When I got my awesome little TKB Trading Lipstick Mold one of the first things I wanted to investigate was the compatibility of the lipstick recipes in my book with the mold. The compatibility was resoundingly… not. Efforts to use the lipstick bases from my book resulted in lipsticks that looked like they’d been torn in half. They wouldn’t come out of the mold in one piece (or even three) to save they lives—I had to dig them out with the handle of a spoon and many, many cotton buds. Boo. Oh well, at least we know. Anyhow, with my learnings from working with TKB’s lovely moldable lipstick base I set off to create my own. As you can probably guess I’ve got a lot of cosmetic type ingredients so I’m thinking I’ll create at least two different bases; this one will be a more basic one, featuring easier-to-purchase ingredients.
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A moldable lipstick base needs to be solid, but also slick enough to unmold easily. Experiments where all the thickening came from beeswax, which is rather tacky, were typically only ever borderline successful; with lots and lots of freezing and patience it might come out of the mold nice-ish-ly. To add to that, lots of beeswax in a formula tends to make it quite draggy in the application arena. Not ideal.
If you look at TKB’s base you’ll notice multiple thickeners. There’s not only three types of wax (beeswax, candelilla wax, and carnauba wax), but you’ll also find cetearyl alcohol and lauryl laurate. Candelilla and carnauba wax are the last two ingredients, but they are both quite strong, glossy hardeners. Cetaryl alcohol is the second ingredient after castor oil, and it helps contribute creamy, yet non-tacky hardening. Lauryl laureate is a plant derived “mono-ester” wax that brings both hardening and non-greasy slip to the formula. Beeswax is hanging out somewhere in the middle of the ingredient list, contributing its characteristic creamy, slightly tacky hardening.
My base recipe features three hardeners; cetearyl alcohol, beeswax, and candelilla wax. I like the balanced silky/creamy feel of cetearyl alcohol, beeswax brings some great substance and tooth to the blend, and candelilla wax helps kick up the hardness factor. I experimented with including some stearic acid, but found that created something too tacky to unmold (boo, it was otherwise lovely!)
Our liquid oils are simple: castor and fractionated coconut oil. A bit of sericite mica helps with adhesion, and vitamin E helps extend the shelf life of the base. There’s also a wee bit of soy lecithin, which really helps the lipstick feel creamier.
Before I settled on this formula I made quite a few. The first formula I tried worked like a charm, but I wanted a creamier feel. The adjustments I made to get that richer feel led to failure after failure when it came to unmolding. They either wouldn’t come out of the mold, would only come out after very extended freezing (and even then it felt dubious), or they’d break when I tried to separate the two parts of the mold. Booo. I ended up having to dial back my creamy-enhancing ingredients (soy lecithin, stearic acid, and more beeswax) until I was left with just 3% soy lecithin, but even that makes a big difference, and I’m definitely happier with the feel of this formula than the first one.
I opted not to include the adhesion boosting powders I usually include in lipstick bases because I found they made the base crumbly, and that is detrimental for unmolding. Boo. Instead I aimed to get adhesion from the creamier consistency, sericite mica, and the pigment potency. This lipstick doesn’t wear as well as the long wear lipstick in my book, but it does wear well, and it’s very easy to re-apply!
Making the base is very easy—measure, melt, pour. From there you can make lipsticks just like I do in this post! Whee!
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Basic Moldable Lipstick Base
12.15g | 40.50% castor oil
0.9g | 3% soy lecithin
6g | 20% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
3g | 10% fractionated coconut oil
4.5g | 15% Beeswax, refined
0.9g | 3% candelilla wax
2.4g | 8% sericite mica
Cool down phase
0.15g | 0.50% vitamin E oil
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.
Weigh the heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. Stir while the base is in the water bath to ensure the sericite mica is thoroughly incorporated.
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 dish towel. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to thoroughly incorporate, and then pour into a 30mL/1 ounce tin or jar for storage and let it set up for at least an hour before using.
To use, follow the instructions in this post.
Because this lipstick base 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.
The colour blends
The bright one
The dark one
The one in the video
Notes & Substitutions
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 30g, which is enough for about eight tubes of lipstick.
- This recipe is very carefully balanced to ensure it will unmold. There are only three substitutions you could likely make that would be successful:
- You can use unrefined beeswax in place of refined
- You could try a different lightweight liquid oil in place of fractionated coconut oil
- You could try carnauba wax in place of candelilla wax
- I recommend keeping the liquid dye amount on the lower side (≤0.7g/3.5g base); I made a version that used 0.7g pre-dispersed liquid dyes and that felt like it was on the edge of being too soft to unmold.
- If you live somewhere very hot be sure you’re freezing the lipstick for a good long time—at least three hours. If this base gives you trouble, try replacing the soy lecithin with more castor oil.