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Britta’s Natural & Nourishing Body Wash

diy body wash

It’s been almost two years since I did a post about how to make your own Homemade Body Wash with a bar of soap. It was a very popular post at the time so when my daughter proposed doing an update with a homemade body wash formula she recently came up with I thought it was a great idea! I think you’ll agree. Take it away Britta……

A couple of days ago, I went to my local health food store to pick up a bottle of my favorite body wash. It’s a big bottle, but it also has a big price tag. I must take after my mother, because upon returning home from the store I found myself wondering if I could make something similar.

I took a look at the ingredients list on the bottle:

Neem Leaf Extract, Handcrafted Shea Butter Soap, Virgin Coconut Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lavender Essential Oil

My thought process went something like this:
Neem leaf extract… what is that? Okay… Shea butter soap, bet I can find that somewhere. Virgin coconut oil, already have that! Coca-mido…propyl… Bee-tane? Um… moving on… okay, Lavender EO, got that too!

neem plant

Some intensive online research revealed that Neem is a tropical evergreen tree native to India and Pakistan. Many parts of the neem tree were traditionally used in ayurvedic remedies to fight viruses and bacteria, and also as treatment for skin diseases, burns and inflammatory diseases. If “ayurvedic” sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same Indian medical tradition that brought us the practice of oil pulling! Neem sounded like a great addition to me, so when I was shopping for supplies I picked up a bottle of neem leaf extract. However, if you don’t have access to this, the body wash will be fine without it.

diy body wash

The other mystery ingredient, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, turns out to be a surfactant added to many soaps and shampoos to aid in lathering. I didn’t really want to special order this stuff just to make some body wash, so I did a search for natural lathering agents. I found out that clay can also be used as a lathering agent in soaps, so I decided to incorporate some of the Bentonite clay I already had on hand into my “formula.” Not only does the clay lend a creamy texture to the body wash, it has TONS of other benefits as well, which you can read about in this previous post.

diy body wash

Britta’s Natural & Nourishing Body Wash

diy body wash


To make the body wash, start by roughly chopping one half of a bar of shea butter soap.

diy body wash

Blend it to a fine powder.

diy body wash

Add the soap and the distilled water to a large pot over medium high heat until the soap is melted (this part takes a while).

diy body wash

After the soap has melted, add the coconut oil.

diy body wash

Once that has melted, it’s time to add the clay. I would recommend adding some water to the clay to make a paste, and then adding the paste to the pot. This step makes it easier to incorporate.

After making sure that everything is melted and mixed well, remove the pot from the heat and pour the soap mixture into your containers. As the soap cools, the elements will start to separate, so just give it a stir every once in a while.

diy body wash

Once your containers are cool to the touch, add the neem extract and lavender EO. For each of my standard-sized mason jars, I added 10 drops of neem extract and 15 drops of lavender EO. The neem extract smells pretty weird, so the extra lavender really helps. :-)

diy body wash

And that’s all there is to it! I’m really pleased with how this body wash experiment turned out. It makes my skin sooo soft, and I know that all of the ingredients I used are natural and beneficial for my skin. I hope you like it too!

What essential oils do I use?
Have a question about essential oils? Curious about what brand of essential oils I prefer? Find the answers in my Essential Oils FAQ!

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Beauty Tips

  • Really a great post! Thank you so much for sharing with us this body wash and also thanks for telling step by step and guiding us with pictures. I have a question.

    Can I use any other soap instead of shea butter soap?

  • Hi Britta, I made this body wash and has the same problem as Kari…it doesn’t sud and we would like to have to more foam. Shall I use one whole bar instead. The only modification I made was substituting neem to tea tree. Mine wasn’t the consistancy of whipping cream but totally liquid. What do you suggest please?

  • […] Body Wash Blush/Bronzer Makeup Remover Shaving Gel/Cream Mouthwash Deodorant Body Butter Liquid Hand Soap […]

  • Ok I made this for my boufriend and he says it doesnt suds up any more than the other diy body wash I made. He said its way more moisturizing than the other one. He wants more suds lol and its also kind of snotty looking. Any tips on how to fix these 2 problems? Thanx;)

    • Kari, it is pretty low-sudsing, for sure. However, I don’t believe that means it isn’t cleaning. Mine was kind of snot-textured as well. Still love using it though!

  • Thank you so much for sharing with us this body wash and also thanks for telling step by step and guiding us with pictures. Really supreb job

  • How does this compare to the DIY handsoap? I want something that I can use with a pouf/scrubbie in the shower but my homemade handsoap doesn’t work. Has anyone tried the body soap that way?

  • I really like this idea…but my kids don’t tolerate shea butter….so here is what we did.

    I made the formula you did with this exception. I used this soap instead. I also added a 1/4 cup of cocoa butter and put it in small containers besides a couple larger ones. Now we can take it with us when we go!!

    It isn’t a solid…but more like a whipped cream…and I also added more neem and more lavender.

  • You do realize that you aren’t supposed to use metal anything when mixing bentonite clay. The metals react to each other and render the bentonite clay useless…I didn’t pay attention to the spoon in your photo the first time I read this post.

  • I just wanted to point out something funny. Diane posted a link from lifehacker.com about a reusable top to use for the mason jars so you dont scoop right out of the jar. The “hack” is clearly from Jillee’s site, as her mark is in the corner.

    Jillee, you’re so amazing (Britta too!) that people post your stuff which gets reposted and relinked by others. I always recognize you’re work by the fonts and pictures.

    Keep up the AMAZING work you two! We all love it!

  • We’re working on homemaking everything, going more green and being healthier altogether – I can’t wait to make this and start using it! I’m also going to make the coconut oil deodorant and toothpaste and shampoo.

    I have a question about the essential oil for the scent. It was mentioned the neem smells funny, so I’d definitely like to use another scent to cover that up. The problem with using lavender is the only time my daughter ever got a uti was using lavender soap, so we just don’t want to have it around in case that was the problem. My husband likes the idea of a cypress scent for himself, I like bergamot for myself, and I was thinking vanilla for our son and daughter. Do you think these would be ok to use in a body wash?

  • Thanks for this post, Jillee and Britta. I had a couple of handcrafted soap/shampoo bars that I hated, but couldn’t brings myself to throw out- so I’m thrilled to find a use for them.
    I made this the other day and have a few ideas.
    1. I used a handcrafted shampoo/soap bar instead of the shea butter soap. It worked great. I have another shampoo bar that I will try next time.
    2. The consistency of this soap is liquid. Unless you use a sponge or cloth with it you are going to waste a lot trying to get your whole body.
    3. I think neem oil smells like rancid soy sauce so I omitted it.
    4. I couldn’t get the soap to a powder consistency. Using small chunks of the soap worked fine- it just took longer to melt. Be careful not to let it boil over, because I did and it was a mess.
    5. This can also be used as a great base recipe that you can tweak. I omitted the neem, and added argan oil. I think the next one I make will use tea tree oil.
    6. I used Britta’s tip and added some of the soap mixture to the clay before I added it to the whole batch. Next time I will transfer the mixture to a glass bowl because some of the clay mixture stuck to the bottom of the crappy pan I used and I had a hard time getting it off.

  • …okay, silly question time….is Neem Oil (essential oil) and Neem Leaf Extract the same thing, and can one be substituted for the other? I’m fairly new to the essential oils,so, please excuse my ignorance, lol

    • Belinda, Neem oil (the one I purchased anyway) is made from the seed of the Neem tree, where as Neem leaf extract comes from the leaves of the tree. I wasn’t able to find Neem leaf extract at my health food store, so I just substituted the Neem oil instead. They probably aren’t identical in properties, but I figured it was better than nothing! :-) Hope that helps.

  • Hi I wanted to alert people who may want to purchase Cocamidopropyl Betanine, this is put in a lot of products Natural and Organic, its a skin irritant and heated at high temperatures can become cancer causing but it has to be heated to 350 or above pretty hot! The body wash looks lovely and thank you for the recipe. If anyone is interested in learning about Cocamidopropyl Betanine, just google it.

  • Can you use something besides the shea butter soap. I have trouble with shea butter and lanolin based anything. I tend to break out so would prefer to use something else.

  • Is the lavender oil just for smell or does it have another purpose? I have respiratory issues with that smell and am wondering if I can substitute another essential oil in it’s place with the same results.

    • Lavender is a great skin calming and blemish control eo – however, so is patchouli, and sandalwood. Add your favorite that doesn’t cause problems. I have come up with my own eo regimen for psoriasis that is helping clear my skin, and I love the scent. Lavender is one I use in mine, but I don’t have an aversion to it. Hope you find an eo that you are happy with.

      • I’m also struggling with psoriasis and looking for natural solutions. Would you mind sharing what works for you? Thank you!

      • Sorry it has taken me so long to get back – I had no idea that someone had asked about this. Per ounce of carrier (I mix mine in homemade body butter) I use 5 drops lavender, 3 drops patchouli, and 3 drops geranium. It hasn’t worked overnight by any means, but is a great help. I had a patch on my side that was the size of my palm….it is gone! The rest of my skin is clearing up and I have been using this regimen twice a day for almost a year. If you don’t use body butter, try it in an ounce of jojoba oil, or sweet almond. You can use sandalwood in place of the patchouli if you want something with a milder scent…make sure your oils are pure eo’s and not fragrance oils (they won’t do you any good). I hope you find something you like and that works for you. Jillee, it would be great if notices went to emails….I could have responded sooner. Is there a setting that I don’t know about?

  • Hi Britta, thanks so much for this post. I will be making this. I was curious, you said in your email about this that your daughter had a variant. Does she use another EO?

    Also, I use Neem Oil regularly as an non-pesticide approach to plant health (after pruning my roses about this time every year, they get sprayed and the soil drenched to prevent rust and other plant yuckies). I wanted to mention that I treat it like any other plant preparation and keep the supply bottle inaccessible to my small grandkids, since in its raw form it is so toxic it can cause death to little ones if ingested. I assume that everyone does that anyway with their EOs.

  • This sounds like a fun project! I would love to try this out. I am getting tired of my regular old body wash! I also wanted to swing by to say hi! I enjoyed meeting you gals at the Altitude Summit! I loved the chance to learn and discuss creative content at the round table. :) Love you site!

    Find me here:
    Laura Muir
    Fresh & Happy

  • From what I’ve read about bentonite clay, “it is important to use a glass bowl and wooden spoon because when the Bentonite Clay gets wet, it sets up an electromagnetic reaction which will absorb the particles inside of a metal bowl, or the toxins out of a plastic one.” Sounds like a great recipe, but I would definitely use glass or wooden utensils and containers so the clay doesn’t absorb any toxins from the metal!

    • Shari, I have read that same info. Somehow the metal takes away some of the benefits you’d get from the clay and pretty much negates using it to begin with. That being said, I always use plastic measuring utensils and if it needs to be heated up in a recipe I use a glass or ceramic bowl to do that.

  • I make my own body wash using liquid castile, shea butter, and eo’s. I keep it from separating by using xangthan gum. I love the idea of adding bentonite clay! And it’s not very expensive at my local health food store. Will be adding clay to my shopping list for my next trip.

    • Hi, just wondering what your liquid soap to shea butter ratio is. I tried to eyeball it once and ended up having to throw the whole thing away. Never tried it again but have wanted to.

      • I use about 12 ounces of liquid castile to about 4 ounces shea, but the importance is really the xangthan gum used correctly to bind the water, soap, and oils and keep them from separating. A small packet is available at some wal-mart stores for $0.25 each, or a big bag at some health food stores fir around $15.00.

      • I also use the same amount of drops of eo’s in my body wash (per ounce) – I think that is what you were looking for. Sorry about that….

  • I recently made a batch of lotion bars using coconut oil/shea butter/beeswax (recipe from Jillee of course!), and spent days trying to get the oily sheen out of all of my kitchen supplies. I would love to try this, but worry about adding my blender to the list of things that will taste like shea butter for weeks. Is there anything you use in particular to break down heavy oils afterward? My dish soap doesn’t seem to cut it. (This concoction looks fantastic–I am itching to try it!).

    • I recommend hand washing all of the equipment, and then running them through the dishwasher.

      I have made my own bar soap for years, and if you have ever done that, you know that the equipment is a greasy mess afterward. This seems to be the best way I have found.

      BUT…..be sure to wipe as much of the greasiness off with a papertowel, then hand wash with soap. THEN put in the dishwasher. Greasy/oily bowls/spoons directly into the dishwasher will create a greasy, slimy film all over the inside of your dishwasher, or any other dishes you have in there.

      • Could you use plain rubbing alcohol to clean it? I’ve found it very helpful in cutting any oily residue on “stuff”. In a pinch I have been known to put a pump of antibacterial gel on a papertowel and wipe things down with that that are oily.

      • You can also search thrift stores for a blender that is only used for these products…I found one (and a stick blender) at a goodwill outlet where they sell things by the pound… The blender had no lid but it came out to $3, so I use a plate for a lid…works great!

      • If it a regular blender you can use a mason jar just screw the blades to the jar. Be sure to use your rubber seal.

    • I make homemade goats milk soap and have found the easiest way to cleanup all the oils is to wash with a little homemade powdered laundry detergent. I sprinkle it over, around and through all my oily utensils and bowls dry scrubing them first. The dry soap soaks up most of the oil. Then I use supper hot water to rinse. Works like a charm!!

    • I bought cheap kitchen items (blender, food processor, spatulas, etc) at yard sales to use specifically for my homemade beauty & laundry items. I don’t worry about my beauty items getting into my food. And Cally, I like your idea of using mt homemade laundry detergent for cleaning my cheap kitchen items. I will try it next time. Thanks!

  • Hi Jean,

    If your using a powdered toothpaste you could put it in an empty spice jar and just sprinkle it on your brush. I feel the same way about putting my hands or dipping a tooth brush into something! Every time I see someone use a Chapstick/gloss that is applied with a finger I just cringe!

  • This may be a pretty dumb question… how do you use it. Scoop it out of the container or can it go into a pump and pump it out. Scooping I would be leery of because of using hands and maybe contaminating it. Also I would need plastic, wouldn’t want glass in the shower. Different subject ame principle, homemade toothpaste. Just dip a wet toothbrush in it? Any ideas.


  • Thanks for this idea, and your clear instructions. What size (oz) is your “standard ” mason jar please. I have cases of mason jars in many standard sizes.

  • I have shea oil (liquid, not the solid butter). Could I use some of that and maybe decrease the amount of water? What is the consistency of this mixture?
    I like the idea of adding the clay.

    • Aimee, the only things I had to buy to make this was the Shea butter soap ($5) and the bottle of Neem ($10). I used half of the bar of soap, and a fraction of the bottle of Neem to make around 64oz of body wash. So by my rough calculations, I spent around $3 for 64oz, and the product this is based on is $10 for 32oz. :-) Hope that helps!

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