We’ve been working hard the last few weeks, avoiding burning our fingers off with lye while making soap, taste-testing liquor infusions until the flavors are just right, and cursing at our lotions until they emulsify. This week we’re gonna kick back and take it easy. Let’s make lip balm.
Of the body products we’ve made, lip balm is by far the easiest. You just melt some stuff together, and ta-da! Boom. Done. Merry
Christmas seasonal holiday of choice.
Lip balm is made of beeswax and vegetable fat. That’s it. The type of fat you use will determine how soft the lip balm is, how long it stays on your lips and what sort of nourishing properties it has. But unlike with soap making, because there are no chemical reactions involved, it’s pretty straightforward what oils lead to what results.
The more hard fats you use, such as cocoa butter, the harder your lip balm will be. The more liquid oils you use, the softer. Oils like jojoba and grapeseed soak into the skin quickly, which is great for lotion, but not as good for lip balm. Oils like avocado and almond last longer on the skin’s surface, so they’re good for lip balms. Coconut oil is also great in lip balm. The addition of castor oil makes a lip balm shinier, and extra beeswax makes it more matte.
As far as nourishing properties go, you can add a few drops of vitamin E to make the balm extra healing. Coconut oil is very moisturizing. Avocado oil is high in vitamins. Cocoa butter is great for chapped lips. Grapeseed helps protect skin from premature aging. As with the other body products we’ve made, using a combination of oils will result in the most nourishing lip balm.
Another consideration when choosing your oils is scent. If you use a significant portion of olive oil in your lip balm, the resulting balm will smell like olive oil (weird, right?). Maybe you like that. But if you don’t want your lips to smell like an hors d’oeuvre, use only a small portion of olive oil, or none at all. Cocoa butter will make your lip balm smell like chocolate. And hemp seed oil will impart an earthy, nutty scent. If you’re adding additional scent to your oil, consider whether it will go with the scents of the oils you choose.
And speaking of adding scent. If you add essential oil to your lip balm, use just a few drops. Remember that people will be wearing this scent right under their noses, so if it’s overpowering or weird-smelling, your friends will start to hate you, or at least stop inviting you to their holiday parties on Facebook and you’ll have to have a white elephant exchange with just your cat, who will probably gift you a hairball. Gross. Also don’t use citrus oils in your lip balm, because it increases the skin’s sensitivity to light. And I personally dislike overly sweet-smelling lip balms, so maybe people you know do too.
Follow this basic recipe, using the above info to guide you:
1 ounce beeswax, finely chopped or grated
½ cup vegetable fats, made up of:
- roughly 1/4 brittle fats, such as cocoa butter
- roughly 1/3 solid fats, such as shea butter, coconut butter or hemp seed butter
- fill up the rest of the way with liquid oils, such as avocado, olive, almond, etc.
Melt together in a double-boiler. Add in a few drops of vitamin E oil and/or essential oils at the end, if you’re using them. I added a little bit of peppermint oil to my lip balm, because I had a ton left over from lotion making and because I don’t learn from my mistakes (see the part about smelling like pie in my lotion making story).
Now pour the mixture into empty lip balm tubes, which you can buy at The Natural Grocer (unless they ran out RIGHT BEFORE YOU GOT THERE, and which you CANNOT buy at nearby Wheatsville or Central Market). I got mine from the nice lady at Austin Natural Soap on South First and Annie. You can also buy empty lip balm tubes in bulk online, which is probably cheaper if you have the time to wait. You’ll need about 33 for this recipe. Really. (I bought 20, then poured the rest into a large empty lid, though my sister suggested too late that Altoid containers would have been 500 percent cuter.)
As you may have guessed, pouring hot liquid into tiny little tubes is not the easiest thing you will ever do. I know, I know, I told you we were taking it easy this week. Calm down; it’ll all be over soon. You might want to enlist a helper for this part, and pouring from a liquid measuring cup worked pretty well. If you’re really dedicated, you can also buy a kit online that holds tubes upright and allows you to fill many at once. Now, put the lids back on, and do not tip the tubes over, even though they fall like dominoes if you so much as look at them. The lip balm will start solidifying right away, but wait about six hours before use to be sure it’s fully hardened.
Et voilà. Next week we’re moving away from body products and making chocolate truffles. See you then.