The Best Shea Butter Lotion!
The last lotion we used before formulating our shea butter lotion was greasy, didn’t absorb well, and was preserved using parabens. Perhaps worse (Okay, maybe not worse than parabens, but at least from a sensory point of view) it had a heavy crème brulee fragrance that was artificial and nauseatingly sweet. So, we donned our lab coats! Our goal was to formulate a lotion that was just the opposite: thick and moisturizing, yet light and airy, perfectly hydrating, easily absorbed, with a pleasant, true-to-life scent.
If you're looking for a new favorite lotion, enjoy reading below about how we found ours!
Shea Butter Lotion: The Moisturizers!
Our daughters are always playing superheroes in the yard, each one picking ten (yes, ten) superpowers and fighting off hordes of zombies (Sidebar: I miss my childhood days of fighting the British on Bunker Hill). Well, if dry skin was a zombie horde, and the comparison isn't that far off, moisturizers would be the heroes we need, but didn't deserve. Here are the three we chose and what each one does for your skin!
Straight from Africa, Shea Butter is the proverbial king of Wakanda of our lotion. It’s a natural emollient that’s hydrating and softening for your skin without being oily. Plus, it contains several fatty acids (lineolieic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic!), improving your skins natural barrier, while its anti-inflammatory properties relieve itching and red skin. We use lots of it in our shea butter lotion!
You can read more about the benefits of Shea Butter here!
Avocado oil: Our lotion's Iron Man, flashy, powerful, and good in all sorts of situations. Avocado oil is full of antioxidants like vitamins A and E and helps heal skin damaged by sunlight, making it a superb addition in shea butter lotion. Studies have also shown it helps psoriasis, and avocados are good on toast :)
You can read more about the benefits of Avocado Oil here!
Apricot Kernel Oil: The last moisturizer in our Shea Butter Lotion.
Apricot kernel oil is the Bruce Wayne of our dynamic trio (and yes, we're mixing universes). Apricots are usually thought of as a food, but the oil in their kernels is excellent skincare. It's light and quickly absorbed into the skin, and rich in omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, which make it a wonderful moisturizer.
Anecdotal backstory, we went with Apricot Kernel Oil instead of Sweet Almond Oil, which has similar properties, because one of Katy's sisters has an almond allergy.
You can read more about the benefits of apricot kernel oil here!
Those are the big three ingredients that make our shea butter lotion, whether it's lilac lotion, lavender lotion, or oatmeal lotion, so moisturizing. All of them have the same moisturizers, just with different scents since scent is such personal preference.
Having good moisturizers isn't enough to make a superb shea butter lotion though. If you want the very best lilac lotion, it also has to have a fantastic consistency. Let's talk about that next!
Shea Butter Lotion: Consistency Matters!
Ratios, ratios, ratios! Lotion is a combination of water and oils, held together in an emulsification by emulsifying wax. Reduce the water too much, and your lilac scented lotion will be pasty; overly increase the avocado oil, and you’ll get a lavender lotion that is greasy and doesn’t absorb well.
Our shea butter lotion is thick, but also light and airy with a rich feel to it. We achieve this with two key ingredients: Emulsifying Wax and Stearic Acid. By increasing the emulsifying wax, we make our shea butte lotion thicker. Our goal was for a dollop of lotion to hold its shape, and for a little bit to go a long way! Check out this video of our lavender lotion to see how well it does!
I love that dollop! But we didn't just want our shea butter lotion to be thick, we wanted it to be rich and creamy too. Enter stearic acid.
What does stearic acid bring to Shea Butter Lotion?
If you're not familiar with stearic acid, you might hesitate when you see it in the ingredients list of your lilac scented lotion. First, bravo for reading the ingredients! Second, what is stearic acid, and why would you put in shea butter lotion?
The name "stearic" comes from the Greek word, στέαρ "stéar" (cue flashback to my days studying Greek) and means "tallow." It's a good name, because Stearic Acid is a saturated fatty acid that's a waxy solid and comes in flakes. It's found in different animal and plant fats and looks like this:
It's fabulous in shea butter lotion! It's what gives our lavender lotion its silky, satiny feel that puts it a step above other lotions.
Speaking of lavender lotion and lilac lotion, we're going to talk about the differences soon, since scent is arguably the most prominent component of shea butter lotion, but first we need to talk about preservatives.
Shea Butter Lotion: Let’s Talk About Preservatives
One of my friends purchased a lotion at a farmers’ market once whose maker explained it was free of all preservatives. As you might expect, it went moldy within the week. Preservatives are used for a reason. They prevent the growth of yeast, bacteria, and mold. Without them, lotion, which has water in it, becomes a natural breeding ground for all sorts of nasty microbes. Have you ever forgotten a coffee cup somewhere and returned days later to find it growing mold? That's what would happen to your lotion without preservatives! That being said, there’s flexibility in the type of preservative you put on your skin.
After studying the types of available lotion preservatives, we opted to make our shea butter lotion paraben free, because there’s concerns parabens can have negative effects on hormones, fertility, and increase the risk of cancer. No, thank you. In an ingredients list, parabens can be listed as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben.
Instead, we preserve our shea butter lotions with Optiphen, a milder preservative that's super effective against mold, yeast, and bacteria that’s paraben and formaldehyde free. We've had our lotions lab tested to make sure the Optiphen is doing its job!
Now to the fun part! Scents!
Shea Butter Lotion: Scents
Let's cut to the chase. Most scents are too sweet, too strong, or smell nothing like what they're called. We search the world over to curate scents that are infused with essential oils to be true to life, are used at mild levels for a pleasant, but not overpowering fragrance, and avoid any scents named after a cookie or dessert.
If, like us, you enjoy scents that are 100% naturally scented with just essential oils, our Lavender Lemongrass Shea Butter Lotion and Lavender Lotion are wonderful options. We also make a Plain Jane Unscented Lotion if you prefer no scent at all.
Hands down, though, one of our most popular lotions is our lilac scented lotion. Our lilac lotion always gets the same reaction: "This smells exactly like real lilacs!" Lilacs are our state flower (NH Represent!), and we planted lilac bushes along the edge of our yard, so we're especially proud of the lilac lotion we make. Lilacs come in all sorts of shades of blue and purple (our favorite color!) and pink and white, and the ones in our yard are a beautiful, dark purple. Check out our lilac lotion here!
Thanks for reading about our shea butter lotion! We hope you'll give it a try and tell us what you think!
<3 Joel and Katy
PS: A bunch of our customers have been kind enough to leave lotion reviews... here's some of our favorites!
What an incredibly effective lotion. It makes your skins so smooth and is very hydrating. It also penetrates and absorbs quickly. The heavenly scent is wonderfully relaxing. I LOVE this lotion. All Joy Lane products are amazing and do not disappoint or fail to impress and perform.
The scent is amazing!
This light and delicate lilac lotion brings me to another time when I use it! The Lilac scent is so real, I can see and smell the flowers as if I were a child again!
Love the lavender
Love this lotion! Tried it, then bought another one to keep in the bathroom. I'm a nurse, so I'm using hand sanitizer all the time and my hands get extremely dry. I love coming home at the end of the day and using my lavender lotion....it smells so good, and really relieves the dryness.