Friday, January 15, 2016

How to NOT make your own lip balm

Just because I no longer work in the cosmetics industry doesn't mean I don't get aggravated by misinformation about cosmetic products. Lately, my Pinterest has been blowing up with DIY lip balm recipes like this one or this list or the "all-natural" types like this one. I am an expert in lip balms. Literally. I've made thousands.

A small sample of my work

I'm not saying it's not possible to make your own lip balm at home. It's actually one of the safer DIY cosmetic projects you can take on because it's anhydrous (no water) and as such, does not require a preservative. You do; however, need to be aware of a few things before you start making your own lip balms.
  • It is not safe to put eyeshadow in to a lip balm
The pigments used in eyeshadow may be safe to use on your lips but they also may not. Pigments used in food and cosmetic applications are tightly regulated by the FDA. The Colorant Additive Inventory is a detailed list containing not only the colorants that are allowed to be used in cosmetics but WHICH TYPE of cosmetics products they are allowed to be used in. If a pigment is listed for use in "Externally applied cosmetics" it can be safely used in the eye area but it cannot be used on the lips. While your lips are an external body part, you lick your lips and will ingest whatever you put on them. Some common pigments that are used in eyeshadows that cannot be used on lips are Ferric Ferrocyanide (blue/ purple), Chromium Hydroxide and Chromium Oxide (green) and Ultramarines (blue/ purple). You may be thinking "I've seen green lip balms so this can't be true" but green lip balms are not made with green pigments. They are generally made by combining Yellow 5 and Blue 1 (or another combination of lip safe pigments). For this reason I would never recommend tinting your homemade lip balm with eyeshadow. Even if you are using a relatively innocuous shade of pink, you can't be sure what pigments the manufacturer used. It's just not a good idea. Use a product designed for the lips, like a leftover bit of lipstick if you want a tint.
  • Coconut Oil is not a good balm base
Coconut oil is all the rage right now. It's not a good base for a lip balm. It melts at 76F. If you put this in your pocket, it will melt and make a greasy, oily mess. Leave it in your car on even a spring day and you'll come back to a puddle of oil. It's possible to use coconut oil as a component of a balm, but you need to add a much higher melting point wax to it to firm it up like beeswax or paraffin.

  • Petroleum Jelly isn't a great base either
Petroleum Jelly or Vaseline isn't really a good base for a lip balm either. It's soft and goopy but it doesn't have much staying power on the lips and feels really greasy. It has a tendency to bleed from your lips as it melts. Similar to coconut oil, it has a low melt point (99F) and will turn in to a liquid if you leave it in a warm place. Again, it can be a component, but it shouldn't be the whole formula!

  • Don't put citrus oils in lip balms
I've mentioned this in the past but it bears repeating. Citrus oils are phototoxic when they come in contact with sunlight. They cause cell death. You don't want that. Don't use citrus oils or juices (not anhydrous anyway) in lip balms.

If you really want to make good DIY lip balms, check out this post from Point of Interest. She's a great home crafter of all types of cosmetic and skin care products who does things safely. It's more than just throwing together Crisco, Vaseline and eyeshadow- it's chemistry- and you need to do it correctly!