I thought I’d mix things up a bit with this seasonal lip balm and bring my Lumps of Coal holiday theme to the realm of lip balms. And I love it. It definitely seemed a bit odd when I jotted down the idea a few weeks ago, with aims of avoiding creating something dark (though not goth-esque) you’d actually want near your mouth. The final product is a beautiful cool plum colour that I absolutely love. There’s a hint of shimmer, some wonderful darkness, and some subtle gloss. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer, and you should definitely make some.
The base of the balm is a firm yet glossy blend of candelilla wax, virgin coconut oil, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, and walnut oil (if you’re allergic to nuts, safflower oil would be a good alternative). Compared to beeswax, candelilla is a stronger, glossier wax that makes much firmer balms that tend to apply more smoothly than beeswax balms made with comparable percentages of wax. I’ve found 80% is a good swap rate; use 80% the amount of candelilla wax if a recipe calls for beeswax. So, if you want to use beeswax instead in this recipe, you’d want to use 10g (0.35oz) of beeswax.
For the lovely colour, we’re using a blend of carmine and a dark grey mica. Carmine is a stunning bright pink-red colour that I’m just in love with. It’s stunning on its own, but it also shines like you wouldn’t believe in colour blends, transforming from a deep red to the beautiful cool plum of this lip balm with the simple addition of a dark grey mica. Swoon.
Carmine is necessary to make clear violets, bright corals, popping pinks, and so many other classic colour blends. I know I’m likely to get a deluge of questions about carmine alternatives, so please check out the encyclopedia entry on carmine, and the linked videos. The general gist of it is that carmine is irreplaceable if you want to stick with natural pigments and that stunning colour, but if you don’t believe me, watch the videos and see for yourself 😝
I was leaning towards some sort of anise/fennel scent from the get-go—something that seemed to fit with a dark, coal lip balm. A rifle through my essential oil cabinet turned up a bottle of star anise essential oil, and another of fennel. Between the two I much preferred the star anise; it has a lot more warm depth to it, and out of the two, reminds me significantly less of salad. I blended a few drops of star anise with some sweet, vanilla-like benzoin to create a wonderful, subtly sweet spiced scent blend. It doesn’t smell liquoricey, which I really appreciate as I’m not a huge liquorice fan, but if you love liquorice, just add a few more drops of star anise to amp it up 😊
And that’s that! You’ll end up with a fistful of tubes of a lovely cool plum lip balm that’s beyond lovely and perfect for stuffing in stockings or grabbing as part of a last-minute gift bag. They’re also pretty nice to keep for yourself, too 😉
Tinted Coal 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 candelilla wax, coconut oil, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, walnut oil, and vitamin E oil into small heat resistant glass measuring cup. Place that measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through, and then some. I recommend leaving the cup in the water bath for at least half an hour. What we’re trying to do here is get the measuring cup itself quite hot, which will give us more time to work with the liquid lip balm before it starts to set up, and since we’re adding pigments and blending them in, extra working time is a big bonus.
Once everything in the measuring cup is thoroughly melted through and the cup is quite hot, remove it from the water bath (use a hot pad!), dry it off, and set it down on a folded dish towel to insulate it from the cool countertop. Add the pigments and essential oils, and blend everything together with a flexible silicone spatula. Take care to smear the spatula across the bottom of the measuring cup to break up and incorporate the pigments.
When the mixture is uniform, pour it into lip balm tubes and leave it to set up—this recipe will fill eight lip 4.5g lip balm tubes.
Want to learn more about these ingredients, including information on substitutions and where to buy them? Check out their entries in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia!