut oil on your face and instead turn to shea butter and a non-clogging carrier oil!

6 More Ways to Use Shea Butter

White homeamde moisturizing lotion in a jar on a bed of white towels in a basket.
4.75 from 94 votes

Homemade Moisturizing Shea Butter Lotion Recipe (Without Coconut Oil)

A non-greasy homemade ultra-moisturizing lotion perfect for the body and face, made with shea butter and no coconut oil. All natural!
Kristin Marr
Prep Time10 mins
Chill30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course DIY, Homemade
Cuisine Beauty
Servings 4 ounce jar
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • 1 electric mixer or fork
  • 1 medium-size heat safe bowl
  • 1 medium-size sauce pan
  • 1 4-ounce glass storage jar (or larger)

Ingredients

Instructions

Step 1: Melt Shea Butter

  • To melt the shea butter, make a DIY double boiler. This will allow you to melt the shea butter without it directly touching the heat.
  • Place a medium-size glass bowl over a sauce pan filled 1/4 the way full with water. The glass bowl should sit just on top of the saucepan, without touching the water in the pan.
    Making a double boiler by placing a glass bowl on top of a sauce pan.
  • Over medium heat, allow the water in the saucepan to simmer. Then add the shea butter and melt.
    Melt the shea butter in a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with water.
  • Once the shea butter has fully melted (about 2-3 minutes), turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the heat.

Step 2: Add Nourishing Carrier Oil

  • Stir 1 teaspoon of arrowroot starch into the liquid oil of choice (grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, OR jojoba oil) and whisk to combine. Pour the oil (and arrowroot starch whisked in, if using) into the shea butter.
    Adding arrowroot powder to a bowl of carrier bowl.
  • NOTE: You can skip the arrowroot starch and add the oil directly to the shea butter at this step. The arrowroot creates a non-greasy lotion.

Step 3: Cool

  • At this point, the shea butter and oil mixture should be cooler (along with the bowl). If not, allow it to rest for a few minutes.
  • Place the mixture in the fridge and allow it to solidify (about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on location in the fridge and temperature). Alternatively, speed up the process by placing the bowl in the freezer.

Step 4: Add Essential Oils

  • Once the mixture is opaque and firm (not solid as a rock), remove the bowl from the fridge.
  • Add the essential oil (or a combination of essential oils) of choice, if desired. Add up to 15 drops of skin-safe essential oils to this mixture. A few of my favorite essential oils to add are listed in the recipe above. You can add your favorite essential oil or oils, not the ones listed above (if desired).
    Adding drops of essential oil to the cooled shea butter and carrier oil mixture.

Step 5: Whip

  • Use the whisk attachment and an electric mixer, hand mixer, or a fork to whisk the mixture until it appears "whipped." This doesn't take very long, just a few seconds using a mixer and a bit longer with a fork.
    Whipping the lotion mixture with a fork.

Step 6: Store

  • Choose a beautiful glass jar (4 ounces or larger) and spoon your creation into the jar. Add a label, if desired. And store the lotion at room temperature in a cool place (like a bathroom cabinet) for up to 6 months.
    Spooning lotion into a glass jar.

Video

Notes

*The essential oils listed are what I originally played around with and used. Feel free to use other skin-friendly essential oils. You can also make this lotion without using any essential oils. Other options: 
  • Roman Chamomile 
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Jasmine
  • Carrot Seed
  • Rose 
  • Lavender
  • Tea tree 
  • Sandalwood 
  • Geranium 
Rushed for time? Try This: Skip the melting stage in this particular recipe. Simply whip the nourishing oil and shea butter together, adding more oil if needed. I’ve done this before when I didn’t have any time to melt and cool the ingredients.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

FAQs

The best way to make a non-greasy lotion with shea butter is to add arrowroot starch. Add 1 teaspoon of arrowroot starch to the carrier oil, then add the mixture to melted shea butter and stir. If you’ve already made the lotion and didn’t add arrowroot, melt the lotion again and add arrowroot to the liquid, then chill and whip.

Store the lotion in a cool, dry place, like a bathroom cabinet. Storing in a warm, humid place (like a shower) may cause the lotion to melt slightly, but shouldn’t cause the lotion to melt entirely. It would take a very hot environment to melt the entire jar of lotion.

As long as water isn’t added to the homemade lotion, you don’t need to add a preservative. The addition of water causes mold and bacteria to grow. Use the lotion/body butter within 6 months. Learn about the safety of making homemade products here.

Yes! You can use a combination of mango butter, shea butter, and cocoa butter in this recipe. Use a total of 1/2 cup of butters. This body butter guide will help you combine different butter and oils to make a customized body butter/lotion.

I don’t recommend adding beeswax to this recipe as it will make it too hard to scoop and spread on the skin. Instead, you can make homemade lotion bars using beeswax.

549 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hey Kristin, this is very much what I’m looking for. I have eczema and it gets extremely dry, inflammed, and itchy for weeks on end
    I’ve been using grapeseed oil and shea nut oil, sometimes mixing them. Do you think it would be ok to follow your proportions using shea oil instead of butter?
    I fought eczema for more than 2 years with damaging topical steroids but have finally been off of them since January, but with lots of challenges. I appreciate your insight and natural solutions!

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