If you look closely at my favorite 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.
This might turn into a pretty long post! Hopefully though, it will prove useful and I can possibly expand the series to include salves, shampoos, soaps, etc in the future.
I like to buy the majority of my oils, butters and supplies from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have fresh, high quality organic products and it’s far more economical per ounce to buy spices and herbs from them in bulk versus tiny jars in a store.
If you don’t want to use beeswax and/or prefer a vegan option, be sure to read below the formula for directions on how to substitute candelilla wax instead.
Basic Lip Balm Formula
- 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)
- 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 the lip balm is too hard, remelt it and add a bit more carrier oil. If it’s too soft, remelt it and add a bit more beeswax.
A tablespoon is roughly .4 to .5 ounces, so the same recipe converted to ounces would read something like: 1.5 ounces carrier oil, 1/2 ounce beeswax, 1/2 ounce solid butter and start with 5 to 10 drops essential oil.
*If you don’t want to use beeswax, you can substitute candelilla wax instead. However, it can’t be exchanged in equal measures. The rule of thumb is:
Use 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.
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.
Once you’ve designed your recipe, making it is as easy as 1-2-3!
Using the 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 glass, heat proof measuring cup. Set the cup down into a saucepan filled with a couple inches of water to create a makeshift double boiler. Gently heat the water over medium-low heat until everything melts together.
Remove glass 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.
Carrier Oils are usually liquid, though I include coconut oil in here too. 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
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Tamanu Oil
- Pomegranate Seed Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Castor Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
These oils can be infused with natural colorants or herbs in order to tint or enrich the benefits of your lip balm.
That just means that you put a pinch or two of dried, powdered herb (or handful if it’s a bulky item like flowers or leaves) into a mason jar, pour oil over it to cover well by a few inches, cap and let sit in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally.
After that time, strain and use. It should stay fresh for about a year. Of course, plain oils that are uninfused can be used just fine in this recipe. That’s just an extra, optional step.
For natural colorants, 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.
Favorite herbs for lip balms:
- calendula (soothing for almost anyone)
- lemon balm (anti-viral, great for cold sores)
- 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.)
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 butter has the additional benefit of being slightly protective against sun damage. There’s a subset of the population that reacts to cocoa butter with further dryness and chapped skin, so I’m less likely to use it than mango or shea.
Some 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. The following essential oils can be safely used in your lip balm formula:
- Orange (Sweet)
- Lime (if distilled)
- Mandarin (green)
- Clove (use sparingly as in one or two drops per recipe max – it’s very warming)
- Camphor (use sparingly in formulas intended for cold sores, 2 to 4 drops)
- Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial, anti-viral, can overpower the scent of your lip balm so use sparingly)
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, who by the way, has THE NICEST customer service of any place I’ve ever shopped online.
You should be forewarned that some feel that mica products are unhealthy additions to cosmetics, while others do not. Personally, I have no problem using them in tiny amounts, but you should do your own research and come to your own conclusions. It’s okay if we disagree; in fact, that’s what makes life more interesting!
One more way the nieces enjoy using mica… (They get bored while waiting for the beeswax to melt.) :)
Okay, so now that you’ve made your lip balm, you’re going to want to dress it up with a nice label! I created a special tutorial to tell you all about how to do that. You can find it here: Create Your Own Lip Balm Labels
As an example of how to follow the formula, here is the recipe for the Peppermint Ice Lip Balm that I made labels for in the tutorial:
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)
Here’s the recipe for the vegan Spearmint Lip Balm shown directly above the basic formula:
- 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
For other ideas, you can also view these recipes I’ve posted for:
- Coconut Mango Lip Balm
- Peppermint Elderberry Lip Balm
- Cocoa Honey Lip Balm
- Cold Sore Lip Balm
- Peppermint Rose Lip Balm
It is assumed that the reader will do their own research regarding the safety of any products listed here. If you are pregnant or nursing or have health issues, you should research the contraindications of ingredients such as essential oils and/or consult your health care professional for further advice. I am just a self-taught herbal hobbyist, sharing things that I make around my home with you; no health claims are implied! :)
I hope this tutorial proves useful in helping you to create your own perfect, individualized lip balms. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or share any of your best lip-balm-making tips that I may have left out. I do my best to respond to all comments that make it past the spam filters!