In today’s edition of “I promise that’s not actually food even though it looks, smells (and tastes!) like it” I’m sharing a formulation for a simple six-ingredient Mocha Lip Scrub! This decadent coffee and chocolate scented scrub is perfect for gently buffing away dead skin, leaving your lips soft and tasting like a tasty treat from a café. Let’s get started!
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This mocha lip scrub is roughly equal parts creamy, fatty ingredients and exfoliants. The creamy bit is a blend of fragrant cocoa butter, rich coffee oil, and sweet almond oil. The cocoa butter and coffee oil are big parts of our mocha theme, while the sweet almond oil is there to soften things up. Cocoa butter is a hard, brittle butter, so it needs to be softened up with something liquid if you want a scoopable product. Coffee oil is close to essential oil level fragrant despite being a carrier oil, so I didn’t want to use coffee oil as the sole softening oil in the formulation—hence, sweet almond oil. If you don’t have sweet almond oil you could very easily use a different light to mid-weight carrier oil instead; something like grapeseed oil, safflower oil, or rice bran oil would be nice.
Coffee oil is the main source of coffee-y goodness in this lip scrub. It’s a carrier oil, but you’ll sometimes find it sold as an essential oil. New Directions Aromatics has it in the essential oil section with the production method listed cold-pressing the beans, but the COA reveals a fatty acid composition that is all carrier oil, not essential oil. If you don’t have coffee oil you can use a homemade coffee-infused oil instead of some (or all) of the sweet almond oil and coffee oil (31% total). Let the strength of your infused oil (and your love of coffee) be your guide! Unfortunately, you can’t use a coffee fragrance oil as fragrance oils aren’t lip-safe (unlike flavour oils—if you have a coffee flavour oil that’ll definitely work; I’d use it at 1% in the cool down phase and use 1% more sweet almond oil).
The scrubby exfoliants in this formulation are white sugar (just regular ol’ sugar from the grocery store works beautifully) and a bit of finely ground coffee. I’ve kept the coffee amount fairly low so the scrub isn’t really messy to use. The sugar will dissolve when you rinse the scrub off, but coffee won’t, and too much of it can mean you have to clean your sink out after each use. Make sure you’re using fresh coffee grounds rather than spent grounds (ones that have been used to brew coffee). It’s difficult to get spent coffee grounds totally dry once they’ve been soaked in water, and if there’s any water left in your scrub that can cause stability problems and nobody likes a fuzzy lip scrub 😝
I’m sometimes asked about adding an emulsifier to lip scrubs (as I do in emulsified body scrubs) to boost rinse-off, and I don’t recommend doing this. I’ve tried it and I find the effect to be too drying for the delicate skin of the lips; after a good scrubbing, I really like the bit of oil that is left behind on my lips.
Making this mocha lip scrub is very simple; it’s mostly melting and stirring, with the cooling done in an ice bath to speed along the thickening required to ensure the sugar and coffee grounds stay in suspension. A 30g (1.06oz) batch will fill a 30g (1.06oz) tin or jar nicely, but that is quite a lot of lip scrub, so feel free to divide a batch between 10g or 15g containers for sharing. This won’t work well in a twist-up tube; I recommend a wide-mouthed jar or tin for easy filling and scooping.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Cocoa Butter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sweet Almond Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
- Can I add a fragrance oil or flavour oil to this formulation?
Mocha Lip Scrub
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 bowl that’s deep and large enough for whipping in. Place the bowl in the water bath to melt the butter 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 heated phase has melted, remove it from the heat and add the post-heat phase. Stir for a minute, giving the container a chance to cool a bit. Then place the bowl in the ice bath and stir constantly for about one minute, until the mixture has cooled a bit and you’ve reached a light trace—when you drizzle a few drops of the mixture across the surface they should leave a light “trace” behind on the surface of the mixture, but it should still be liquid. Weigh in the cool down phase. Stir to combine, and then continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until the mixture thickens enough to support the sugar and ground coffee.
Once the scrub has cooled/thickened enough, quickly transfer it to a small tin or jar. I used a low-profile 1oz jar from YellowBee for my scrub. To use, massage a small amount of the scrub into your lips and rinse off the extra with a bit of water. Resist the urge to eat 😝 Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this scrub 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!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container and it should easily last a year. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck the product 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 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 recipe will make 30g.
- 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.
- I don’t recommend substituting the cocoa butter as it is part of the theme. I also don’t recommend using deodorized cocoa butter here.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like grapeseed or sunflower seed for the sweet almond oil.
- If you don’t have coffee oil you could try using 10% of a DIY coffee-infused liquid carrier oil instead of the sweet almond oil and coffee oil.
- You can replace the ground coffee with more sugar if you want to.
- Do not use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
- You could use salt instead of sugar but that will taste gross.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
The plastic jars in the blog post and video were gifted by YellowBee.
The cocoa butter was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.
The coffee oil was gifted by Plant’s Power.
The sugar and ground coffee were gifted by Brambleberry.