A montage of raw ingredients (c) Rianne Mason

Cocoa and vanilla body whip

This is a delicious body butter that smells a bit like Kinder egg! The coconut oil means it melts to the touch and takes a little time to absorb. I recommend keeping it in the fridge and using it for an overnight treatment or massage balm.

Ingredients (makes 4 x 60ml tins)

  • Ensure all ingredients are cosmetic grade, preferably organic.
  • 5 ml/g (1 tsp) of beeswax
  • 80 ml/g of sunflower oil
  • 40 ml/g of shea butter
  • 40 ml/g of cocoa butter
  • 60 ml/g of coconut oil
  • 15 drops of organic vanilla essential oil (or replace with your favourite one)
  • 4 x 60ml tins (or one giant container!)


  1. Melt the beeswax, sunflower oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of gently boiling water (a double boiler).
  2. When everything is melted, put the bowl in the freezer for 15 mins until it’s partially set round the edges.
  3. Add the vanilla essential oil.
  4. Use an electric whisk to beat the mix to a whip, similar to whipping cream. You’ll see it change colour and thicken up. Don’t over-whip it unless you prefer a more solid butter.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tins and make a note of the date you made it (it lasts 6-12 months depending on the shelf-life of your products).

Top tips from when I made it

  • Ensure your work environment and equipment is spotlessly clean.
  • Place a plastic table cloth on the table you’re using – oil can easily stain wood.
  • Use more beeswax and less coconut oil for a firmer body butter (and vice versa).
  • Have fun and experiment with flavours! The cocoa smell here is quite strong on its own so choose an essential oil that compliments it. I might try cinnamon or orange next time.

Enjoy the magic of nature…


The cocoa bean is the seed of the plant Theobrama cacao, also called the cocoa tree. It’s an evergreen tree native to the tropical regions of Mexico. Once the pinkish white flowers are pollinated by Forcipomyia biting midges, the large pods containing cacao are produced.

The Latin name Theobrama cacao translates as ‘food of the gods’ – named so because Mayan and Aztec nobles used drank the beans ground up with chillies. Today we like our cocoa with sugar and made into chocolate. Most of it is grown in West Africa.


The coconut is the drupe of the plant Cocos nucifera, also known as the palm tree. The coconut is the seed, the fruit and the nut of the tree! Bees play an important role in their pollination.

The coconut is beautifully adapted to sail cross oceans, which is why you find palm trees in so many places. Its many uses are captured in the South Seas saying “He who plants a coconut tree, plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children”.


Shea butter is taken from the nuts of the plant Vitellaria paradoxa, also called the shea tree. It’s a deciduous tree indigenous to Africa. Once the creamy white flower is pollinated, largely by honey bees, an oil-rich seed is formed.

The shea is an important tree in sub-Saharan Africa. Its butter is nutritious and a vital ingredient for confectionary, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals across the world.


The wild sunflower, Helianthus Annuus, is native to North America. It’s an annual plant, widely cultivated for its seeds and oil. Their huge flower heads are pollinated by bees of all kinds.

The sunflower turns its head towards the sun throughout the day. Its sun-like appearance also leads to it symbolising worship and faithfulness in many religions. For the Incas, it represents the Sun God.


Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honeybees. It’s what the bees use to form cells for honey storage and larval protection.

It carries antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that are essential in fighting chapped skin and bacterial infections. It creates a barrier for your skin without clogging it.


Vanilla is the seed of the pod from an orchid plant. There are over 100 species of vanilla orchid and the most common is Vanilla planifolia. It’s native to central America and now cultivated in other areas of South America too. It’s often pollinated by hand but in nature the Melipona bee helps out.

Because its production is so labour intensive, vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron. As well as being a delicious flavour, its fragrance can have a calming effect.