Monday, March 28, 2011
Do you call it "lip stuff" or "lip balm"? Or something else entirely? I've always, always called it "lip stuff," but now that I'm typing this, it looks really weird.
Anyway, lip stuff. I have to confess that I've been addicted to lip stuff since probably late elementary school. I've tried to go without it (usually because I've run out), and it always results in two or three days of my being totally distracted by how chapped my lips are, followed by a trip to the store to buy three more tubes to ensure that such a horrific thing never happens again. It's not dehydration--I drink a ton of water. I think it's just that I've gotten so used to using it.
I've always used store-bought lip stuff, but it has been on my mental "things to make" list for ages. Ninna's lips recently became really chapped from a combination of very dry indoor air and a bad cold. She refuses to use the kind of lip stuff I've always bought--Burt's Bees--because of the peppermint oil; she hates mint. The situation got so bad that I decided that she needed her own lip stuff, so, for the same reasons we recently made lotion, we made lip stuff.
This was so easy and pretty much foolproof! I know I say that about lots of things, like making crackers, but I'm serious--this is as easy as can be, and you needn't possess any special talents. The recipe we used was sort of a combination of the various lip balm recipes in Natural Beauty at Home, the same book we used to make the lotion.
The general recipe looks like this:
**Two parts coconut oil
**Two parts grape seed oil, or almond oil, or another similar oil
**One part grated beeswax
**(optional) a tiny amount of extract for flavor (like almond, vanilla, etc.)
Basically, you just want all of these melted together. She gives instructions for doing this in the microwave, but we don't have a microwave, so I can't speak from experience on how that works. The other option is to use a double-boiler or a rigged-up double-boiler, in our case, since we don't have one of those either. You can melt it (as we did with the lotion) by putting the ingredients in a flame/heatproof bowl, and then putting the bowl into a pan with an inch or so of water. Bring the water to a very gentle boil/simmer. If you want, you can stir the ingredients with a small implement to help it along; we used the thin end of a chopstick.
It melts pretty quickly. Then you simply pour it into a clean, dry container and let it harden. We have a couple of empty metal lip stuff containers that I had saved for this purpose, but they conveniently went missing on the day we made it, so I poured it into a small jar. I've now found one of the containers, so I'm planning to scoop some the lip stuff into it since the jar situation is a bit awkward.
In case you're wondering about the texture, here's a creepy photo of my finger with some of the lip stuff on it:It seems to work well so far, and Ninna really likes it. I like it also, though I have to admit to missing that minty/mentholy feeling, so I think next time I'll add some peppermint oil or something similar to some of it for myself.
If you aren't convinced to try this by my claims about easiness, consider the economics. We used one tablespoon of coconut oil, one tablespoon of grape seed oil, 1/2 tablespoon of grated beeswax, and maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon of almond extract. And that yielded a ton of lip stuff, probably enough to fill at least six of those little tubes. I think a tube of Burt's Bees costs about $3 here [EDITED: It's $4, in fact. I just checked today.] I'm thinking that this is coming out to be pennies per tube. No more than 50 cents at the very most.
And the environmental factor! I'm a little horrified thinking about the twenty-some years worth of lip stuff containers I've gone through. I'm so excited to be able to eliminate that waste. Sorry Burt! No hard feelings, ok?
Making lip stuff requires minimal time and effort. We made it while cooking dinner, and my helper grated the beeswax, so I didn't have to do much of anything. It is true that you need to have the supplies on hand, but we frequently cook with grape seed oil, so that's always right in the fridge. The recipe I most closely followed actually calls for almond oil, but in my quest to do fewer errands and buy fewer things, I just decided grape seed oil would have to suffice, and it was fine.
Lots of people are cooking with coconut oil these days because of the health benefits. We have a container of it that I have so far only used very sparingly for these types of purposes because it is on the expensive side, but again, it's a relatively common ingredient to have around. The only "extra" thing might be beeswax, but if you buy a little chunk of beeswax, it goes a long way. Most of these recipes only call for anywhere between 1/2 a teaspoon to a tablespoon of grated beeswax.
Have I convinced you to try it? Have you already made your own lip stuff? If you have any recommended recipes or tips, I'd love to hear them.