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.

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

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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.

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.

Before You Get Started: Ingredients & Tools

The natural ingredients can be found at most health food stores or online via Amazon. Each ingredient is carefully chosen for its natural moisturizing properties.

  • 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

Video Recipe Tutorial

How to Make Shea Butter Lotion: 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.

How do you make non-greasy shea butter lotion? Adding arrowroot starch, which is similar to cornstarch, is the best option. You’ll find this ingredient in the baking section at most grocery stores or online. This ingredient may also be used in cooking: make almond flour cookies and waffles or thicken stir-fry sauce.

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   

Essential Oils to Avoid: Avoid citrus essential oils (like lemon or orange essential oil) if you plan to wear this lotion during the day when exposed to the sun. Citrus essential oils are photosensitive and can cause your skin to develop a rash or sunburn.

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!

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.

6 More Ways to Use Shea Butter

White homeamde moisturizing lotion in a jar on a bed of white towels in a basket.
4.80 from 137 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 minutes
Chill30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
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!

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571 Comments

  1. OK. I live in an area where stuff like shea butter & essential oils are very expensive or non existing. I’ve had pretty good sucess in making my own oils. However finding shea butter, beeswax & stuff like the are impossible. There are weight restriction on shipping & somewhat expensive. So, what should I use instead?

  2. 4 stars
    Hi Kristin,

    We were delighted to find this without coconut oil, but after making it with the 1 tsp of arrowroot powder as suggested, the finished product is HARD! It’s not soft and buttery like we had hoped. What can we do to improve this? We both have incredibly dry skin out here in the desert and cannot use coconut oil as it stays greasy for hours and hours (though this one isn’t too far from that using almond oil). I almost think our skin is hydrophobic LOL! Thanks in advance,
    Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon,

      I’m so sorry this product didn’t work for you. Can you try it without the arrowroot powder to see if that helps with the consistency? That should make it not as hard. Im sorry for the dry skin! Come to FL to get all the moisture you want! lol.

      Here is also another recipe that doesn’t use coconut oil: https://livesimply.me/smooth-homemade-lotion/

      Please let us know if that helps or if there’s any other questions!

      LS Team.

  3. Hey all,

    So I’m super new to making DIY lotions and things at home, and I had never made anything with shea butter before this. The shea butter recommended in the site (and maybe all raw/super natural shea butters?) has a *very* strong and distinct smell, and if you happen to not like that smell, it really isn’t going to be covered up by your EOs. Just a note – it seems like the lotion would feel nice for sure but I don’t think I will keep it as it just smells so terrible to me.

      1. Thank you! I may give that a try. Really not you all’s fault, I just didn’t know what I was getting into with the shea butter haha! Lesson learned. 🙂 I appreciate the recommendation and follow-up!

  4. 5 stars
    My skin gets so dry this time of year. Thanks for the simple homemade moisturizer recipe with just a few natural ingredients. Perfect!

  5. 5 stars
    Hello Kristin –
    I am looking forward to trying your recipe. I do not include Coconut oil or Cocoa Butter in any of my recipes. My choices include Shea and Kokum butters, Sweet almond and Jojoba oils. I live in south Texas so beeswax is also an ingredient. Also I find the ‘stand-up’ mixer really helps when you have to whip for over 10 minutes. There are a few inexpensive ‘stand-up’ mixers in the marketplace, that do just as well as the high priced ones.
    I like the way you write your articles. Thanks for sharing. Here’s wishing you much success. Regards

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Kristin, I’m eager to try this recipe. I’m actually wanting to augment it with zinc oxide because I’ve had basal cell issues on my face and am allergic to chemical spf ingredients in commercial products. Can you think of any reason the shea butter version of your moisturizer recipe couldn’t be modified with the zinc?

      1. Thanks Kristin! I’m having a hard time determining how much to use and am wondering also if the zinc oxide will appear make the cream noticeably white on my skin. I want to use your simple and easy recipe as a daily facial moisturizer.

    1. Hey Siam, It will be on the harder side. That’s normal. But over-whipping will just put it over the top, so to speak. To use, just scoop some and then let your body heat (from your fingers/hands) soften the mixture before applying.

  7. I just read ALL comments. I’m allergic to coconut, shea, aloe, almond stuff. I took notes & will try many suggestions in comments. My skin is super dry (no hormones left at 70). Desperately need moisturizers for face, hands & body. My toddler grandson has skin problems too. I’m also want a pure deodorant. Any reply appreciated.

    1. Hey Rose, As long as you use a detergent (like Sal Suds or a dish soap) and warm water, it’s not too hard to clean out the jars. Anything that will cut the oil/butters.

  8. Hi. This is the first time im using shea butter. I made this today and really made my skin silky soft. But I do have a doubt.
    I feel i overwhipped my cream and it looks very solid (at 23*C room temperature) but wen i apply it, it melts fast and gives a greasy feeling. Is this supposed to be this way? I dont mind it on my body, but for my face it is too thick I feel.
    What should I do?

  9. Kristin! I made your hand lotion but when mixing the oil and water It did not turn out so well. Could you take the temp of the water and oils when you make the lotion and let me know please/

    Thank you
    Charmaine

  10. 5 stars
    Hello Kristin, a few days ago I made this recipe and love it, except it is a little too greasy for me. I know you mention adding arrowroot powder to help with that. But, I didn’t have any arrowroot powder at the time. So, I picked some up at the store today and wondered if I could just add a tsp. of it directly to the cream and mix it or should I re-melt the lotion and then add? Thank you for this recipe, I will be making it often.

    1. Hey Allison, I’m not sure if adding the powder once everything is mixed will work. If it’s too greasy to use, it’s worth a try. Another recommendation is to use to a very, very small amount of the lotion at a time. A little of bit of it goes a long way. That may help, too.