“We are an ancient sort of resilient. Made for the falling and the rising. Made for rose colored glasses and honeyed lips and finding new home in another. Made for the burning down and rebuilding from ashes. Made for the holy wonder of beginning again.”
Lips. Sensitive, sensuous, sexual. Whether opening for food, moving for speech or moulding to our emotions, they form an essential, identifying part to any human face, and are therefore something to be cherished and cared for. Enter lip balm – one of life’s most affordable luxuries. I recently came across this article on the history of chapstick (odd what you come across when breastfeeding the baby at 3 a.m…) that included a Body Shop press release on the subject, replete with sexual metaphors. Indeed, if like me you suffered your teenage years in the early 90s, you may share my near Pavlovian response to the phrase ‘Rum Raisin’. The Body Shop’s fruity pots of gunk (Coconut and Pineapple! Kiwi! Black Cherry!) were launched to a crazed response from girls across the nation, perfecting their pout for the playground. The stuff in those pots smelled so darned good we slathered it on like channel swimmers waiting to take the plunge. In fact, I grew so attached to my strawberry one that classmates bet me a fiver I wouldn’t eat it – so of course I did. Reader, it tasted nothing like cherries but my oesophagus was nicely lubricated for days afterwards.
Because that is of course what most commercial lip balms are made of – petroleum jelly, a chemical waste product of the oil industry. I’m not against ‘chemicals’ per se (note: lots of confusion abounds around what is ‘natural’ vs ‘chemical’ in the beauty industry, but that’s for another time…). However, I am against unfounded claims to efficacy and in this case, dermatologists widely report it has genuinely no hydrating benefit to lips. Why? Because it seals moisture into the lips, which sounds very nice and protecting where in fact it both prevents the delicate skin from breathing and locks any bacteria in too. Not good. For this reason, a few new brands such as Pai, Lanolips and Balm Balm are forging ahead with formulations based on natural oils (coconut, sweet almond, jojoba), butters (cocoa, shea), beeswax and lanolin. This month, I decided to try and make my own version of the one that has me hooked – Burt’s Bees – if only to try and save some dosh. The recipe worked like a dream, and I now have oodles of tubes that taste just like Murray Mints on the kitchen worktop, waiting to be sent out to various friends, family members and blog followers. Yummy!
RECIPE: HONEY MINT LIP BALM
Based on Burt’s Bees ingredients and the tutorial on Naturally Balmy. Makes approximately 60x tubes or 20x 15ml tins.
EDIT: Since the original post, a few people have suggested I should remove some of the specifics to protect my recipes in case I want to sell them in future. The recipe below is an edited version.
150ml base oil (-e.g. sweet almond, coconut, macadamia. This can be infused with herbs that have beneficial skin-soothing properties)
80g shea butter (-superior moisturiser with high levels of natural vitamin E)
60g yellow beeswax pellets (-protective barrier that unlike petroleum jelly will not ‘suffocate’ the skin, antibacterial and rich in vitamin A supporting cell regeneration)
30g cocoa butter (-superb moisturiser, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants)
1 heaped tbsp good quality honey (-can absorb and retain moisture, keeping the skin hydrated and supple, anti-ageing and anti-microbial)
10 drops vitamin E oil (-anti-oxidant that also prolongs the life of the product)
Essential oil blend:
45 drops essential oil (-e.g. spearmint or peppermint for their anti-bacterial, stimulant properties)
- Melt the oil and beeswax together in a bain marie over a low heat.
- Cut the butters up into smallish chunks, and add to the pot. Keep stirring.
- Now add the honey. Stir until the mixture is smooth and all the bits fully dissolved. Take care not to overheat.
- Finally, remove from the heat and add the vitamin E and essential oils. Stir thoroughly.
- If you’re using tins, just pour the mixture into a jug then transfer. Using tubes like I did is a little trickier. Try placing them in a shallow tray of cold water as you go to ensure the mixture at the bottom hardens quickly and forms a seal at the base. Warm a plastic pipette in the microwave before using to transfer the product, and work quickly. If the mixture solidifies before you’re done, just warm it up again gently.
- Let everything harden overnight, ideally in the fridge. The next morning your wondrous stuff should be ready to use. There is no water in this recipe so the balm requires no preservative and will keep for up to 2 years. Happy days!