lip balm

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i'd like to first address the myth about lip balm addiction. you may have heard that once you start using lip balm, you can't stop. well, in all honesty, the myth is no myth. but the so-called addiction is not an addiction in the physical or psychological sense. what happens is, when balm is applied to the lips, the wearer tends to lick the lips ...especially if the balm is flavored. this constant licking gradually removes the balm and leaves the lips dry, which requires the application of more balm ...and so the cycle goes on. people who don't wear balm, don't lick their lips, and except for extreme atmospheric conditions, their lips don't dry out ...thus no need for lip balm. this might seem like an unpleasant predicament to be in, but lip balm wearers don't seem to mind.
...or maybe there is something physical going on here. to paraphrase the text from one source:
<<...many [commercial] lip products on the market today use paraffin wax, petroleum jelly, and/or mineral oil, sometimes all three. these purely synthetic bases create the illusion of "moisture" because they siphon the natural oils produced by the body directly from your lips, creating the need to re-apply indefinitely. the end result is that even those who are not chronic "lickers" get hooked...>>
...and yet another source had this to say about commericial lip balm:
<<...lip balm made with petroleum jelly is ineffective. at best, since petroleum jelly isn't absorbed by the skin, it provides only a short-term fix for dry, chapped lips. and since it keeps the skin from breathing, it can, if used frequently, actually make your lips more chapped. it works by slightly moisturizing the surface of the lips and trapping the moisture there, thus temporarily making the lips less dry. but to keep your lips moist, you need to frequently reapply...>>
all the more benefit in creating your own natural lip balm.
lip balm ingredients
the general format for a lip balm recipe should be:
40% any cosmetic grade oil that is liquid at room temperature (sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, grapeseed, hemp seed, macadamia, olive, sunflower, etc.)
25% any cosmetic grade oil that is solid at room temperature (coconut, lanolin, palm, mango butter, shea butter, etc.)
20% cosmetic grade wax (beeswax, candelilla wax, soy wax)
15% any cosmetic grade oil that is brittle at room temperature (cocoa butter, palm kernel, etc.)
this is only a general guideline as you'll notice by the plethora of lip balm recipes available whose ingredients fall outside these parameters. "oils & butter" is a list showing characteristics and benefits of the different oils/butters that can be used in lip balms.
my recipe
a good lip balm recipe is a subjective thing; most people will tweak a recipe until they get it just the way they want it. this is the recipe i use:
16.0 gm beeswax - i use white since i plan to tint the balm.
16.0 gm palm oil - i used to use shea butter but had much trouble controlling the fractionation. when shea "oil" became available, i decided to use it instead, but since it is a "liquid-at-room-temperature" oil, i still needed a "solid-at-room temperature" oil, and palm oil is something i have on hand anyway.
10.4 gm cocoa butter - i use white deodorized so the color doesn't interfere with my tint, and the scent, albeit pleasant, doesn't interfere with my flavor.
80 drops each emu oil, jojoba oil, shea oil, and vitamin e - i guess i could've weighed these oils, but they're in "dropper" bottles and it's more convenient [for me] to use them this way.
.5 gm stevia (powder) - this has to be measure very carefully, since a little goes a long way. this amount provides "just enough" sweet to make the flavor taste natural. caution: using too much will present that bitter aftertaste. see notes below on "lip balm sweeteners".
this makes enough "stock" balm to fill a 2 oz. jar - (which will fill eight .15 oz. tubes). from this, i take whatever i need -- (6.2 gm per tube) -- melt it, color it, flavor it, and fill.
whether you're using essential oil or flavor oil, the "oil" does affect the texture of the balm. this recipe is based on using 30 drops per tube of flavor. if a particular strong flavor requires less, i compensate with shea oil or olive oil since they have the same "thin" consistency of most oils used for flavor.
i've heard some nice things about candelilla wax and plan to experiment with it, (using it in combination with the beeswax). but since this recipe took some effort to get it "just right", i'm reluctant to tamper with it. -- addendum: i've experimented with this very hard wax, (a very little goes a long way), and found it useful for "tweaking" the texture of the balm (read, make it firmer) by adding a very small amount ...without having to adjust any of the other ingredients.
instructions for making
melt beeswax, butters, and oils over low heat; mix well; when mixture has cooled slightly, add flavoring, sweetener, color, vitamin e; pour into containers. if using tubes, overfilling gives the lip balm less of a sunken top when cooled. you can place your balm in the refrigerater for quick cooling and immediate use.
note: refrigeration is also beneficial if your balm contains shea butter, since the "quick cooling" prevents the graininess that can occur with shea butter when it's heated and then cooled. this refers to balms and butters and does not apply to soaps, lotions, or creams.

this product is extremely flexible and hard to mess up. the quantities and ingredients can be modified and mixed and matched to one's own taste. want a harder balm, add more beeswax - want a softer balm, add less beeswax or more oil - want a creamier balm, add more butter - need a healing balm, use emu oil - want to include vitamin-e, incorporate the liquid or the contents from a capsule; etc.

a note on coloring: you may desire to tint your balm ...a color corresponding to the taste. the operative word here is "tint". you want to add only enough coloring to color the balm, not impart any color to your lips. there are several sources that supply cosmetic grade micas that are suitable for coloring your balm. this is the most likely option if you're making balm for commercial purposes. also, because the colors are so intense and the [powder] difficult to measure in small quantities, this option is best applied when making large quantities.
one other option is "tkbtrading". included in their varied line of coloring for soaps and cosmetics, they offers a line of pigments especially designed for lip products. the [powdered] dye is finely milled and pre-dispersed in oil, making it easy to work with.
for smaller batches (and the occasional tube) for your own use, coloring can be achieved by adding a "small" scraping from a lipstick tube. but what if lipstick is not an option, (i.e. you don't wear it, it doesn't come in the desired color, you don't want to ruin your expensive cosmetics)? the solution: "crayons". if non-toxic crayons are safe for children to eat, the small amount needed to tint your balm is undoubtedly safe. and a box of crayola 24s only costs about a buck and offers a wide variety of color options.

a note on flavoring: the essential oils that can be [safely] used as flavorings are the citrus oils* (grapefruit, lemon, lime, [sweet] orange, and tangerine), peppermint and spearmint. there are also many edible "flavor oils" that are made specifically for this purpose. the amount used is generally 2% of the total recipe; depending on the strength of the flavor and, of course, personal taste. flavoring gives aroma, but no actual taste. the aroma tricks the mind into thinking it's tasting. essential oils and flavor oils, (unless so-labeled), are not sweetened. the addition of a sweetener is required to create an actual "flavor".
(* although citrus oils are not toxic, they can be photosensitizing, leaving [some people's] skin susceptible to sunburn, so these should be used with caution. in fact, if you're making lip balm for use by others, it would be prudent to stick to flavor oils.)

a note on sweetener: adding sweetener can be a tricky thing since most sweetening agents are water-based, and the balm is oil-based; the two don't mix. many recipes suggest using honey. honey is water-based; it doesn't work -- (not without an emulsifier). -- it occurred to me that lecithin might be used as a [natural] emulsifier to incorporate the honey. this, however, is conjecture since i've not yet tested this theory.
 -- another option is to use powdered stevia. the powder is not soluble, but is very light. when mixed thoroughly, it stays suspended and provides sweetness as the balm is applied. stevia is very, very sweet and only a small amount is required. because of this, the sweetness is hard to control. use too much and you encounter that bitter aftertaste for which stevia is known.
 -- yet another option is to use a sweetened flavor oil. one source, "mms" (majestic mountain sage) offers some flavor oils sweetened with saccharin. one such oil, named "sugar kisses", has a slight flavor of its own but can be used as a sweetener in combination with another flavor. i don't know how they get the saccharin into this oil or their other sweetened flavor oils, but the end product is not truly oil-based and behaves pretty much the same way as honey does.
see "lip balm sweetener" for a detailed account of some of the solutions i've come up with and use ...the only satisfactory options i've found.
addendum: an oil-based sweetener would be a boon to the [home-crafting] lip balm community, which has been searching for such a thing for some time.
i found a link to an "oil-based sweetener", which is, in fact, stevia pre-dispersed in coconut oil, but you could very easily mix your own stevia with the oil of your choice.
there is also a company which offers a "certain type of fractionated coconut oil, from a specific region," which is naturally sweet; they sell it for use as a lip balm sweetener ...requiring only 5 drops per 4 ounces. i've never heard of such a product. sound too good to be true? could this merely be coconut oil with dispersed stevia or some other sweetener? i don't know. i have no experience with this product or this company, and the company seems reluctanct to disclose any information about the product (i.e. source, pharmacology), so i'm personally reluctant to use it. i am, however, passing on the "link" for anyone who's interested in persuing this. i'd love to hear from anyone having any experience with this product.

a note on sunblock: you can add micronized (oil dispersible) zinc oxide to your lip balm to provided sunscreen protection. see "sunblock & spf" for information on using zinc oxide [and titanium dioxide] as natural inert sunblocking agents.

a final note: there are a few recipes that call for the addition of aloe. aloe (liquid or gel) is water-based. as with honey, no matter how thoroughly you mix, when the balm cools, the wax will separate from the water-based ingredients. adding aloe infused oil is a way to get aloe into your balm, but be advised that aloe infused oil, is not aloe and does not evoke the healing response for which the plant is known. it is also doubtful if the aloe vera powder (aloe spiuata) actually has the healing properties for which aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) is so well known.