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Body Butter or Body Cream

What is the difference between a butter and a cream? Put very simply, it’s the addition of water to the formula.

It’s actually a bit more complicated than adding water, because once you add water, you must use an emulsifier and preservative. It’s also nice, but not absolutely necessary, to include a humectant such as Sodium Lactate, Glycerin, Hydrovance, or a combination.

The main benefit you get from doing a cream instead of a butter is a big decrease in greasiness of the final formulation. There are ways to decrease the greasiness of a body butter (such as adding Isopropyl Myristate or using a dry feel oil in the combination), but you can’t get away from the fact that you are using oils applied neat.

Body creams are thick, luscious emulsions (water plus oils) that impart extra pampering to the skin. They can be made to absorb readily into the skin, leaving behind no greasy residue. Or they can be crafted to absorb more slowly, providing the opportunity for a bit of massage and a break while the oils soak into the skin.

Earlier this week, we made an anhydrous body butter. (Click here to visit that blog post.) Today I’m going to modify that formula into an emulsified body cream. Join me in the workroom.


Here is the original formula for the body butter

Body Butter

31% Shea Butter
31% Cocoa Butter
31% Avocado Oil
7% Isopropyl Myristate

To change this to an emulsified cream, first we will add water at 65%. We will keep the Isopropyl Myristate to help prevent greasy feel, but we’ll drop the usage to 3%. Then we will add Conditioning Emulsifier to produce a powdery, rich cream. Finally, we’ll use Liquid Germall Plus as a preservative.

Because the first formula was super oily, I changed the liquid oil to a dry feel oil: Grapeseed Oil. The rest of the cream will be the other two oils from our original formula: Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter.

Body Cream


65% Water
9% Shea Butter
10% Cocoa Butter
9% Grapeseed Oil
3.5% Conditioning Emulsifier
3% Isopropyl Myristate
0.5% Liquid Germall Plus


Microwave-safe container
Small jars and lids

100-gram Test Batch

65 grams Water
9 grams Shea Butter
10 grams Cocoa Butter
9 grams Grapeseed Oil
3.5 grams Conditioning Emulsifier
3 grams Isopropyl Myristate
0.5 gram Liquid Germall Plus

12-ounce Batch

7.8 ounces Water
1.08 ounces Shea Butter
1.2 ounces Cocoa Butter
1.08 ounces Grapeseed Oil
0.42 ounce Conditioning Emulsifier
0.36 ounce Isopropyl Myristate
0.06 ounce Liquid Germall Plus


Weigh all ingredients but the preservative into a microwave-safe container or double boiler. Gently heat until everything is melted, stirring often. Then use an immersion blender to create the emulsion, mixing well. Allow the mixture to cool to below 120ºF (49ºC), then stir in the preservative. Scoop the cream into a zip-top plastic bag and pipe the cream into wide-mouth jars.

Ingredients in beaker before heating.

Mixing heated ingredients.


Finished cream had enough body not to drip.

As with the original formula, I did not include fragrance to allow the natural scent of the Cocoa Butter to shine through. It smells so nice!

This body cream absorbs readily into the skin, leaving behind a bit of an oily feel. It’s the kind of cream you use when you have a few minutes to let the oils absorb fully into your hands while taking a break. The combination of Isopropyl Myristate and Conditioning Emulsifier make for a powdery finish and great skin feel.

This is a cream I’d use all over for intense moisturizing. I’d also love it rubbed into my feet before bedtime – particularly if I could convince my husband to give me a foot massage!

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