I remember the very first time I fell in love.
It was the era of butterfly clips and stackable glitter pots (which broke and never quite screwed back together correctly). I walked over to Kmart to get some Little Ceasar’s pizza and look at makeup and magazines; Kmart was the biggest store in town, and they had a makeup aisle of middle school legend.
It’s where I saw it: CoverGirl Lip and Cheek Stain.
A big, fat, translucent stick of colour, it went on light and stayed there for hours, giving the most subtle, fresh hint of colour--like when it’s windy outside, or maybe you’ve been out skiing, or briskly walking, oh, and also you’re in love or something gross. I got it in Peach, and wore it everyday until, one day, years later, that horrifying realization when you twist a stick up, and it FALLS OUT. L'horreur!
I mourned the loss of my perfect blush. I have a rather tricky skin tone (read: Gollum skin), so finding a blush that doesn’t look comical is tough. How to get that perfect peach?
I worked at a craft store at the time, and after experimenting cosmetically with the various inks and dyes, I thought about just making my own cheek and lip stain. I had used Wilton baking gel colouring for some Halloween costumes and for special effects in movies, so I snagged some in a few colours (it runs about $3 a pot) and got cracking.
Fast forward about 10 years (ouch), and I’m still messing around with melty cosmetic DIYs. I’ve perfected that peach (or Wilton had) and started making my own lip and cheek stains. I like them for their versatility, simple ingredients and unending colour choices.
I’m not big on lipstick, and I can’t always find the colours I’m looking for in lip stains. I aimed to make that sheer peach of yesteryear. Since purple lip colours are the new hotness, I also wanted to see if I could manage a good one. The tricky thing about a purple lip, is to have the right amount of blue; too much, and your teeth look crazy-yellow, too little, and eh, it’s really just pink. I tried to make purple lipstick a thing in high school, and no one had the stones to tell me it didn’t work.
I use Wilton Icing Colors; it’s food-grade, glycerin-based, doesn’t taste manky, and it mixes well with any kind of oil or wax. It also comes in a plethora of colours that blend together well, and they are available at any craft store. I grabbed Peach and Violet with the idea that I could mix them.
If you want something quick and dirty, you can just add colour to a favourite lip balm and leave out playing with beeswax and cocoa butter. I have recently fallen in love with everything Nivea, and they have these perfect little tins of lip butter in nice scents like Raspberry Rose, and they are perfect for this lip stain. Burt’s Bees, though more addictive than bad television, would also be suitable.
For a from-scratch simple approach, you can use oil, beeswax, or any mix thereof. I prefer four drops of coconut oil per one tablespoon of cocoa butter, plus a teaspoon of beeswax. Comes out a good, blendable consistency.
I use CocoCare’s yellow tube, because it’s the best value, and least processed. It’s a total miracle moisturizer, and super-portable--though the tube will crack if you let it rattle around in your purse indefinitely. Cocoa butter is a delightful moisturizer; it’s basically white chocolate, so it smells delicious, and it’s creamier than most oils, so it performs longer.
Beeswax can be bought in all manner of precious little bricks and shapes indicative of a simpler, more-people-dying-of-scurvy time. It’s available online, and I’d recommend having some on hand just in case. Of bees? You never know. We’re living in weird times.
Beeswax is used as a barrier to keep moisture from evaporating out of your lips, but also to control the texture of your final product. More beeswax, the firmer it will be. Nothing is worse that a leaky, melty lipstain in your bag or pocket, so beeswax can be key.
Get To It
You’ll need some way to melt your base and ensure that it’s thoroughly mixed. I used a glass jar, and a spoon to mix, naturally.
Start with about 1 TB of your base (whether that be beeswax and almond oil). I nuked it in the microwave at 15-second intervals; I highly recommend this, as it can get too hot really fast, and power/microwaves times vary wildly, so be patient using short intervals, and trust that you don’t want your house smelling like burned cosmetics.
You can certainly use the stove-top if you don’t believe in microwaves, but be sure to use the lowest setting and be patient. The idea is to melt all the elements into a liquid, mix thoroughly, and fill your desired container.
When it comes to adding the colour, the less you add, the more sheer it will be. The more you add, the more vibrant, and the better staying power. If you intend to use it on your cheeks as well as your lips, sheer is better. If you want better coverage and staying power, feel free to add more.
I went with 3 drops for a sheer lip and cheek stain, added to roughly 1 tablespoon of base. I would double or even triple that for a deeper colour for lips only, but the fun thing about this stain is how customizable it is!
I did three different colours: peach, berry and violet. I basically used each pigment out of the bottle, and then mixed the two for funsies. I love peach with my skintone, and I know that mixed with violet it will make a muted berry.
I was happy with all of the colours, really. I am basically left with wanting serious, creamy purple lipstick. The drastic colour of a violet stain was, in a word, creepy. And it didn’t wear well; without constant re-application, it’s total drowning victim.
I think I’ll just need to invest in a serious purple lipstick. Any suggestions on bluer ones?
Have you ever made homemade cosmetics? I totally used to sell home-made glitter gel at raves, and once melted together a ton of my mom’s old lipstick to make completely unwearable trash. I sold that to my little sister for some exorbitant amount of money. Apparently $3 for frosty brown slop, crammed into a Carmex container, is a bargain when you’re 7.