This rich blue balm is a DIY version of a very popular and very expensive shop-bought balm. This particular balm is known for its striking dark blue hue that comes from a hefty dose of expensive blue tansy essential oil. I’ve created a more budget friendly version you can make at home with some lovely butters, silky oils, and gorgeous essential oils. It smells divine, has a delightful melty consistency, and can be easily tweaked to suit what you’ve got at home.
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This balm has two key parts: the oil & butter blend, and the essential oil blend. The oil and butter blend forms the bulk of the product, dictating its consistency, melting point, texture, and absorbency speed. The essential oil blend brings the colours and a whole host of aromatic benefits.
I spent most of the development time for this recipe working on the oils and butters blend. I needed to create something that was firm on its own, but easily scooped out of a tin and then quick to melt into the skin. The original contained five oils and butters; camellia seed oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, marula oil and baobab seed oil—in that order. With a liquid oil first, but with shea and cocoa butter as our only thickeners, I knew the amounts of marula and baobab would be comparatively small to make room for the shea and cocoa to total around 50% without taking over the #1 position in the ingredient list. Since I didn’t have any baobab oil I dropped it in favour of all marula for that after-the-butters liquid oil.
My first attempt was a 55% total blend of shea and cocoa butters, and to my surprise that was way too hard! I worked on dialling it back and settled on a 40% blend. It’s firm at room temperature, creamy when worked with the fingers, and melts quickly—but not too quickly—when handled. It’s a really lovely medley of butters and oils for our essential oils to decorate.
The star of the original balm is blue tansy essential oil, which is a deep, vibrant blue thanks to its high chamazulene content. The other thing that’s high? The price. New Directions Aromatics currently lists 5mL of blue tansy oil at $51CAD. Ouch! So, I set off to select a more budget-friendly (and hopefully stuff-I-already-had-friendly) alternative and quickly settled on yarrow essential oil. Yarrow is also deep blue thanks to high chamazulene levels (though typically not as high as blue tansy). The top three compounds in each essential oil (chamazulene, sabinene, and ß-Myrcene) are the same (though in slightly differing orders), and there’s lots of overlap in the remaining constituents as well. It’s not a perfect match, but given yarrow essential oil is less than half the price I think it’s a good place to start!
There are so many other essential oils in the blend. Myrrh, lavender, frankincense, rose geranium, vanilla, helichruysum, and ravensara. I had everything but vanilla, which I replaced with benzoin. There was also a CO2 fruit extract I’d never heard of (Schisandra Sphenanthera)—a bit of research told me its benefits included anti-irritating and anti-inflammatory goodness, so I opted to replace it with some bisabolol. It was the third last ingredient on the list, so there can’t have been much in the product.
I kept the essential oil blend to 1.5% of the total product. That’s higher than is typically recommended for the face (1%), but given the deep blue hue of the original I believe it must contain at least 1% blue tansy alone as I found 0.6% yarrow gave a very faint blue colour. According to Tisserand & Young, the maximum recommended dose for yarrow (our most used essential oil) is 8.6%—we use 0.6%. Myrhh and Lavender, in second and third place respectively, have no listed maximum dose—we use each at 0.2%. From there on out everything is present at 0.1% or less—you’ll want quite a precise scale for this project!
I made two different versions of this balm; one that gets its colour entirely from the essential oil blend, and one that uses indigo-infused camellia seed oil. As you can see from the photo above, the version with just the essential oils for colour is pretty… fair. If you want the striking blue hue you’ll either want to use the much more chamazulene-rich blue tansy essential oil, or you’ll want to rock the indigo infusion. The video version is all essential oils, which the blog version has the details for the infusion. It’s up to you!
The original balm is marketed for use on the face and body, but given the cocoa butter content it would be understandable if some of you didn’t want to put this on your face (some people find cocoa butter can clog pores). No worries! This balm is yours to do with whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!
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Indigo Lagoon Balm
Heated oil phase
6.25g | 25% refined shea butter (USA / Canada)
3.75g | 15% refined cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
Post-heat oil phase
11.25g | 45% indigo infused camellia seed oil
3.375g | 13.5% marula oil
Essential oil blend
0.15g | 0.6% yarrow essential oil
0.05g | 0.2% myrhh essential oil
0.05g | 0.2% lavender essential oil
0.025g | 0.1% frankincense essential oil
0.025g | 0.1% rose geranium essential oil
0.025g | 0.1% benzoin resinoid
0.04g | 0.16% bisabalol
0.0075g | 0.03% helichrysum essential oil
0.0025g | 0.01% ravensara essential oil
You’ll want to infused the camellia seed oil first. I weighed out 0.25g (0.0088oz) indigo powder into a disposable tea bag and infused that into about 18g (0.63oz) camellia seed oil in a water bath for about one hour before proceeding. That yielded enough infused oil with a bit leftover.
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 shea and cocoa butter into a small heat-resistant bowl—the sort of thing you can comfortably stir in. If you don’t have a small bowl, a heat-resistant glass measuring cup will work. Place the bowl in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
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.
Once the butters have melted, remove them from the heat and stir in the infused camellia seed oil and marula oil. Then place the bowl in the ice bath and stir constantly for about one minute, until the mixture has cooled a bit but hasn’t noticeably thickened or started to opacify.
Now it’s time to weigh in the essential oil blend! Carefully weigh in each oil. For the last two I recommend doing toothpick swirls if you’re making a small batch—my scale definitely couldn’t weigh those amounts!
Once the essential oils have been added, stir to combine, and then continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until you reach “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a “trace” for an instant. The mixture should also appear a bit hazy. If you’re a soap maker you’ll be familiar with this—we’re looking for a light trace. Refer to the video to see it in action!
When you have reached trace, transfer the mixture to a 30mL/1 ounce tin and transfer it to the fridge to cool completely (typically about forty minutes). Remove from the fridge and let the balm come to room temperature. That’s it!
To use, smooth a small amount of the balm over any skin that needs some special attention. Due to the higher essential oil content and the indigo infusion, avoid use around the eyes. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this 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, 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 likely 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 200g.
- 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!
- You can replace the camellia seed oil with another lightweight, fast-absorbing oil
- You could use unrefined shea butter instead of refined, but this will impact the scent of the final product
- You could use unrefined cocoa butter instead of refined, but this will impact the scent of the final product
- You could try a different soft butter instead of the shea, and a different brittle in butter instead of the cocoa, but keep in mind that all of the structure of this balm comes from this precise butter blend. Changing it will impact the end product.
- You can use a different luxury oil instead of the marula oil (or more camellia seed oil)
- For the essential oil blend:
- The blue element is pretty key to this product. You could definitely use blue tansy instead of yarrow if you have it. German chamomile is probably the next most common essential oil with a high chamazulene, but it has a very different (and quite overwhelming) scent than yarrow, and I wouldn’t confidently recommend it as an alternative.
- If you are missing frankincense or myrrh, use more of the one you do have to reach 0.3%
- If you’re missing anything else, just use more lavender essential oil.
- The general theme of the balm is a calming, anti-anxiety, relaxing sort of thing, so keep that in mind if you decide to freestyle your substitutions. Be sure to keep to maximum usage amounts in mind for each essential oil you use.
I do love blue. I look forward to trying this, but gonna tweak a bit using blue cypress- ’tis still the season and all. Maybe infuse plaintain in the oil along with the cypress to use for bug bites in the summer…non-luxury but still blue possibilities.
OOoh, what a stunning sounding variation! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out 🙂
Try Blue Chamomile! It mirrors the scent of blue tansy along with it’s positive effects on the skin, and is about half the cost.
HOWEVER… Make the investment… Get the blue tansy and try it. Several drops makes an incredibly deep hue, same for the blue chamomile. I love both!
I do have it, but mine is nowhere near as blue as my yarrow so I went with the yarrow instead 🙂
I have to admit I’m feeling rather gun shy about shelling out for expensive essential oils right now as I just had to bin a bunch of very old oxidized essential oils and I’m rather kicking myself for wasting so much money on them 🙁
There is a price difference of around £2 between Tansy and Yarrow here in the UK, and they are definitely some of the pricier EO’s. But my yarrow EO isn’t blue, it’s a greeny yellow
🙁 So I will invest in some indigo. Hope you had a great Christmas Marie and all the best for this year.
May I ask where you will purchase the indigo from? I’m also in the UK
So sorry Faye, I’ve only just received a notification for this message. Naturalspasupplies.co.uk have Indigofera Tinctoria in stock which is safe for cosmetic products.
A few other places have indigo, but it’s only safe for soap and dyeing fabric
Hope that helps 🙂
It sounds like you might have Green Yarrow (Achillea nobilis L.) instead of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.), which would explain the colour difference. Green yarrow doesn’t contain any Chamazulene 🙂 There’s also a non-blue version of Tansy, which is neat!
Thank you for the well wishes—all the best for 2019 to you as well!
This is something I’m definitely going to try! I do have a question about the essential oils…How do you measure something as small as “0.0025g? My scale goes down as far as .01g. Just so you know, I am a big fan of measuring everything by weight, thanks to you!
This is covered in the video, though the general gist of it is you can’t accurately measure it unless your scale is that accurate. From the instructions in the post: “For the last two I recommend doing toothpick swirls if you’re making a small batch—my scale definitely couldn’t weigh those amounts!”. I would love to get a scale that accurate some day, but for now I don’t have one, and I know most of my readers don’t, either, so we’re making do. I hope that was helpful!
When measuring super tiny amounts in the research lab, sometimes we have to resort to making dilutions! For example, 1:10 (1 part special stuff, 9 parts carrier) or 1:100, or even 1:1000. You then can take a measurable amount of the diluted mix and know (at least pretty confidently) how much special stuff is making it into the final product. For example, 0.25g of a 1:100 dilution of essential oil should equal 0.0025g of essential oil. It takes a bit of math and readjusting the formula to account for the extra volume, but ultimately allows you a pretty nice level of precision!
Hi Marie! So I managed to snag Blue Tansy oil 5 years ago from NDA – guess how much? $13.45 for the 5ml! I used it on some concoction to help me with restless legs at night. This is before I found out that my restless legs was due to being anemic due to iron deficiency 🙂 Iron pills are so much more cost friendly than the tansy oil.
So I don’t have Baobab and Marula oil so I guess I’ll have to spend some more money at NDA. Can’t wait to try this! I am now on the hunt for some of the original ingredients – why do we do this? Spend a million dollars just so we can DIY? 🙂
Amazing! It’s always a bit surprising how much EO prices can vary over the years. I remember releasing a few recipes using cinnamon bark EO a couple years ago without thinking much of it—commenters informed me the price had skyrocketed since I’d purchased mine, so nobody wanted to use it!
You might want to be a bit careful with the age of the essential oil, though—5 years is quite a lot longer than Tisserand typically recommends keeping essential oils around. He has a post on it here, and I suspect blue tansy would fall into the 2–3 years if kept in the fridge, and 1–1.5 if not category. I just recently went through my EOs and binned quite a lot of them… it was rather sad, but from my reading, a good idea from a safety (and efficacy) standpoint 🙁
I am going to save my money for his book – I would love to have Tisserand’s book for a good read 🙂 I would hate to throw out all those essential oils – hundreds and hundreds of dollars there 🙁 I just recently pitched a bunch of carrier oils that I’ve never opened and they’re passed their expiry date. Wish I had more time!
Yeah, I know the feeling 🙁 I’m not exactly happy about it, but it’s been a good lesson. Most of the ones that got binned are ones I don’t like, so it’s not like I feel like I need to re-purchase them because… ick 😛 I am getting pretty gun shy on buying new EOs online, that’s for sure!
Lovely balm Marie! Thank you for creating this! I think I’m going to play with the scent to get something reminiscent of the ocean, and then add this balm to my ‘Sea-Maiden’ themed skin care routine! 🙂
Oh my goodness, I love this idea! What a romantic, intriguing theme 🙂 Happy making!
Hi Marie, so excited at the blue cocoon knock off! It is something I tried when I was just starting off and used your experiments with she’s and cocoa butter experiments to get the base right. But I must say I never managed to get the blue even with blue tansy oil, and no matter how I tried to blend these EOs, they never quite smelled the right wayy. I ended up just using blue tansy and a bit of lavander. I have all the ingredients from 2 years ago still sitting in my fridge and will give it another try!
Thanks! I’m not confident enough in the similarities to call this a full knock-off, but hopefully it provides a good starting point for anybody who is really determined to make something extremely similar 🙂
I love that you found a simple EO blend was best! The original blend is definitely bonkers LOL. I’m really interested to hear that you never got the same blue, even with the blue tansy EO. The chamazulene content can vary quite a lot from batch to batch (Tisserand lists the range at 17–38%) so I suppose your EO could be closer to the 17% end of the scale while theirs is closer to the 38%?
I look forward to hearing what you think!
Chamazulene is a new word in my vocabulary lol! I dont know how much of it was in the blue tansy oil (from Maienfelser – a great supplier with own distillery in Germany), but the oil on its own was very intense blue. I could get a regular moisturiser (white colour) into a nice shade of blue. But the balm with all the oils turned out … green.
Here is the link to the oil. https://maienfelser-naturkosmetik.de/Rainfarn-Blauer-Rainfarn-BIO-2-ml
Colour theory wise, that makes sense. White (lotion) + blue = blue. Yellow (oils blend) + blue = green 🙂 The indigo infusion handily overwhelms the yellow from the oils, though!
You’re a mind-reader. I was trying just this week to dupe Blue Cocoon bc I am obsessed with the scent of Blue Tansy. I have a source at my local organic market for 5 ml for $25 USD. Not cheap, but cheaper than the real product! What is the max safe percentage for blue tansy in a facial oil? I want the blue color, but don’t want to risk sensitivity.
OOoh, lucky! Facial products are typically recommended to top out at 1%. Tisserand doesn’t list a maximum usage level for blue tansy, but tansy is listed at 0.5% (the compositions of the two are pretty different, though). Do let me know how this turns out with the real thing!
This is genius Marie. So going to try this once I can find indigo in the UK. Think I’ve just found a source too! Thanks for kick starting 2019 for me, I was in a post Christmas doldrum and you’ve yanked me out of it.
So pleased to have met you last year in London (in that crazily priced hotel bar!) on Friday before the FB conference.
Thank you so much, Lisa! Those post-Christmas doldrums can be downright paralyzing and annoyingly self-perpetuating as well, so I feel rather special to have been able to give you a bit of a push 🙂
What a wonderful conference! It was so great to meet you there—I was positively glowing after such a great weekend surrounded by so many passionate formulators 😀
I just wantet to say that regular Tansy is highly toxic and shouldn’t be used at all.
What is your source for that? Tisserand states the maximum usage level for tansy (Tanacetum vulgare L.) at 0.5%. He does note that there are risks associated with over-use, but doesn’t say it should never be used.
Hello! I love the look of this cream but I’m having trouble finding the caffeine in the UK. Do you think a nutritional/dietary supplement listed as 100% caffeine would be an OK substitute?
There is no caffeine called for in this recipe, so that’s an easy fix 😛 You can’t add any, either, as it is water soluble and this recipe is entirely oil based.
I made this it turned out really well!! Thank you so much for this recipe Marie! I had blue tansy oil from another project made it 7.5 %
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! 7.5% is really high for essential oils, though—the typical recommendation for facial products is 1%, with 5% as a maximum for the total blend for more general products. Please be careful 🙂
Was so excited as my indigo powder arrived. However, it’s producing a green infusion as indigo powder is green….can’t seem to find a blue indigo powder in UK that’s suitable for leave on products. So want to give this a go too. Anyone found one?
I’m afraid I haven’t, but you could try a bit of a deep blue mica as an alternative to the infusion 🙂
Wow, Marie. I have a hundred things to say about this but will try to keep it short.
Firstly, I’d never heard of the product you fashioned this after but went and read all about it. Impressed, especially with reviews. Also was happy that the ingredients were simple ones that most of us have, already. And I do have Blue Tansy and joyfully used it in this recipe. It’s beautiful.
I love how it feels on my skin and how it melts on my fingers. That alone feels rich, expensive and luxurious.
My face so far loves it. If my face suddenly rebels, it’s a hand cream. I can’t say if I look younger, more beautiful or flawless and it doesn’t matter if I can because it’s how I feel when I use it. I feel beautiful and flawless and that is real beauty, after all.
Scratch that. Our faces don’t define us and neither does our vanity. But it’s a luxury that we human women desire.
So I love this recipe. I won’t change the world to be a better place by using it, but I may smile more and that’s not a bad thing.
Thank you so much, Cristie! I am SO thrilled you are loving it, and I’m stoked to hear how well it performs with blue tansy. Your thoughtful feedback and kind words always make me smile 🙂
I just tried this recipe. I was able to buy some Blue Tansy when it was on sale, specifically so I could try making this recipe with it. I didn’t have Marula oil, but I DID have Baobab oil. From your description earlier in the recipe I felt this would be an okay substitution. I have to say that I love the results. It goes on a bit oily at first but soaks in quite quickly and leaves my skin feeling very soft, and I love the smell. As for the blue colour…..well that is just FUN!
Wonderful—and congrats on snagging some bargain blue tansy! I’m so glad you are enjoying the balm—thank you so much for DIYing with me 😀
Cindy, how much blue tansy did you use. I managed to snag some relatively cheap blue tansy and I used 1% in an oil serum (dupe for Sunday Riley Luna), but it was a very inky dark blue. I think I’ll try .5% next time. Otherwise, I’m so pleased with it. I plan to make this one soon.
Hi Jacinth. I used the same amount of blue tansy as the yarrow in the recipe (straight substitution). Everyone loves the smell and the colour. In fact they get a surprised look on their face when they smell it and say how lovely it is. Their next question is how did I make it blue
Thanks so much for sharing, Cindy! It’s great to have a guideline for using blue tansy instead 🙂
Hi, Marie! thank you for the beautiful recipe, so beautifully explained!
I noticed that you put your salves in aluminum tins. Do they oxidize with time? How long can they be kept in these tins?
What prompted you to choose these tins over glass jars?
Good afternoon Christie!
All I can say is why wouldn’t Marie put this creation into a glass jar and show off that awesome blue colour! Here’s her video on packaging if you haven’t seen it yet. As for choosing aluminum containers over glass, it simply boils down to the person making the product, and where it will generally be used. I’ve never experienced a product oxidizing in aluminum containers and I’ve used aluminum for years when making products. And even forgotten about some of them behind a shelf or drawer only to find them years later and all is good! A quick google search also came up with no reliable info.
I am having a very difficult time finding Blue Tansy with a percentage of Chamazulene 17-38% as noted in a previous comment. Any advice?
Have you taken a look at this link? It’s not a commonly used oil as the price is almost as expensive as pure rose essential oil which might be why you are experiencing difficulties in finding it. As Marie has mentioned, you can use yarrow essential oil as an alternative or camellia indigo infused oil too!
Hi there. I’m just wondering does this one need washcloth or water rinse is fine?
Hey! This isn’t a wash-off/cleansing product—you’re supposed to put it on your skin and leave it there 🙂
Hopewell essential oils has blue tansy for half the price you checked it for. And honestly if you are only making a batch for yourself they have 2ml samples for even less.
Thank you for sharing, but since they are an international business the price will increase substantially for me with international shipping, currency exchange, and duties/taxes upon arrival 🙂 I’m not American 🙂
Hi Marie – this recipe is a gift! I used indigo root for the blue, poured at liquid without the ice-bath and put in the fridge overnight. It looked beautiful but I’ve since got it at room temp, but there’s a small pool of oils on top. Is the ice-bath key to this recipe? Is there an alternative, less time consuming way?
Thank you so much! I would say that if you skipped the ice bath and didn’t get the results you were hoping for, then you should go back and try again with the ice bath as it is, indeed, important 🙂
This is such lovely and somehow less oily (a bit powdery) than my earlier versions, even though I addjusted recipe. I used 0,6 % blue tansy, rose for geranium (both pre diluted 10 % for easier measuring), frankinsence, clary sage + lavender and a bit jasmine. It’s minty green & smells like heaven on earth but balanced. 😀 I just adore this balm. It’s something I use to relax, hopefully for massage. Don’t know how my face handles the carriers yet. Your trace tip is excellent. Thanks so much, Marie!
Oh my gosh, my skin looks beautifull with this! And I feel pretty too. So I guess that this balm soothe my mind quite a lot, in a gentle way. Actually, I didn’t even notice it at first. Also, I wasn’t sure at first how my skin would react to high oleic acid content – no problems at all. This balm is great at night but I really like to use barrier cream and this balm under silica containing primer – magic of fatty alcohols + silica is amazing! Airbrushed but well hydrated skin with practically no pores. 😀 Scent is well balanced but calming to my nose. This feels quite light on my skin, which is a huge plus (my earlier remake was too heavy for day time use). After some testing I actually use something else for facial massage/ guasha. Perhaps I add few extra % shea butter to my next batch (it’s getting hot in here). Cheers! <3
I found out the cheapest colorant for all blue projects. Butterfly pea flower extract. It good for hair and anti aging. Its blue color lovely and all natural. Important is that it’s extremely cheap. 2 dollars for 100gr dried flower (in Viet Nam).
hope you like it
I have been attempting to copy the May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon facial concentrate/moisturizer and I think this is very close, almost the same ingredients and the weights are going to help me so much. Thank you. Was hoping you’d consider trying to copy their The Honey Mud enzyme & acid facial pudding. I haven’t been doing this very long and getting my percentages of ingredients right is what is hardest for me at this point. Thank you again.
Hi Marie! What would happen if I wanted to infuse a face oil with indigo? I love the idea of a blue oil but am worried about the colour eventually settling.
Thank you for your amazing formulations <3
I must have gotten an absolute STEAL on my blue tansy oil, because I bought half an ounce for $15 USD!!! https://shayandcompany.com/blue-tansy-essential-oil.html