Weekday Wondering: How to make a lotion bar less greasy?

In this post, It’s that time of the year again: Lotion bars, Tonya asks: I am experimenting with lotion bars and have a question about tapioca but greasiness- I guess would be the the actual question.

My most recent mix of ingredients includes these variations. My question is how do I get the tapioca starch to fully melt? In bars I made before and am still using I’m finding a slight bit of grittiness over time and I suspect the tapioca as I had a hard time getting it to mix but I also used safflower oil in that attempt instead of coconut. 

Recipe 1
30 grams soy wax (natural soy 444 wax)
20 grams cocoa butter, unrefined 
20 grams virgin coconut oil
1 gram tapioca starch (Bobs Red Mill)
1 gram Vitamin E (natures gate with carthamus tinctorious safflower seed oil,vitis vinifer grape seed oil, calendula officinalis flower extract.)

Recipe 2
Same but sub 50% of oil for almond oil so 10 grams almond and 10 grams virgin coconut

I made these into little ice cube mold hearts for my nieces. They smell like a candy bar and have the perfect consistancy to melt just enough in little hands. 

The first batch I added the tapioca after removing from heat and slightly cooled to 122°F just before Vitamin e. There was powder in the bottom end as I poured so I mixed the last bit and poured the final row of hearts and could not tell the difference between the ones at the beginning when they solidified. The next batch I tried mixing the tapioca after everything was melted but still in the hot water bath. The same thing happened. 

I dont know yet if these will get gritty as only a week has passed and so far they are good. I added the tapioca to dry the bars out as my prior attempts left my skin to greasy/oily feeling even 2 hours after application. Even if they don’t get gritty I want the ingredients to distribute evenly. 

I like using ingredients that don’t contain animal products. I do use beeswax in my products, but I like the soy wax for these as it is softer and the extra 50% seems to work well for me as a consistency. Maybe there is a better option or recipe you could suggest than tapioca?

Before I start, can I make a suggestion? Please put your recipes to total 100% as it’s easier to figure out what you’re using in the product. Your total is 72 grams here, so that means the recipe turns out to be:

41.6% soy wax
27.8% cocoa butter, unrefined
27.8% virgin coconut oil
1.4% tapioca starch
1.4% Vitamin E

Another quick suggestion: Generally, keep the Vitamin E at 1% or lower. I’ve been reading that using too much can actually increase the rate of rancidity, so I’m suggesting 0.5% or lower now.

We can see in this recipe that you have more than 1% tapioca starch, which could be an issue for solubility in the future. (Let’s say 1 gram of something dissolves in 100 grams of something else. If we have 1.4 grams, that means 0.4 grams isn’t dissolved. That’s a big deal!)

Second question about tapioca starch…It doesn’t dissolve in oils. It’s water soluble, which means it dissolves in water, but not in oily products, like a lotion bar. You might be able to get it to disperse or suspend, but you won’t get it to dissolve to avoid the grains. This isn’t to say you’ll always have grains, just to say that they are in the realm of possibility when making an anhydrous product like a lotion bar.

There are modified starches you can buy that will work in oils, like Dry Flo AF or Dry Flo TS, that’ll give you that silky feeling you seek. Natrasorb Bath is interesting as it absorbs oils and mixes into lotion bars very well. These are much better choices than using tapioca starch from the store.

If you’re trying to make your lotion bars less greasy, there are a few options…

1. Change the oils. This is a big one and can make a massive difference. Coconut oil is very greasy feeling, so substituting it for something less greasy feeling like babassu oil will make a big difference.

You mention sweet almond oil. This is a greasy-ish feeling oil, so changing that can make a difference, too. For coconut or swee almond oil, you can try other drier, silkier feeling oils like hazelnut, macadamia nut, evening primrose oil, or others and see what you think.

Or you could try using an ester, like isopropyl myristate (IPM) or C12-15 alkyl benzoate, both of which are light and silky feeling. Use them in place of any of the oils at any amount. You could make a very lovely lotion bar with nothing but esters and have a really light feeling, silky product.

Silicones are very nice in lotion bars. I regularly use 2% cyclomethicone and 2% dimethicone in mine, and this gives them a lovely, dry and silky feeling to the product. (I love my products greasy, but lotion bars can get way too greasy at times…) You can see my use of shea butter, esters, and silicones in this recipe – Lotion bars: Let’s get complicated.

Related section: Emollients – oils, butters, and esters

2. Change the butter. Again, this makes a massive difference as cocoa butter is greasier than mango butter or kokum butter, for instance. The refinement of the butter makes a difference, too. I find refined shea butter much greasier than unrefined.

Related post: Lotion bars: Tweaking the butters and oils

3. Change the wax. Soy wax is super greasy compared to beeswax, carnauba wax, or candelilla wax.

Related post: Lotion bar: Change the waxes

So let’s say you wanted to use soy wax, but needed this to be less greasy. You could try a few things. Let’s use babassu in place of the coconut oil and mango butter in place of the cocoa butter. We’ll leave out the tapioca starch – although you could use Dry Flo, if you wished – and decrease the Vitamin E. What do we have?

42% soy wax
29% babassu oil
28.5% mango butter
0.5% Vitamin E

Heat the wax, babassu oil, and mango butter until liquid. Add the Vitamin E, then pour into molds and wait until set. Rejoice for you have made lotion bars.

Try a small batch of this – maybe 50 grams to 100 grams to see what you think. If you want it to be less greasy, consider getting some Dry Flo or changing the wax to see if that helps.

Related posts:
Back to basics: Lotion bars
Lotion bars: Let’s get complicated
Lotion bars: Wrap up and link-o-rama!
Newbie Tuesday: Let’s make lotion bars!