I Made My Own Tinted Lip Balm Because My Favorite One Betrayed Me

My tragic story, and the all-natural recipe that resulted.
Publish date:
Social count:
My tragic story, and the all-natural recipe that resulted.

I never had the pleasure of finding my “must-have” or “beauty essential” (if we’re talking in editorial lingo here) until about three years ago, when I happened upon Nivea’s Kiss of Cherry lip balm. 

It hung out modestly in the lip-care section of any pharmacy along with all the Blistex and Carmex. It was cheap enough (about $3.50), and after one impulse purchase, I wanted to put a goddamn ring on it. It was the perfect moisturizing, smooth balm with the ideal “I’m not wearing makeup, my lips always just look this appealing” color. 

We were so happy together up until the unthinkable happened: Nivea pulled a fast one and changed their formula and packaging. Fool me once, shame on you, Nivea. Fool me twice after yet another packaging revamp, NO REFUNDS.

A still life of failure in descending order

A still life of failure in descending order

Look, Nivea, I don’t know what you did to your Kiss Of Cherry lip balm but I noticed you tried to improve upon perfection by adding sunscreen. I’m so glad you’re concerned about my mouth’s well-being, but in doing so, did you notice how your kiss of cherry became a KISS OF LIES? 

No longer the smooth and creamy blood-blushed tint, your new and “improved” tinted balm is now a noncommittal gloss-balm. It’s the Libra of lip balms (no offense, Libras). Where’s the color? What is with this subtle shimmer that is not subtle shimmer at all because I can see individual flecks of glitter with my naked eye? You’ve changed, Nivea. I don’t know who you are anymore. Thanks for the SPF 10, though.

I’ve tried the Labello version, which is the fancy European grandparent to Nivea. No dice. I even bought the generic store brand version of this balm from a Monoprix (it’s a chain store that sells groceries and pharmacy stuff) when I was in Paris two years ago, and it was brief bliss for me, as it was the same perfect tinted balm. But since that ran out, and I’m not jetting to Paris anytime soon to visit any supermarchés, I had to either keep searching stateside, wondering if I would just end up alone forever, or take matters into my own hands.

I got myself all amped up with the whole “if you want it done right, do it yourself” Oprah state of mind and decided to make my own tinted lip balm, using an amalgamation of several lip balm recipes I researched from DIY beauty sites. It was basically like the Rotten Tomatoes of beauty recipes, averaging out positive feedback from different formulas to tailor the ratio of ingredients in creating the most similarly textured/colored balm to my dearly departed.

Now begins the Martha Stewart portion of this article. 

This recipe makes about 3.25 oz of lip balm. You can buy lip balm containers from the same place you probably buy carrier oils and essential oils if you subscribe to the oil-cleansing method of face-washing (I do). I purchased all my ingredients from BulkApothecary.com or MountainRoseHerbs.com--they’re pretty reasonably priced and they have pretty much anything you’d need for these kinds of projects.

Look at all my stuff!

Look at all my stuff!


- 2 tbsp jojoba oil

- 1 tbsp argan oil

- 4 tsp shea butter

- 4 tsp beeswax

- 1/4 tsp essential oils

- 2 tsp alkanet root powder

REASONS (in respective order):

- Jojoba oil is actually a wax ester. Those mimic the oil/sebum that skin naturally produces. Lip skin doesn’t produce any sebum, so jojoba levels that playing field. It’s also non-greasy and super-absorbent. If you want, you can use sweet almond oil instead/also; it’s high in vitamin E, which will do wonders for lizard lips.

- Argan oil is pretty much a miracle potion for skin. It moisturizes, softens and protects. Bonus effect is that you feel so money.

- I vacillated for a bit between shea and cocoa butter, and you know what? They’re both great at their job, which is essentially to moisturize. Shea just doesn’t have the possibility of scent.

- Unless you want to apply an oily butter to your lips, you need some wax to give your balm some backbone and to prevent the whole thing from melting in your pocket and leaking all over your pants/clothes/life. Wax will also help keep all that moisture in. Vegans can swap out the beeswax for carnauba wax.

- Essential oils make things smell nice. I'm using rose and sweet orange this time, but honestly, I wouldn’t hate lavender or maybe peppermint. Do what you want!

- Alkanet root powder is where the color comes from. It’s a natural dyeing agent made from ground-up (you guessed it) alkanet root and has a ruby red to purple color, depending on how concentrated--perfect for lip balm! You can tweak the amount you use, but I find that this proportion makes for like a 6 on a scale of 10 tint with a couple swipes of balm on your lips.

03_Double Boiler.jpg

You’re going to need a double boiler to make this, since you just want to melt everything together, not cook it. Don’t have one? No problem: just use a Pyrex glass measuring cup or bowl in a pot of boiling water.

1. In your double boiler, over super-low heat, melt your oils, butter and beeswax. Stir until melted.

I can’t believe it’s not… oh wait, never mind

I can’t believe it’s not… oh wait, never mind.

2. Remove from heat and add alkanet root powder and your choice of essential oils. Now stir, stir, stir. You want to combine all the oils and distribute the alkanet root powder evenly throughout the mixture.

Snort this for purple boogies. Except don’t do that at all.

Snort this for purple boogies. Except don’t do that at all.

Science is happening

Science is happening.

3. Everything is going to begin solidifying pretty much as soon as you remove it from heat and stop stirring, so no dilly-dallying once the heat is off. 

Pour into your containers and then allow it to cool on the counter until hard. If you’re a real overachiever, you can purchase a long plastic dropper for putting liquids into small openings like this; or you can make your life easier and just purchase lip balm pots instead. I’ve done that in the past, which is cool, but I wanted to make a stick this time because I’m tired of looking for something to wipe my red balm finger on after applying every time.



Looks vampy but don’t be a baby.

Looks vampy, but don’t be a baby.

See? It’s like the tarty girl who’s really a virgin

See? It’s like the tarty girl who’s really a virgin.

That’s all! It’s easier and quicker to make than several meals I’ve cooked and enjoyed. I had to Goldilocks these proportions a bit to suit my liking (Too oily! Too waxy! Just right!) and found that this is basically the equivalent to that Heisenberg “Blue Sky” meth.

I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really ALIVE.

I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really ALIVE.

Now that you have a year’s supply of perfectly tinted lip balm you can give them away as gifts or hoard them because you’re a selfish jerk who doesn’t want anyone else’s lips to look as good as yours.