It has been absolutely ages since I shared a lip balm formulation, but with cold & dry winter conditions here for the somewhat foreseeable future, it’s definitely time for a new way to keep our lips happy! This Almond & Olive Creamy Lip Balm has a rich, slippy, semi-glossy feel that’s richly moisturizing and all-around lovely ❤️
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The key, interesting part of this formulation is the use of a pseudo wax to thicken the lip balm and add an interesting and unique rich, creamy, slip. I experimented with combining pseudo wax with other thickeners in the Cream Silk Cleansing Balm I shared earlier this year, and I really loved the silky, substantive feel it gave to that balm. I thought that creamy, slippy awesomeness would be brilliant in a lip balm.
The pseudo wax I chose for this lip balm is olive wax (INCI: Hydrogenated Olea Europaea). It’s not a true wax in that it’s really just olive oil that’s been hydrogenated to the point of being firm enough to contribute thickening to other products. If you think of other hydrogenated oils, like the ones that create the bases for some pseudo butters (like coffee butter), or PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, hydrogenation on its own doesn’t make something a pseudo wax, so make sure you’re reading the marketing materials as well as the INCI for the product—it needs to be sold as a “wax”.
As lovely as the pseudo-wax thickening creamy goodness is, I do generally find it isn’t quite occlusive enough for lip balm, so I included a small amount of beeswax as well. For further lip-conditioning goodness you’ll also find some rich, nourishing lanolin—though at just 5% because I’m not crazy about the way it smells.
The lip balm is rounded out with two liquid oils. Sweet almond oil is the “almond” part of this lip balm, but you could easily use a different mid-weight liquid oil instead (or a blend!). Good alternatives include sunflower seed oil, apricot kernel oil, cherry kernel oil, safflower oil, and jojoba oil. I also included 10% castor oil for added richness and a touch of gloss.
I opted to leave this lip balm unscented (the lanolin scent doesn’t come through, thankfully!), but if you wanted to include an essential oil or flavour oil you easily could. I’d take 0.5% off the almond oil and add 0.5% essential oil or flavour oil of choice in the cool down phase (making sure 0.5% is allowable for the specific essential oil you’re using, of course!).
The making is simple; melt, stir, pour, and cool. You will want to cool this in the fridge for best results—countertop cooling works, but the finished lip balm won’t be as smooth as it can be, and let’s be real… it’s much nicer if it’s perfectly smooth. Enjoy!
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Almond & Olive Creamy Lip Balm
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Note: For best results, you’ll want to put this lip balm in the fridge to set up—I find counter cooling can leave the final product a bit mealy… not lumpy, but just not perfectly smooth. Of course, this means you’ll need to transfer the tubes with still-liquid lip balm to the fridge, which can be tricky. I recommend clearing a flat spot in your fridge that’s close to the front of a shelf, and pouring the lip balms as close to your fridge as possible so you can easily move them. If you’re doing lots of tubes you could experiment with lining them up on a plate and then holding them together with a lip balm filling tray and carefully moving that, but for a small batch I’m a bigger fan of moving them one-by-one and being extra careful (but also only ruining one tube at a time if I slip, ha.)
Quickly add the cool down phase, stir to incorporate, and pour the lip balm into lip balm tubes or tins. I filled five oval lip balm tubes perfectly with a 25g batch. Carefully transfer the lip balm to the fridge to set up.
Once the lip balm has solidified, cap the tubes and then wipe them down with a paper towel wetted with some rubbing alcohol (this removes greasy residue—a generally nice thing, but also good if you want to label the lip balms!). I used some Humblebee & Me branded labels I designed myself and had printed by Sticker Mule—I use a fine-tipped permanent marker to add details for individual projects 😊
Use as you would any lip balm. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this lip balm is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 25g, which is enough to fill five standard (4.5g) lip balm tubes.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try almond wax instead of olive wax. Do not use a true wax—this needs to be a “pseudo wax” with an INCI of some sort of hydrogenated vegetable oil (but it also can’t be just any hydrogenated vegetable oil—it needs to be firm enough to be marketed as a wax).
- I do not recommend substituting the beeswax, castor oil, or lanolin. Read up on them in the encyclopedia for alternatives if you have to.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like safflower oil, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the sweet almond oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to incorporate a flavour oil, please read this.
The oval lip balm tubes were gifted by YellowBee.