Hand to Mouth: DIY Lip Balm

Some well-used pots of lip balm

Some well-used pots of lip balm

Hello and welcome to Week 20! This week, we’re starting a three-part series on homemade cosmetics.

Bad, Bad, Bad
We all know that commercially-manufactured cosmetics come with a whole list of sins tied their tails: false claims, cruel animal testing, and toxic chemicals. Plus, they can be really expensive.

And Then There’s Science
In 2010, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted an online study that asked Canadians to search for twelve sets of chemicals (the Dirty Dozen) in their beauty products. The results are startling. Of the 12,500 products reported on by 6200+ participants, 80% of them contained at least one of the Dirty Dozen – chemicals that were linked environmental problems and potential health hazards, including cancer, respiratory, and reproductive issues.

If you want to check your own cosmetics, here’s a link to the Dirty Dozen pocket guide.

Can You DIY Something Like This?
So … is it possible to create your own cosmetics, have them be as effective as commercial ones, but safer and more ethical? You’re about to find out. That’s a fairly tall order, but we know that Library Life Hack likes a challenge.

Now, I’ve dabbled in this before, with not-exactly-great results. Waxy lip balm, watery hand lotion … you get the picture. But I was up for giving it another try, in the name of research.

My home library has multiple books on natural cosmetics and remedies, but the one that really caught my eye was “Organic Body Care Recipes” by Stephanie Tourles. This book is a veritable encyclopedia – almost 400 pages, jam-packed with information and recipes.

Given my past results, I was still feeling a little cautious. But, I dove in and bought enough supplies to make lip balm, body oil and face cream, from a wonderful little mail-order house in Ontario called Saffire Blue. They had reasonably-sized quantities of everything I needed, and their prices were great.

Start With the Lips
I started easy, with lip balm. There were two recipes that looked good: Honey Fruit-Flavored Lip Balm on page 215 (which I gave a lemon flavour to), and Vanilla Velvet Honey Lip Balm (page 216). Each used only four ingredients (almond oil, beeswax, honey and flavouring) and they sounded simple to make.

All in all, it took about 20 minutes to whip up each batch. You need to stir the lip balm as it cools so that the ingredients bind together. Knowing when to stop stirring and start filling containers takes a little bit of practice. (You’ll notice some comments about graininess in the reviews.) For filling the jars cleanly, I found that an icing bag was the perfect tool.

I ended up with eleven jars. I gave one to my sister, kept two to try out myself and took the rest to work and recruited volunteer testers.

How Did It Turn Out?
I’ve been a diehard Blistex user for two decades, so this lip balm was going to have to be pretty great.

I liked the lemon version and — to my honest amazement — I think the vanilla works better than Blistex. Given that it’s a very simple product, I don’t really understand why, but it seems to be totally effective. My only gripe? Because it has honey in it, you have this sticky finger situation after you’ve put the lip balm on. And the vanilla recipe seemed to separate a little, but I think that could be fixed with a longer binding time.

Here are some of the reviews from my co-workers:

I quite like the lip balm. The top bits are a little grainy but underneath it is smooth. I like the light taste of it. Effectiveness? As good as other balms and maybe better than others. Some balms even seem to dry my lips rather than moisten them but this one is good. My sisters liked it, too.
My lip balm is scented and creamy smooth. It smells lovely and stays on the lips longer than my commercial brand. It moisturizes my lips nicely. It has a long lasting taste of cotton candy. The taste is the only drawback for me as cotton candy would not be my flavour of choice.
The lemon works great! Smells nice. It’s slightly grainy but not too bad. It’s better than many products on the shelves but not as good as my buffalo tallow lip balm. Thanks for letting me try it!
The lip balm is delicious in smell and taste – it goes on easily and is not sticky. I have to make sure I don’t eat it all.
My first impression was that it was too greasy but I thought I would give it a day or two and now I quite like the lemon lip balm. You need very little so it lasts. The scent is very light but you can certainly smell lemons – I like that! I even left it in my car in the sun for a couple of hours and it didn’t melt.
The organic lemon lip balm you gave me lives on my night stand and I faithfully apply it before bed each night. And voila, no more dry, chapped lips. The scent is light, which is a plus.

Dollars and Cents
7 pots of lemon lip balm cost $6.04 total, or $.86 each, including the containers. 4 pots of the vanilla version worked out to $5.01 total, or $1.25 each. By comparison, Blistex is $3.29 a tube at Wal-Mart. That means that the vanilla recipe is a savings of $2.04 per pot (or 263%), and the lemon is a savings of $2.43 per pot (or 383%). Based on a purchase of 11 tubes of Blistex, the homemade lip balms would save you $25.14.

The book averages out to $17.00 between amazon.ca and chapters.indigo.ca. That makes this week’s life hack worth a total of $42.14. Cha-ching!

Resources
Here’s the lowdown on our feature book:

Organic Body Care Recipes:
175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self
Written by Stephanie Tourles
Published by Storey Publishing, LLC
Released May 30 2007
ISBN 1580176763

So … let’s call Experiment #1 a success. Next week, we’re going to get a little more adventurous, with body oil. In the meantime, have any of you out there tried making your own cosmetics? What were your results? Post a comment or drop me a line at librarylifehack [at] gmail.com. Make sure you tune in for Part Deux and have a great week!

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4 thoughts on “Hand to Mouth: DIY Lip Balm

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