Bronzing Lotion Bars

DIY Bronzing Lotion Bars Recipe Bronzing Lotion Bars

Lotion bars are one of my favorite DIY beauty products and I’ve made several variations like:

This most recent one was inspired by a reader from Hawaii who mentioned that she added coffee infused oil to get a bronzing effect. This inspired me to create a bronzing/bug-repelling/sunscreen bar that would be great for the beach. The sunscreen part is optional as we like to get Vitamin D when possible. If you aren’t used to natural sunscreens, I would test this carefully at first as it is only around 15 SPF.

I found that these bars left a mild bronzing effect, a little sun protection and pest protection. These also smelled wonderful and summery! I’m packing a bunch for the beach (tip: keep in the cooler though so they don’t melt!). If you’d prefer, the beeswax can be left out for a lotion instead.

How to Infuse Coconut Oil with Coffee:

To get the natural bronzing effect, I infused coconut oil with finely ground coffee. I made a big batch so I’d have some to store, but you could cut this in half.

To start: Place 2 cups of coconut oil in a small saucepan or double boiler. Add 1 cup of very finely ground coffee (the finer the better). Simmer on low heat, stirring often, for several hours until the oil takes on a dark color. Strain through cheesecloth or old t-shirt and let cool. Use this for the coconut oil in the recipe below.

Bronzing Bar Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup  coffee-infused coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup  beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) of Zinc Oxide  (For those concerned about contaminants or nano-particles, this version has larger particles)- optional
  • 15+ drops of Bug off blend essential oil (avoid citrus essential oils) –  optional
  • dark mineral makeup for extra bronzing-optional- to color (start with about 1/2 tsp)

How to Make:

Combine all ingredients except essential oil in a quart size glass mason jar and carefully place this jar in a small saucepan of water on the stove.

Turn the burner on and bring water to a low simmer. Stir ingredients constantly until they are melted and smooth.

Add essential oils and stir until mixed.

Carefully pour into molds or whatever you will be allowing the lotion bars to harden in. I used these silicon flower molds, though any mold would work.

Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before attempting to pop out of molds. These could be made in different shaped molds or made in a square baking pan and then cut into actual bars.

How to Use:

Store in a cool or dry place for up to six months.

To apply to skin: hold bar in hand and carefully rub on dry skin. The heat of the skin will transfer some of the lotion bar to the skin. I store my lotion bars on a small plate on my dresser and bathroom counter. Add more or less menthol for a more or less potent bar.


The dark color will not show in the bar, especially if you add zinc oxide but will darken the skin.

For extra bronzing, 1/2 tsp of dark mineral makeup can be added.

If you are new to using natural sunscreens, increase sun exposure gradually to make sure you do not burn. The zinc oxide is optional if you would prefer just a bronzing bar. Some color can transfer to light color clothing, so be careful wearing white or light colors until lotion has fully absorbed in to skin.

Don’t Want To Make Them?

If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)

 Ever made lotion bars? What is your favorite type?

Reader Comments

  1. Kristie says

    I hope this isn’t a silly question, but what gives the bronzing effect? The coffee, the mineral makeup or both?

  2. Jessica Waggoner says

    Forgive me if this is a silly question….I’ve read how important magnesium is and that is good to have some absorbed through the skin….why do none of your lotion bar recipes incorporate the magnesium?

  3. shelley says

    Please! WHAT is TMI? You have referred to it s few times and I don’t recognize the term. TIA (thanks in advance)

  4. King says

    What do you think about subbing some carrot seed oil for the bug off blend to naturally increase the SPF?

  5. jamie says

    So all but the 1st 2 ingredients are optional and you said you could leave the beeswax out and use as a lotion. Would just the coffee and coconut oil work?

  6. Trina says

    Do you have any ideas on how to remove beeswax from utensils and pans? I read that if you put the items in the freezer overnight that you can than scrape it off easier but this seems tedious. Is there an easier way?

  7. Itzel Awad says

    Wondering, I live in the Caribbean side of Mexico. Will these melt off on the counter? Or how can I adjust them to be more solid?

  8. selah says

    OH NO i Already started cooking this oil but, Do you cover the oil when your infusing it or leave the lid off? THANKS!!?

  9. Sarah says

    I am trying this right now. My stove is on the lowest setting and yet it still smells like burning coffee. Am I doing something wrong? How many hours do you suggest simmering this for?

  10. Sarah says

    Wow, I agree with the person who said this has no bronzing effect whatsoever. Maybe you have to be as fair skinned as an Irish girl. I would not make this again. I feel like I wasted ingredients and time. Very disappointed about this. Coconut oil is not cheap here in the midwest…

  11. Amber says

    I can’t wait to try this! I purchased a Michael Kohrs ‘leg shine’ years ago that I have held onto. It is in a deodorant-like container that you just apply to your legs or shoulders (anywhere you want to shine and bronze). I plan on making this and putting into a deodorant container! Super excited! Thanks for the recipe!

  12. T says

    Not a big fan of this coffee+coconut oil smell. Is there anything I can do to change the smell without trashing it all? Essential oils arent available in this country.

  13. Kelsey says

    Made these with friends and absolutely love them!! Agree with the above comment though- it seems to always be a struggle to get all of the wax off all of the utensils and items we use to make any of the lotion bars. Any recommendations? Also, I’ve noticed the bronzer seems to wear off pretty fast in the ones we made. Is there anything we can do to make it last longer- maybe just add more mineral bronzer?

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