I’ve had quite a few requests for a vegan lip balm recipe, and it’s been on my to-do list for ages now. What yanked developing this recipe to the top of my to-do list was the discovery of bayberry wax. I’d never heard of it before. It was described as “an aromatic green vegetable wax. It is removed from the surface of the fruit of the bayberry (wax-myrtle) shrub Myrica faya by boiling the fruits in water and skimming the wax from the surface of the water.” A distinctive scent was also mentioned, and I had to try it.
Fortunately, bayberry wax is pretty inexpensive—75g is just over $4. Once it arrived, the first thing I did was open the bag and take a whiff. It smelled quite spicy… almost mustardy, really. But then I took a hunk of it out of the bag, and the smell utterly transformed. It smells just like a forest in summertime. You can pick out the distinctive scents of pine and fir trees, the moist forest floor, blooming wildflowers, and even a hint of a campfire. I was utterly transported, and immediately fell in love with my new bag of waxy green clumps.
The lip balm itself behaves a bit differently than my beeswax based lip balms. It glides on nicely, moisturizes really well, and is pretty darn cheap ($0.30/tube, tube included), but it is a bit softer and, well, gummier, than the beeswax stuff.
At first I was a little apprehensive about the different texture, but I find it makes for a longer wear time and even better moisturizing. I am absolutely loving it right now as it is unbearably dry (is negative humidity a thing?). I left mine unscented to enjoy the wonderful scent of the bayberry wax, but you could always add peppermint or spearmint essential oil if you like.
Bayberry Vegan Lip Balm
8g | 0.28oz bayberry wax
5g | 0.17oz virgin coconut oil
3g | 0.1oz cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
8g | 0.28oz sweet almond oil (USA / Canada)
Weigh the bayberry wax, coconut oil, cocoa butter (USA / Canada), and sweet almond oil (USA / Canada) out into a heat resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in a pot of barely simmering water to melt the oils.
Stir the mixture using a flexible silicone spatula and decant into five lip balm tubes and let cool. I like to use these labels to label my projects.
Don’t have the carrier oils called for in the recipe? Read this for a guide on how to choose appropriate alternatives.
I’ve never heard of bayberry wax before. I’m really interested in making this now, it’s interesting that the wax is green, too! I’ve only used beeswax for my lip balms.
I’m having so much fun dreaming up more applications for this wax—I think it could be great in my woodshed body butter 🙂
The wax looks suspiciously like rocks. And you’re totally right about the forest-y description of the smell! It really reminds me of that oddly pleasant smell of newly decaying fall leaves. Very earthy, but in the best way possible.
Yeah, kind of! Like funny, mossy/dusty forest rocks from Narnia 😛 And I totally agree about the “good kind of earthy” scent—it smells nothing like my compost bucket, lol.
Oh Marie…I just received the dark cocoa butter and I must make another purchase of bayberry wax. BTW, where did you purchase yours? I saw some on a website, http://www.berrybee.com but it was $18 for 1 lbs.
I got mine from Saffire Blue—I link straight to the product page if you click the link in the first paragraph 🙂
Bayberry candles are symbolic at Christmas in my family. We lit them before the sun went down. I am not sure what culture this comes from. The only place you can buy real bayberry candles is from Lehman’s Catalogue. Most are just perfumed with the scent….
Very cool—I’d never heard of bayberry anything before finding this wax for sale online. The candles must smell fantastic—you’ve inspired me to give it a go 🙂
Thanks for the info. I don’t know WHY I keep asking where you order supplies 🙂
I’ll be placing this this on my Xmas shopping list 🙂
Haha no worries 😛
I made bayberry candles once – you have to pick A LOT of bayberries for that!! They grow natively near me, so collecting them isn’t an issue. This balm sounds interesting, thank you for sharing it! I might give it a try just for the uniqueness, but I’m a beekeeper, so I have plenty of nice cappings wax to use in my cosmetics.
Ooooh, you make your own bayberry wax then? Cool! What are bayberries like? Do you cook or bake with them? Also… I’m majorly envious of your bees! That is definitely on my to do list… one of these days. My favourite souvenir these days is honey and beeswax from various destinations—it’s like wine! So different from different places, and so lovely and wonderful 🙂
I found them growing nearby the house I grew up in, northern bayberries (Myrica pensylvanica) grow in acid, peaty soil at the edge of the woods but in full sun. Think damp pine barren. You can’t eat the berries, but you can use the evergreen foliage as insect repellant. They grow into huge colonies but the good conditions for them are being eaten up by development around here, unfortunately.
You’re right about honey, I just love the different honeys produced from all over. So many only taste the commercial junk that’s high-heated and so homogenous. Support your local beekeeper! 🙂
Oooh, I will have to keep my eye out for some bayberries. We have loads of pine barren soil up in the mountains, and even in my front yard, lol.
My boyfriend just returned from a road trip through the States, and he brought be a beautiful jar of local raw honey from Nevada. It is so lovely, and so different from the stuff from the Canadian prairies. Speaking of which, I should go make myself a cuppa chamomile tea with some 🙂
Funny mishap, grabbed the hazelnut oil instead of the almond oil for this recipe..happy mishap, worked out beautifully!
Lovely! What do you think of the scent of the bayberry wax?
Ah, like you Marie, I am keeping Saffire Blue (and New Directions..) in business. I ordered more of it..love it, what an innovative lip balm, can’t thank you enough, keep them coming! 🙂
Ha, yes, they should be sending us all thank you notes 😉 As for more lip balms, I’m currently experimenting with a vegan hemp one, but my first experiment ended up tasting like fish, so that one definitely needs more work!
Kudos to using hemp in any products though. And all your wizardry is appreciated, balms, lotions and soaps..always happily awaiting the next one Marie..thanks for all your diligence!
You’re welcome 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!
What is the best substitute for almond oil? I have a severe allergy to nut oils.
Hi Heather! You should read my entry on carrier oil substitutions 🙂 I think you will find it very useful for swapping out nut oils in any recipe.
Once again, thanks g or your lovely posts, they are always pertinent to whatever I’m doing at the time, I love it! I stumbled upon bayberry wax in my reading recently & I was actually curious about it, you sure help take the guesswork out of our endeavors to make functional products. If you didn’t already say, where can it be purchased? If you already mentioned it somewhere, sorry, i’ll read through the other comments to see if you did. Have a great day 🙂
Thanks, Sheila! I got my bayberry wax from Saffire Blue (link above in the big box).
I’ve recently started experimenting with collecting my own bayberries for wax, so I was excited to find this post. But since the berries are inedible, and the oil is toxic, is the wax okay to use on the lips?
“English bog myrtle has historically been shown as having characteristics capable of inducing abortion. Its leaves, in nature, also have a poisonous, volatile oil present, which can be removed by boiling. Though no studies were found indicating the same capabilities for American bayberry, because of their many similarities, it should be assumed that neither English bog myrtle nor American bayberry leaves should be ingested in their natural, unprepared state.” (Source)
From my research, the American plant we’re using hasn’t been found to be toxic. Additionally, any toxin that would be present is in the leaves, which aren’t used in the production of the wax, as the wax is boiled off the berries, not the leaves.
It’s also worth noting the MSDS sheet states that the wax contains no hazardous components.