In another post, I look at the key ingredients needed to make a basic, well-balanced lip balm. Now, I’m going to go through the steps involved in actually making one!
First, make sure you have the following:
- a carrier oil of your choice (e.g. sweet almond oil)
- a wax of your choice (e.g. beeswax)
- a butter of your choice (shea butter is a good one to start with)
- optional: natural vitamin E (they come in a bottle or as gel capsules)
- a sensitive digital kitchen scale
- a glass measuring jar
- a spoon or small spatula (for stirring)
- a saucepan
- some small containers (a couple of clean, old lip balm pots will do!)
Important note: When choosing your oil, wax, and butter, do take into account any allergies you have. Reputable shops selling natural body/skincare ingredients should be able to provide information regarding the suitability of a particular ingredient. Always seek the advice from a professional if you’re unsure.
Getting the ingredient ratio right
Once you have selected your preferred ingredients, the next step is to work out the quantity required for each one. The ratio of oil, wax and butter determines how hard, sticky and easy-to-glide your balm is going to be.
- If you’re making lip balm in a tube, or if you live in a warm climate, you’d probably want the balm to be harder so it crush/melt when pressed against your lips.
- If you’re making a balm in a pot, or if you live in a cooler climate, you’d probably want it to be a little softer so it’s easier to scoop some out with your fingers.
Many basic lip balm recipes I’ve come across suggest a ratio of around 3:1:1 to start with – that is, 3 parts (60%) carrier oil, 1 part (20%) wax*, 1 part (20%) butter. To make two pots of lip balm (each pot containing around 10g), you will therefore need 12g sweet almond oil, 4g beeswax, 4g shea butter.
A couple of tips before you start:
- As with cooking, make sure your tools and work surface are clean before you start!
- Have a notebook and pen handy for jotting down your observations along the way. This way, if something turns out amazing (or terrible), you’ll know for next time what to repeat (or avoid)!
Melt, stir, pour and set
Getting the ingredient ratio right is probably the trickiest bit – once you’ve measured out what you need, the rest is really simple. All you have to do now is the following:
- First, gently melt the beeswax in the glass jug placed in a saucepan filled one-third with hot water over a stovetop (known as the double boiler method); you could also heat it in the microwave, in short bursts, until it melts. Do not let it boil and bubble! As beeswax has a higher melting point than butter, it takes longer to melt – that is why you should melt this first. (Tip: The smaller your beeswax pieces are, the faster they melt; this is why many people use beeswax pellets.)
- Once it looks like the wax has almost completely melted, you can add in the butter. Keep stirring as the butter melts. Then, add in the oil.
- Turn down the heat. Stir to mix everything together – the mixture should now resemble a lovely golden liquid.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly. Stir it for a bit more. (If you have vitamin E handy, now is the time to add a few drops into the mixture and stir.) Then, carefully pour it into the containers of your choice (be careful not to spill any hot waxy mixture on your skin!)
- Cover and leave everything in the fridge to cool and set for a few hours.
- And voila – you have made your own starter lip balm!
Testing your balm
You’ll now be wanting to try out your balm, no doubt. I’d recommend testing it on a small patch of skin on your arm first, in case of allergies or reactions. Consider the following questions when testing out your balm:
- Is it hard/soft enough for your liking?
- How do you find the smell?
- How well does it glide over your skin?
- Does it rub in well?
- Does it stay on your skin for long?
In your notebook, keep a record of how everything went. When you have time, you can make another batch of lip balm using a different ratio and compare the results with your first batch. Alternatively you can keep the same ratio but use different oils and butters. Regardless of the kind of balm you want to make, however, try to make sure your amount of beeswax does not exceed 50% of all ingredients. The reason? Too much wax in general makes the balm go very hard: you’ll really struggle to make a dent in the balm, and it will not glide over your lips easily (just imagine rubbing a piece of plain beeswax over your skin!).
So, how did you get on with this starter recipe? Did the balm turn out as you had expected? If you’ve made lip balm before, what basic recipe did you follow? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*The acceptable ratio for plant (carnauba or candelilla) wax may differ from that for beeswax. For more information on wax and liquid oil ratios, check out the blog by Marie Rayma at Humblebeeandme.com; she has done some excellent research on beeswax and liquid oil and candelilla wax and liquid oil ratios.)