My first DIY experiment

Lip balm was the first thing I learned to make when I began experimenting with DIY body and skincare. I have to admit, it took me a few attempts to get it right. So, here is what happened the first time I tried to make lip balm …

Following the advice from several blogs to use the 3:1:1 ratio (oil: beeswax: butter) as a starting point, I prepared roughly 3 parts of sweet almond oil, 1 part beeswax and 1 part shea butter. I put everything in a heatproof glass mug, and used the microwave to melt them. The butter melted after 30 seconds in the microwave, but the wax was still solid, so I put it back in the microwave for another burst. I then gave the mug a swirl, and poured the mixture into a few beer bottle caps (I didn’t have any spare pots then) and left them in the fridge to cool.

The result? See for yourself:

imageThe hardened mixture was solid but fairly soft, and slightly greasy and sticky to touch. Strangely enough it reminded me a little of Vaseline, even though there was no petroleum jelly in the mix!? I wasn’t sure about testing this on my lips straight away, so I smeared some on the back of my hand as well as the inside of my wrist – it glided on my skin fairly easily, and thankfully there was no adverse reaction. The next day, I put a bit on my lips. Again, no adverse reaction; my lips felt OK afterwards. But, if truth be told, I was a bit disappointed by what I’d made: there was simply no wow factor to it. Yes, I’d made a balm of some sort, but I knew more work was required before I would be 100% happy with it…

Observations and lessons learned

  1. Next time, I should use a proper kitchen scale to measure out what I need, instead of “roughly” working out the parts (especially as one has to deal with very small amounts of solids and liquids).
  2. Beeswax has a higher melting point than butter (it took longer for the beeswax to melt). So, to prevent the oil and butter from boiling, next time I’d melt the wax first, then add in butter, then stir in the oil last.
  3. Also, to prevent the mixture from boiling and bubbling, next time I’d melt the ingredients in a double boiler (a glass jar immersed in a saucepan one-third filled with hot water, over a stove) so I could heat everything gradually and gently, and keep an eye on the mixture all the time.
  4. Given how oily the hardened mixture was, I figured it’d be a good idea to play around with the ratio next time, i.e. add more butter or less oil.
  5. When I did this experiment, my kitchen was fairly cold (maybe 18 degrees Celsius?). The moment I took the mixture out of the microwave it began to cool and harden inside the mug, before I even had time to pour it into my first bottle cap. (By the time I poured it in, it just “sat” like glue that was half set – not an attractive look!) Obviously I’d been working with a very small batch so inevitably it’d cool and set much quicker, but it occurred to me that continuous stirring would prevent this.
  6. Going forward, it would be helpful to keep a record of every experiment (including taking a photo of the finished product), so I can keep track of what went right and what went wrong for future reference.

So, despite my initial disappointment, I persevered with it. And, after a few more attempts, I finally got the hang of it and made a batch that I was happy to use myself and share with my friends. (I’ll share my successful recipe with you another time!) In the meantime, I’d love to hear your first experiences of DIY body/skincare! What were you making? Was it a success? What did you learn?

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2 thoughts on “My first DIY experiment

  1. Ah CQ-I was so excited when I got my first pot of that body shop lip balm! Mine was the strawberry one and came in my Christmas stocking. It felt so grown up because it came in the little glass pot. And thinking back, I think it must have been the Christmas of ’94!

    1. Thanks for sharing your first lip-balm memory with us, Rachel! For those of us growing up in the UK in the 90s, I think our first lip balms would likely have been from either the Body Shop or Boots! Another popular one around that time was the pink candy floss lip balm from Boots – do you remember that one? Interesting that you associated a glass pot with being “grown-up” (as a symbol of sophistication, I suppose!) – I know what you mean! I don’t think many lip balms come in glass pots these days…?

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