Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Just Call Me Kiss Kringle:How to Make Lip-Smacking Gloss

Written by Nakia Jackson
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'Tis the season for gift giving…and chapped lips. Lip balms make perfect small gifts and are a snap to make. The basic formula is very simple: combine liquid or solid oils or butters with a bit of liquid oil for consistency, and then add flavor and/or color if you'd like.

 


'Tis the season for gift giving…and chapped lips. Lip balms make perfect small gifts and are a snap to make. The basic formula is very simple: combine liquid or solid oils or butters with a bit of liquid oil for consistency, and then add flavor and/or color if you'd like. A tablespoon-sized amount of your solid-oil-or butter will be enough for the thirstiest lips, but you'll have to base exact measurements on the size of your container. Small storage cups with lids can be found at art or craft supply stores, but make sure you wash and dry any containers that are getting reused. 
 
What You Will Need: 
 
Ingredients:
• Oils or butters: liquid and solid
• Lipstick (for color, optional)
• Glycerin based baking flavors (for flavor, optional)
• Tea (for color or flavor, optional)

Equipment:

-Saucepan or microwave safe bowl (one with a spout will make pouring a snap)
-Spoon, preferably wooden
-Containers for balm

BASE

The lip balm base starts with oils or butters. Oils and butters that are solid at room temperature include coconut oil, vegetable shortening, cocoa butter, petroleum jelly, shea butter, and mango butter. Oils that are liquid at room temperature will thin out the solid oils, making them easier to spread. Liquid oils include castor, olive, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and avocado.

Coconut oil is my favorite of the solid oils—it's white, odorless, and it’s found in many grocery stores. Vegetable shortening can be found in the same aisle and is easy to work with. Petroleum jelly and cocoa butter will be in the skincare aisle in grocery or drug stores, and cocoa butter's chocolate scent makes a great base for a deliciously flavored balm. Castor oil is used in many lip products, and is available at drug stores. Olive oil also makes for a great conditioning balm.

There are other, more exotic oils and butters too, so feel free to experiment with sweet almond, apricot, or avocado oils. Mango and shea butter also make for wonderful balms if you happen to find them. Just make sure they aren't blended with anything that should not go on your lips.

1. Choose your balm container. It should securely close and hold about a tablespoon.

2. Decide on a solid oil and start with approximately a tablespoon-sized amount, give or take depending on the size of the container you choose. The harder solid oils or butters, like coconut oil or cocoa butter, may have to be melted slightly even before measuring out. A few seconds in the microwave should do the trick.

3. Use about 5-10 drops of liquid oil per tablespoon of solid oil—if it's still too thick, you can always add more, but a too thin balm is harder to fix.

4. Melt the solid and liquid together in a saucepan over low heat until blended.

5. Let the melted oils cool slightly before pouring into your containers. The balm should be warm and still liquid, but never hot when you pour. Be careful—an oven mitt will help prevent burns.

6. While the balm is comfortably warm but still liquid, pour into your containers. (If you will be coloring and flavoring, read directions below before you go for the final pour.) If you've waited too long, just return to the stove or microwave on low heat, and pour as soon as the balm has re-melted.

COLOR

With Lipstick:
If you'd like to color your balm with lipstick, add no more than a quarter inch slice per tablespoon of oils to your saucepan of melting balm. Stir to blend.

Note: If you use cocoa butter, this will take longer than the other oils, but be patient. If you're making a large batch, you can step away for a minute and ponder flavor options.

With Tea:
Teas can be used to color your balm too, for an all-natural tint. Hibiscus tea will yield a pinkish red, and rooibos or berry teas will yield varying shades of reds and purples.

Steep tea in the melted oils for ten minutes, and remove from heat.

FLAVOR

With Baking Flavors:
If you can find glycerin based baking flavors at your grocery store, just a small amount will be enough to turn your lips sweet.

Mix in 3-5 drops per tablespoon for a yummy vanilla, almond, cherry, or even coffee flavored balm.

With Tea:
Herbal or fruit flavored teas are great for natural flavor. For a cocoa butter based balm, throw in a bag of peppermint tea for a scrumptious chocolate mint balm. Drop in a tea bag when your oils are melted, and continue to heat for ten minutes. Remove the pan from the heat to cool, and scoop out the bag.

Once completely cooled, colored, and flavored, your lip glosses are ready for gift giving—or for your own holiday sparkle.

Happy Holidays!
 
Illustration by Emily Riedman-Walkiewicz 

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