Recently I’ve been interested in DIY projects and wanted to try making my own lip balm. I’m a full-fledged, card-carrying lip balm addict and always have to have something on my lips. As you know, I have a ridiculous stash of lip products; there’s at least one balm within arm’s reach in each room of the apartment, and I usually have two or three options in my purse—at minimum.
Because I’m constantly re-applying lip balm, I decided it would be a good idea to make my own so that I have control over the ingredients that go into it—especially considering I probably ingest a full tube at least once a year (ew). I did some hunting on Amazon, and I found a Portland, Oregon-based company called Grow and Make that sells a variety of DIY kits including lip balm, candles, soap, and more. I selected their Exotic Flavors Lip Balm Making Kit with Tubes which cost $24.95 on Amazon (you can also order directly from G&M’s website, but I happened to be ordering some other stuff from Amazon at the time). The kit arrived in a nicely packaged little box:
The kit contains 12 plastic twist-up tubes (if you prefer tubs or tins you can get those instead), 4 “exotic” flavor oils (peppermint, coconut lemongrass, red currant, and jasmine), sweet almond oil, beeswax pellets, shea butter, a plastic pipette, blank labels, and instructions.
I had a little trouble deciding which flavor to use or whether I should mix some of them and create my own blend. Surprisingly, I wasn’t a fan of the jasmine, which is a scent I typically love. Peppermint is usually a crowd pleaser but it’s a tad quotidian—I wouldn’t exactly put it in the “exotic” bucket like the others. I could made batches of different flavors, but I wanted to keep it simple, especially since this was my first attempt. In the end I decided to go full on coconut lemongrass, which was an excellent decision.
Before I got started, I wondered if I could add a bit of honey as an extra flavoring, so I emailed G&M’s customer service and here’s what they had to say: “We have never tried adding honey into our lip balms. There is the possibility it would make the mixture too soft for the tubes. If you have tubs or tins, a softer lip balm wouldn’t matter as much.”
Once I got started with the lip balm making, the process was very simple; the kit made it so I didn’t have to do any measuring or weighing of ingredients. I removed the caps from the tubes and got them ready for filling, with the flavoring oil and pipette on standby:
The actual lip balm making process is really simple! All I had to do was melt the almond oil, beeswax, and shea butter together in a double boiler on the stove. I don’t have a real double boiler, but instead I filled a large pan with water and set a Pyrex measuring cup inside it. Here’s how it looked after adding the three main ingredients:
What I didn’t do—and probably should have—was boil the water in the pan before adding the ingredients to the Pyrex to melt them. It took a little while for the ingredients to melt and come together, which I did over low heat like the instructions said to do.
Against the vendor’s recommendation, I added two drops of honey to the melted mixture, and then with the pipette I added 72 drops of the flavoring oil (the instructions said to add 6 drops of flavor per tube). That seemed like a shit ton of flavoring and I was worried the tiny glass vial wouldn’t contain 72 drops’ worth, but it turned out to have more than enough.
Then all that was left to do was fill the tubes (which I did using the pipette) and allow them to cool down and harden. The filling process got a little messy, as I don’t exactly have surgeon-steady hands. I’m glad I had the forethought to put a sheet of parchment paper down over my tube-filling area. It turned out that even after filling the 12 tubes there was still a fair amount of melted lip balm mixture left over, so I poured it into a small glass jar—which it filled up perfectly!
Seriously: while this jar of lip balm is no bucket of household glitter, I basically never have to buy lip balm again. It’s like one metric shit ton of lip balm:
I was surprised that the ingredients produced so much more than what they were supposed to. It seems like I could have actually filled about 18 tubes rather than 12! I think what I’ll do, actually, is buy some lip balm tubs, melt this bad boy down, and distribute the balm into them.
Here are the finished lip balms with my handwritten labels:
So what’s the verdict on the lip balm? It definitely turned out softer than I would have liked—it’s more of a gloss balm than a straight up stick balm—but the coconut lemongrass scent smells AMAZING and the formula has a nice slippery-but-not-sticky feel. I’m going to try keeping a tube in the fridge to see if that helps harden it up a bit. [UPDATE: I don’t recommend putting this lip balm in the fridge. Doing so hardens the tiny beeswax pellets and turns the balm grainy—but they do melt back down with your body heat when you apply it.] Just like the customer service rep said, adding honey to the balm would certainly work better in a tub or tin than in a tube. Regardless, these lip balms are fun little gifts, and I’ve already given a few away to friends!
Seems like the (not recommended) couple drops of honey I added may really have affected the formula; for all I know it completely altered the chemistry of the batch. I wish I hadn’t added the honey so I could have seen what it turned out like without it, but at least there’s room for experimentation here. When I melt down the extra jar of balm I may consider adding some beeswax to see if I can get it to firm up a little.
There are a ton of different recipes for homemade lip balm out there with a myriad of ingredients that can be mixed and matched, and totally I’m up for trying more homemade lip balm in the future! Not to mention the fact that it’s pretty economical to make your own lip balm. I got free shipping from Amazon, and when you break the $24.95 cost down each of the 12 tubes comes out to just $2.08. However, with the extra balm the recipe made the cost drops to around $1.39 per tube, assuming I’d get 6 more tubes’ worth out of it. That price doesn’t include the cost of extra tubes or tins, but you can get those in bulk for about $.15 apiece. Still cheaper than a tube of Burt’s Bee’s lip balm!
I definitely recommend Grow and Make for good DIY starter kits if you’re interested in some fun projects of your own!