Basic lip balm ingredients

This post deals with one of the most frequently asked questions I get since I started making my own body and skincare, which is: “What goes into making a lip balm?”

Key ingredients

Well, the short answer is that a basic DIY lip balm formula requires AT LEAST two ingredients:

  • a carrier (liquid) oil that acts as an emollient to help soften and soothe your lips, offers shine and helps the balm to glide smoothly over your lips
  • a wax that keeps the balm solid in warmer temperatures, and acts as a barrier on the skin to help prevent moisture loss.

Many formulas will, however, also include a third ingredient:

  • a butter with skin-protecting properties that helps to keep your lips well conditioned, whilst adding a rich, creamy texture to your balm.

Together, these three ingredients make a well-balanced lip balm to keep your lips moisturised, nourished and supple!

Below are some oils, waxes and butters commonly used in DIY and commercial lip balms. If you have a shop-bought lip balm handy, take a look at the list of ingredients printed on its label. Does it contain any of the following?

carrier oil wax butter
coconut oil beeswax shea butter
sweet almond oil carnauba wax cocoa butter
castor oil candelilla wax mango butter
olive oil
apricot kernel oil

You’ll no doubt notice that many lip balms contain a combination of oils and butters. This is because different oils and butters have different properties, so they are often mixed to create something suitable for a particular skin type, or to achieve a particular texture or scent. As for the wax, beeswax is most commonly used, though people who want to avoid it often replace it with carnauba or candelilla wax.

20160311_114045Other add-ons

Some lip balms are also scented using essential or fragrance oils, though a good-quality beeswax alone can give off a subtle honey/floral scent. Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is another common ingredient you may see: it is an antioxidant; adding a few drops of it to an oil-and-butter-based product helps slow down the oxidation process occurring in the balm (which is what causes rancidity in oils), and help to extend the shelf life of a product.

Making a basic lip balm

Now that you know what goes into making a basic lip balm, why not have a go at making your own?

Don’t worry about having to go out and spend lots of money on getting all these ingredients; using just one from each category (oil, wax, butter) will be fine to start with for a basic lip balm. The main thing is to understand how the ingredients combine to create a solid balm. Once you are comfortable with the basic formula, you can then start experimenting with different oil/butter/scent combinations.

Check out my post on how to make your own basic lip balm!

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