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Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Ingredients for Lip Balms & Glosses

Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Ingredients for Lip Balms & Glosses

Today is the fourth day of the Empty Cupboard series, and we are covering one of the fastest products one can make. Over the years, one of the popular questions for our technical team is how to make lip balms. Let’s take a peek into the ingredients I put on my wish list for lip balms and glosses!

When you break down the parts of a lip balm, most formulas follow a common division of ingredients.

10-20% wax
15-25% of oils solid at room temperature
15-25% of oils brittle at room temperature
30-40% of oils liquid at room temperature

You can easily create your own lip balm recipe by following our suggestions in the Make Your Own Lip Balm Recipe. When making your first batches of a new lip balm recipe, we do recommend using the plate test. I promise that the plate test will be a life and ingredient saver for you!

Let’s take a look at each category of ingredients and cover my favorites!


There are several options of waxes available, so I’ll talk about each wax to help you make an informed decision.

Beeswax: We have two varieties of beeswax in our catalog, a filtered and bleached Beeswax and a filtered only Beeswax. Both are fantastic to work with, and the biggest difference is color. Beeswax is a good choice when you begin making lip balm. It helps you learn what you like and don’t like in a lip balm without having it accidents that make rock hard lip balms!

Candelilla Wax: Candelilla (Kan-dl-ee-uh) is one of the waxes that has twice the stiffening power of Beeswax, but this power is a double-edged sword! If you use too much, you have a lip balm that doesn’t soften when applied. I recommend this wax to those who have a few batches of lip balm under their belts. (Trust me, those batches will help you when beginning with this wax!)

Carnauba Wax: Carnauba (Kahr-new-buh) is just like Candelilla Wax. This is a popular wax used in foods, cosmetics, and car product. Like Candelilla Wax, use small amounts. It has double the strength of beeswax. Recommendation: Same as Candelilla Wax.

Soy Wax: Many people make lip balms with Soy Wax because it can give label appeal to the lip balm for those who want a plant wax. In her recent blog series, Candy Corn Lip Balm on Day 3, Joy discussed the problems she had the first time she had worked with the Soy Wax. She learned that it is extremely important to ensure that the wax had melted thoroughly to prevent fractionation and the resulting graininess. Since Soy Wax has a melting point that is just a bit higher than Beeswax, this wax is also good ingredient for beginners. We do recommend using a thermometer to make sure you reach the melting point for the wax!

Solid Oils:

These oils are ones that are solid at room temperature but still soft enough that you can push your finger into the oil. Most of these oils are ones that we call “butters,” as they have stiffness just like room temperature butter made from milk! You can use any solid oils of your choice. I’ll share my top three solid oils for lip balm.

Shea Butter: I enjoy Shea Butter in lip balms. A lot! The creamy feel and gliding application that lip balms with Shea Butter have make it one of my favorite ingredients. We do offer three varieties of Shea Butter, and all of them are nice in lip balm. Go ahead and read about the differences to determine the best one for you. Our selection includes Handcrafted Shea Butter, Refined Shea Butter, High Melt Point Refined Shea Butter, and Unrefined Shea Butter.

Aloe Butter: Yes, the Aloe plant is mostly water. To get this butter, aloe is infused in Coconut Oil. This gives you label appeal and an absolutely dreamy lip balm!

Lanolin: Lip balms with lanolin just can’t be beat! Using lanolin gives a lip balm a creamy smooth texture that glides onto your lips and is reminiscent of the texture of a high-end lipstick.

Brittle Oils:

These are oils that are brittle (aka rock solid) at room temperature. Not many oils are brittle at room temperature, but you do have a few options. These oils typically have a high stearine content, and as stearines are the fatty acids chains that are ridged when cool, this makes these oils hard. These oils are helpful to keep lip balm firm as well as contributing a higher melt point that helps a lip balm be in pants pockets without melting.

Cocoa Butter: One of the most common brittle oils in lip balm, Cocoa Butter is one of my favorite brittle oils for lip balm. I can choose the type I want to use based on my desired finished lip balm. If I want a chocolate flavor and scent, I use the Regular Cocoa Butter. If I don’t want a strong chocolate flavor and scent, I will use the Deodorized Cocoa Butter. When no chocolate odor is desired, I use the White Odorless Cocoa Butter.

Illipe Nut Butter: Illipe is a brittle butter that is packaged in chunks. It is easy to work with and does not impart any flavor or odor.

Palm Kernel Oil: If you are a soap maker and already have Palm Kernel Oil in your stash, then you don’t have to look any farther! Palm Kernel gives the firmness needed by lip balms without breaking the bank, as it has a lower cost per pound than other brittle oils. Don’t worry about the oil making your lip balms feel cheap, as it definitely does not! If you check the various recipes we have made over the years, we have used Palm Kernel Oil many times.

Liquid Oils:

These oils have minimal stearine contents, and therefore are liquid when at room temperature. Some liquid oils do have extra waxes that can make the oil appear hazy when exposed to cooler temperatures. If you have an oil that has the haze, you can easily just use a gentle water bath to heat the oil and allow the stearines to melt and mix back into the oil.

Castor Oil: One of my favored liquid oils is Castor Oil. It gives a heavy body, gloss, and long lasting feel to any lip balm. A requirement if you want any gloss in a lip balm or if you are making a lip gloss for a lip pen.

Sweet Almond Oil: Sometimes overlooked for its simplicity, Sweet Almond Oil contributes a light feeling to lip balms. If you use Sweet Almond Oil in soaps or lotions, you can also use it in lip balms!

Macadamia Nut Oil: A light oil that gives long-term moisturizing without a excessive greasy feeling. Lip balms made with Macadamia Nut Oil have a smooth, buttery feel that makes a dreamy lip balm.

Avocado Oil: I enjoy making lip balms with Avocado Oil. This is one of the favorite oils in our blog kitchen as it is great for people with all skin types!


This are additions that aren’t needed but are often added for label appeal, flavor, or color.

Extracts: While I personally like the addition of extracts for label appeal and their helpful nutrients for skin, an extract isn’t required. If you do want to add an extract, simply remove the same amount from the liquid oils and use that amount as an extract instead. We recommend using between 0.5% and 4% for a lip balm intended for daily use.

Flavors: Depending on your desired lip balm flavor, you can have a flavor usage between 0.5% and 4% for most flavors and FCC (Food Chemical Codex) approved essential oils. You do not have to flavor your lip balms; it is completely up to you! Please check the desired flavor for the recommended usage rates before using.

Colors: Colors are optional, and some enjoy keeping a naturally colored lip balm. If you would like a tinted lip balm that won’t color lips, then the Oil Soluble Lip Colors will go a long way for you! You can even mix colors to make a lipstick color! Heavy use of the colorants will make a lip coloring balm or lip stick. A few drops just tints the balm.

Antioxidants: An antioxidant simply extends the shelf life of your oils by slowing down the process of oxidation. Since antioxidants are not preservatives they will not prevent the growth of yeast, mold, and/or bacteria. Lip balms will be fine without a preservative because they are anhydrous (lacking water). However, we strongly advise that all lip products be intended for a single user. Using antioxidants help extend the shelf life of your products by a few months.

Now that my fingers are terribly tired, I’m glad I have finished with this post! Next we will take a look at the basic ingredients for making miscellaneous bath goodies!

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