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Introduction Lip products are basically blend of oil and wax. The more oil in a recipe, the softer the product. The more wax, the harder.

For example, a lip gloss in a bottle that you apply with a wand is almost entirely oil. Meanwhile, pencil-like lip liner is mostly wax. Traditional lip sticks and lip balms fall in the middle, being an artful blend of just the right amount of wax and oil.

The most basic lip balm recipe is a simple blend of common sweet almond oil and beeswax, with a little honey to sweeten.

Very Basic Lip Balm

Almond Oil 8 ounces
Beeswax 2 ounces
Honey 1 teaspoon
Melt everything together and pour into pot container.

Of course, just as in cooking, you can get by with a very simple, serviceable recipe such as the one above . . . but usually people tweak and complicate their recipes to make them 'just right'.

Following is a more detailed discussion of some of your ingredient options, as well as some recipes!

More about Oils & Waxes & etc. Castor Oil is by far the most commonly used oil used in making lip products because it is thick and shiny. Other oils and butters may also be used such as: sweet almond, sunflower, jojoba, olive, shea butter, cocoa butter . . . etc.!

As to the waxes, many people use beeswax simply because it is inexpensive and easy to find. However the "professionals" prefer to carefully blend their waxes with an eye to getting it just right.

Favored among the waxes are Candelilla (pronounced can-da-lee-yah) and Carnauba (pronounced car-now-bah). Both of these waxes are vegetable waxes. They have higher melting temperatures than beeswax and are harder, less sticky and offer a shinier finish. Lip products made with these two waxes are less likely to melt in your purse, and will go on more smoothly and impart a better sheen.

Other waxes used in lip products include ozocerite and microcrystalline waxes. Both of these waxes are petroleum based and the "pros" swear by their importance to a finished product because they add density and improve texture.

Of course, this being the modern age, there are lots of other possible additives to your lip product recipe. Other common ingredients include:

  • Emulsifiers (used to keep everything mixed together) such as polysorbates, sorbitan esters, ethoxylated alcohols and ethoxylated glycerine
  • Sweeteners (used to add taste as well as to mask the flavor of the oil or wax) such as glycerine, sorbital, honey, flavoring oils and additives such as vanillin or peppermint oil
  • Some kind of preservative (a preservative will delay the oil going rancid. Rancid oil develops a distinctive musty taste and odor)
  • In commercial products, it is not uncommon to also find various specialty polymers and other ingredients to get those "long lasting" effects.
Here is an ingredients list for a commercial lipstick, from largest percentage to smallest:

MAC Satin Lipstick

Castor Oil A vegetable oil
Trioctyldodecyl Citrate An emulsifier to make the ingredients blend together
Glyceryl Triacetyl Hydroxystearate A blend of fats and oils used to make the product more emollient and lubricating
Candelilla Wax A vegetable wax
Octyldodecanol An emulsifier and thickener
Silica A mineral used to thicken
Jojoba Oil A vegetable oil
Beeswax An animal-derived wax
Sesame Oil A vegetable oil
Ozokerite A petroleum based wax
Carnauba Wax A vegetable wax
Cetyl Ricinoleate Made from oils and sugars, it improves the consistency
Microcrystalline Wax A petroleum based wax
Ascorbyl Palmitate A vitamin C type antioxidant
Tocopherol A vitamin E type preservative/antioxidant
Vanillin Flavoring additive (vanilla flavor)

Here is an ingredients list from a more natural lipstick:

Burt's Bees All Natural Lipstick

Sunflower Oil A vegetable oil
Castor Oil A vegetable oil
Beeswax An animal-derived wax
Coconut Oil A vegetable oil
Candelilla Wax A vegetable wax
Lanolin An animal-derived wax/oil
Cocoa Butter A vegetable oil
Vitamin E A natural preservative/antioxidant
Peppermint Oil A flavoring oil
Carnauba Wax A vegetable wax
Comfrey Root Extract Allantoin is the active ingredient, soothing/protects skin
Rosemary Extract A natural preservative/antioxidant



A lip product may exist to sooth and protect your lips only. In this case, it will be uncolored or lightly colored just so it is pretty. Alternatively, a lip product may exist to color your lips! In this case, you will typically find a blend of three agents: dyes, pigments and mica.

Dyes are color additives which dissolve into and ultimately stain whatever you are working with. Examples of dyes: Easter egg dyes, dyes for tie-dye shirts, dyes for cake frosting.

Pigments are color additives which don't dissolve. Think of sand in the ocean. Pigments are little grains of color which blend into something, but don't color it. Other examples: paint for your house, the paint used for Mona Lisa's smile.

Dyes are generally bright in tone, staining and rather impermanent (they fade out more quickly than pigments). In lip products, dyes are great for creating a "long lasting" color, because they actually stain your lips so the color is there long after the lip product has worn off. The downside of dyes is that they can feather into the little wrinkles around your lips.

Pigments are typically more earthy in hue. While they do stain your lips a little (just as dirt stains the knees of your gardening pants), the pigment typically sits on the surface of the lip. In lip products, this makes the feathering into wrinkles a non-issue. But, the color of pigments do wear off as the product wears off.

Mica is a natural mineral which adds shimmer and shine. It is used in lip products which are of a satin or frosty finish. Mica itself is uncolored, but you can purchase colored mica (we sell several), which are blends of mica with pigments and sometimes with dyes.

Here's the bottom line: A liquid lip gloss will be colored only with dyes. A solid lip pencil will probably be colored only with pigments. Meanwhile, the typical lip balm/lip stick will usually be colored with a blend of dyes, pigments and micas so as to get the best of all worlds. In total, the color portion of a lip products recipe will usually be about 10-20%.

Recipes TKB Trading, LLC offers several options for your lip products adventures. We have a variety of waxes, oils and additives, and we offer colors in powdered and liquid forms. Additionally, we offer pots and tubes for molding your finished product.

If you have any questions about what you have read here, or about how to use our products, please shoot an email! We are happy to update the information on this page and make your leaning curve gentler!

In the meantime, please click here for a compilation of some recipes that you might like to try. We will be updating this information as time permits. The information was last updated on 09/06/06.