A few months back, when I was in between jobs and had some free time on my hands, I embarked on yet another DIY adventure, thanks to my frequent “partner in crime,” my friend Karen. For once, it did not involve food–well not technically for consumption at least. What we began “cooking up” were body butters and scrubs, eye cream, hand soap, body wash, face creams, lip balms and lip scrubs–using natural ingredients like coconut oil, raw honey, green tea, coffee, and even chocolate.
It all started out innocently enough, a batch of body butter here, some eye cream there…until we’d amassed (between the two of us) enough ingredients to open up own little shop. I’m not kidding. I maxed out my 25-compartment essential oils box in a matter of 2 weeks (so I bought Karen a 50-compartment box for Christmas). I became so obsessed, I even experimented with making my own deodorant–the jury is still out on that one.
During the holidays, instead of selling baked goods (which would’ve been the obvious choice) I actually sold my food-inspired body products at a charity gift bazaar.
Of course, by the new year came a new job and less time to tinker. However, I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for making my own body products. On the contrary, with less free time I’ve had to really focus on making products that fulfill a particular need, like a soothing balm to relieve my congestion when I got hit with an especially nasty, stubborn cold that lasted for weeks…or a therapeutic body body made with Emu oil (who knew?) and other anti-inflamatory essential oils to soothe my aching joints and bruises (hey, nobody said the life of a pastry chef was a cakewalk).
Now one of the easiest and most fun body products to make is lip balm. Only a few basic ingredients–beeswax, a little raw honey, and coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter or mango butter–and whatever flavor or essential oils (or combination of both) you want to use. You can take it to another level by adding other nutrient-rich oils like vitamin E, argan, pomegranate seed, and sweet almond to the mix. What I love about making lip balms is that you can get really creative with the flavorings and concoct a lip balm that not only moisturizes and keeps your lips healthy, but tastes fabulous. It lets my inner mixologist comes out and play. Lately, I’ve been playing with classic dessert flavors like Bananas Foster, Strawberry Shortcake, and Key Lime Pie, which have been a big hit with my new co-workers.
You can fill any small lidded-jars or cosmetic containers with the lip balm mixture but I personally prefer using lip balm tubes. They are a little tricky to fill so I recommend buying a kit that includes a tube holder and scraper, which will make the process so much neater and faster.
When Karen and I first started making lip balms, filling those skinny tubes without the holder was so painstakingly slow that we’d have to keep reheating the mix because the beeswax would set up too fast, or we’d overfill and have to clean up the waxy goop that had dripped down the sides of the tubes, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to put on the labels.
While I’ve always considered myself a “crafty” person by nature, I never thought I’d embrace the DIY body products with such gusto. Then again, there is something to be said about knowing what you’re using on your body and not paying inflated prices for something you can just as easily make yourself.
DIY Natural Lip Balm
Yield: 8-10 tubes
- 2 Tbsp. beeswax
- 4 Tbsp. coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter or mango butter (or a combination)
- 1 tsp. raw honey
- 4-5 drops vitamin E
- optional 1 tsp. argan oil or sweet almond
- 10-15 drops lip balm flavor oil (e.g. mango, banana, vanilla, berry, etc) and/or 4-5 drops essential oil (e.g. peppermint, mandarin, bergamot, etc.)
Beeswax will take the longest to melt down, so place it first in a heat proof bowl set over simmering water and melt it down 75% before adding in the coconut oil and/or mango or shea butter. If you’re using cocoa butter, you can melt it together with the beeswax. Once you’ve melted down the solids, you can then stir in the remaining ingredients.