"Asleep in a Sunbeam" Body Butter Recipe

1 min to read
Karen Williams
06/28/2024

Summer Self-Care: Nourish Your Skin & Spirit

The warmth of summer calls me to get outside and enjoy the mountains—to hike, work with my plants, and gather with friends for delicious evening barbecues. It’s a time of vitality and energy. Yet there’s also something comforting about the warmth of the sun. If you’ve ever fallen asleep in a sunbeam (or watched your pets do so), you know what I mean! 

I like to inspire this feeling after the sun sets too, to transition into the evening.

In this post, I’d like to share how you can use natural ingredients to make a soothing summer body butter—with carriers and essential oils that nourish your skin and comfort your heart.

We’ll discuss:

  • Why it’s important to rebalance your nervous system after a busy day

  • How to calm your limbic system, so you feel emotionally comforted

  • Which essential oils I blend to relax my body and mind as one

This homemade body butter not only soothes the skin, but also the heart—giving you the comforting feeling of being surrounded by the sweet peace of close friends. 

Relax Your Body After a Busy Day

Even if we’ve had a fun, engaging day, the body can still find the experience a little stressful. Constant activity and sun exposure can drain your energy surprisingly quickly. 

Having a self-care practice that grounds you can gently guide your nervous system back into balance. It makes it easier to slip off into sleep. It also gives your body a chance to restore itself—your immune system re-regulates, your digestion can run more smoothly, and your overall sense of well-being improves.

I love using homemade body butters for this. 

Self-Care & Emotional Connection

The essential oils I use in my bedtime body butters have been shown to relax the nervous system. 

They soothe my limbic system (the seat of the emotions) and smell so beautiful—it automatically makes me feel safe, grounded in the moment, and grateful for life’s blessings.

This can be so comforting if you find that you’re missing a sense of connection during the summer—whether you’re a solo person, or just sometimes find it difficult to feel companionship with those around you. Using a soothing body butter is a self-care practice that can mitigate some of those feelings, helping us feel comfortable with ourselves. 

Skin-Soothing Carriers

Oils that are rich in oleic acid are wonderful for healing the skin, especially after sun exposure. Oleic acid is a natural fatty acid that’s been shown to help heal skin cells after wounds and burns. I also like oils rich in lauric acid, which can also help heal damaged skin. 

Shea Butter (Vitellaria paradoxa)

Organic shea butter is the gold standard of natural moisturizers! That’s due to its very high oleic acid content—and it’s why you’ll find shea butter in so many skin care products these days. It has a thick, firm texture, so it needs to be melted into a body butter before we can use it. Follow this process to do that.

Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)

Coconut oil contains lauric acid and vitamin E and K, making it super soothing for stressed skin. I love how gentle it is, even for sensitive skin. Coconut oil can be in a solid or liquid form, depending on the temperature at which it is stored. You can blend with it either way. You might want to put yours in the fridge for an hour or so before applying it, so it feels extra soothing on your sun-stressed skin.

I like to use organic, virgin, unfractionated coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil has been heated, so the lightweight fatty acids separate from the heavier ones, which drift to the bottom. Then it’s quickly cooled. The heavy, thick fatty acids on the bottom solidify, while the lighter fatty acids stay in a liquid form on top. The fractionated oil is actually just the lighter fatty acids which stay in liquid form, so you’re not getting the full benefits of the whole oil. 

Baobab Seed Oil (Adansonia digitata)

Baobab seed oil is rich in oleic acid. It doesn’t offer quite as much as shea butter—however, baobab oil is always in a liquid form, so it’s easier to apply (if you don’t have time to make body butter). Using baobab oil also gives your skin a beautiful dose of vitamins B and E. In Africa, the baobab tree is often called the “tree of life” or the “pharmacy tree” for all the benefits it offers. (Learn more about it here.)

Soothing Summer Essential Oils

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

When it comes to healing skin and comforting emotions, Lavender essential oil is the first one to pop into my mind. It has pain-relieving, skin-healing, and sedative properties. It’s even been shown to perform as well as lorazepam in treating anxiety. (Plus, Lavender has an extensive list of uses!)

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Roman Chamomile has a rich, floral, apples-in-the-sun aroma. Something about its scent makes me think of falling asleep in a blossoming apple orchard. Like Lavender, it’s excellent for calming anxiety and helping us sleep. (Discover the difference between Roman & German Chamomile.)

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)

The menthol in Peppermint activates cold-sensing nerves in our skin, and our brains interpret this as feeling cooler. This effect is incredibly soothing after sun exposure. Peppermint’s sweet, soft scent is usually considered stimulating, not relaxing. But if combined with soothing oils, I find Peppermint’s aroma has a refreshing presence that helps clear worries, without overstimulating me. (Here are 3 ways to use Peppermint oil—including a recipe for pain relief.)

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

I had to include a warm, bright citrus oil in this list! The d-limonene in citruses is well-known to boost moods and dispel sadness. I love using citrus oils in the summer. However, we must take care, because some citrus oils are phototoxic—they can cause unwanted skin reactions if you apply them, and then expose that skin to sunlight. (Learn which oils are phototoxic.) Sweet Orange, however, is not phototoxic. Feel free to use it in your summer blends.

A Recipe

Asleep-in-a-sunbeam

“Asleep in a Sunbeam” Body Butter

This is an easy to spread body butter at a 1:7 ration of beeswax to carrier oils. You’ll need one 4 oz glass jar, or two 2 oz glass jars for this recipe. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz (42 g) Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa)

  • 1 fl oz (30 ml) Baobab oil (Adansonia digitata)

  • 1 oz (28 g) Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera

  • .5 oz (14 g) Beeswax (Cera flava)

  • 18 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

  • 16 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis

  • 8 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil (Chamaemelum nobile)

  • 6 drops Peppermint essential oil (Mentha × piperita)

Directions

  • Set up a “stovetop double boiler.” Boil a few inches of water in a soup pot, and put a pyrex measuring cup in the soup pot, with the handle hanging over the edge. Your ingredients will go in the pyrex.

  • Melt the beeswax in the pyrex.

  • Add the coconut oil and baobab oil and melt.

  • Add the shea butter and melt. It helps if you break the shea butter up into small pieces, so they’ll melt faster. 

  • Remove the blend from heat immediately when the shea butter is all melted.

  • Add the essential oils and stir gently.

  • Carefully pour your blend into your jar (or jars). Once it’s solidified, use it as needed.

My Takeaway

Embracing the summer season means soaking up the sun, enjoying outdoor activities, and reveling in the vibrant energy this time of year brings. The sun is up early and goes down late, giving us long, beautiful days to fill with adventures. However, balancing this active lifestyle with thoughtful self-care practices is essential.

While it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of outdoor activities, it's crucial to take moments for self-care. This simple yet effective approach supports physical well-being and promotes a sense of peace and connection.

As you navigate the busy summer days, remember to carve out time for yourself. Incorporating self-care into your routine will help you stay balanced, rejuvenated, and ready to embrace all the joys that summer offers. Just like me, you’ll find that a little self-care goes a long way in enhancing your overall well-being and connection to the season.

Embrace the warmth, stay active, and delight in every sunny moment!

How to Blend Essential Oils

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Are you just beginning your aromatherapy journey? This course is the perfect place to start! You’ll learn the basics of working with essential oils, how to incorporate them safely into your daily life, and 3 simple recipes to get you started!

References

Altaei, D.T. (2012) Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent apthous ulceration. American Journal of Dentistry 25, 1, 39-43.

Bobiński, R., Wyszomirski, M., Machnickam, A., Pielesz, A., Kawecki, M., Waksmańska, W., Staniszewski, L. (2020) The Effect of Lauric Acid on Pathogens Colonizing the Burn Wound: A Pilot Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2020 Mar;26(2):23-27. PMID: 31634869.

Buchbauer, G., Jirovetz, L., Jager, W., Plank, C. and Dietrich, H. (1993) Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects upon inhalation. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 82, 6, 660-664.

Cardoso, C.R., Favoreto, S. Jr, Oliveira, L.L., Vancim, J.O., Barban, G.B., Ferraz, D.B., Silva, J.S. (2011) Oleic acid modulation of the immune response in wound healing: a new approach for skin repair. Immunobiology. Mar;216(3):409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2010.06.007. Epub 2010 Jul 23. PMID: 20655616.

Chen, C. C., Nien, C. J., Chen, L. G., Huang, K. Y., Chang, W. J., & Huang, H. M. (2019). Effects of Sapindus mukorossi Seed Oil on Skin Wound Healing: In Vivo and in Vitro Testing. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(10), 2579. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102579

Ghelardini, C., Galeotti, N., Salvatore, G., & Mazzanti, G. (1999). Local anaesthetic activity of the essential oil of Lavandula angustifolia. Planta medica, 65(08), 700-703.

Guimarães, A.G., Quintans, J.S.S. and Quintans-Júnior, L.J. (2013) Monoterpenes with analgesic activity – a systematic review. Phytotherapy Research 27, 1-15.

Perry, N. and Perry, E. (2006) Aromatherapy in the management of psychiatric disorders: clinical and neuropharmacological perspectives. CNS Drugs 20, 4, 257-280.

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About the author

Karen Williams - Aromahead Institute

Karen Williams

R.N. Certified Aromatherapist, Educator

I love to create amazing blends that inspire and promote a healthier lifestyle. I got my start many years ago as a registered nurse working in the hospital system. I wanted to help people more holistically. Then, I discovered essential oils, and my approach to life changed forever. Now, I’ve made it my mission to share what I’ve learned about aromatherapy with my friends, family, and the world. Because - life is so much better with health, happiness, and community.

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