Creating an awesome new emulsified scrub bar with my new butters!

Last week, I introduced you to one of my favourite new butters – tucuma butter – so I thought today  I’d share with you the awesome new emulsified scrub bar I created with it.

When I make scrub bars, I tend to make the base, then add the scrubby stuff outside of the main formula as that amount can change based on the physical exfoliant I use and where on the body I want to use it. Facial bars might have 5% to 10%, body bars anywhere from 20% to 100%, and foot scrub bars up to 120% or so.

This bar will be softer than something made with cocoa butter or mango butter as all of these butters have lower melting points. Babassu oil is a less greasy, silkier cousin to coconut oil with a melting point around 24˚C or 76˚F; tucuma butter melts a little higher, but still below body temperature, at 28˚C to 38˚C or 83˚- 97°F; and the refined shea butter I use melts at 29˚C to 34˚C. This means this bar is a tad soft in these summer months for me when the temperature is almost always over 25˚C and often as high as 39˚C (which is just ridiculous).

Cupuacu butter is a relative of cocoa butter with a lighter, less greasy skin feel and a melting point of 32 ̊C to 36 ̊C, meaning it adds some hardness to this bar, but not an excessive amount the way kokum butter or sal butter might do. You can use one of these other harder butters, if you wish, which will bring the melting point up a bit and make it feel slightly harder.

The neat thing about cupuacu butter is that it can hold up to 440% of its own weight in water or water soluble ingredients. We’ll be doing more with that neat fact in the near future. 

Excluding the shea butter, these oils all have a lighter, less greasy, silky feeling, which is just lovely. I added the shea butter to get a titch of greasiness in there as I like that sensation when I’m coming out of the shower in the summer.

If you wanted to use murumuru butter or any other butter in this formula, try it in a small batch and see what you think.

I wanted this bar for the summer, and I tried it a few different ways with a few different physical exfoliants – with salt, with poppy seeds, and with ground walnut shells, and I liked the latter version the best. You could try other seeds, pumice, sugar, and so on.

Unfortunately, you can’t use jojoba beads or clay beads as they’ll melt when you add them to the heated oils and butters.

Related posts:

Physical exfoliants (part one)

Physical exfoliants (part two)

Some ideas on how to figure out how much to use in a product

I added Polawax to this formula to act as an emulsifier and a bit of a bar hardener that will help the oils rinse away more cleanly, leaving behind a lovely lotion-y feeling instead of a thick, waxy or oily layer. You can use any emulsifier you wish. I tried a few different kinds – Incroquat BTMS-50 made it feel too dry and powdery for my tastes, Simulgreen 18-2 was very nice and would allow someone to call this an ECOcert bar, and Simulsol 165/Lotionpro™ 165 was very very nice and reduced the waxiness brought to the bar by Polawax or BTMS-50 – but in the end, I went with Polawax as it’s easy to find, easy to use, and inexpensive. Feel free to try your favourite emulsifier here.

If you’re finding this too melty in the summer or warm bathroom, you can add up to 5% cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, or behenyl alcohol to make it harder, but not brittle. I found behenyl alcohol gave it a powdery feeling I didn’t really want and cetearyl alcohol made it a bit waxy, another sensation I didn’t really like. I wouldn’t use a fatty acid, like stearic acid, as it’ll make the bar draggy and waxy, and if you’re going for that skin feel, you may as well use this formula instead of wasting all the lovely, more expensive butters I’m using. And definitely don’t thicken this with beeswax as that’s draggy as heck and will feel too thick.

As an aside, I saw someone refer to the skin feel of stearic acid as buttery and silky, neither of which are descriptors I have ever heard anyone use about this ingredient as it’s usually called draggy and thick. I guess different strokes for different folks, eh?

I included an oil soluble preservative, like Phenonip (INCI: Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Isobutylparaben) or Germaben II (INCI: Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben). This isn’t a product that contains water, but it is one that will be exposed to water, so we need to preserve it. I used 1% Germaben II in the cool down phase, but you can use any preservative that works with anhydrous products.

Click here to see the preservatives section. 

Click here to see the post in the Start Here! section about when to use preservatives

If you don’t want to use a preservative, you can make these as single use only scrubs. I found a 30 gram or 1 ounce bar was more than enough for one use. The one you see in the picture was 60 grams, and I had more than half left over after my first use.

You also don’t need to add any anti-oxidants in the form of Vitamin E as all of these butters and oils have at least a one year shelf life. If you really wish to add something, you can 0.05% to 0.1% Vitamin E T-50 or Coviox 50 or something that has 50 in the name as this is the version we use for slowing down oxidation or rancidity.

You can add 0.5% to 5% tocopheryl acetate in the cool down phase, 0.1% to 1% Vitamin E – d-alpha tocopherol, natural source, 1000 IU in the cool down phase to make your skin feel softer.

Related post: What’s the difference with all these vitamin Es? (subscribers’ exclusive)



30% cupuacu butter

20% tucuma butter

20% babassu oil

19.5% refined shea butter

8% Polawax

1% Germaben II or Phenonip


1.5% fragrance oil – I chose to use Yuzu from Windy Point Soap or Voyageur Soap & Candle


20% ground walnut shells

Weigh the heated oil phase into a heatproof container, place it in a double boiler, and heat until melted.

Remove from the heat, then add the fragrance oil. Mix well with a fork or spoon.

Add your exfoliating phase, mix well with a fork or spoon then pour into molds.

I would suggest pouring half into a mold, letting it set in the freezer until it’s thick, then pouring in the other half or you’ll end up with a bar like mine that doesn’t have exfoliants all the way through. With exfoliants much heavier than walnut shells or poppy seeds, like salt, you can see it sinks to the bottom almost immediately.

If you don’t want to do the two pour method I just suggested, you can melt all the butters, put them in the fridge to cool and thicken. When they’re on par with creamed honey – a bit sludgy – you can add the exfoliants then, then pop the molds into the freezer to set quickly.

Why did I use 1.5% Yuzu fragrance oil when we usually only use 1%? Because this formula makes 120 grams instead of our usual 100 grams, I had more stuff in there and wanted the fragrance to shine through. It’s a subtle one, so if you have something more punch-in-the-face, consider using 0.75% to 1%.

Related posts:

One ingredient, five products: Stearic acid – foot scrub bars

Foaming bath butter: Let’s make an exfoliating scrub with walnut shells

One ingredient, ten products: Incroquat BTMS-50 – emulsified sugar scrubs

Facial products: Emulsified scrubs – template formula and tweaks!

Could you use different butters in this? Yes! Could you use different oils in this? Yes! Could you add some oil soluble extracts? Sounds great! Join me tomorrow and we’ll do just that!