If you look closely at the homemade lip balm recipes that I’ve shared to date, you’ll note that they have similar ratios of oils, beeswax, etc.
Since I often get questions about making substitutions for one ingredient or another, I thought I’d share with you my basic formula that lets me (and now you!) create pretty much any type of lip balm desired.
I’m going to give you the formula, then suggestions on which oils, herbs, butters, etc to use, then share the link to a tutorial I made on creating your own labels.
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Oils, Butters & Beeswax: My go-to source for lip balm ingredients is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality organic products that I’ve used for many years with 100% satisfaction. However, you may be able to find some of the ingredients you need locally as well, so check nearby health stores for oils & butters and your farmer’s market for beeswax.
Candelilla Wax for Vegan Option: You can buy that HERE at Bramble Berry.
Lip Balm Tubes: You can find these in many online supply shops. I’ve personally ordered from Rustic Escentuals and Bramble Berry and both types are great. Look for accompanying shrink wraps if you’d like your finished lip balm to have a tamper proof seal.
Lip Balm Filling Tray: Makes filling little tubes of lip balm SO much easier! You can buy one HERE. If you can’t get one though, try using a rubber band to group together several lip balm tubes at once. (See the photo above the Directions to Make section of this post for an example of what that looks like.)
Printable Lip Balm Labels: I’ve had the best luck with heavy-duty waterproof sheets from Rustic Escentuals. Don’t use regular sticker paper as it will peel right off of plastic tubes.
Heat Gun: A useful tool for smoothing the tops of your lip balms (and salves) and is needed if you plan on sealing your lip balm with shrink wrap. Look in your local craft store or you can grab one like THIS ONE at Amazon.
Basic Lip Balm Formula
This makes a recipe that works well in lip balm tubes. If you plan on putting your lip balm in tins, it needs to be a little softer, so try adding an additional part of carrier oil.
If your lip balm turns out too hard, melt it again and add more oil. If it turns out too soft, melt it again and add more beeswax. Keep melting and tinkering until it’s just right for your taste.
- 3 parts carrier oil (liquid oil)
- 1 part beeswax* (I tend to use a smidge more than this, but it depends on the recipe)
- 1 part solid butter (optional & adjustable)
- optional, essential oil (start with 1 to 2 drops per tablespoon or 1/2 ounce of ingredients, adjust as desired)
I usually make lip balms using tablespoon measurements.
So, plugging those into the formula above you’d need: 3 tablespoons carrier oil, 1 tablespoon beeswax, 1 tablespoon solid butter & start with 5 to 10 drops (possibly more or less) essential oil. This will make about 7 or 8 lip balm tubes.
(If making lip balm that will go in tins instead of tubes, try 4 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon beeswax, 1 tablespoon butter and 5 to 10 drops of essential oil.)
The basic lip balm formula converted to ounces would read something like: 1.5 ounces carrier oil, 0.5 ounce beeswax, 0.5 ounce solid butter and start with 5 to 10 drops essential oil.
Tip: One ingredient that I feel makes a lip balm is castor oil. It leaves such a soft glossy shine on the lips.
If at all possible, try to keep a small amount (about 1/2 tablespoon) in your recipe and I think you’ll be very happy with the results! It counts towards your carrier oil portion.
For a vegan lip balm, use candelilla wax instead of beeswax. However, it can’t be exchanged in equal measures. The rule of thumb is:
Use approximately half as much candelilla wax as beeswax, when making recipe substitutions.
This means that the formula now becomes: 3 parts carrier oil, 1/2 part candelilla wax, 1 part solid butter and 1 to 2 drops of essential oil per tablespoon (or 1/2 ounce) of ingredients.
Translated to tablespoons, this equates to 3 tablespoons carrier oil, 1/2 tablespoon candelilla wax, 1 tablespoon solid butter and still start with 5 to 10 drops of essential oil and adjust as needed.
Directions to Make
Once you’ve designed your recipe, making it is as easy as 1-2-3!
Using the Basic Lip Balm Formula above, decide upon your ingredients and gather everything together.
Place your chosen liquid (carrier) oils, solid butter and beeswax (or candelilla wax) into a heatproof canning jar, pyrex measuring cup or empty tin can (for easiest cleanup).
Set the jar/can down into a saucepan filled with a couple inches of water to create a makeshift double boiler. Gently heat the pan over medium-low heat until everything melts together.
Remove the jar/can from pan, wiping any water off of the outside so that it doesn’t drip into your lip balm while pouring.
Next, add essential oils, give the mixture a few stirs, then pour into lip balm tubes or small tins.
To make your life much easier, invest in a lip balm tube filling tray.
Once cooled, cap and label. I usually use a heat gun to make sure the tops are nice and smooth.
Now, let’s go over some of the choices you have as far as ingredients.
These are usually liquid, though I include coconut oil in here too since it melts upon contact with body heat. You can use any combination of these oils together.
Olive, sweet almond & sunflower oils make nice bases as does coconut oil, so I like to use a majority of those, then add a bit of extra rich oil like tamanu, pomegranate seed or jojoba.
Here’s a list of options to draw ideas from:
- Olive Oil – an easy to find basic oil
- Sweet Almond Oil – softens lips
- Sunflower Oil – heals damaged skin
- Coconut Oil – melts easily (for those with coconut allergy though, it can make chapped lips worse)
- Tamanu Oil – heals many skin conditions
- Pomegranate Seed Oil – rich and nutritious
- Jojoba Oil – softens and nourishes skin
- Avocado Oil – rich and moisturizes dry lips
- Apricot Kernel Oil – for sensitive and mature skin
- Castor Oil – adds gloss and smoothness to lip balm
- Hemp Seed Oil – conditions lips
These oils can be infused with natural colorants or herbs in order to tint or enrich the benefits of your lip balm. (More on that below.)
I use alkanet for a reddish or pink tint, annatto seed powder for an orangish tint and chrorella to lend a hint of green coloring for lime lip balm (none of these will stain your lips.)
Other plant based materials may work, but these are the ones I have personally tested and like. One-half to one tablespoon of colored infused oil is a good starting point to use; you can adjust to your liking as you go along in the recipe.
As a precaution, if you are pregnant or nursing, check with your doctor before using products containing alkanet root.
If you wish to add a chocolate flavor & color, you can use unsweetened cocoa powder or melt a small amount of baking chocolate and mix into your formula.
Colored clays don’t do as well in lip balm formulas because they can pull moisture from your lips and make them feel drier.
Favorite Herbs for Lip Balms
- Calendula – (soothing for almost anyone)
- Lemon Balm – (anti-viral, great for cold sores)
- Chamomile – (anti-inflammatory, soothing)
- Dandelion Flowers – (heals damaged skin)
- Plantain – (skin healing)
- Goldenseal – (anti-bacterial & anti-viral and another herb I like to use in healing formulas)
- Rose Petals – (skin soothing)
- Violet Leaves – (very helpful for chapped skin conditions.)
Any herbs I don’t buy or grow at home, I purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Making Herbal Infused Oils
To make herbal lip balm, you’ll first need to make an herb-infused oil to go in it.
To do so, fill a small jar (I used THIS SIZE) about half-way up with dried herbs or flowers.
Cover with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil, or to the top of the jar.
For a quick infusion:
Set the jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low burner for a few hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out.
Remove from heat and strain.
For a slower, more traditional infusion:
Cap the jar of herbs/flowers and oil and tuck it away in a cabinet for around 4 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain.
For a third option:
You could also set the jar of herbs/flowers and oil in a sunny windowsill for several days to a week to jump start the infusion. (Don’t store for long periods in sunlight though, as it tends to fade flowers and herbs over time.)
Honey in Lip Balm
Many people love the thought of honey in their lip balm (and I even created one such recipe: Cocoa Honey Lip Balm) but frankly, it’s not the ideal addition because as a water based product, it will tend to separate out of the oils.
If you add any to your recipe, use a small amount, stir very well and realize that much of it will settle to the bottom of your measuring cup. Don’t try to incorporate this extra in, just discard it.
Solid Butters are those that are solid at room temperature. These are optional, you can leave them completely out, but they do add a nice creaminess to your lip balm formula.
Mango and shea butters can usually be added or subtracted without much effect to the end product. Cocoa and kokum butters are harder though, so if you include those in your formula, notch up the amount of carrier oil a bit to compensate.
There’s a subset of the population that reacts to cocoa butter with further dryness and chapped skin, so if you’re lips stay constantly chapped while using a cocoa butter formula, suspect that as a potential culprit. (Coconut oil acts similarly to those who are allergic.)
Essential Oils for Scent & Flavor
Cold-pressed citrus-based essential oils (like lemon, grapefruit & bergamot) are photoxic, which means they can make your skin more sensitive to sun, so you should take care when adding those to lip balm.
Not all are though, so don’t feel that you have to completely exclude yourself from enjoying citrus flavored lip balms during daytime hours. If they’ve been distilled, they’re usually safe to use. (Double check with the manufacturer to see what type they carry and what their recommendation is.)
The following essential oils can usually be safely used in your lip balm formula:
- Orange (Sweet)
- Lime (distilled, not cold-pressed)
- Lemon (distilled, not cold-pressed)
- Vanilla Absolute
- Clove (use sparingly as in one or two drops per recipe max – it’s very warming)
- Camphor (use sparingly in short-term formulas intended for cold sores, 1 to 2 drops, adults only)
- Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial, anti-viral, can overpower the scent of your lip balm so use sparingly and only in adult short-term cold sore recipes)
I’ve also seen Lavender & Rose essential oils in some formulations and although I appreciate the smells in other items, am not fond of either on my lips. But, my way is most definitely not the only way and if you want floral lip balm, then have at it! Remember, this is your creation!
When my daughter & nieces are inventing lip balm recipes, they always like to add a bit of lip safe mica for some shimmer and shine! I buy those from Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies.
Some people feel that mica products are unhealthy additions to cosmetics, while others do not, so they’re definitely optional. Personally, I rarely use them since I enjoy using natural colorants and botanicals a lot more, but they’re fun for a special occasion project. :)
Lip Balm Recipe Examples (Using the Formula)
Peppermint Ice Lip Balm
- 2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Jojoba Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Castor Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Beeswax Pastilles
- 1 Tablespoon Mango Butter
- 16 drops of Peppermint Oil (it’s very minty & cooling on the lips with this amount)
Vegan Spearmint Lip Balm
- 1 Tablespoon Sweet Almond Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Chlorella Infused Olive Oil (for color)
- 1/2 Tablespoon Jojoba Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Castor Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Candelilla Wax
- 1 Tablespoon Shea Butter
- around 10 drops of spearmint essential oil
Other Lip Balm Recipes
These are some lip balm recipes that I’ve shared on this site.
- Coconut Mango Lip Balm
- Peppermint Elderberry Lip Balm
- Cocoa Honey Lip Balm
- Cold Sore Lip Balm
- Peppermint Rose Lip Balm
- Chamomile Lip Balm with Printable Labels
If you enjoyed this tutorial on making your own DIY custom herbal lip balms, be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get my best herbal projects, soap ideas, and DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox, once per month. (No spam ever, unsubscribe at any time.)
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