Welcome to our first holiday DIY of 2023! We’re kicking off with a lovely Candy Cane Peppermint Lip Balm as lip balm is one of the most giftable DIYs around. It’s inexpensive to make (but expensive to buy), almost everyone uses it, it’s got a long shelf life, and you can easily blow the socks off your loved ones with this beautiful handmade alternative to store bought.

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This year I’m revisiting a theme I flirted with about a decade ago—Candy Cane. In 2013 I made a Candy Cane Christmas Soap; 2014 had a Candy Cane Body Lotion; and in 2015 I shared a Candy Cane Lip Balm. This year I’ll be sharing a collection of highly gift-able Candy Cane themed DIYs, and we’re kicking off with lip balm.

The base

I’ve created a simple, creamy lip balm for this project. You only need three ingredients for the base: beeswax, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil (though safflower oil or sunflower oil would make a good nut-free alternative). A small amount of vitamin E helps delay rancidity, and peppermint essential oil gives the balm its candy-cane-y kick. The vitamin E and peppermint aren’t strictly necessary; you could replace either or both with more liquid oil. Dropping the vitamin E will shorten the shelf life; dropping the peppermint essential oil will eliminate the minty scent.

Peppermint makes lots of sense as the scent/flavour for a Candy Cane lip balm, but peppermint lip balm isn’t exactly a new idea—so how to make it special for Christmas?

The holiday-ification

I wanted to do something aesthetic for this formulation—make it look Christmassy—rather than include some sort of special ingredient. I ruled out the idea of layered lip balm straight away as experience has taught me that layered lip balms are very prone to coming apart at the joint of each layer, and that’s not a great experience.

Instead, I was imagining something like this cleansing balm I made in 2018:

How to Make Sea Buckthorn and Charcoal Cleansing Balm

How adorable would a little jar of lip balm with a fun candy-cane-red design swirled in the surface be?

Unfortunately, it was not to be 🙈 Lip balm contains a lot more wax than cleansing balms do; that’s why they feel substantial and moisturizing on the lips. Unfortunately, this also meant the lip balm set up so quickly that all attempts to do any sort of artful swirl in a cute little jar failed completely. If the balm was thick enough to support a bit of colour, it was too thick to swirl. If it was thin enough to swirl, it was too thin to hold any sort of definition and just looked muddy. Dang.

None of these look anything like my orange & black cleansing balm 😬

Time to re-group and try something else—candy cane stripes! Achieving that look with the lip balm itself was not something I felt up to after my mighty swirling failure, so I turned to some thin, colourful washi tape instead.

Attempt #1: I coloured the lip balm with a small amount of red mica that gets its red colour from red iron oxide, and wrapped the clear lip balm tubes in a thin pale silver-goldy washi tape to create a candy cane stripe. I liked this a lot, but felt the red oxide colour was a bit too brown.

Attempt #2: I chose a dye-powered colouring option instead of an oxide-powered one, and used TKB Trading’s fittingly-named “Candy Cane” lip liquid instead. This is red 6 that has been finely and evenly dispersed in a base of castor oil, making it very easy to work with. If you don’t have it, you could use half as much red 6 (or a different red dye) instead, make up the missing half with more liquid oil, and then be sure to stir and blend very, very well to incorporate. Personally… I’d probably go the mica route again if I didn’t have the lip liquid, selecting one that’s a cooler red, as they are far easier to incorporate into formulations.


I really liked how this turned out! It was definitely more pink than red due to the white lip balm base, but I didn’t want to add enough dye to force it to be red or it’d be more of a lipstick.

I also decided to try an inverted version for those who might not want a pink lip balm. I used refined beeswax and pale oils to ensure the base was as white as possible, and picked up some red washi tape at Staples to decorate the tubes with.

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Relevant links & further reading

Candy Cane Peppermint Lip Balm

Heated phase – coloured version
18g | 40% beeswax, refined (USA / Canada)
12.6g | 28% traditional virgin coconut oil (USA / Canada)
12.6g | 28% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada) or sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada / UK / NZ)
0.45g | 1% candy cane red lip liquid or red mica

Heated phase – white version
18g | 40% beeswax, refined (USA / Canada)
12.6g | 28% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
13.05g | 29% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada) or sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada / UK / NZ)

Cool down phase – both versions
0.9g | 2% peppermint essential oil (USA / Canada)
0.45g | 1% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)

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 or beaker—just be sure it has a pouring spout! Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.

If you have a lab hot plate and borosilicate beakers you can put a beaker directly on the hot plate; I use low heat on mine and that heats to approximately the same temperature as a water bath.

While everything melts, prepare your lip balm tubes with some festive washi tape.

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.

Quickly add the cool down phase, stir to incorporate, and pour the product into its container. Leave it on the counter to set up.

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this product does not contain any water, 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.

Substitutions

As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the formulation, you will get a different final product than I did.

  • As I’ve provided this formulation 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 formulation will make 200g.
  • 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.
  • If you want to make a vegan lip balm, I recommend this one: White Chocolate Peppermint Vegan Lip Balm. You can decorate it the same way I have here 🙂
  • The formulation will work if you use unrefined beeswax, but it will be a bit yellow/golden.
  • Babassu oil will work instead of coconut oil.
  • I use unrefined coconut oil; refined coconut oil will also work.
  • You can substitute another lightweight oil like Apricot Kernel Oil, grapeseed, or Safflower Oil
  • For a white lip balm, simply replace the lip liquid or mica with more liquid oil.
  • If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this. You could also use a lip-save flavour oil instead (not a fragrance oil!).
  • You can replace the vitamin E with more liquid oil; this will shorten the shelf life of the lip balm.

 

Gifting Disclosure

The beeswax, sweet almond oil, vitamin E, and red mica were gifted by YellowBee.
The coconut oil was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.
The Candy Cane Lip Liquid was gifted by TKB Trading. Links to TKB Trading are affiliate links.
The peppermint essential oil was gifted by Simply Ingredients.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.