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Learn to Make: Lip Balm From Scratch
By Wholesale Supplies Plus Friday, May 22, 2015
Lip balms are fun to make! They are also great products to add to your soap business. You’ll be amazed at how simple they are to make from scratch. And since you’re making them from scratch, you’ll get to choose all of the oils and butters that go into your lip balms, creating a one of a kind lip balm for you and your customers.

Lip Balm Ingredients

Wax - Wax is a very important ingredient in lip balm. Wax hardens lip balm and keeps it solid in warm temperatures. Beeswax is the standard in waxes to use for lip balm but you could certainly experiment with others, especially if you’re looking for something vegan friendly. Here are some wax choices.  
  • Beeswax - Beeswax provides a protective barrier on the skin, locking in moisture. Beeswax comes in both yellow and white pastilles. Beeswax has a melt point of about 144°-147°F.
  • Candelilla Wax - Candelilla Wax is a natural non-animal based wax. Plants producing candelilla wax grow in Mexico, in the North Central Plains, and the Chihuahua Desert. It is a very hard wax with a melt point of about 155°-162°F.
  • Carnauba Wax - Carnauba Wax is a natural non-animal based wax. It is known as the "queen of waxes” and comes in the form of hard yellow flakes. Carnauba Wax has a melt point of about 180°–187°F.
Butters - Butters add protective barriers to the skin and help to add emolliency to lip balm. Butters can include shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter or any other natural cosmetic based butter or butter blend. 
  • Cocoa Butter - Pure cocoa butter is thought to reduce skin dryness and improve elasticity.  
  • Shea Butter - Pure Shea butter is high in vitamin and mineral content, which is thought to benefit dry skin.
  • Mango Butter - Pure mango butter is thought to exhibit excellent moisturizing properties while countering the drying effects of bar soaps and cleansers. 
  • Tucuma Butter - Tucuma butter is considered to have high levels of Lauric, Myristic and Oleoic fatty acids, which are all thought to moisturize. 
Base Oils - You will want to choose oils that have a long shelf life. Different oils offer different results in lip balm based on their properties. Some examples:

Additives in Lip Balm

Most additives that are oil-soluble can be incorporated into a lip balm. Never add anything water-based, as it will separate out from the lip balm. Some additives include:

Flavor Oils - Flavor oils are used in flavoring lip balms, lip-gloss, and lipstick. Some are sweetened and some are not. The typical usage rate is about 1-2% of the total lip balm recipe but double check IFRA guidelines to make sure you comply. Sweetened flavor oils should be tested at 1% and then adjusted up from there, as they can taste bitter if too much is used. 

Fragrance Oils - Fragrance oil can be used in lip balm as long as it is lip safe. IFRA Maximum Skin Exposure Levels for your fragrance oil for use on lips should be 1% or more. The typical usage rate is about 1% of the total lip balm recipe.

Essential Oils - Essential oil can be used in lip balm as well. The usage rate is 1%. Make sure that the essential oil that you use is lip safe, non-phototoxic and IFRA approved up to 1% or more in lip products.  

Sweetener for Lip Balm - If you are using a fragrance oil and want to add a sweetener, you can use Saccharin, a liquid sweetener. This liquid sweetener is cosmetic grade and safe for lip-based products. If you use too much of this product, it will make your lip base bitter. It can go into lip-gloss and chapstick like bases, but it cannot be used in products that are going to be eaten or ingested. The typical usage rate is about 1% of the total lip balm recipe.

Smooth & Creamy Lotion Bar Additive - Lotion Bar Additive helps to create a smooth and creamy lip balm. It is especially useful when Shea butter is used, as Shea butter can sometimes be grainy. This helps prevent the graininess. The usage rate is 5%. 

Vitamin E - Vitamin E T-50 is an excellent antioxidant for products containing oils. The usage rate for Vitamin E is 1%. 

Colorants - You can add color to your lip balm by using an oil-based colorant such as Oil Locking Mica. Make sure the color you choose is approved for lip care.
*Make sure that any additives you use in your lip balm are lip safe. 

Molding and Packaging Lip Balm

Lip balm can be poured into tubes or pots for use and packaging. 

Lip Balm Tubes - Lip balm tubes come in many shapes, colors and sizes. You can find slim tubes, oval tubes and the common round tubes. Most styles come in black, white or natural. 

To make filing lip tubes easier, you can use a Lip Tube Filling Tray.

Metal Tins - Lip balm can also be poured into metal tins. Two common styles include round tins that come in various sizes and slide tins, which are rectangle shaped with a slide top. 

Mini Pots and Jars - There are also a variety of mini pots and jars that you can choose from. 

Shrink Wrap - When making products that go onto lips, it is best to provide a tamper evident seal such as shrink-wrap. The lip product container pages have a suggested shrink band size so you can easily find the corresponding shrink bands. 

Some considerations:
  • Softer lip balms - Pour into pots, as lip balm tubes will not support a softer lip balm formulation.  
  • Harder lip balms - Pour into tubes for easier application. 

How to Formulate a Lip Balm Recipe

Creating a recipe for lip balm is super simple! You can formulate your own lip balm recipe by using the formula below.

Wax - 20%
Brittle Butter - 10% (cocoa butter, kokum butter)
Butter/Solid Oil - 20% (coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil, shea butter, mango butter, sal butter)
Liquid Oil - 50%            

Basic Lip Balm Example (makes about 18 lip balm sticks)
Beeswax - 20 grams (0.71 oz.)
Cocoa Butter - 10 grams (0.35 oz.)
Shea Butter - 20 grams (0.71 oz.)
Avocado Oil - 25 grams (.88 oz.)
Castor Oil - 25 grams (.88 oz.)
Flavor Oil - 1 gram (1 ml)

Testing Lip Balm Consistency
Before you pour your lip balm into containers, you can test the consistency to make sure you are happy with the hardness (or softness for pots). An hour before you make lip balm, place a metal spoon into the freezer. To test, drop a few drops of the lip balm base when liquid onto the spoon. Let set for about a minute. Try it out. Grab some with your finger. Is it too hard or too soft? Put it on your lips. How does it spread? You can adjust by adding additional ingredients at this time.  

Modifying a Recipe
The above formulation is recommended as a starting point. If you want a harder lip balm with a higher melt point, use more wax or a wax with a higher melt point. If you want a softer lip balm, use more liquid oil or a wax with a lower melt point. If you want a more slick lip balm, consider adding castor oil to your base. 

The Basic Process

Equipment Required
  • A heat-safe container
  • Scale to weigh ingredients
  • Spatula or spoon
  • Hair net and gloves
  • Plastic dropper
  • Microwave or double boiler
Step 1 - Melt the wax and butters in the microwave or in a double boiler. 

Step 2 - Once melted, add the liquid oil. If it solidifies, re-melt. 

Step 3 - Cool to 135°F and add flavor, fragrance or essential oils and color.

Step 4 - Cool to 130°F and pour into containers. 

Step 5 - If tubes were poured using a pouring tray, allow lip balm to harden and scrape off excess. Remove tubes from tray. Cap, label, shrink wrap and enjoy! If tins or pots were used, allow to cool completely and cap, label, shrink wrap and enjoy! Never put caps onto warm products as condensation can occur. 

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