A Beginner’s Guide to Making Lip Balms

A beginner’s guide to DIY lip products including ingredients, method, and what to consider.

There's an updated guide here.

Everyone needs lip balm and some time in their life. For many, it’s an essential item they never leave the house without. Soft, nourished lips can be achieved with a small collection of ingredients and a simple method. That’s right, you can make your very own lip balm in the comfort of home. Once you get the hang of it and experiment with different butters, oils, and scents, you’ll never go back to store-bought!

Welcome to our simple beginner’s guide to making lip balms!

Let’s get into it.

Why make your own lip balm

Cut out all the nasty stuff

While the move toward more natural and safe products is gaining traction by the day, there are still many iffy things found in cosmetics and skincare. Ingredients that are technically legal but do pose the risk of irritation (and worse) are present in many mainstream products, including lip balms. You can find parabens, BHA & BHT, alcohol, synthetic fragrance, and more lurking in lip products.

One of the best ways to dodge this is to make your own, with ingredients you trust. You can hydrate those lips knowing that only safe and nourishing butters, oils, and waxes are permitted.

Achieve the feel and scent you love

Lip balms are a personal product as both texture and scent/flavour are so polarizing. One person may love waxy, thick balm with vanilla scent while the next person requires an oilier formula with plenty of rose scent. Challenge yourself to craft the perfect balm (for you!) and revel in the joy of getting it “just right”.

Never run out of gift ideas

Homemade lip balms are affordable to make, easy once you nail the process, and look stunning with a little packaging finesse. Plus, it’s a gift that will get used daily instead of sitting idle. Make a batch for the Christmas season and always have something on hand when guests pop up or you’re at a loss for that one difficult person to buy for.

What you need

Lip balm is a simple concoction when you get down to it. It’s a combination of rich, emollient butters, fatty oils, and scented essential oils. It can also include beeswax which provides moisture, a protective barrier, and a solid-yet-creamy texture.

Ingredients:

-Shea butter: butters such as shea offer fatty acids, rich moisture, and a soft barrier against wind and cold. They melt into the skin but remain firm once set in packaging.

-Other nourishing butters (i.e. mango, cocoa): check out our range of natural butters to find one that suits you. We love avocado butter for its high dose of vitamin E and plumping fats.

-Coconut oil: coconut oil is a stalwart for balms because it hardens as it cools yet melts perfectly when in contact with skin. This anti-inflammatory oil has antibacterial properties as well as a softening, hydrating nature.

-Beeswax (unless vegan or allergic to bee products): beeswax creates a barrier against cold and wind, reducing the risk of chapping. The natural emollience hydrates and softens the lips.

-Carrier oils such as jojoba: oils such as sweet almond or jojoba oil contain fatty acids that deeply nourish the lips, as well as vitamins such as A and E.

-Essential oils (see below!): this is where those delicious scents come in! While natural butters have their own sweet, nutty scent, essential oils take it up a notch. Depending on what oils you use, essential oils can offer benefits such as an energy boost, calmer nerves, or a boosted mood.

Tools:

-A double boiler (or a saucepan and heatproof bowl)

-A small metal whisk

-Sterilized lip balm pots and/or lip balm twist tubes

-A glass dropper

-A thick rubber band if using twist tubes (it holds them together in one unit)

What to consider

Legalities around selling products

If you are making lip balms with the idea of selling them...think again, as it’s not so simple. In the UK, there are legalities around selling cosmetic products due to the risk of health and safety. For example, to sell lip balms you must obtain a CPSR (Cosmetic Product Safety Report) from a chemist to ensure your product is safe for public use.

When it comes to your labelling and marketing, rules apply. For example, you can’t claim that your lip balm heals or relieves particular ailments, so wording is key. To avoid getting in hot water, be sure to study every legal document you can, and get professional guidance. Or...stick to gifting and just enjoy the fruits of your crafting!

Allergies and common irritants

If you are creating your lip balms to give as gifts, consider any allergies your recipients may have. This is especially pertinent when it comes to beeswax, as it can cause a severe reaction in people who have bee-related allergies. The easy solution? Simply ask (in a roundabout way so they don’t guess what you’re up to) if the recipient has any bee allergies. This is also important with essential oils, as not all of them are safe for skin, especially not the lips. For example, very spicy or strong oils such as tea tree or cinnamon may cause burns or simply discomfort and an unpleasant user experience. This is easy to avoid by reading up on any oils you intend to use and trying a patch test on yourself before gifting.

Photosensitive oils

Interestingly, certain essential oils, when exposed to the sun, can cause reactions on the skin. The oils absorb the UV rays and react by causing burns, redness, and pain on the skin. Since the lips are already a sensitive area, it’s especially important to steer clear of photosensitive oils.

Photosensitive oils to avoid in lip balms include:

-Cinnamon

-Bergamot

-Grapefruit

-Lemon, lime, and sweet orange (not always, but it depends on the method of distilling. Steam-distilled oils are safer, but it pays to research before using.)

Safe oils that aren’t photosensitive include:

-Lavender

-Vanilla

-Rose

-Geranium

-Sweet almond

-Mandarin

-Tangerine

-Sandalwood

Carrot seed

How to make lip balms: step-by-step

1. Set aside a few leisurely hours and dedicate them to making lip balms. It may not take that long at all, but it’s all the more enjoyable when you can take your time.

2. Set up your workstation: place your ingredients on the bench and make sure it’s all there and ready to go. Set up your double boiler on the stove and have a whisk nearby.

3. Place a paper towel or old tea towel on the bench next to the double boiler so you can place your utensils down without getting melted ingredients on the bench. Have teaspoons, scales, and spare paper towels near.

4. Place your lip balm containers and a glass dropper to the side so they’re ready to be filled. If you are using twist tubes, bundle them together in one solid unit by wrapping your rubber band around them. This stops them from falling over and allows you to fill them all safely and securely.

5. Tell the kids there will be hot ingredients so either steer clear or sit and watch.

6. Place your double boiler over low heat, ensuring that the water does NOT touch the bowl. You want to gently warm your ingredients to encourage melting, not blast them with heat.

7. Add your butters and wax to the double boiler. Instead of giving you exact measurements, it’s easier and more adjustable to use parts. Start with 1 part each of butter, wax, and oil (liquid oil). For example: 1 TBSP cocoa butter, 1 TBSP beeswax pellets, and 1 TBSP jojoba or sweet almond oil. If using coconut oil, gently melt it first to get the melted ratio.

8. Gently nudge the ingredients with your whisk as they melt, combining them together.

9. When the ingredients are just melted, take them off the heat and allow to cool slightly (without hardening). As heat can corrupt and degrade essential oils, it’s best to add them when the mixture is as cool as possible before hardening.

10. Add your essential oils to the mixture, starting with one drop.

11. Use your glass dropper to fill your awaiting sterilized containers. Leave to cool before sampling your balm. 


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