lip balm ready to use
My entire do-it-yourself obsession started with lip balm. Of course Martha Stewart was involved. Ok, ready? I spotted the lip balm kit in the Martha By Mail catalog — which belonged to my mother! I swear it! After one night of obsessive deliberation (think of it! my own lip balm! wow! I won’t have to worry about losing my little sticks because I’ll be swimming in the stuff!) I ordered it. It was immediately, irrevocably back ordered. For months and months. And months. (Ask me how long the essential oils soap kit took to get me. Ask me about how it arrived a full day before I loaded up the moving truck for California.) So in that time Google and I became close friends over the words “lip balm”, lip, balm, gloss, containers, “lip gloss”… You would be surprised the number of combinations a search on Google for “lip” and anything return a significant percentage of X-Files erotic fan fiction. (Mulder and Skinner?! Come on now.)
I landed at Majestic Mountain Sage, which has the best recipe I have found so far, this one. That’s the one I use (see below for the measurements I use for a smaller batch). This one is great too, especially if you’re looking for something which doesn’t include cocoa butter (some people are allergic) as it is really more of a guideline. I have also heard people gush over the one with honey in it. But heed the part of the directions that have you stir it while it is cooling, otherwise it’ll separate like, well, like honey and oil mixed together. They sell lip balm jars, lip balm tubes, all the ingredients you’d need, even little lip balm shrink wraps! There are several other suppliers online, check the resources page.
I ordered a bunch of stuff from MMS, got some oils and such from Nature’s Bin, cleaned out an old lip balm jar and had at it. Yay! By the time the stuff from Martha arrived I was way past the “kit” stage, but the containers are nice. The recipe from included in the kit created a greasy solid. The recipe from MMS produces something a little softer and glossier which I prefer.
Small coincidence, almost all of the ingredients and containers in the Martha kit were, in fact, supplied by MMS.
various containers ready
That is how my do-it-yourself obsession became my do-it-without-martha’s-kits obsession.
showing the mirror glued to the bottom of one lip balm container – that’s the reflection of the camera
However, I’m still not happy with the lip balm. I don’t know what is missing, a sort of emollient, heavy, staying-power, wonder ingredient. I myself do not like my balms to be sweet, so honey is out. I have a bottle of jojoba oil that I haven’t tried out yet. As far as flavoring I prefer peppermint essential oil (I overdid the vanilla in the test runs, and still can’t quite stand it).
I present what I learned the hard way:
set up for melting – pyrex measuring cup in about one inch of water
I bought a set of inexpensive utensils I use just for making lip balm and bath bombs, including a pyrex measuring cup I use to melt and mix the lip balm ingredients. I add a small amount of water to a shallow sauce pan, place the measure cup in it and heat on low as I add ingredients. I add the beeswax, shea butter and cocoa butter, and almond oil and let those melt. Then I add the vitamin e and the coloring and stir in well. Last I add the drops of peppermint oil right before filling the containers, because the oil will evaporate. I use a disposable droppers to fill the containers. I have read about beeswax becoming grainy if you heat it too high, too low, not long enough and too long. I have yet to get this straight. Honestly though, as long as the balm is for myself or my friends the graininess doesn’t bother me, it melts on your lips. If you are looking to make something to sell you might want to test different techniques to make sure it comes out nice and smooth.
the beeswax and coconut oil beginning to melt – add the color and the essential oil last
Get yourself some droppers. Pouring a hot oil solution into a tiny jar or tube is not fun. Turkey basters just won’t work here. The disposable droppers from MMS are nice because you can just toss ‘em and not worry about how to get the scent cleaned off so you can reuse it. Also, if you’re making a very small batch (my proportions follow) they can measure out in milligrams what translates poorly as 1/16th of a teaspoon. You can also find small glass droppers or larger, graduated plastic ones at a drug store. Check around the eye/ear section, or in baby medicines. Be aware however, the oils in the lip balm completely wore off the plastic numbers on my cheap baby medicine dropper. I mean, undiluted orange essential oil can take the finishing off tables… Also, if you use the droppers to fill your lip balm containers it is extremely difficult to clean the dropper afterwards, the lip balm will harden in the dropper. You can clean it while alternatively running it under very hot tap water to keep the balm in a melted state. Or forget the droppers and pour it. If you spill, let the spill harden, it’s a lot easier to clean that way.
I bought a little whisk to use, but a toothpick works as well to mix
It seems like a favorite pastime on the GetCrafty boards is suggesting lip balm containers. I do not like those snap-lid pillbox types, I find they are not leak-proof, and unpleasant to open. The nice Lee Valley watchmakers tins (as seen so expensively as a wedding favor box over at Martha By Mail) do not have a secure lid, it just sits on top. The small Altoids tins are too large for my taste. I mean, you are rubbing your grubby fingers through there, I want something that has a bit more turnover. Avoid film containers, film is, you know, quite toxic. Anything too narrow and deep is likely to get on your nerves. I like the MMS style lip balm pots, low-profile lip balm pots, lib balm tubes and tins (lip balm container page). The regular pots have a indentation in the bottom deep enough to glue a 1″ circle craft mirror into, which is nice to have right there, believe me. The tins do rust, especially if you use them to store little things in your very small, very steamy bathroom. If you don’t want to buy bulk, Sunburst Bottle has no minimum (but be reasonable, they are a kind, small company and will lose money if you order only 35¢ worth of something) and carry pots, tins and tubes. Or, go to the drugstore, find a cheap lip balm in a pot, or some Bon-bons body glitter, or even a tube of store-brand lip balm (the chap-stick brand labels peel off very cleanly). Clean it out (this takes a bit of patience, and scrubbing with a nice, natural dish soap — a clean mascara wand and an old toothbrush are your friends here) really really well. Sterilize with alcohol if you like (boil at your own risk) and reuse.
shaving off a little bit of pink lipstick to add some color
I admire people who strain beet juice to get a nice red color going or other nice natural things. However, a tiny sliver of cheap lipstick (Wet’N'Wild 99¢) is far easier. If you’re just going for a pastel pink, say, choose a hot pink lipstick, you’re only going to use a touch of it anyhow. Already pastel and shimmery colors don’t translate well. Don’t use food coloring. Don’t use food coloring paste. And, dear lord, don’t use pixie sticks and petroleum jelly, shame on you!
mixing in the color to make a lighter pink
I don’t like sweet flavors. I just add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Be aware that some citrus oils can make the area applied to photosensitive. A few places do have sweet lip balm flavorings. Before you use a wacky essential oil, check to be sure it isn’t a skin irritant. Don’t use candy flavorings (peppermint, vanilla) as these are alcohol based, and nobody wants that, now do we? Besides, it will not mix in correctly.
The types of oils you choose can really feel different. Try a few out. Avoid getting oils in the cooking section of stores, oils for cooking and oils intended for body use are often prepared differently. I think olive oil is ok though. Especially if it is from a smaller producer. Most recipes call for cocoa butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, etc.
I use a disposable dropper to fill the containers
If you use cocoa butter the lip balm is going to smell and taste faintly of chocolate. It’s not mmmmmm cho-co-late, it’s reminiscent smell. Use coconut oil instead if you want to avoid this. Coconut oil comes in several forms, sometimes smelling highly of coconut. I bought a huge jar of Spectrum Naturals coconut oil which is a solid at room temperature (but beware, will melt on hot days) and doesn’t have any scent. I prefer the feel of cocoa butter. Be aware some people are sensetive to cocoa butter, Lush made a lip balm without any for this reason.
If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan there are a number of lip balm recipes which substitute candelilla wax (pure vegetable wax). Also, Lush sells a vegan lip balm, as well as a number of yummy vegan bath products. There are several good hemp seel oil lip balms you can find in stores as well.
containers filled and ready to cool, I stick them in the fridge for a few minutes
I tried, oh how I tried, to put little shapes in different colors in my lip balms like you can find in Target. I even have the itty bitty cookie cutters to prove it. Because of things like contraction when cooling and surface tension, these proved fruitless, and messy looking. On second thought, it worked ok, just don’t expect a perfectly smooth surface.
If you’re all about the product and not about gathering bottles of oils you’ll never use again, several places, including MMS, sell a lip balm base you melt, add color and flavor, and pour into containers. Eee. Zee.
keeping it and sun issues
This lip balm will not keep forever. And it will melt in your pocket. And it will not provide any sun protection. So if you are outside get a lip product with a heavy duty sunscreen. And make sure it has uvb and uva protection (look for these ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (also called parasol 1789), or Mexoryl; and read this). The vitamin e (I squeeze one or two capsules into the mixture, you can buy bottles of liquid vitamin e at a drugstore and add a few drops of that) is said to help prevent spoilage of the oils. But this stuff is meant to be used, not kept.
instructions I attached when given as a gift
instructions for use:
- unscrew cap
- either hold cap or place cap somewhere where you will remember you put it in five seconds
- use finger (or brush for those of you who are so inclined and happen to have a brush and enough time to a. find it and b. use it) to place on lips
- check self out in little mirror on the bottom!
- if it doesn’t meet your lip needs (people are very picky about their lip balm, i am cool with this) may i suggest you use it as a cuticle cream?