How to make a Butter Scrub

2016-05 Formulate a butter scrub

Every other month, Formula Botanica challenges its community of students and graduates to make an organic cosmetic formulation and share their photos with each other. We’ve run some great challenges recently as you can see from the photos below.

Body Melt Formulation Challenge CollageNatural Gel Scrub Formulation Challenge

Our last formulation challenge was a body melt and as you can see from the photo above (on the left), we had  lots of fantastic submissions for the challenge. With a little bit adjustment, we can now create another amazing product where we build on the last challenge and create a butter scrub.

What is a Butter Scrub?

These cute scrub-butter or butter scrub pieces are a marriage between body melt and scrub. They are easy to make and easier to apply, very hygienic and with a minimum amount of waste. Butter scrubs make fantastic gifts, giveaways or complementary products for your product assortment and organic skincare range.

There are absolutely no rules and limitations (apart from obviously the safety requirements of your ingredients, in particular the dermal limits of the essential oils you apply).

Importance of Butter Scrub Stability

Consider that you want to keep your butter scrub in its original form and consistency during storage and during the short application time that you or your customer holds the butter scrub in their hand. You obviously don’t want it to melt in your hand before you even have a chance of applying it!

Body melts are not necessarily kept in the bath but scrubs are kept and used in the warm and humid bath. This is why hardness and melting point are a little bit more important in butter scrubs in comparison to pure bodymelts. You can increase the content of your hard butters or even add low concentrations of a wax to make the scrub a little bit harder than the body melt.

Should you preserve your Butter Scrub?

Since there is no water in the butter scrub, it doesn’t need a preservative. But keep in mind that this product is going to be applied in the shower and with wet fingers. We make the scrubs in little pieces so that they are consumed in 1-2 applications and have never had any microbiological issue.

Depending on which exfoliant you may use, the piece of the butter and other ingredients you’ll apply (herbal infusions, clays) you may need to run some mini-challenge tests to determine whether the product really would remain intact (microbiologically) under realistic application consitions.

If you decide to add any preservative to the system, keep in mind that the preservative should have at least one water soluble ingredient.


Formula Botanica’s latest Formulation Challenge

You’re absolutely free to choose the exfoliant that appeals most to you. Choose an ingredient that suits your purposes and concept. Just keep in mind that the particle size for a facial scrub must be much finer compared to body or hand-foot scrub.

Keep the essential KISS (Keep-It-Silly-Simple) principle in mind and start as simple as possible. After you’re happy with the consistency, stability and performance, you can build the formulation upwards and layer by layer.

Our Butter Scrub Formulation

Now let’s look at the formulation we created for my butter scrub.

Phase A

  • Organic cocoa butter  70.3%
  • Organic shea butter  6.0%
  • Organic babassu oil  4.0%
  • Sunflower lecithin 6.0%

Phase B

  • Tocopherol 0.5%
  • Vanilla infused organic jojoba oil 2.0%
  • Antimicrobial plant extract 0.1%
  • Organic Rosemary CO2 extract 0.1%

Phase C

  • Coffee powder   10.5%
  • Organic blood orange essential oil 0.5%

If you are first starting out with butter scrubs, we recommend that you keep it simple and stick to a small number of oils and butters just to get used to using the ingredients.

Butter Scrub Formulation

How to Make a Butter Scrub

Now let’s look at the detailed steps required when learning how to make a butter scrub.

Step 1. In a water bath, melt the butters, waxes and solid oils. Stir gently during melting.

Step 2. When this blend has melted, stop heating and remove the beaker from the water bath. Add the liquid oils and other additives and stir gently. As the temperature reduces to around 35 C, add the essential oil.

Put the beaker in an ice/water bath and keep stirring or put it in the fridge but stir it in 10 minutes intervals until you reach a light trace. Keep in mind that the stirring during the cool down phase is the alpha and omega of a nice and smooth melt with a shiny appearance and without any grittiness.

Step 3. As you reach a trace, add the exfoliant and blend gently. Pour the blend into your mould cavities and put it into the fridge. Let it rest over night or at least for 12 hours. De-mould and enjoy your creation.

Step 4. Keep in mind that the exfoliant has a higher or a lower density compared to the oils and butters (usually a higher density) and may sediment at the bottom of your mould. Adding the exfoliant at the trace and as the viscosity is increased reduces the speed of sedimentation. However, even if the exfoliant sediments at the bottom of the mould, you can turn this to your advantage by creating a  nice colour contrast through careful selection of your oils, butters and exfoiliant.

I’ve used coffee powder as my exfoliant but since I’ve added lecithin to the formulation, the colour contrast is not significant in my case.

Now it’s your turn. Looking forward to seeing your amazing creations.


If you are a Formula Botanica student or graduate, the Formulation Challenge for May/June 2016 will soon be emailed to you and posted in our online classroom. If you’re not a Formula Botanica Community member, leave us a comment below and tell us your experiences in formulating body butters!


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Dr. Elham Eghbali | Formula Botanica

Dr. Elham Eghbali was Formula Botanica’s Cosmetic Chemist between 2014 and 2018. She has over 20 years’ industry experience and is based in Bavaria, Germany. To read more about Formula Botanica’s team, visit our staff page.


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