This rich Creamy Almond Lip Balm has a gorgeous ointment-gel consistency, and it’s an evolution of the Almond & Olive Creamy Lip Balm I shared last autumn. A combination of a pseudo wax and a true wax gives us an end product that’s a bit reminiscent of petrolatum (or Vaseline), minus the petrolatum, and I think that’s pretty neat!
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The almondy-ness of this Creamy Almond Lip Balm comes from two ingredients; almond wax and sweet almond oil. Almond wax is a pseudo wax—a blend of hydrogenated vegetable oil and almond oil or hydrogenated almond oil, depending on where you purchase it (check the INCI and read the product description). I find hydrogenated waxes lend a unique and lovely slippy, rich thickness to our formulations. Unlike true waxes, they don’t thicken nearly as enthusiastically, and in contrast with beeswax, they really improve slip. I’ve even made massage oil with olive wax, which isn’t a thing I’d ever do with beeswax as beeswax tends to get quite hot and skiddy when worked into the skin for an extended period of time.
I’ve complimented the rich and slippy hardening of the almond wax with some cera bellina, which is a more potent thickener/hardener and also improves the wear time of the balm, giving it more of a rich balmy feel than an oily feel. I used beeswax in an earlier version of this formulation and that worked, too, it just doesn’t have quite the same ointment-y/gel-like feel as the cera bellina.
For even more richness and emolliency I’ve included some unctuous lanolin and some thick, glossy castor oil. These are both somewhat tricky ingredients to substitute out; you could try Brassica Campestris Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer instead of lanolin if you happen to have it, or perhaps a blend of soft butter (like shea) and a touch of liquid lecithin. A rich, liquid oil like oat could work instead of castor oil. Failing all those ideas, you could just use even more sweet almond oil, though I’d probably do 19% sweet almond oil and 10% almond wax to make up for some of the loss in richness and viscosity.
I opted not to include an essential oil or flavour oil, but you certainly can if you want to—especially if your lanolin is on the extra-fragrant side of things. I find a good, stout peppermint essential oil can stand up nicely to the, err, earthy notes of lanolin. I’d include it at 0.5%, adding it with the vitamin E and reducing the almond oil to make room for it in the formulation.
To keep this lip balm silky smooth and creamy, we’ll cool it in an ice bath until it’s thick enough that you can draw a spatula across the bottom of your beaker or measuring cup and leave a line. Make sure you’ve got your tin or jar ready, especially if it’s a smaller batch, as it’ll go from “not quite” to “there and rapidly passing the point” in a matter of moments. This lip balm is too soft for a standard push-up lip balm tube, but it might work in a soft squeezy tube if you’re feeling experimental. I stuck with tins and small jars 😄
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Creamy Almond 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.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
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.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly, for about thirty seconds—until you start to notice some building viscosity. Remove the container from the water bath and add the cool down phase. Stir to incorporate.
Continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until you reach a fairly thick “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a 3D “trace” for a moment. The mixture should appear opaque. Refer to the video to see it in action! This part can be a bit tricky as too much viscosity will mean the batter won’t pour into the container nicely, so be careful and make sure your packing is standing by.
Once you reach trace you can now pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I recommend some sort of shallow, wide-mouthed tin or jar. When the balm has set up, you’re done!
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.
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 15g (~0.5oz).
- 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 (lanolin, castor oil) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could try olive wax instead of almond wax. Whatever you use, it needs to be a pseudo-wax, not a true wax like beeswax or candelilla wax.
- Beeswax works reasonably well as an alternative to cera bellina.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like safflower, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of sweet almond oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this. I think reducing the sweet amond oil by 0.5% to make room for 0.5% peppermint essential oil in the cool down phase would be lovely.