Simple Summer Lotion Recipe + How to Pick the Right Oils & Butters

If you’re new to making lotion or want more information, please start with the basics here

I don’t know about you guys but I like to switch my lotion when the weather gets warm and humid.  In the winter, when the heat in our place is on, everyone’s skin gets drier and so I opt more for creams (less water than a lotion) when writing recipes. I also include heavier oils that don’t penetrate the skin well but protect well.  But when the first 80 or 90 degree day hits, I don’t want cream anywhere near me.  I prefer lighter lotions, with higher water content and lighter oils that penetrate the skin, in the summer.

Before I get into this recipe, let’s talk about the properties of fats a.k.a. oils and butters.

My friends ask how I know how to write lotion recipes.  Honestly, it’s a combination of things: my chemistry background, research, trial and error, love of experimenting.  I have never written a recipe that “failed” but I have written recipes that just didn’t turn out how I wanted them.  Most of the time, if a lotion came out differently than I expected, it was because I was using fats that were not good for what I wanted.  So I did some research — I stay researchin’ — and found some information that I’m going to share with you.

Fats are what you put into your lotion to seal in moisture.  Your skin has sebaceous glands that produce oils naturally.  These oils help protect and keep your skin elastic.  Natural oils are often stripped when you take a shower or do dishes or spend too much time in water. [Side note: I do not, I repeat DO NOT, believe in oil-free moisturizers.  There is no such thing as an oil-free moisturizer.  I don’t care how oily your skin is, if you’ve gone oil-free, you’re going in the wrong direction, but that’s for another post.]

Some oils penetrate the skin well, similar to the sebum (oil) your skin produces.  Other oils do not penetrate well; they sit on the outermost layer of skin, or penetrate only minimally, and form a barrier, which is good.  A lotion that combines fats that penetrate well with fats that don’t is best.  In the winter, I use a higher proportion of fats that form a barrier and less that penetrate.  In the summer, it’s vice versa.  I do not desire a greasy lotion ever, though, so finding balance is key.

Here are some stats on some common oils and butters that I like to use in my lotions:

  • shea butter: medium penetration, heavy oily feeling
  • sweet almond oil: medium penetration, light oily feeling
  • apricot kernel oil: medium penetration, heavy oily feeling
  • avocado oil: low penetration, heavy oily feeling
  • cocoa butter: low penetration, heavy oily feeling
  • coconut oillow penetration, heavy oily feeling
  • fractionated coconut oil: high penetration, almost no oily feeling
  • jojoba oil: high penetration, almost no oily feeling
  • mango butter: medium penetration, light oily feeling

I use other oils and butters too but more occasionally.  These are my go-to fats.  They’re fairly inexpensive and common.  So I wouldn’t make a lotion with coconut oil and shea butter only because it would be quite oily and wouldn’t penetrate enough.  But a lotion with shea butter and jojoba oil would probably be fine since the jojoba would penetrate and the shea butter would sit on the epidermis (top layer of skin) and lock the moisture in.  Get it?  Good!  Email me at with questions

Now for the recipe (finally!)

Simple Summer Lotion (makes 16 ounces)

Oil Phase

  • 45 grams fractionated coconut oil
  • 18 grams coconut oil
  • 5 grams jojoba oil
  • 14 grams cocoa butter
  • 15 grams vitamin E oil
  • 14 grams emulsifying wax
  • 14 g conditioning emulsifier

Water Phase

  • 160 grams distilled water
  • 100 grams aloe vera liquid (not to be confused with aloe vera juice or gel)
  • 58 grams rosewater

Cool Down Phase

  • 5 grams Optiphen
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 30 drops rosehip seed oil
  • 20 drops ylang ylang essential oil

I like to store in two 8-ounce bottles.  I don’t normally use pump tops.


This is about a month’s worth of lotion for 2 adults and 2 small children.  It took about 20 minutes to make, another few hours to cool and thicken.

Thanks for reading!

12 thoughts on “Simple Summer Lotion Recipe + How to Pick the Right Oils & Butters

  1. Wow, I am so impressed by your knowledge. I am trying to do natural products that are not only good for teh environment but are cost effective as well. I am so looking forward to following your site. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderfulday, Allie.

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  7. Love your stats! This is a chemistry lesson in itself. Taken on board….I’ll let you know how my anti humidity moisturiser goes.

  8. Just wondering what type of vitamin E you use in this lotion? Natural d-Alpha Tocopheryl, T-50 tocopherols? I need to stock up on vitamin E and is like to know your opinion on which is best. I have even seen a T-80 on FNWL!! What is that?

  9. Pingback: The Ultimate Starter Guide for DIY Skincare | hippie brown girl

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