Ultra hydrating hand lotion with cupuacu butter

Mar 3, 2022 | Body care, Formulations

This formulation was requested by a friend – she said that she has very dry hands, but does not like the sticky, waxy after feel of the lotion. So, I got thinking that cupuacu butter could be the star ingredient here and how to make this formulation work.

Formulating a hydrating hand lotion

1. Star ingredient – cupuacu butter

Not so long ago I have bought a cupuacu butter which has a very deep cocoa scent that lingers for quite a while. I would say that it is even stronger when compared to cocoa butter itself. 

This butter is extracted from a Thebroma grandifolium tree that grows in Brazil. It shares similarities with the cocoa plant and the butter is extracted from the seeds of the fruit.     

Cupuacu butter

This butter is an excellent emollient and skin softener due to fatty acid composition. It is also packed with lots of phytosterols and polyphenols that help to maintain skin’s elasticity, moisture and smoothness. 

The cupuacu butter has a very unique trait that gives superiority among other butters – it has water-binding properties and because of this it is considered to be ultra hydrating. It traps water molecules in the stratum corneum of the skin and deeply moisturizes skin layers which in turn helps to maintain elasticity and smoothness. 

Unlike shea butter and cocoa butter, cupuacu butter does not leave a greasy film on the skin.

To make it even more hydrating and soothing, I have added a bit of avocado oil and for more occlusive feeling – stearic acid. The avocado oil is actually greasy and stearic acid reduces some slip of the product. I know this might sound counter intuitive, but when paired with some dicaprylyl caprylate, the whole hand cream starts to shine. 

2. humectants

To achieve a good moisturizing effect on the skin we can add some humectants, that will bring moisture into the skin. The most widely used humectants are glycerin, sodium lactate, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid. Here I have used glycerin, sodium lactate, erythritol and inuline.

Glycerin is a great and cheap moisturizer and it will due wonders for very dry hands. In this formulation I have used quite a lot of glycerin – 8%. In the past I have read that using more than 3-4% of glycerin will make the lotion sticky and very unpleasant, but I am trying to redevelop this and see how much stickiness I can handle. Also, everything actually depends on the formulation itself. So, more glycerin does not actually mean that the final product will be sticky.


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I am also trying some new ingredients to me. This is the first time when I am using erythritol, which is a sugar, sweetener, but has interesting hair detangling capabilities and good moisturizing effect when paired with glycerin (which I am already using in this formulation). 

Another moisturizer and skin softener here is inulin – a polysaccharide, that is usually found in roots and rhizomes of the Asteraceae family plants.

And lastly – sodium lactate. This is a salt of a lactic acid and has even more hydrating power than glycerin. So, my formula is packed with humectants and occlusives (ingredients, that make a film on the skin and trap the water inside) to make the hands soft again.

Here are some other formulations with cupuacu butter:

3. formula and recipe

Phase A

63.4 g | 63.4 % Distilled water

8 g | 8 % Glycerin

2 g | 2 % Sodium lactate

4 g | 4% Erythritol

Phase B

5 g | 5 % Emulsifying wax NF

10 g | 10 % Cupuacu butter

2 g | 2 % Dicaprylyl carbonate

2 g | 2 % Stearic acid

2 g | 2 % Avocado oil

Phase C

1 g | 1 % Inulin

0.6 g | 0.6 % Cosgard (preservative)

This makes 100 g of the product.



1. Weigh all ingredients from heating phase A and put them in a beaker. Weigh phase B ingredient to a separate beaker.

2. Place both beakers with phase A and B ingredients in a simmering water bath to heat up to 75-80°C / 167-176°F. 

3. When both phases are of the same temperature – stop heating them and pour one phase into another beaker. Get every bit out of the beaker with a spatula. After combining both phases you should see that the whole mixture gets cloudy and uniform.

4. Get your blender and start blending. Blend the phases together for ~2 min, then let your blender to rest. Stir the mixture with a spatula, get every bit that splashed on the sides of the beaker.

5. Wait for 5 minutes and start blending again – you should see that the mixture starts to thicken up a bit. 

6. When the phases reach 40°C/104°F – it is time to add the final phase C. Add the preservative and inulin. Blend it again.

7. Mix everything up. Let it cool and you can put the lotion to the containers.



  • You can use less glycerin if you want to.
  • If you don’t have sodium lactate – don’t use more glycerin, just add the same amount of water.
  • If you don’t have inulin or erythritol, you can use provitamin B5 (panthenol) up to 2%. Otherwise use water instead.
  • I don’t recommend using another butter as this is the main ingredient of this formula. But you can try mango butter or shea butter. The version with shea butter will be greasier.
  • You can swap dicaprylyl carbonate with coco caprylate, isopropyl myristate or capric/caprylic triglicerydes. However, the final product will be greasier.
  • You can use cetyl, cetearyl or behenyl alcohol instead of stearic acid.
  • You can switch to a more lightweight oil like macadamia, rice bran oil instead og avocado oil.
  • Preservative is a must. Just make sure that you use recommended amount of it. And if it is pH dependant – correct the pH.

6. application and perception

This hand lotion can be applied whenever you want to. You can also apply it to the entire body – arms, legs or even feet. But it is the most beneficial to the areas that are dry.

The lotion itself spreads quite nicely, but there could be more slip. That could be improved by using behenyl or cetyl alcohol instead of stearic acid. It takes a bit of time to finally sink into the skin, however it feels very nice and does not leave a greasy feeling.


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