In the scheme of things, chapped lips are pretty minor but when you've got them, it's hard to ignore. Dry air, winter heat, medications, and even the foods you eat can cause problems with your lips. I learned this last tidbit many years ago. I was living in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer and my friend Kim and I went to visit another volunteer who lived at the coast. Kim and I were crossing a river on a canoe taxi to get to her village and eating mango after mango straight from the peel, because they were in season and cost around $0.05 each. Shortly afterward, I got a rash all around my mouth similar to poison ivy. My friend told me that some people are allergic to a component in the peel. Who knew? I still eat mangoes but I have to watch how many I eat and make sure I cut the peel off first.
How can you take care of your lips? Like pretty much every bit of health advice, strive to eat a healthy diet and drink enough water so that you are properly hydrated. Potentially irritating foods such as my beloved mangoes, but also foods with a lot of salt, acid, or chili should be consumed in moderation. And try hard not to bite, pick or lick your lips.
If you have really chapped lips, give this DIY lip scrub a try. It will gently exfoliate your lips, removing dead skin and leaving you with lips ready to moisturize. This scrub isn't designed to be stored and used more than once which is why the quantities are so small. Coconut oil used to be difficult to find but now nearly every grocery store carries it. Jojoba oil, a liquid plant-derived wax can be found at Whole Foods or you can order it on Amazon.
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon jojoba oil
A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together then refrigerate for about an hour until it is solid. Once this has been removed from the fridge the sugar will start to dissolve, so use it right away. You can use more or less sugar, depending on your preference. To use, apply a small amount with clean fingers and gently massage in a circular motion. When finished, rinse your lips with warm water and apply a lip balm. I'm partial to our own, which is available in six flavors. To learn more about our lip balm and how to make it, read on.
Not too long ago I reformulated my lip balm recipe. I'm very happy with the outcome, as are our customers. I thought folks might be interested in learning a bit about the process of making lip balm and how to make their own. This is a quick and easy project with kids (hello, summer activity) and they make great gifts too.
When you make a lot of lip balm for sale you always weigh your ingredients. I use this scale from Amazon because it is accurate to 0.1 grams. I make 1200 grams of base at a time which I divide into 200 gram batches for the six flavors I currently carry. This will make a lot of lip balm (several hundred). If you're just making a few for yourself, you can get away with using volume measurements.
I start by cleaning my work space thoroughly and gathering together all of my ingredients. I use beeswax, apricot kernel oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, castor oil, moringa oil and Vitamin E but you can make a good balm with only a few ingredients. I'll put some links to recipes at the bottom. If you want to make a vegan lip balm, you can substitute candilia wax for beeswax; just be sure to use half as much as you would for a recipe containing beeswax.
Measure all your ingredients into a Pyrex measuring container. Then carefully melt them in a double boiler or microwave. Beeswax has a very high melting point so it can take some time to fully melt. If you are using a double boiler you want to make sure no water gets in to the melting balm as this would ruin the batch. Lip balm needs to be completely anhydrous (without any water) otherwise bacteria or mold can grow. Likewise, if you are using a microwave, the ingredients will need to be heated very and carefully so that the beeswax and any butters don't scorch. I heat it in 30 second increments and stir frequently; if I'm making a small batch I would use 15 second increments. After your balm is completely melted, add your flavor of choice.
I have gotten good flavors from Brambleberry and Wholesale Supplies Plus. Tip: get the smallest bottle they sell; unless you are cranking out 100 tubes a day, one or two ounces of flavor will last forever. A few important caveats: you cannot use baking extracts for lip balms and if you choose to use an essential be certain that it is lip safe, because many are not. Google "essential oil lip safe" to find out which ones are OK. As a general rule, use 1-3% lip balm flavor or essential oil; that means a 100 gram batch (approximately 6 tubes) will only have 1-3 grams of flavor. Now it makes sense why I like my scale that is accurate to 0.1 grams.
You can order lip balm tubes from Brambleberry, Wholesale Supplies Plus or Amazon. I don't have a particular favorite so I would just search and get the ones that fit your need. There are also metal slide tins and round pots. Some of the tubes are designed to fit into a pouring tray which makes filling a lot easier. Just know that not all tubes will fit the tray so it makes sense to get the tray and tubes from the same place. I use 2 ml transfer pipettes to fill my tubes. They're cheap and very handy. Your lip balm will solidify quickly so have everything ready and work quickly (but carefully, I've knocked over more tubes than I'd care to admit). As the tubes cool you'll notice that the center sinks a bit and leaves a little hole. That's totally normal. You could go back and top it off with more balm but it's really not worth the hassle and often ends up looking worse. If you spilled any base on the outside of the tube, rub it off with a piece of paper towel then wipe it with a little rubbing alcohol. That will get rid of any residue. Top your tube off with a 2x2" sticker label (you may have to trim it depending on the kind of tube you use. Voila! You're done! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out.