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As usual, as part of living a natural, non-toxic life, I've gotten used to flipping over the boxes and tubes my family's personal care products come in, just to see what we're actually smearing on our skin and rubbing in our hair.
Diaper cream is no exception.
Did you know the most popular brands of commercial diaper creams include petroleum-based endocrine disruptors, including BHA, petrolatum, and methylparabens? To their credit, however, at least one brand also uses lanolin, cod liver oil, and zinc oxide!
Using that brand as a baseline, here's the recipe for homemade diaper cream that I've settled on for our family (even though I've certainly raved about using just plain coconut oil in the past).
Please note that like any homemade cream or lotion based on oils and butters, this homemade diaper cream changes texture according to temperature, so in summertime (or in any warm climate) you may want to add more cocoa butter or less beeswax, and in winter (or in a cold climate) you may want to reduce the cocoa butter or increase the beeswax.
But, take heart, I didn't mean to make it sound difficult with that last paragraph!
I've played around with this recipe a lot and I've chosen these ratios because they tend to be the most stable at each part of the year in our climate and at most require a couple of seconds of warming either in my hand or on my son's bum to reach the ideal smooth texture.
A WORD TO THE WISE – if you live in a cool climate, don't try to put this diaper cream in a tube.
At some point it will inevitably solidify more than can be comfortably squeezed out and you will be left doing the angry monkey dance on top of the tube while your sore-bummed baby wails in not-so-sweet anticipation. The above photo may look promising, but – trust me – it ain't worth the trouble. This homemade diaper cream works best in a scoopable container with a lid.
Play around with works for you – the beauty of this recipe is that if you're not happy with it, you can just remelt it gently, add your new ingredients, and rewhip it!
- 20 g grated beeswax (about 2 tablespoons beeswax pastilles)
- 120 g coconut oil (about a generous 1/2 cup)
- 20 g cocoa butter (about 1/4 cup grated)
- 1 teaspoon cod liver oil OR olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lanolin (optional)
- 2 tablespoons zinc oxide
- 3 tablespoons bentonite clay
- electric mixer - either a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer
- tubes or containers to hold the finished diaper cream
- Place the bowl of an electric mixer or another mixing bowl in the freezer to chill. Meanwhile, gently melt the beeswax over very low heat.
- When the beeswax is nearly melted, add the coconut oil, cocoa butter, cod liver oil, and lanolin. Continue to heat gently until everything is liquid.
- Pour the mixture into the chilled bowl and add the zinc oxide and bentonite clay. Stir to incorporate the powders, then return to the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
- After chilling, whip the mixture with the whisk attachment of the electric mixer or using a handheld mixer for 5-10 minutes on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. If the oils don't seem to be firming up, return to the freezer for another five minutes or so, then continue whipping.
- When the mixture is the texture of a firm, thick lotion, scoop into a storage container and keep near your change table. Mixture will last 3-6 months.
You may notice that I've mixed weight and volume measures in this recipe. Volume measures tend to be the easiest to follow, but butters can vary greatly in volume measurements depending on what form you find, so I've included weights for those ingredients. However, the liquid oils and the powders are fairly easy to measure consistently by volume, so I've left them as such.
Beeswax provides a stability for the diaper cream through any temperature and provides a moisture barrier for the skin. Raw beeswax is also known for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Coconut Oil is rich in antioxidants and bursting with natural microbial and antibacterial fatty-acids, and it’s loaded with Vitamin E, which hastens the recovery of the skin in traumas such as burns, cuts, and other wounds (in this case, diaper rash).
Cocoa Butter also provides a bit of stability for the diaper cream through various temperatures and adds a rich, thick, creamy consistency. It provides a bit of soothing for the skin and encourages healing.
Cod Liver Oil is rich in vitamins A and D, a skin protectant that forms a moisture barrier on skin. Cod liver oil also moisturizes the skin by blocking the loss of water through evaporation. The only downside is that it may leave a slight fishy scent and it is more prone to rancidity, so if you're not going to use the diaper cream within 1-2 months, opt for the olive oil.
Olive Oil is especially lovely in any skin care cream because its fatty acid content is basically the same as that found in the fatty tissue of the outer layer of skin. In this homemade diaper cream, olive oil softens and moisturizes the skin in a similar occlusive method as cod liver oil.
Lanolin is a natural moisture barrier derived from sheep's wool and works superbly in homemade lip balms and this homemade diaper cream to protect skin in periods of prolonged exposure to moisture. It's usually sold for breastfeeding moms as a nipple balm.
Zinc Oxide coats the skin and forms a serious barrier against wetness, which is why it's used so prevalently in commercial diaper creams. For the same waterproof reason, as well as the fact that its mineral content reflect UV rays, it's also the main ingredient in the most hard-hitting sunscreens, like the kind lifeguards wear.
Bentonite Clay helps draw toxins and excessive moisture out of the skin. This is especially helpful for an already existent diaper rash or for babies who have lots of creases and folds where moisture can collect.