Bronzing Lotion Bars

DIY Bronzing Lotion Bars Recipe

Lotion bars are one of my favorite DIY beauty products. I’ve created several variations such as:

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 still low 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.

Lotion Bar Ingredients

What to Do:

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 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.

Additional Notes

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?

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Reader Comments

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

  2. 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?

    • It has to be melted in water to work effectively and these are oil based… I do have a magnesium body butter though…

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

  4. What’s in the dark mineral makeup that helps or increases bronzing?

    • It is the more instant bronzer that makes skin look darker…

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

  6. Why avoid citrus oils?

    • Citrus oils can make you photosynthetic aka sunburn rapidly.

  7. 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?

    • I use just coffee infused coconut oil straight out of the shower daily & it is a great bronzer (it makes my skin glow)…I even feel like it might last more than one day…this could be because the coffee stains my skin a bit, or it could just be in my head 🙂

      • Have you noticed any color transferring or staining on your clothes from the coffee/bronzer?

  8. 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?

    • I just rub most of it off with a paper towel while it is warm enough to be melted. For utensils, you can use a wood craft stick and throw it away.

  9. Does it stain clothes, how bad?

  10. I made this (with no zinc oxide) and it had no bronzing affect at all. 🙁 Pretty bummed.

  11. The referral to this recipe says infused coffee and cocoa, where is the cocoa?

  12. 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?

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

  14. be honest, if i overcook (smells burnt) the coconut coffee oil do I need to scrap the whole batch?
    and start over?

    • I’d cool it and see how it is in a few hours. It might just be the pan…

  15. 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?

  16. 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…

  17. Can you use instant coffee, or will it not have the same effect?

  18. How many bars does your recipe make?

    • Hi, Breanne:

      I just made this according to the recipe. I used the suggested flower shaped silicone mold and it made 2 equal portioned lotion bars. The number of bars will be determined by your size molds. To fill the entire flower mold, you will probably need to triple the recipe. This would be good to know, if you are producing gifts.

      I heated my coffee infused oil for 3 hrs and strained it through a thick paper towel taped to a Pyrex measuring cup. I was able to squeeze any remaining oil from the ball of coffee grounds. I did notice the longer I cooked the batch, the darker the oil.

      I did find some of the Zinc Oxide to settle to the bottom of the bowl and have not figured out how to incorporate it better. I tried re-melting and mixing again, which did help some.

      I’ll report my thoughts after I’ve had the chance to use the bronzer bar. I did enjoy making this recipe. Thank you, Katie “Wellness Mama” !!!
      Warm Regards,
      Martita LMW

      • Hi, Everyone:

        OK — I tried the lotion bar as prescribed in the recipe. Sadly, it did not work for me, but I think I may not be pale enough. I did learn a lot in regards to making coffee infused oil. The second time around, I doubled the amount of coffee ratio to the coconut oil. I cooked the mixture for 3 hours and strained it through new panty hose that have been sanitized in the washing machine. I stretched the panty hose over a Pyrex measuring cup and taped down the edges. I found that my make-shift fine sieve strainer worked better than the paper towel. I was also able to squeeze any excess oil from the coffee grounds. The spent grounds were then sent to the compost pile.

        I’ve been playing around with 2 recipes and merging the best of the two. I am using this recipe and another that uses black tea in the mix with some promising results. I’ll report back, if I figure out the correct proportions. My only concern is the level of caffeine absorbed through the skin from doubling the amount of coffee.

        Martita LMW :o)

  19. 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!

  20. Is it possible to use another type of oil such as vegetable oil or olive oil instead of coconut oil?

    • You could use olive but you would use less. I would avoid vegetable oils, even on skin

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. I boil hot water, and pour over my utensils, and wipe with a napkin. Works great!

  24. Katie,

    I discovered your blog about a year ago & have grown attached to so many of your recipes… Thank you, thank you, thank you. I made the basic lotion stick, it seems to be calming my (& my 2 year olds) Keratosis. Last summer I tied to make to sun screen bars & the zinc oxide kind of sunk to the bottom of my bars. Any suggestions on how to prevent this? I would love to try again, this time with the stick recipe.

  25. How long is the coffee infused coconut oil good by itself? What is the shelf life once stored in glass container?

  26. Can this be made in a double boiler or does melting it in a glass jar have an affect on the product.

    Thank you

  27. I’m confused about the zinc oxide, why do you add it in your recipes?
    It’s in inorganic compound which doesn’t seem like it should be good for you.

    • The zinc oxide is a natural sunblock. Non-nano zinc oxide is safe, since it won’t be absorbed by your skin (just be careful not inhale the powder).

  28. Instead of the dark mineral make-up could i use raw cacao powder? I saw a recipe that said to mix some with lotion as a bronzer… but i would love it in this recipe if you think it might work. Thanks

  29. Just made… Thought it was REALLY dark so I opted to add the zinc ~ BIG MISTAKE! It looks like the bars in the pic, but when I tried it, well… I had wished I haven’t. NO darkening, actually, made my skin pretty white. Has anyone have it change to darken after a while?? I hope so, I mean I’ll use it as a sun protectant! cost too much not to use it. …but NOT why I wanted it ~~~
    ((Sad face))

  30. Could you substitute the coffee for black tea?

  31. Could I use instant coffee and let it dissolve well. I do not use ground coffee and hate to buy a container just for this?

  32. Could I do the coffee/coconut oil in a crock pot overnight, do you think?

  33. How long does the bronzing last? Just until you shower? Is it waterproof if you go to the pool/beach?

  34. How many hours is “several”?