By Kim Robson:
For as long as I can remember, my lips have been prone to dryness, chapping and even painful cracking. There is never a time when I don’t have a tube of lip balm at hand; one lives on the living room table, another in my purse, and another on my nightstand. I’d keep another one in the car, but I stopped doing that because they kept melting. When I was a kid, my go-to brand was ChapStick. Then, for years I got a now discontinued organic beeswax brand from a health food store, and now it’s just good old Burt’s Bees.
But these lip balms are quite expensive. At three to four bucks a pop, stocking up when I’m low isn’t cheap. This winter, I’ve determined to make my own do-it-yourself lip balm. In addition to saving me money, they’ll also make great small gift items or stocking stuffers. Another bonus: these all-natural ingredients can be purposed to make all sorts of homemade skin care products or even homemade lipstick.
First, a few tips to help keep your lips from drying out in the first place:
- Dry air is the single worst culprit, and is worsened by air conditioning in summer and heated air in winter.
- Smoking damages the skin around the lips and mouth, resulting in lack of circulation and premature wrinkles.
- Lips can get sunburnt. Most lip balms don’t offer SPF (sun protection factor), but if you make your own, there are some natural oils that provide sun protection. Look for carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil or sesame seed oil.
- Most commercial lipsticks contain parabens and fragrances, which can damage your skin. Other common ingredients in lip balms and lipsticks include camphor and menthol that, while natural, are drying to skin.
The simple recipe below makes approximately six ounces, and is totally customizable by adding essential oils for flavor or powdered beet root for color. For your lip balm, you’ll need to get some containers like these empty tubes or these little tins. Repurposed sample-size jam jars are perfect, too, and look adorable.
DIY Lip Balm Ingredients
- ¼ cup sweet almond, coconut or grapeseed oil
- ¼ cup shea, cocoa or mango butter
- ¼ cup beeswax or soy wax
- 20 drops 100% pure organic essential oils, for scent and flavor (peppermint is nice)
Note: These proportions are for a medium-firm balm. If you prefer a firmer, longer lasting lip balm, just add more beeswax, up to double the recommended amount. Alternately, if you prefer a smoother, more oily balm, reduce the beeswax.
- Measure the oil, butter and wax in a heatproof glass Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. If you don’t have a microwave, set up a makeshift double boiler, taking care that no water gets into the mixture. Be careful — the glass will get hot. Stir mixture well.
- Add the essential oils and stir to incorporate.
- If filling lip balm tubes, use a glass eyedropper to fill the containers. If filling tins or tubs, carefully pour from measuring cup. If the mixture hardens, simply reheat it until liquefied. Keep children away from hot wax at all times.
- Allow to sit undisturbed until completely hardened.
- Store in a cool dry place.
Experiment with different essential oils and their individual qualities:
- Instead of a plain base oil, try an oil infused with herbs such as calendula or orange blossom.
- A few drops of cinnamon or ginger essential oils increase blood circulation, making a natural lip plumper. Use very sparingly: they can be irritating if overused.
- For a bit of sweetness, add a small amount of powdered stevia. Your kids will love it.
We mentioned earlier that these ingredients can be used for other body products:
- New mothers can omit the oil and double the butter to make a soothing stretch mark balm. These butters are extremely nourishing to cracked, itchy, dry skin.
- Add a small amount of zinc oxide (or one of the oils with natural SPF listed above) so your lip balm doubles as a sunscreen. Apply to your nose, cheekbones and chin.
- Essential oils like tea tree, lavender or comfrey turn your balm into a portable healing ointment that’s perfect for on-the-go treatment of scrapes, bug bites or minor burns.