Vegetable Butters used in cosmetics

 I am now dealing with solid fats in my series of cosmetics oils and fats. By solid fats I mean lipids (fats) that do not transform to liquid oil at normal room temperature. Solid fats are also often referred to as vegetable butters. I think it’s pretty descriptive and a good name.


Why vegetable butter is so hard

Vegetable butter is hard because its fatty acid profile is different than liquid oils. Other than that, vegetable butter is just ordinary fat like oils. Oils are solid at room temperature. By no means vegetable butter is wax like beeswax.

Stearic and palmitic acids

Hard vegetable fats contain significant amounts of stearic acid and palmitic acid. They make the fat hard at room temperature. Stearic acid and palmitic acid are not absorbed very deeply into the skin. They remain on the surface of the skin as a thin layer to protect the skin from wind and whirls. Stearic acid and palmitic acid also effectively keep the moisture in the skin. They prevent the evaporation of moisture.

Vegetable butter stearic acid and palmitic acid are very useful in products which are designed to protect the skin or lips from the wind. They are also very useful in night-time lotions and lotions mentioned for ageing skin. These creams are designed to keep the moisture in the skin.

The list of the use of vegetable butter is endless

Vegetable butter is widely used in cosmetic creams and ointments. They are usually mixed with liquid oils. The user experience is much nicer when the cream is softer. Many very light day creams may contain a bit of solid fat.

Of course, you can use all vegetable butters as they are. Shea butter is very popular in foot care. I find that shea butter gives the best result for dry or cracking heels:  wash your feet in the evening and the just apply shea butter on your feet. Wear cotton socks overnight and your feet will be much softer in the morning.

Body butter is one of the most popular way to use solid fats

Foamed body butter is prepared by mixing various solid fats with liquid oils. Such a product is very effective for dry winter skin. However, body butter is not intended for daily use. It can be too protective and gradually block the skin from breathing.

In lip balms, vegetable butters are quite essential. Solid fats give the product a composition that holds the lipstick in shape. You’ll make the best lip balm by melting different solid fats together with beeswax.

Some of the best solid fats used in cosmetics


Here you can find some cosmetic solid fats. I know there are products made from very exotic seeds. And more are coming, the innovation capability of cosmetics industry seems unlimited. There are special properties in many cosmetic fats that are beneficial to a skilled cosmetic manufacturer. For example, some fats will instantly melt on the skin but are solid at room temperature.

The best known solid cosmetic fats

Shea Butter

Shea butter is obtained from walnut (Vitellaria paradoxa) nuts. Shea’s other name is karite. Butterwood comes from Africa. It is grown in countries like Ghana.

Shea butter’s melting point is 40-50 degrees Celsius (104 – 122 Fahrenheit). This means that shea butter remains firm on the skin.

Shea butter is available also as purified, white shea. There is also unrefined, raw shea butter which has a stronger odour. Some people do not tolerate the smell of unrefined shea butter. Personally, I like its odour. The colour of unrefined shea butter is cream brown, or beige, the same colour as unrefined cotton. Refined shea butter is always pure white.

Try organic, raw, unrefined shea butter

The raw, organic, unrefined shea butter has all the great features of the shea still left. That’s why I recommend trying it in cosmetics.

There is a huge variety of different shea butters available. In fact, each tree produces its own shea butter. Some shea is hard as a stone and some other is very soft. And you can find everything in between. The fatty acid compositions also vary widely.

Shea butter is a popular cosmetic ingredient today. It is also used in Africa for cooking and for making candles. You can make a good soap of shea butter. However, shea butter is an expensive raw material.

In Africa, some tribes use shea butter because of their tradition. They make their own shea butter by roasting and beating the nuts.  For them, shea butter is also a natural remedy for pain, sinusitis and itching and rashes.

Shea butter contains 40-60% oleic acid, 20-50% stearic acid and small amounts of linoleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and arachidic acid. The harder the shea butter is, the more stearic acid it contains.

Shea butter is said to be anti-inflammatory. It is thus believed to reduce inflammation of the skin. This is said to be based on the plant chemicals contained in shea butter. I have no specific information on this.

Shea butter is also said to prevent the harmful effects of the sun on the skin. However, there is no sun lotion available based on shea butter.

Mango Butter


The mango butter is obtained by pressing the large seed inside the mango. Mango butter is much softer than shea butter. It has a melting point of 32-40 degrees Celsius (90 – 104 Fahrenheit). This means that mango butter melts on warm skin, even if it is in solid form at room temperature.

Mango butter has a beautiful yellow colour. Mango butter is not a traditional product like shea butter. It is usually chemically extracted from mango seeds. There are also mango butters available that are extracted by cold pressing and by gently steaming. In this process, mango butter retains its natural vitamins and antioxidants. So, check the quality of the mango butter when buying.

Mango butter is skin friendly

Mango butter does not block pores so it can also be used for facial care. However, mango butter contains a lot of oleic acid. High oleic acid is not suitable for everyone’s skin.

Mango butter contains a plant chemical called mangiferin. It is anti-inflammatory. Mango butter, especially cold pressed, is rich in antioxidants that treat the skin.

Good quality mango butter is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, both are very beneficial to the skin.

Mango butter is used in cosmetics for creams.  Wonderful frothy body butter is made of mango butter. You can also try mango butter for night creams, lip palms and foot care products.

Mango butter contains 45-55% oleic acid and 45-55% stearic acid. The remaining fatty acids are linoleic acid, palmitic acid and arachidic acid.

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is a very popular skin care product. Previously, it was used only in chocolate production. However, cocoa butter is thousands of years old skin care product. It was used by ancient Aztecs to improve the colour of the skin.

Cocoa butter has other positive effects on the skin.

That is why it is now being used in many cosmetic products. Cocoa butter is clogs pores much easier than mango butter or shea butter. Therefore, I do not recommend cocoa butter for facial treatment at all. For body care, cocoa butter is fine unless you have a body acne.

Cocoa butter contains 24-37% stearic acid, 24-30% palmitic acid and 29-38% oleic acid. In addition, it contains small amounts of linoleic acid, myristic acid, arachidic acid and lauric acid. Because of the high proportion of hard fatty acids in cocoa butter, it suits well for maintaining skin moisture. Hard fatty acids form a layer on the skin that protects the skin from moisture evaporation. The fat layer also protects the skin from external stimulation such as strong winds.

Cocoa butter contains caffeine and theobromine, which is a caffeine-like substance. Caffeine is commonly used in skin care products as it is known to boost the skin’s blood circulation. Especially cellulite-removing products contain caffeine. Therefore, cocoa butter suits well for body care.


Theobromine, that cocoa butter contains very small amounts, is a caffeine-like substance. Theobromine is tolerated by humans just like caffeine, but it causes problems for dogs. So never use cocoa butter in pet grooming products. Also keep cocoa butter and raw cocoa butter out of the reach of pets.

The benefits of cocoa butter on the skin


The benefits of cocoa butter on the skin are similar to those of other natural vegetable butters. Cocoa butter is rich in antioxidants. Because of its antioxidants, it is one of the most stable cosmetic fats. Cocoa butter has anti-inflammatory effects because of the same reason. Antioxidants are very suitable for the treatment of aging skin. They prevent skin oxidation reactions and thereby the formation of wrinkles.

Another very good feature of cocoa butter is its melting point, that is 34-38 degrees Celsius (93 – 100 Fahrenheit). It means the cocoa butter melts immediately on the skin. So, it is a scientific fact that chocolate melts immediately in the mouth.

In cosmetics, the melting point of cocoa butter affects the absorption. The antioxidants in cocoa butter are better absorbed by the skin as the fat becomes liquid on the skin.

Wonderful chocolate aroma

The benefit of cocoa butter is also its wonderful chocolate aroma and taste. The scent of cocoa butter is perfect for body butter.

Cocoa butter suits particularly well as a raw material for body butter. For facial treatment I would not use cocoa butter because of its pores blocking properties. You can also make foot care products and hand creams from cocoa butter.

Start using these three most common types of vegetable butter

These three vegetable butters are the most common vegetable cosmetic butters. You may have previously wondered how you would use vegetable butters in cosmetics. Based on this story you hopefully got some tips on using these lovely butters.

The characteristics of these three vegetable butters vary only slightly. However, you should know them and characteristics of the plants should be known as well as the differences of the butters. Then you will be able to choose the right ingredient for your product. Cocoa butter, mango butter and shea butter are rich in antioxidants and protect the skin from drying out and from strong wind. They also create a firmer texture in the product, meaning they act as a thickener.

Shea butter protect against wind

I often add a small amount of hard shea butter to my daily protective cream. Shea butter increases the amount of stearic acid in the cream. Stearic acid creates a protective but breathable layer on the skin.

The main difference between shea butter, mango and cocoa butter is the aroma. You can change the fragrance of the products by changing the ingredients to a more fragrant one. Some cannot tolerate the smell of chocolate in their creams. Then you can choose, for example, mango butter as a raw material for the body butter.

When choosing vegetable butter as an ingredient in your product, pay special attention to quality. By quality, I mean the manufacturing process of vegetable butter. Prefer the most natural methods of manufacturing. In general, traditional methods are the best.

Avoid all refined vegetable butter. They may have chemical residues. In addition, refined vegetable fats or oils do not contain antioxidants, which are very important ingredients for the skin.

Tip to fix granulation of vegetable butter


A tip for all vegetable butter lovers: if your vegetable butter-based anhydrous product is ready but with granules, don’t worry. Reheat the whole set in pan in water bath for 20 minutes at about 80 degrees Celsius (176 Fahrenheit). By doing this, the vegetable butter settles and does not become granular. Only essential oils you may have added to the product will suffer from this operation. So, add fresh drops of essential oil once the vegetable butter has cooled down. Next time wait until your product is ready and cooled down and only then add the essential oil drops.

Thank you for reading my article!

Here is my story about the most familiar vegetable butters. Hope my story was interesting and you got some new information again.

I would really like to know your experiences with using vegetable butters. Please share your experience.

4 answers

    1. Thanks Katie for spotting the mistakes!
      I have now made some corrections to the article.
      Best regards, Outi

  1. Hi Wanyama
    Thank you very much for your interest and question.
    Isn’t it wonderful to explore the secrets of natural beauty incredients.
    Yes,you are absolutely right, it is possible to make a product for the same purpose without using any vegetable butters. We just do not call it body butter but salve. Here is a recipe for it.
    Please let me know how did you manage to create the salve. Many thanks!
    Season’s Greetings,

  2. I am impressed by your educative article on vegetable butters used in cosmetics.
    The reason am reading is to make some body butter. I have just made a body cream using commercial liquid vegetable oil, Beeswax and Leleshwa oil, the later being the essential oil. It doesn’t seem bad.

    Based on the analysis you have made, it seems to me that the benefits available in these butters is also available in beeswax and Leleshwa oil.

    Is it therefore possible to make body butter without using the these butters and how?

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