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Even though homemade lotion bars are easy to make, the proportion of ingredients you use in the recipe will determine their final hardness.
Using too much wax, cocoa butter, and not enough soft butter and oil in the recipe will make your lotion bars hard and difficult to apply. Balancing the proportion of ingredients in the formula is the key to getting a bar that is easy to use.
Here is a simple guide on why lotion bars turn too hard, how to fix hard lotion bars and how to make softer lotion bars so they melt quicker when massaged to the skin, making them easy to apply.
Why Lotion Bars Turn Too Hard
There could be a few reasons why your lotion bars are too hard. Here are a few possibilities:
1. You have used too much wax
Although wax hardens lotion bars and keeps them solid in a warm climate, using too much of it can make your lotion bars too hard, drag on the skin and take a lot of effort to melt. Not what you pictured them to be like.
Incorporating too much wax in the recipe, particularly hard waxes with high melting points, such as rice bran wax and carnauba wax, will make your lotion bars rock solid.
2. You have used too much cocoa butter
Apart from the fact that cocoa butter adds a protective barrier to the skin, reduces skin dryness and improves elasticity, it also gives the body to lotion bars. Too much of it, though, might make lotion bars too hard.
3. Cold climate
If you have been making lotion bars for a while, you would have noticed that climate can affect the hardness of the lotion bars. If you live in cooler weather, your lotion bars can turn harder than in a warm environment.
How to Fix Hard Lotion Bars
You do not have to throw away lotion bars if they turn up too hard. Remelt the bars and add soft butter and oil to the formula to soften them. If you include oil in the recipe, add at most 10%. Otherwise, your lotion bars will get too soft. Naturally, you’ll have to play around with ratios until you get to where you like them.
How to Make Softer Lotion Bars
Running some tests is an excellent way to find the perfect balance of the proportion of ingredients in the formula. Start with cocoa butter and soft butter like shea or mango butter. Try varying percentages of cocoa butter in the recipes and see how it affects the bar’s firmness.
What do the lotion bars feels like if you have used 60% cocoa butter compared to the 70 or 80%? Are they firm but manageable and easy to apply? Or do they feel too hard and take a lot of effort to melt?
Once you have achieved desirable firmness, try adding wax in various ratios and see how that affects the firmness of the bar.
When incorporating wax into your lotion bars, try the following ratios:
- 5% -30% of soft waxes, such as myrica and berry wax, work best in combination with a medium or hard wax rather than stand-alone wax.
- 10%-30% of medium waxes, such as beeswax and candelilla wax
- 5%-10% of hard waxes, such as rice bran wax and carnauba wax
Now that you have butter and wax ratios down try adding oil to your recipe. Incorporating oils in the formulae will soften the bars and make them more pliable. If you’d like to learn more about the effect of waxes on lotion bars, check out Formula Botanica’s guide to working with natural waxes.
Tip: Refrain from making big batches. There is no need for that. At this stage, you are only testing and want to save ingredients.
Measuring Your Ingredients
I find the metric system the most reliable way to measure ingredients needed in lotion bar formulae. It is also the easiest for beginners to use. Remember, your measurements must be accurate. Sometimes even a couple of grams of wax can make all the difference. High-precision scales provide accurate results (up to 0.01g) and are easy to use, making them ideal for measuring ingredients. Plus they are very affordable.