With winter fully here, I’ve been working on a recipe for a dry hand balm, something to nourish and protect the skin without leaving an oily residue behind.
I do love my oils.
I also work on the computer for a good part of the day and it’s already a bit of an oily mess.
So, my objective with this recipe is to create a hand balm that feels light on the skin, while also being moisturizing and protective.
First, what is a ‘dry’ oil?
Some oils are undeniably oily, but others have enough tannins and other astringent plant compounds that they have a dry quality on the skin.
These dry oils and butters coat the skin with a thin film of lipids that allows you to continue about your work on computer, paper or other oil-sensitive materials.
The dry butters
In my research for this project, I was focused on finding dry butters – saturated oils that are thick and solid at room temperature – and here is a list of six that I came up with.
I’ve split them up into two groups.
During my experiments, I found that the first group didn’t go gritty once the balm cooled.
With formulating skill the Sal butter could make an exceptional dry balm but it would take expertise and technique to get it to cool without going gritty.
Cupuaçu didn’t become objectionably gritty but I did find some evidence of roughness a few days after it cooled.
Cupuaçu, however, might be worth adding anyway. This is an interesting and unique butter that is often called “vegan lanolin”. Cupuaçu butter can absorb four times its weight in water, making it an exceptional protective lipid for the skin.
I’ve gone through a few different combinations and this is what I have found developed so far:
I have made a successful balm using equal parts Babassu, Kpangnan, Murumuru, and Uccuba butters.
I used these four butters alone without a wax to help solidify them. Because they are all saturated butters, the balm cooled solid.
This combination came out fairly solid but using just a bit on the back of a fingernail, worked into the hands felt nourishing and moisturizing without being too heavy.
To lighten it, you could add a fifth equal part of a liquid oil like camellia or hazelnut. Both these oils are considered “dry” oils so adding either one would soften the balm without making it oily.
Dry Balm Recipe
1 Part Babassu
1 Part Kpangnan
1 Part Murumuru
1 Part Uccuba
1 Part Camellia seed oil or hazelnut seed oil
Melt together the four butters over low heat. I always use a cast iron saucepan as I find it distributes the heat most evenly.
Once all four butters are liquid, add the camellia seed oil or hazelnut seed oil and mix then remove the pan from the heat.
It’s always best practice to heat oils and butters as little as possible, just enough to bring them to a liquid mixable state.
Have your jars or tins ready, pour and set aside to cool before putting lids on and storing. Tip: When working with butters without waxes they set better when cooled quickly in the refrigerator.
Have you worked with these “dry” butters yet? I’d love to hear about your experience and experiments in the comments below.