This vanilla bean lotion bar recipe is formulated specifically for the cool winter months in a cold climate. In winter, lotion bars that contain beeswax can become too hard and waxy to apply to skin, but this recipe is ideal! The lotion bars are also much smaller as they are made in an ice cube mold. These winter lotion bars will melt into your hands and give you just enough lotion to moisturize your skin with a delicious vanilla scent.
Homemade lotion bars are popular because they are convenient, full of healthy skin ingredients, and make wonderful gifts. If you have tried a lotion bar before and didn’t care for it, please give this winter lotion bar a chance. I have spent time testing different lotion bar recipes and this is the clear winner for moisturizing dry skin in the winter.
Please Read This First
I made this recipe for my cool climate winters because lotion bars with added beeswax were just too waxy on my skin. There are a few key differences from summer lotion bars, specifically 1. they are small, ice cube sized bars, and 2. they melt in your hands. This makes them perfect for applying the oil/butter to warm skin in winter as they melt quickly and are easy to apply. But this doesn’t make them great gifts! If you would like to make these as gifts, then please use this recipe instead, simply swapping out the calendula and lavender for vanilla as listed in this recipe.
Why Use a Winter Lotion Bar?
A lotion bar for the winter is very different from a lotion bar for the summer. I’ve tried a lot of recipes and while many look beautiful, they are waxy and difficult to apply. With colder temperatures in the winter, a lotion bar with beeswax will feel more like rubbing a candle on your skin than lotion.
I have very dry skin, and in the winter it is even worse. Forced air heating and hot showers strip the moisture and make my skin dry and itchy all over. Besides drinking a ton of water to hydrate from the inside, I have found that a cocoa butter and coconut oil lotion bar combination works best for me. They are both a solid at room temperature (in the winter) and melt at body temperature. If your home isn’t too warm, you can easily keep a bunch of these lotion bars in a container and they won’t melt until they are rubbed onto your skin.
Note: in the summer, I do add beeswax to firm up the bar and hold moisture in once applied. Here is the lotion bar recipe that I use for summer.
Vanilla Bean Winter Lotion Bar Recipe
Make these lotion bars in candy or ice cube trays so they are just the right size for a few applications. An ice cube sized winter lotion bar will last two showers if I apply it to my whole body. These bars absorb quickly and leave my skin silky. They don’t leave me feeling greasy at all.
Vanilla Extract vs Essential Oil
Vanilla absolute is what I use for this recipe. I get asked ALL THE TIME if vanilla extract can be used in it’s place, but sadly, the answer is no. Vanilla sold as an essential oil is quite different from the vanilla extract used in baking. Vanilla essential oil has an oil base, whereas vanilla extract is in alcohol. It won’t have the same results if you swap them out because the only the oil will combine in the lotion bar, where the alcohol will separate out. That being said, vanilla essential oil is not truly an essential oil because it is not extracted through distillation. It can sometimes be called vanilla absolute or oleoresin as the resins of the vanilla bean are extracted through a chemical process.
If all of this is too much, you can swap the vanilla essential oil for another essential oil if you choose. Lavender and sweet orange are nice for this bar.
Ingredients and Materials
Makes 12 mini lotion bars
- 55 g cocoa butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 10 drops vanilla essential oil
- Small Turkish coffee pot
- Ice cube mold
- Melt the oils over medium-low heat in a Turkish coffee pot (or a small pot with a pour spout). I use this pot for all of my natural skincare recipes because it is tall, has a long handle, and a spout.
- Stir constantly and keep a watchful eye on the oils. You want them to just reach the melting point and not overheat.
- When the oils have melted and combined, add the vanilla essential oil and stir well. Vanilla essential oil is dark and gives the lotion bars the vanilla bean appearance of small brown specks without adding vanilla beans.
- Immediately pour the melted oils into an ice cube tray. Place the tray in the refrigerator to cool for two hours. Store the finished winter lotion bars in the fridge if your house is quite warm, although they should do just fine at normal indoor temperatures.
Melt the winter lotion bar by rubbing it in the palms of your hands. The oil/butter will melt, and you can then apply it to the rest of your skin.
For many, many more natural skincare recipes and gift ideas, check out the Plant-Based Beauty section of the site!