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DIY Lotion Bar Recipe Tutorial – Homemade Gift Ideas 2

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Welcome to another handmade gift idea tutorial! This tutorial is for DIY lotion bars and I like it because it can be unisex. I think it’s generally more difficult to make gifts for men than for women, so I wanted to make sure I include some man-friendly ideas. In coming weeks, I’ll actually have a few specifically masculine ideas. These lotion bars are great for women, too – just change up the essential oils you use to make these smell more feminine or masculine!

Homemade DIY Lotion Bar Recipe

First off, let me explain what a lotion bar is. I actually hadn’t hear of them until some time last year when my man introduced me to ClimbOn!, a product most rock climbers love. Lotion bars are are, literally, a bar of lotion. They usually have a beeswax base and may include vitamin E, lanolin, almond oil, coconut oil, and various essential oils. They’re designed to be mostly solid, but melt slightly when rubbed against your skin. They’re really excellent for very dry skin and damaged calluses – I’ve seen more than one person scoop out a chunk of lotion bar and pack it into a ripped callus! They’re actually also very useful for treating dry dog paw pads. They also usually cost over $6 for a half ounce tin.

Okay, now that you know what a lotion bar is and how much one usually costs, how about learning how to make your own? It’s amazingly easy and, if you have a Whole Foods/Earth Fare/other natural foods store in your area, you can pick up everything you need without ordering any special supplies. For packaging, you can reuse a tin or buy empty tins. Even though the bar ends up in a container, it works best when you can remove it from the tin for use instead of pouring the melted lotion directly into a container. This means you need some sort of mold, too. Use cupcake wrappers for lager bars, or for smaller bars you can just use an ice cube tray. For cute bars, use silicone molds! This recipe can fill an ice cube tray with a bit left over, or can make about 6 larger, 3/4″ thick bars in cupcake wrappers.

Ingredients and materials for DIY lotion bars

– 3 oz, by weight, of beeswax. Pellets are way easier to work with than blocks.

– 3 oz, about 1/3 of a cup, of coconut oil

– 3 oz, about 1/3 of a cup, of almond oil

– About 20 drops of essential oil, if desired (you can make your own scent combinations!)

Cupcake wrappers or other molds

– Two pots, one small and one large enough for the smaller one to fit inside. This is to create a double boiler.

Update: If you’re not into beeswax, check out this tutorial for a beeswax free lotion bar recipe!

3 oz of beeswax

You may need to modify the recipe slightly depending on the time of year/your climate. At the time of writing, it’s September for me and still regularly in the low 90s, which really isn’t unusual for where I live. The bars aren’t melt-y, though, and work just fine when made according to the recipe. If you’re making this for summer use or in a really warm climate, you may want to drop down to a scant 1/3 of a cup of the oils, or even just 1/4 of a cup. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of kaolin or bentoninte clay.

How to make lotion bars

  1. If you’re using a beeswax cake, you may want to grate the wax to make it melt quickly. If you’re using beeswax pellets, this isn’t necessary. You don’t have to grate it, but it does dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to melt the ingredients.
  2. Combine the wax and oils in a small pot and set up a double boiler. To do this, place two or three inches of water in the larger pot, place the smaller pot in the water, and heat over medium-low. Creating a double boiler is very important whenever you heat oil!

double boiler

  1. Heat the oil/wax mixture, stirring to combine, until all the wax is melted. Turn down the heat if the water tries to simmer.
  2. Turn off the heat and stir in the essential oils. Twenty drops is an estimate – you may use more or less, depending on the strength of the oils. Also, if you’d like to add vitamin E, this is the time to do it!
  3. Working quickly, pour the wax into your molds. I used both cupcake wrappers and an ice cube tray.

lotion bars in cupcake wrappersTo clean the pot, reheat it in the double boiler and wipe out any excess wax. If there is still remaining wax or solidified coconut oil, rinse it with boiling water and everything should clean up pretty quickly.

The lotion should harden and cool fairly quickly, but I advise letting it rest overnight just to make sure it’s cool all the way to the middle.


Once the bars are cool, test them to see if you like their consistency.

If they’re too hard and won’t rub off on your skin, remelt the bars and add in a little extra oil.

If they are too soft, remelt them and add in more wax or a tablespoon of kaolin clay.

Make sure to actually check the consistency – don’t just look at them. They will look slightly shiny, but this is not from being melted. They may be more solid than you’d supposed!

lotion bars

Need some essential oil suggestions?

I used about 12 drops of citronella and 4 of cedarwood oil because both essential oils are known for their insect repellent powers. My lotion bars smell fresh and I can at least pretend they’re helping keep bugs away! Update: Since I first published this lotion bar recipe, DoTerra added TerraShield, a pre-mixed bug repellant blend!

For an invigorating scent, trying going and mint, or for something calming try lavender and chamomile.

You can choose any combination you’d like, just make sure you use essential oils that are generally regarded as safe. Make sure the oils are labeled as safe for topical use and are pure essential oils, not fragrance oils.

small DIY lotion bars

In case you’re lacking a local crunchy-type store, here are the essential items you need to make your own lotion bars:

More handmade gift ideas

Beeswax free lotion bars

Nourishing Lotion Bar Recipe

Goat milk bath soak

goat milk bath soak recipe

Detox foot soak

foot soak for sore feet with rosemary and magnesium flakes

How you do you feel about making your own personal care products? Have you ever made lotion, lip balm, body scrub, or something else? If you haven’t, I hope you give it a try – it’s fun and far easier than you might expect!


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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Donnalee January 21, 2016, 16:40

    Oh, honey, I’ve made my own handcrafted soap for AGES. I love that I can switch up the ingredients (some) and make it smell amazing. It makes for awesome gifts too. If you use true essential oils, most people won’t have an allergic reaction to it. The trouble comes when people “cheap out” and use fragranced oils. Stick to the real stuff and no one should have any problems.

    • Natashalh January 22, 2016, 16:48

      Awesome! There’s nothing as wonderful as real, handmade soap. =) I totally agree that real essential oils are the way to go instead of those scented things! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • Matthias October 30, 2014, 00:01

    This is great! Any suggestions for those allergic to almonds? I don’t know the properties of almond oil.

    • Natashalh October 30, 2014, 07:17

      I don’t know if topical application would cause a reaction in people allergic to almonds. I’d guess it depends on the individual! My best suggestion is maybe some olive oil or jojoba oil.

  • Jelli March 9, 2014, 17:04

    I love this! I’ve never used a lotion bar but have definitely seen the idea around the net. So happy you shared your recipe. This would make perfect gifts! My husband sometimes gets dry crackled knuckles and in the past I’ve bought Nivea cream, which does heal it but is packed with chemicals and is ultra scented- something he can’t stand. I’ll have to give this a try! Thanks so much. Pinning!

    • Natashalh March 9, 2014, 20:30

      I learned about lotion bars from my fiancé. He has psoriasis and loves rock climbing, but it tears up his hand. This stuff really helps him! Thanks for stopping by and pinning. =)

  • Monica H. March 8, 2014, 16:43

    Do you think something like this would be safe on babies and toddlers? I’m trying to find alternatives for my daughter…

    • Natashalh March 8, 2014, 16:54

      I don’t see why not, as long as you use food-grade essential oils and other ingredients. Obviously I’m not a pediatrician or anything, but if you’re using food-grade ingredients and something isn’t prohibiting her from using any of them, it seems okay.

  • Donna December 8, 2013, 22:57

    I love this idea and would like to make some for Christmas gifts. What do you suggest putting them in to give as gifts?

    • Natashalh December 9, 2013, 09:22

      Like what scents? It would depend of the person. I really like mint and lavender, personally. Just try to figure out what the intended recipients like!

      • Donna December 9, 2013, 09:27

        Oh I’m sorry…..I didn’t mean the scents.mmi meant for presentation to put the bar in. A bag, a tin, etc….. Thank you!

        • Natashalh December 10, 2013, 06:36

          Ooooh, sorry! I think tins are the best. You can find empty, suitable tins at most speciality grocery stores (Whole Foods, Earth Fare), some craft stores (I’ve seen them at Hobby Lobby) and, of course, online.

  • Kathy Penney @ Sparkles And A Stove September 23, 2013, 22:08

    What a great tutorial! These sound awesome to use and make a great gift too! Pinning. Thanks for sharing at All Things Pretty.

    • Natashalh September 24, 2013, 05:16

      Thanks so much for pinning! I really appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by, too!

  • Linda @ Mixed Kreations September 20, 2013, 06:28

    Oh cool! I have been seeing lotion bars around lately but did not know exactly what they were. These would be great for Christmas gifts. And the citronella one for my hubby because the mosquitoes love him. I can hear my hubby now, another project? What are you making now? Oh well I got to try these. Thank you for sharing! Pinning and adding to my bookmarks (-;

    • Natashalh September 20, 2013, 07:26

      Ahaha. Yes, sometimes guys don’t get the need to try out a new idea! I love that you can make these in those silicone molds so you can create themed ones for specific holidays. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution September 19, 2013, 19:53

    I absolutely loved this post. So you’re featured on Friday Flash Blog on The Jenny Evolution. Thanks for linking up and keep evolving.

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution

  • duni September 19, 2013, 05:54

    Love this! I’ve been wanting to try making my own natural face cream and lip butter for ages, but haven’t got round to buying the necessary equipement. Your lotion bars sound wonderful and look great too! You’re so talented, Natasha!

    • Natashalh September 19, 2013, 07:03

      Thank you! I actually just used some right now. Thank you so much for the kind comment. =)

  • Manda Wolf September 18, 2013, 09:35

    Great recipe. I really want to try to make these. I would love to make a lotion bar with menthol crystals for pain relief.

    • Natashalh September 18, 2013, 10:27

      That’s why I love making my own things – you can add what you want and leave out what you don’t want! So much better than the ‘once size fits all’ products at the store.

  • Kathryn Stratford September 15, 2013, 17:54

    What a great idea! I love the idea of homemade gifts, so I will be keeping an eye out for these posts! Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great week!
    ~ Kathryn

    • Natashalh September 15, 2013, 18:02

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m so excited about my upcoming gift idea tutorials. It’s going to be fun!

  • Noreen September 14, 2013, 14:28

    I like the idea of lotion bars – I need to try this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Natashalh September 14, 2013, 16:03

      Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to try the recipe out.

  • Kim September 13, 2013, 14:45

    Wonderful! And, have I got some calluses on my feet! Thanks for sharing that recipe. I’m inspired!
    <3 Kim

    • Natashalh September 14, 2013, 16:01

      Thank you for stopping by! It’s great for those rough spots.

  • Rose September 12, 2013, 17:15

    I had never heard of lotion bars before, but I’m intrigued now! How cool to have a DIY gift idea that works for both men and women. Thanks for the detailed tutorial and all of the tips.

    • Rose September 12, 2013, 17:19

      It’s great that the lotion bars work well on dry skin, too! I’m always looking for new products that aren’t too rough on my skin, especially during the winter.

      • Natashalh September 13, 2013, 08:13

        I don’t even want to think about how cold and windy your winters must be!

    • Natashalh September 13, 2013, 08:13

      I hadn’t heard of them until about a year and a half ago, and it’s my man who introduced me to them!

  • BeadedTail September 12, 2013, 12:47

    What a great idea! I love lotions and stuff like that but haven’t made my own before. I’ll have to try these!

    • Natashalh September 12, 2013, 13:11

      I haven’t made actual lotion in years! It’s a little more tricky, but totally do-able. I may do a tutorial for lotion, too. I hope you have the chance to try this one out and like it!

  • Edi September 12, 2013, 09:08

    I’ve been seeing these more and more lately. I like that they don’t seem to be as greasy as some regular lotions. Thanks for the tutorial.

    • Natashalh September 12, 2013, 13:10

      I like them for the targeted hydration. You can hydrate the spots that need it without greasing up your whole hand.

  • Paige @ Little Nostalgia September 12, 2013, 09:02

    I appreciate that this is a unisex gift! You’re right about men being harder to DIY for.

    • Natashalh September 12, 2013, 13:09

      They really are! I have a few ideas, but I’m trying to come up with a few more!

  • Marieken September 12, 2013, 06:30

    I like to know what goes into a product, though I have never made my own personal care products. They look great and I might give them a try and use them as christmas gifts.

    • Natashalh September 12, 2013, 07:42

      Unfortunately, too many commercial personal care products have so much unnecessary junk! I have several more tutorials planned for other, not excessively junk-filled items in the works. =)

      I think these could make a really nice personalized gift – you could even make specific scents for people.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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