Deep red cranberries lend themselves beautifully to a Christmassy tinted lip balm, so it’s no surprise that this lip balm hit my to-do list as soon as I knew one of our holiday themes would be cranberry orange. Today’s silky tinted lip balm gives the lips just enough colour that you don’t have to apply it while looking in a mirror (watch the video to see it in action!), and the semi-sheer red hue is universally flattering. The making part is super easy so you can easily whip up a batch in no time—these beauties make great stocking stuffers (try tying a tube to a candy cane!) and are sure to be a fast favourite among anyone lucky enough to receive a tube 😄
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Our most prominent ingredient is fruity, tangy-smelling cranberry seed oil. I’ve blended it with slippy, silky babassu oil, brittle cocoa butter, and creamy beeswax to create a semi-glossy lip balm base. A fairly hefty dose of liquid carmine dye gives the balm some lip-tinting powers, and a touch of coloured mica adds a hint of shimmer and leaves a bit of room for creativity. I made one batch using a pale pink mica and another using gold—both are beautiful!
To complement the fruity scent of the cranberry seed oil I’ve included a touch of juicy sweet orange essential oil. Sweet orange essential oil is not photosensitizing, so it’s safe for use in skincare products. If you want to use a different citrus essential oil, mandarin, tangerine, and satsuma would all be good choices. You could also use orange wax, or leave the cranberry seed oil to shine on its own and replace the essential oil with more cranberry seed oil.
The finished lip balms are a gorgeous, deep red—I’d recommend packaging them in clear lip balm tubes or jars if you can to really let the colour shine. I decorated my tubes with bands of dark red washi tape for a bit of extra holiday cheer and colour.
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Cranberry Orange 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.
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. While the heated phase melts, set out enough lip balm tubes plus an extra or two; if you’re making this project as written in grams you’ll need about 12 tubes. I like to set the tubes quite close together to make for easier pouring—you can bundle them together with an elastic band to keep them all together and upright. A lip balm pouring tray is also very helpful if you have one.
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. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Weigh in the cool down ingredients, stir to incorporate, and pour the liquid lip balm into your tubes. Leave to set up—at least 20–30 minutes.
Once the lip balm has solidified, cap each tube and then wipe down the outsides of the tubes with some 70% isopropyl alcohol and paper towel (this will remove any oil residue so your labels will stick). Label the tubes and you’re done!
Use as you would any lip balm.
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, they should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice they start to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck them 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 50g, or about 11–12 standard tubes.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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 wish to substitute the beeswax you’ll need to re-develop the recipe to ensure you get the end consistency you’re going for. Check out these experiments for some starting points.
- You can use refined coconut oil instead of babassu oil.
- You can use tucuma butter instead of cocoa butter.
- You could use unrefined coconut oil and/or cocoa butter, but the scents of those ingredients will impact the scent of the final product.
- I don’t recommend substituting out the cranberry seed oil (click that link to go to the encyclopedia article for my first list of suggestions), but if you have to I would choose something special that is lightweight and will pair well with whatever scent you’re using—plum oil could work well!
- The carmine dye is optional. At 8% it is quite dark in the tube and leaves a light tint on the lips.
- For a stronger tint, you can try increasing the carmine dye (12–16% would be where I’d start), reducing the cranberry seed oil to make room for it.
- To remove the colour, you can replace the liquid dye with more cranberry seed oil.
- If you have powdered carmine I would add 4% carmine to the heated phase and increase the liquid oil by 4%. Make sure you very thoroughly blend the carmine into the oil base with a silicone spatula before adding the cool down phase ingredients and pouring the lip balm into tubes.
- You could try the same powdered swap with a lake dye or red iron oxide, though red iron oxide is a much muddier, browner red tone.
- Do not use powdered botanicals like beetroot powder or powdered rosehip extract; they will create an awful, gritty lip balm.
- You can use a different colour of mica—red, silver, bronze, and copper would all be lovely! If you wanted to drop the carmine you can get a bit of colour in the tube (but not on the skin) using just mica.
- You could also use orange wax instead of orange essential oil.