Friday, October 21, 2011

Homemade Jojoba Shea Butter Lotion: for dry skin and eczema

When my son Ethan was 5 months old he developed eczema all over his body.  It wasn't entirely a surprise.  My husband develops terrible eczema on his hands during the summer/winter months.  So when it started showing up on Ethan it was all about holistic healing and comfort...and time.   

I started with food. I was nursing Ethan so I would systematically cut out foods from my diet that I suspected might be aggravating his skin.  Food didn't seem to change his skin much.  Already 100% dairy free, sugar free, soy free, etc, I cut out eggs for a while.  I also experimented with wheat and nuts.  We noticed that during the cold months his skin was dry and susceptible and during the hot months his skin was dry and susceptible.  I would say that staying on a allergy free diet helped his skin from becoming worse than it already was, and allowed time and other natural remedies to work and heal the inflammation. 

Our pediatrician, like most pediatricians, suggested the steroid cream.  Scott never had much success with this sort of cream and he also didn't particularly like the ingredients - very intense stuff.  So we both knew this just wasn't an option...or for us a very last resort option.  For the most part Ethan was smiley, happy and easy going.  He appeared comfortable.  He wasn't distressed or preoccupied with itching his skin.  So that being said, we continued with holistic/homeopathic remedies including:

1.  Keeping his nails trimmed 
2.  Always covering the weepy patches of skin, but also allowing the skin time to breathe now and then
3.  Dressing in only 100% cotton or organic cotton clothes
4.  Gentle soap (like Dr. Bronner's) to wash his clothes
5.  We did not bathe him every night
6.  During baths I would often put chamomile tea in with his bath water (steap about 8 cups of water with 8 tablespoons loose chamomile flowers )
7.  Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize!  We kept his skin very lubricated, especially during the winter months.
Side note: I'm not kidding when I tell you we used just about every organic, natural cream on the market.  We found these at our local Coop and I also found products on-line from small organic companies (this is a great blog for such a purpose).  I was very picky about what I put on his skin, obviously.  We did not use lotions filled with preservatives, parabens, SLS, phthalates, glycols, petroleum, artificial fragrances, PEGS, PGG, MEA, TEA, DEA, etc...the list goes on and on...and so the list of what you can use gets smaller and smaller.

I didn't think about making my own lotion at the time.  I wish I had because we all know those organic creams are EXPENSIVE!  
In time his eczema decreased, starting with his face.  By his first birthday his face looked great.  Next his arms improved to zero areas of inflammation much like his face, his back and stomach followed.  His legs improved greatly but this is still the area of concern.

Last summer I purchased my last store-bought cream/oil.  I was determined to make my own dry skin/eczema remedy and found three ingredients that target inflammation 
(and ingredients I frequently saw in the store-bought brands):
1.  Jojoba Oil
2.  Chamomile Flowers
3.  Organic Raw Shea Butter

So here is what I did...

1: Purchased 16 oz. of raw, organic shea butter ($10).
2: Purchased 8 oz. of organic jojoba oil 
(from bulk at our Coop - $5)

3: Purchased 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers 
(from bulk at our Coop - $1.50)

4: Infused jojoba with chamomile for 2 weeks
5: Strained through cheese cloth and TADA...chamomile infused jojoba oil! 
6: Raw shea butter is super hard so I placed it in a glass bowl and let it sit in the sun for a few hours to soften.  Worked great.  Above picture is a few hand stirs with a spoon after the sun bath

7: I added the strained oil to the shea butter and whipped with a hand mixer until well incorporated

1.  This lotion is oily.  Take caution when applying it around fabric you love, as oil may transfer
2.  It soaks into skin after a bit and should be noted it's much less oily than just applying straight oil
2.  This would be a terrific hand treatment at night with cotton gloves
3.  Apply immediately after shower/bath to affected areas
4.  This mixture of ingredients has a fantastic shelf life
5.  Experiment with other healing herbs/oil 

Here are some pictures of Ethan's skin.  I never took any of his body because it was usually covered.  I look back at these and smile ear to ear.  He was such a chubby little thing! To give you an idea, he weighed 17 lbs. at 4 months old! And I'm not kidding when I tell you he was a happy little thing too - always a smile on that red little face. 
Overall, his legs were the worst.  He had many patches of skin that were weepy, he also had these patches on his arms.  Keeping these patches covered prevented itching and aided in healing.

And, here he is today:
 His dry skin/eczema is now isolated to his legs, but it's nothing like it was.  The large weepy patches are a thing of the past.  His legs now develop dry areas with red blotches and in a few areas he has tiny dry bumps where the large weepy patches used to be.

The heat exacerbates the blotches - I notice they become red when he is either exposed to heat or gets hot from running around.  You can see just a little of the red on his leg in the picture above.  So we use our lotion on his legs throughout the day and I can attest that it works great for him (if not better than any organic store-bought brand); it decreases the redness, calms the skin and makes it super smooth - especially those dry little bumps.  My husband's hands have also improved with use. 

Today his face looks so much better.  His cheeks healed with time, as did his arms, back and stomach.  We are happy about declining the steroid cream.  This this was a personal choice and every parent should decide what will be best for their child and what they are comfortable administering.  I would say he outgrew the worst of it. Keeping him on an allergy-free diet is very important despite the little change we noticed in his symptoms early on.  He is currently dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, soy free, chocolate free and nightshade free.  And we keep that skin super-duper moisturized with our awesome new lotion.  

Still a very smiley little guy!!  

Additional Homemade Lotions from The Tasty Alternative 



  1. My son too has struggled with eczema...and I have figured out several of the triggers. One thing I learned from a holistic nutritionist, after his eczema started getting better around 9 months is that babies are born with very porous intestines to allow the to digest the large protein found in breastmilk. At around 8 or 9 months, as their bodies ready for weaning, the gut begins to close those gaps, thus making them less reactive to everything. It is such a long and arduous journey as a mommy trying to figure it all though, isn't it!!?? I am happy your son is doing better!

    [email protected]

  2. Hi There Tessa~

    Thank you for this holistic wisdom! I love that you have a holistic healer. How wonderful. That makes total sense about the intestines because his face was very clear at 1 year, with flare-ups here and there - weather and food induced of course.

    This month I noticed that oranges really aggravated his skin.

    speaking of food and eczema, my husband had some chocolate last week (he's a total chocoholic, but has toned it down drastically over these past few months). Anyway, he had just a little bit of dark chocolate and his hands were a mess in the morning. He was so surprised to see this connection loud and clear. Amazing how food can have such a tangible affect on our bodies.

    Thanks again for your comment. It's comforting to know others have gone through similar issues with their children.

    Be Well,

  3. Of course! We are STILL dealing with it! We had a major reaction yesterday, poor little guy was screeching and writhing in pain from what looked like 2nd degree burns on his bum. The only new food was a bit of egg in some grain-free mini muffins we made, he had one! hopefully we can figure out how to truly heal his little gut so he can tolerate more foods, because as of now, it is a very frustrating journey. To make it worse, lots of people look at you like you have two heads when you mention food sensitivities or try to explain why your child won't be having those Goldfish crackers or that cupcake with the rest of the class!

  4. Hi There Tessa~

    Oh, I hear you with the goldfish crackers! And it is hard to explain why you are saying no. With Ethan though, people take one look at his legs and they can see his condition and why I have him on an allergy free diet. It's definitely a struggle and difficult for parents. One never wants to see their child suffering! You just want to make it all go away.

    Ethan's legs look terrible, not like they did when he was an infant, but they are very red, blotchy and look sunburned (mostly on he back). It's curious why the inflammation is isolated to his legs? I do see a huge connection with eggs. Luckily he doesn't seem distressed by the flare up.

    Good luck to you on this healing journey. Stayed tuned. I will be posting about holistic healing for eczema very soon.

    Be Well,

  5. This is great! I felt so sad looking at his little red face as all three of my kids had that same little red face (and red bodies) when they were small. My other two seem to have outgrown it, my littest still struggles. We have discovered gluten and sugar are triggers for her but even then it's not perfect. Waiting until after the holidays to make any more major dietary changes since it's at least manageable. We always took eczema as just this "thing" that happened and you medicate it. I look at things very differently now and I see it as definite sign of what is going on in the body so we are doing good probiotics, healthy fats, etc. to help as well. Anyhow, my husband also has eczema and I'll definitely be making this cream for both! Thanks!
    P.S. I have two kids with food allergies and I hear you about the treats in class. Makes things very difficult all around, and it always amazes me that in a day where there's so much more talk about food allergies, people still seem to glaze over and look at you like you're crazy or a mean mom for depriving your kid!

  6. Hello There A,

    Thank you so much for your comment.
    First, I could not agree more with you about the perceived judgement from others. I'm constantly saying "no" to foods people hand my 2 year old son. But then I quickly pull out a healthy homemade treat and all is good, but you can't help but feel bad (and judged). Sometimes I show people Ethan's legs and share that foods trigger inflammation/eczema and we take it very seriously, and thank you for understanding. Birthday parties are hard right now, as I'm sure you can empathize.

    I have to say, this cream is great! But please stay tuned. As we speak I am making a new lotion that includes these original ingredients and two new healing properties: coconut oil and colloidal oatmeal. I should have this up by next week.

    Good for you for including probiotics. I started Ethan on fish oils a while back and I believe it has really helped! Ah, there is so much to think about. You just take it day by day and keep experimenting. Good luck on your healing journey. I appreciate your attitude about starting a diet change when it feels right...and perhaps more likely to work. The Holidays can be very tricky.

    Thanks again for sharing your story!

    Be Well,

  7. I just found your site. Love it!!!
    If I don't have jojoba I can use olive oil right?? I'm thinking yes but want to make sure :)

  8. Hello There Wendi and Matt~


    Absolutely. Any oil you can find or have on hand that's good for problem skin will work great.

    I also recommend coconut oil or calendula if you can't find jojoba. :-)

    Happy Holidays.

    Be Well,

  9. Hi Amber -

    So glad you found my site and now I'm happy to have found yours! Our stories sound really similar. I wound up making my own eczema salve as well, but had terrible trouble with it ruining all my son's clothes and he also developed an allergy to it over time. Thankfully he is free of eczema, most days, because we identified food allergies as his triggers, as well as heat. I'm happy to see that you have found relief for your son as well!

    Have a great holiday!

  10. My son looks almost identical to your son (his main eczema problem is face and right behind one knee) I too only use handmade lotions (chamomile is a fav of ours too) and they work so much better than any of the conventional stuff. Your son's face gives me hope as my little guy's face is still very red and itchy. Glad he's better!! :)

    • Hi Kristina,

      I'm so sorry to hear about your son's eczema. Us mommies need to stick together and exchange ideas and resources! I do hope your son's skin improves over time.

      My son turned three on Tuesday, and while his legs are still covered with dry skin that flares up from time to time, I'm convinced a healthy, allergy-free diet, homemade lotions, healthy fats, fish oils, probiotics, and time have all helped his skin from getting worse. But I just can't compete with seasonal allergies. They really spark his skin flares.

      You have a great rest of your week Kristina.

      Be Well,

  11. Hi Amber,
    Thank you so much for this information. My son is 25 and still has problems with eczema. He is currently living on his own and really broken out and itchy (especially his legs and feet). So which of these creams you have listed, is the most effective? Currently I have on hand and ready to use: shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, apricot oil,calendula oil and avocado oil. Should I order the eucalyptus as well? Thanks! Teri

    • Hi Teri,

      Thanks for your email. I'm sorry your son suffers from this skin condition!! My husband (who is 36) still gets eczema flares on his hands (and really bad)! My lotions really help, better than anything from the store.

      So, it sounds like you have some great stuff on hand there. Here are a few combinations:

      -shea butter
      -cocoa butter
      -calendula oil
      -jojoba oil

      -shea butter
      -almond oil
      -avocado oil

      -cocoa butter
      -apricot oil
      -calendula oil

      -shea butter
      -cocoa butter
      -avocado oil

      (get some coconut oil if you can...another great healing oil for eczema).

      The combinations are really endless. For each lotion I try and stick with two oils and one or two base creams for each batch (and so in your case those would be the shea and cocoa).

      The thing about thesevlotions are they all help my son, but I found that rotating the lotions works best. So, when I run out of one, I make a new one with different ingredients. I've heard this from other mothers too. Their child will get sort of desensitized to one. I think this is pretty typical with skin.

      And no, the eucalyptus is not necessary. I used it for a bit of scent, but found that it was also okay, beneficial even, for eczema (in small diluted amounts.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Glad to help anyway I can :-)

      Be Well,

  12. Hi Please try using 100% pure unrefined coconut oil
    It heals skin like magic.
    Hope it helps :)
    What an adorable little boy


  13. Hi Vini,

    Thank you!

    I do use raw organic unrefined coconut oil in one of my lotions that works really well for my son and husband.
    You can see the recipe here:

  14. Thanks for telling the recipe! Going to do that for myself.
    The moisturisers on the market usually contain petroleum and those organic ones are so ex.
    Do more of this!!!! Haha

  15. I have been searching for homemade lotion recipes specifically for eczema on hands. I found many for toddlers but not for adults, and wasn't sure if the severity or type of eczema was different. Thank you for mentioning your husband's hand eczema, it sounds exactly like what I have. The tips on diet are very true, I've cut out dairy and noticed that new flare ups have completely stopped. I have found sweets to also be a trigger.
    A homeopath recommended I take Omega 3 and 6 oils, as a deficiency in those essential fatty acids apparently can also be a cause. Just a suggestion for anyone who is searching for anything other than a steroid cream that will prevent eczema, rather than act as a temporary fix.

    • Hello Tanya,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your insights. They are much appreciated. :-)

      Sugar really does trigger my husband's eczema, but I think weather is the worst. When we are in dry climates his hands will become red and cracked within a few hours (for example, when we drive to the mountains to go snowboarding).

      I do believe citrus triggers my son's eczema. I've been giving him fish oils and this seems to help his skin during the dry winter months.

      It's all so individual. Crazy! We do what we can to try and figure out the triggers (foods, stress, weather, etc).

      Good luck on your healing journey. And thanks again for stopping by.

      Be Well,

  16. My little 5 month old daughter has severe to moderate eczema. For someone who ate healthy, organic whole foods, I am @ my wits ends trying to figure this out. The hubs does have chronic I am really worried. I dont know what it feels like, but my daughter went from being the perfect baby to screaming and itching right around 4 months when I went back to work.
    I have been so stressed about her condition and feel awful putting steroidal creams on her which just subsides the condition. It does not cure it. It treats the symptoms in other words not the cause.
    My older son had no such condition so this was a surprise.
    thank you Amber for the posts, I have been reading and am going to trying holistic approach to this.

    Mom to R&R

    • I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. I remember when my son's skin flared around that time.

      I'm no expert when it comes to eczema, but I can tell you that my son's is nearly GONE. But it did take time, and he will be 4 in May. He's been on a gluten, dairy, cane/refined sugar free, soy free diet all his life. When he was old enough, I started introducing probiotics and fish oils. I also feel it helped to nurse him as long as possible to help colonize his gut and digestive system (so I nursed him for 2 years and followed the same diet as mentioned above). Homemade creams have been such a great defense. Also look into lanolin. It's such a great barrier and will prevent water from drying out those nearly weepy patches (my son had a TON of pus and weepy patches all over). If the itch is out of control, grind up some oatmeal into a powder and add a few tablespoons to warm bath water. This may help the itching a bit, and always follow up with lotion right out of the bath. There are so many thing to think about, and when they are young it's a little more difficult. Comfort measures are most important at the 5 month age. I'm glad you are looking into more of the cause, rather than just masking symptoms. And I'm glad these posts are helpful for you. You're not alone. Good luck to you and your baby's healing.

      Be Well,

  17. I know this is random but can you post a link to where you bought your carafe? I love it!

    Thank you :)


  18. Hi there. I just stumbled upon your blog while searching for body butter recipes. I've recently started making my own after about a year of paying $15 each for 8 oz of body butter. My great niece and a few people at my church suffer from eczema. I will definitely be making this for my niece and sharing the recipe with others. Thanks so much for sharing your journey.


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