I wonder what percentage of lip balm is eaten when it’s on our lips? I’ve started studying cosmetic chemistry, which is an extreme way to find out, but someone must’ve done a study and I’m guessing it’s quite a lot.
I like to know what I’m eating, but sometimes I choose to ignore it and indulge in a bit of hot lip action every now and then. I’ll never be able to make a pop-art-worthy lipstick, but a lot of lipsticks are loaded with preservatives. So, most days a beautiful, lightly tinted and glossy lip is what I love.
Also, if I’m giving a gift, particularly to little girls, I’d much rather give them this beetroot (beets) coloured lip balm or a non-tinted lip balm if no colour is the order of the day.
You’ll find the lip balm recipe shebang below, but first I wanted to share my ingredient adventures to save you the trouble and a lot of time.
I’ve always made my tinted lip balms with beetroot (beets) powder bought through an online aromatherapy supplier, like the one in the blue glass above, but I’ve seen a few recipes around the place, using home dried beetroot. So, I dehydrated the beetroots (beets) and ground them in the coffee grinder, first my hand grinder and then the electric coffee grinder.
Updated: It turns out, I hadn’t dried the beetroots out enough. This time I dried them in the oven until they were as brittle as chips and ground them in an electric grinder.
Sieved out the big grains. I was loving all this, the powder was so pretty. However, when I added the homemade powder to the lip balm mix it produced an untinted lip balm with pretty magenta spots that didn’t want to mingle. Pretty, but useless.
The difference in colour between the homemade one and the bought one is quite amazing. I’m not sure how you could mill the vegetable fine enough at home to get the colour to pop like that. This is officially a joyful flop and I will continue on my merry buying beetroot powder way.
I’m being very restrained and am not calling this, Tooty Rooty Lip Balm…
Notes on lip balm ingredients
Vanilla essential oil is gorgeous but it’s quite expensive, so feel free to swap it for another essential oil. Peppermint is particularly fun because the menthol brings the blood to the lips, plumping and colouring them. I don’t recommend the citrus oils for lip balm, because they can make the skin sensitive to the sun and lips are already prone to burning easily.
The beetroot (beets) powder and cornstarch (corn flour) are purely there for colour (the beetroot only mix is the magenta lip balm pictured above and the beetroot and cornstarch is the lighter pink pot pictured a little further down). Although I’m sure some of the powerful antioxidants in beetroot are bound to be beneficial for restoring the skin. They do shorten the shelf life of the lip balm, as happens whenever you add any plant matter, even dried ones. It also means the lip balm will have a fine grainy texture, unless you can find micronized (ridiculously finely ground) versions.
Macadamia oil has a great relationship with the skin, but it can be expensive, so I tend to use mostly grape seed oil.
The vitamin E oil helps keep the oils and butters in tip top condition. Mine comes in a bottle with a dropper, but it can be easier to buy capsules from the chemist. While you’re there, grab a children’s medicine syringe. If you’re using lip balm tubes (not pots), then you may need to order a pipette from your aromatherapy supplier.
The containers are an important pondering point. Small is best. I like to clean and sterilise metal lockets, old mints tins, lip balm tubes and travel sized pots.
A lip balm maker’s notes
You’ll find a proper grown up recipe at the end of this post, but if you’re curious, I thought I do a little preamble on why I’ve done things certain ways.
The grapeseed and macadamia oils, beeswax and cocoa butter are put in the melting pot together, because they can handle the heat. Once, they’re all getting along nicely, the beetroot colour goes in. How much really depends on the colour you want. The colour in this picture is is a teaspoon, as listed in the recipe below. It’s fine for the beetroot to be on the heat for a bit and this will give you time to get the colour right. The best way to colour test is to take a little bit of the lip balm mix out of the molten pot and let it cool quickly on a plate before testing it on the lips. This is the beetroot(beets) without the cornstarch, a.k.a. the darker lip balms in the pictures, on my lips. Once I’m happy with the tint, the pot can come off the heat, but stays sitting in the hot water and after a few minutes the essential oil and vitamin E are added, because the higher temps can reduce their usefulness.
Syringe the lip balm into the various containers (apologies for the disturbing vampireness of this picture. It’s the beetroot lip balm, I promise…)
Squirt it into the corners and thoroughly cover the base of the pot with the mixture and spiral upwards, trying to avoid any air pockets. Once the container is full gently tap the container to coax any air bubbles to the surface, as these can shorten the life span. When the lip balm is cooling, the yellow butters may rise up against the magenta, but don’t worry, a little whisking with a small fork while the lip balm is still soft will beat them back into submission.
Caring for your lip balm is pretty much the same as with any cosmetics: keep the lid on and wipe the surface with a clean dry cloth or tissue regularly (this is particularly important for all lip products).
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a shelf life, as this has not been tested in a laboratory, but I can tell you, the basic lip balm recipe, without the beetroot, made with sterile equipment and kept clean and dry is designed last at least two years, because it contains no water and is a waxy substance. Personally, I make enough tinted lip balm to last six months and haven’t had a problem.
Please don’t fret if your first attempt is not like a bought one, it’s not fair to try and compare your beautiful and rustic pots of love with products you can buy. You don’t have access to a laboratory with cosmetic grade ingredients and equipment, but if you’re like me, you might just fall in love with the process and magic of making beauty products at home.
It’s funny, I was chatting to my lovely friend about making this lip balm as a gift for people and I said, ‘Maybe, it’s better to make the untinted lip balm as a gift for people you don’t know well, because this one has a fine graininess to it and is great for people who don’t mind, but not everyone.’ Then it occurred to me, I have never strained this through muslin – because the graininess doesn’t bother me and those who I’ve given it to. Next time I’m going to strain. So feel free to strain for those more restrained friends!
What do you love to make?
- 75 g/2.6 oz grape seed or sunflower oil
- 14 g/0.5 oz beeswax
- 5 g/0.2 oz macadamia oil
- 4 g/0.1 oz cocoa butter
- 20 drops vanilla or peppermint essential oil
- 20 drops vitamin E oil
- 1 teaspoon beetroot (beets) powder from an aromatherapy supplier (please see above as to why I don't recommend making your own beetroot powder), depending on the depth of colour you want
- Optional: 1 teaspoon cornstarch or corn flour for the lighter pink colour
- Digital scales
- Stainless steel bowl or small pot to fit on top of a saucepan
- Saucepan to hold bowl or small pot
- Small containers - lockets, old mints tins, lip balm tubes
- Syringe or pipette
- Clean and sterilise the equipment.
- Line up your little containers ready for the pour.
- Place the stainless steel bowl or pot onto the saucepan of simmering water.
- Add grape seed oil, beeswax, macadamia oil and cocoa butter.
- Gently whisk until completely melted.
- Add beetroot (beets) powder, quarter of a teaspoon at a time, to make sure you're happy with the colour (and the cornstarch if using).
- Test by dribbling a small amount on a plate to cool enough to try on the lips.
- When happy with the colour, take the saucepan off the heat, but leave the bowl sitting in the hot water.
- Whisk gently for a minute or two.
- Add essential oil and vitamin E.
- Syringe into containers, being careful to squirt into all corners and spiral up in layers to avoid air bubbles.
- Tap the container twice, for air bubbles.
- Leave the lids off to cool.
- Check after half an hour. If it looks like a yellow layer is forming, whisk with a small fork.
- Put the lids on the containers when completely cool.
- Label with date and ingredients.
- Test for allergies in a discrete spot before use.