I’ve been gifting homemade lip balm to friends and family for so long now that people have told me they just hold out for Christmas rather than buy more—and I’m definitely not going to let them down! This year’s holiday lip balm is Sugar Plum themed (it seemed much more lip-compatible than Christmas Tree!). It is softly purple, deliciously fragrant, and it has got staying power that’s suited to colder winter temperatures. I think you’ll like it!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Over the years I’ve found my lip balm preferences have shifted away from thin and glossy to something a bit thicker and more “grabby”. It’s not so much that I love the feel of a tackier balm, but experience has taught me that balms like this work better when I’m dealing with seriously dry lips. Stickier lip balms stick around to lock in moisture for longer. In this balm our sticky/stick around ingredient is beeswax, and we’re using it at 27%. For reference, my more glossy lip balm recipes use it at about 20%.
Complimenting the beeswax is some super-slick babassu oil, some decadent cocoa butter, and softening almond oil. And then, of course, our star—plum oil. This lightweight oil smells stunningly of marzipan and sour cherries, and this scent comes through in the end product. I’ve complimented that scent with a touch of vanilla-like benzoin and some bright cardamom for an exotic, soft scent blend that’s positively mouthwatering.
For some colour I’ve included a bit of a plummy purple mica; I tried both Black Amethyst from TKB and Eggplant from Windy Point, and both work well. The amethyst one was, I think, ever so slightly more purple in the end product, but it was a pretty subtle difference. If you have a different darkish purple-ish mica that’ll work, too—or you can just leave the mica out. You can also use more! It’s up to you.
The making is very simple—weigh out and melt the heated ingredients, stir in the cool down ingredients, pour the lip balm into tubes, and you’re pretty much done. As I’ve written the recipe out in grams it’ll fill five standard lip balm tubes, so if you’re planning on gifting lip balm to lots of people I’d recommend scaling the recipe up.
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
Sugar Plum 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.
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 dish towel. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Add the cool down ingredients and stir to incorporate.
Pour the lip balm into tubes or tins (this recipe will fill five standard lip balm tubes), and leave it to solidify (20–30 minutes) before capping. Make sure you wipe down the tubes or tins with some paper towel before applying any labels (I love these labels) so they stick—if there’s any oil on your tubes they’ll peel right off. Enjoy your Sugar Plum 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, 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 25g.
- You can use refined refined coconut oil instead of babassu oil
- You can use tucuma butter instead of cocoa butter
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like apricot kernel, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of sweet almond
- If you don’t have the plum oil (I haven’t found it in Canada yet—I’m sorry!) I think your best alternatives would be apricot kernel oil or cherry kernel oil—oils that are also pressed from the kernels of similar stone fruits. You will lose the marzipan/cherry note; if you aren’t a fan of the scent you might prefer that! Otherwise, you can look for a lip-safe flavour oil with a similar scent and incorporate it (I’d start at 0.1–0.2% as it’s a pretty subtle scent). I haven’t found this scent anywhere else in the realm of natural ingredients, sadly.
- You can use a different essential oil blend if you prefer
- The mica is optional; replace it with more liquid oil if you eliminate it. You can also use more if you like; simply remove the additional amount from the liquid oil.
- If you want to create a vegan product I’d recommend adapting this recipe to use plum oil instead of rice bran oil, cardamom essential oil instead of clove & cinnamon, plum mica instead of bronze mica, and refined coconut or babassu oil instead of virgin coconut oil.
The plum oil was gifted by Essential Wholesale & Labs.