This is just one in a series of essential oil posts. Read this post if you’d like a basic primer on essentials, and this one for more information about carrier oils. Oh, and if you’d like more ideas for your Valentine, look here.
I have to admit, it wasn’t my idea to create a floral-scented lip balm, as I often shy away from flowery smells in favor of something spicy. Our sister Kristin suggested it, and then I smelled the rose essential oil, and well, now I’m hooked. And what perfect timing, because this is yet another way (in addition to our rose tea, cake, and jam) to give someone flowers for Valentine’s Day without actually buying the bouquet.
Since this is the first lip balm recipe that we’re sharing on the blog, it’s a little long-winded as I provide some general information about both the ingredients and tools needed to make lip balm at home.
If you’ve never experimented with lip balms before, they are relatively easy to make. Lip balms usually contain a variety of oils (carrier oils) that act to protect and sooth your lips. In order to turn those oils into a solid stick, they are mixed with a wax, we prefer beeswax. The oil and wax combination form the foundation for any lip balm, and from there you can add essential oils for both their aroma and cosmetic properties. You can also add other emollients to enhance the recipe; for example, I like to add a touch of lanolin.
Carrier Oils and Waxes
I prefer measuring my ingredients by weight and have found that a ratio of 44 grams of carrier oils to 15 grams of beeswax makes a good balm (in the recipe below, I made a small batch and used only 22 grams of oil to 7.5 grams of wax). The more wax you use, the harder your balm will be, and as expected, the less wax you use, the softer the balm will be.
In the recipe below, I rely on a couple of infused olive oils and sweet almond oil as the carrier oil base. Infusing olive oil with herbs transfers both medical and aromatic properties from those plants. In this case I’m using lavender-infused O.O. for it’s aromatic properties and the calendula-infused O.O. for its healing properties (look for more info on calendula in a future post!). In addition to olive and sweet almond oils, you could use other plant-based oils like coconut, jojoba, avocado, apricot. You can also use cocoa butter; in fact, because cocoa butter is a solid at room temperature, it could be added to any lip balm recipe without having to add more beeswax (i.e. you could add some to the recipe below without compromising the texture).
When it comes to essential oils, you’ll want to experiment. It’s an unsatisfying bit of guidance, but the amount you use can vary widely depending upon the specific oil (a little bit of clove goes a long way!) and how strong you want the aroma to be in your final balm. For example, we have a soothing balm in the shop that contains less essential oils than our energizing balm because I wanted the focus to be on the soothing oils more than on an uplifting aroma (if that makes sense?).
Here I’m already getting a light lavender aroma from the lavender-infused O.O. To that, I’m adding the rose and geranium essential oils. Both lavender and geranium essential oils have strong smells that can quickly over-power the rose, so I decided to not use lavender essential oil at all (again, I’m getting that scent from the infused carrier oil), and I’m using only a couple of drops of geranium so that the rose aroma really stands out. Both geranium and rose essential oils are considered good for the skin; they promote healing and rose has antiseptic qualities which can keep skin infections at bay.
And finally, one more note about the rose essential oil – it’s expensive! So expensive that you’re able to buy dilutions of the oil. I picked up a 5% dilution, and so, more drops are required than if I had a full-strength bottle. Keep that in mind if you try to make this balm with full-strength rose essential oil.
In this recipe I used alkanet root to provide a nice pink color. This root has been used as a dye for all of documented human history! The root is completely unnecessary in the recipe below as it only adds color, but does not change the texture or efficacy of the final balm. We don’t use it in our other balms, but I think it adds a nice touch since the primary aroma in this balm comes from the rose essential oil.
Vitamin E is used as a natural preservative. It helps to maintain the integrity of the carrier by preventing oxidation.
As I mentioned above, lanolin is added as an additional emollient, helping to protect the skin.
You should look at the ratio of oils to wax and the vitamin E as the core recipe. You can easily substitute one carrier oil for another if you don’t have what is listed below. For example, if you don’t have lavender and calendula-infused olive oils, try the recipe with just olive oil. Or skip the olive oil and instead use a combination of coconut, sweet almond, and jojoba oils. The sky’s the limit!
If you don’t have lanolin, that’s not a necessary ingredient. And when it comes to essential oils, have fun and do what you want!
Tools & Materials
Since all you have to do to make this balm is measure and warm ingredients, there are very few tools needed and it’s likely that you already own most of them. You’ll need a scale to measure the ingredients by weight and measuring spoons for the couple of things that are measured by volume. You’ll have to create a simple double boiler using a small glass measuring cup and a sauce pot. And then you’ll need something to stir the mixture – I prefer to use wooden skewers and then just toss them so that I use a clean one for each new batch of balm and don’t have to worry about contamination.
The Water Warning
While you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to make quality lip balms at home, there is just one thing that you have to be careful about : never let any water get into your mixture and into the lip balm tubes. Why? If water gets into the mix, it can cause mold to grow. Don’t let it happen and you won’t have any problems.
- 11 grams lavender-infused olive oil
- 6 grams calendula-infused olive oil
- 5 grams sweet almond oil
- 7.5 grams beeswax
- 1/2 tsp lanolin
- 1/4 tsp vitamin E
- sprinkle of alkanet root (I used about a 1/4 of a tsp)
- 12-24 drops of 5% diffused rose essential oil
- 2 drops geranium essential oil
- Create an improvised double boiler : Place a 1 cup pyrex measuring cup into a small sauce pot and fill the pot with water so that it comes half-way up the outside of the measuring cup. Place the pot on a burner over medium-low heat. You want the water to be warm, but just below simmering.
- Dye the oils : Place the olive oils, sweet almond oil, vitamin E, lanolin, and alkanet root in the glass measuring cup. Allow them to warm for about 10-15 minutes. The root will dye the oils. Whenever you're happy with the color of the oils, you can strain out the root using a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
- Add the wax : once the alkanet root is strained out of the oils, return the oils in the measuring cup to the sauce pot. Add the beeswax and allow it to melt completely, stirring once in a while with a wooden skewer.
- Remove from the heat : once the beeswax is completely melted, remove the measuring cup from the double boiler. Add your essential oils. Stir the mixture, smell it, and decide if you would like to add more of any particular essential oil.
- Fill your containers : Pour the warm mixture into lip balm tubes or tins. Allow the balm to cool completely before putting the lids on the containers. You do not want any moisture to build up inside the container, so it's essential that everything is completely cool before you add the lids.
We hope you’ll try making some balms for your Valentine, and if you come up with a new recipe, we would love to hear about it! Of course, if buying is more your thing, we’ll have a few of these for sale in the shop.