Turn your everyday shower into a luxury experience with fragrant peony body wash! This homemade body wash recipe uses real peonies and natural ingredients that nourish and soothe the skin. The DIY body wash has a beautiful iridescent shimmer and lush floral scent that indulges the senses.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Learn more
Homemade peony body wash
This DIY peony body wash features a lovely peony scent and pearlescent shimmer that will transform your daily shower into a spa-like experience. The texture feels thick and luxurious and glides smoothly over the skin.
The shower gel formula is gently cleansing and suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. The ingredient list includes allantoin and vitamin E that calm and regenerate the skin as you soak your body in peony shower gel.
And the ingredient I’m most excited about? Real peonies! Read on to learn about the possible skincare benefits of peonies and see how to make your own peony body wash at home!
Materials for DIY peony body wash
Let me show you the ingredients in this easy body wash recipe. All materials are of natural origin, safe the fragrance oil, which you can omit for an all-natural body product. Here’s the material list:
- Dried peony buds and distilled water are used to create a peony infusion. The peony-infused water is the base of the body wash recipe. I’ll share more details about these fascinating flowers below.
- Coco glucose (Plantapon SF) is a mild surfactant made from natural materials. The ingredient has a rich lather and excellent cleansing qualities. It’s not the same as coco glucoside, so be sure to purchase coco glucose/Plantapon SF.
- Allantoin (optional) amps up the skincare factor. The skin-loving ingredient is an effective moisturizing agent, increases skin smoothness, and improves dry, itchy skin.
- Vitamin E (optional) has powerful antioxidant properties that protect your skin from UV-induced sun damage. The vitamin also moisturizes and softens dry areas, such as elbows and knees.
- Mica powder (optional) lends the body wash a beautiful shimmer. Since the greenish tint of the peony infusion isn’t overly attractive, I colored my body wash with pink and white mica to get a soft pink hue.
- Peony fragrance oil (optional) gives the shower gel a lovely floral note. Skip the fragrance oil if you prefer an all-natural product. Just note that the body wash will have no scent.
- Lactic acid acts as a thickener and regulates the pH of the homemade peony body wash.
- Preservative: You must preserve the water-based formulation to inhibit bacteria and mold. I used Preservative Eco (Geogard ECT), a natural broad-spectrum preservative.
Before continuing with the tutorial, let’s look more into the key ingredient in this body wash recipe, peony buds.
Dried peony buds
I wanted to create peony beauty products for the longest time, but it seemed impossible. The shelves at Bath & Body Works and Target might be well-stocked with peony-scented products, but the lush bloom is surprisingly elusive to incorporate into homemade beauty recipes.
My friend Stephanie from Garden Therapy has a lovely peony bath salts recipe made with dried peony petals she foraged from her garden. I also found a pretty peony body scrub by Erika of Rhythm & Reverie that utilizes fresh petals. But other than that, I haven’t seen any DIY skincare recipes with peonies.
As Irena mentioned in her peony candle tutorial, peony essential oil doesn’t exist, nor does peony hydrosol. Unless you grow peonies in your garden or buy organic flowers at the florist’s during the short peony season, your chances to create skincare with real peonies are pretty slim.
Enter: dried peony buds.
What are dried peony buds?
Peony buds, aka peony balls, are the dried buds of the peony plant. They have a vibrant pink color and are approximately the size of a thumbnail. Peonies are traditionally used for tea and medicinal applications, but we’ll employ them to infuse our body wash recipe.
When you buy peony balls, be sure they are food-grade and ideally organic.
Do peony buds smell like peony?
No. Sadly, dried peony buds don’t smell like peonies in full bloom. They have a delicate floral, slightly sweet scent that faintly reminds me of incense.
You’ll have to include peony fragrance oil to achieve a rich peony scent. Without fragrance oil, the body wash will simply have a gentle herbal aroma.
Benefits of peonies in skincare
Known as Bai Shao, peonies have been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. The benefits of the white peony root are documented to some extent by research, but I found little information about the possible benefits of peony flowers for skincare.
Peonies contain the natural compounds paeoniflorin, paeonol, catechin, a phenol, flavonoids, and other nutrients. These constituents are primarily found in the roots and seeds, only to a lesser extent in the rest of the plant.
- Paeonol is said to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and toning qualities that can potentially calm a variety of skin conditions and encourage cell regeneration. Due to its analgesic (pain-relieving) effect, paeonol plays an essential role in Chinese medicine. (source)
- Paeoniflorin has anti-inflammatory properties (source), and research suggests that it may reduce wrinkles. (source) Furthermore, another study found that the bioactive may reduce anxiety and stress. (source)
- Catechin is a natural antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. (source)
Further studies are needed to fully understand and confirm the benefits of this beautiful flower. I will update this post if I find more resources.
Where can I buy peony buds?
How to make peony body wash
This peony body wash couldn’t get much easier. The cold process formula comes together quickly and requires no special equipment. Here’s a quick overview of how to make the body wash recipe (the full instructions are below):
Step 1: Prep
- Measure out the ingredients and gather your equipment.
Step 2: Make the peony infusion
- Pour the distilled water into a small saucepan and add the peony buds. Infuse on the stovetop over low flame for 15 minutes.
- Strain the peony infusion into a jar and discard the peony balls.
- Let cool to room temperature. Measure 3/4 cup / 180 ml / 6 oz and reserve the rest for another project.
Step 3: Dissolve the dry materials
- In a tall lab beaker or glass jar, combine the peony-infused water, allantoin, and mica powders. Stir until the allantoin has mostly dissolved and the water is evenly colored.
Step 4: Add surfactant
- Next, mix in the coco glucose, using slow motions. Stir for 3 to 5 minutes, until you no longer see any separation between the water and surfactant. Agitating the mixture too much will cause bubbles, but they will dissolve after a while.
Step 5: Thicken the body wash
- Add the lactic acid, a few drops at a time. As you continue stirring, the mixture will start to thicken and turn into a gel. I added 40 to 50 drops to my shower gel mixture, but you can use more or less, depending on the desired thickness.
Step 6: Add liquid ingredients
- Add the preservative, vitamin E, and peony fragrance oil, and incorporate well.
Step 7: Store
- Transfer the shower gel into a pump bottle or squeeze bottle. I prefer reusable plastic bottles for a body wash to minimize the risk of a glass bottle falling and breaking in a slippery shower.
How to use peony body wash
You use peony body wash like any other body wash or shower gel. First, wet your body with water and then apply a coin-sized amount all over. Wash off and continue with the remainder of your skincare routine. Easy!
Can I use the product as hand wash?
Yes, you can use this recipe as a liquid peony hand soap. Allantoin and vitamin E are excellent for hand care, and the intoxicating peony scent will make you smile every time you wash hands.
Peony shower gel FAQ
What is coco glucose?
Coco glucose, aka Plantapon SF, is a mild surfactant (cleansing agent) derived from coconut oil. The material is a surfactant mixture made of amphoteric, non-ionic, and anionic surfactants.
Coco glucose is classified as a raw material, meaning you can’t use it on its own because it’s highly concentrated. You have to dilute it with water or a hydrosol to use it safely.
Body wash, shower gels, and shampoos are usually made with 3 to 4 different surfactants to guarantee good cleansing action. Working with coco glucose allows you to buy just 1 surfactant instead of 2 to 3.
And in case you’re wondering, coco glucose is biodegradable, sulfate-free, ECOCERT + COMOS approved, and suitable for vegan skincare products.
Where can I buy Plantapon SF?
* Offers international shipping / ** Ships to EU countries
Is coco glucose the same as coco glucoside?
No, coco glucose and coco glucoside are completely different and cannot be substituted for one another.
As mentioned, coco glucose is a surfactant mixture of 4 different surfactants with a pH ranging from 6,5 to 7,5. The INCI name is: Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate
Coco glucoside is a single surfactant with pH 11 (INCI: Coco Glucoside). You can NOT thicken it with lactic acid but would need to enlist a thickening agent like xanthan gum.
Can I use another surfactant in this body wash recipe?
No. I formulated this DIY body wash specifically for coco glucose. It will not work well with other surfactants.
Why do you add lactic acid to the body wash?
Lactic acid has 2 functions (+ 1 extra benefit): It reacts with coco glucose and thickens the body wash without the need for any other thickening agent. It’s a total gamer changer. Lactic acid also adjusts the pH of the body wash formula to a level that’s in sync with the pH of our skin, around 5.5.
Being an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), lactic acid also has a mild exfoliating effect. The ingredient loosens the upper layer of dead cells and promotes the production of new skin cells. Lactic acid is very mild and suitable for sensitive skin.
I don’t have lactic acid. Can I use citric acid instead?
Yes, you can swap out lactic acid for citric acid. Liquid citric acid is hard to find, but we can mix a citric acid solution in less than a minute. In a small glass bowl, combine 1 tsp citric acid powder and 1 tsp distilled water until dissolved.
Use the citric acid solution as described in the peony body wash recipe above. You’ll likely need a little more than lactic acid.
I can’t find peony balls. Any alternatives?
Yes! If dried peony balls aren’t available to you, prepare the peony infusion with white peony root instead. Peony root is available as dried slices or capsules and is sometimes marketed under its Chinese name, Bai Shao.
Can I prepare the DIY shower gel with other botanicals?
Absolutely! The botanicals you choose to for your herbal infusion are entirely up to you. The body wash recipe works well with dried lavender, calendula, rose, mint, chamomile, cornflower, and many other herbs.
How can I make the body wash more moisturizing?
Yes! Add up to 1 tablespoon of any liquid plant oil of your choice to make the body wash more moisturizing and nourishing. Fractionated (liquid) coconut oil, MTC oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil are fantastic options to enrichen your homemade shower gel.
Storage and shelf life
Store the peony body wash at room temperature. You can keep it in the shower or store it in a cupboard when not in use. If possible, avoid exposing the product to direct sunlight.
The mica powder will sink to the bottom after a while. Just give it a quick shake to redistribute the shimmer particles in the body wash again.
The shelf life is 6 months but only with a preservative. Unpreserved, the DIY body wash will only last for a week.
- 3/4 cup / 180 g / 6 oz peony infusion (see recipe above)
- 1/2 cup / 120 g / 4.2 oz coco glucose (Plantapon SF)
- 1 tsp / 5 g / 0.17 oz allantoin (optional)
- 1/4 tsp vitamin E (tocopherol, optional)
- 1/2 tsp pink mica (optional)
- 1/2 tsp pearl mica (optional)
- up to 25 drops peony fragrance oil (optional)
- 40 - 50 drops lactic acid
- 1/2 tsp / 3 g / 0.1 oz Preservative Eco (Geogard ECT)
- small saucepan
- large measuring cup or mixing bowl
- glass stirrer or spoon
- 10 oz / 300 ml pump dispenser
- Prep. Measure out the ingredients and gather your equipment.
- Make the peony infusion. Pour the distilled water into a small saucepan and add the peony buds. Infuse on the stovetop over low flame for 15 minutes. Strain the peony infusion into a jar and discard the peony balls. Let cool to room temperature. Measure 3/4 cup / 180 ml / 6 oz and reserve the rest for another project.
- Dissolve the dry materials. In a tall lab beaker or glass jar, combine the peony-infused water, allantoin, and mica powders. Stir until the allantoin has mostly dissolved and the water is evenly colored.
- Add surfactant. Next, mix in the coco glucose, using slow motions. Stir for 3 to 5 minutes, until you no longer see any separation between the water and surfactant. Agitating the mixture too much will cause bubbles, but they will dissolve after a while.
- Thicken the body wash. Add the lactic acid, a few drops at a time. As you continue stirring, the mixture will start to thicken and turn into a gel. I added 40 to 50 drops to my shower gel mixture, but you can use more or less, depending on the desired consistency.
- Add liquid ingredients. Add the preservative, vitamin E, and peony fragrance oil, and incorporate well.
- Store. Transfer the shower gel into a pump bottle or squeeze bottle. I prefer reusable plastic bottles for a body wash to minimize the risk of a glass bottle falling and breaking in a slippery shower.
Peony Body Wash Label
Tap the button below to download a printable body wash label!