DIY Beauty Bar: Make Your Own Lip Balm

The summer after 7th grade, I spent most nights at my grandma’s house. After three or four rounds of Hand and Foot, everyone else would go to sleep and my cousin and I would tumble into our blowup bed in the basement and watch reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway until The 700 Club came on at 2:00. One night, I remember Drew Carey switching up his usual lame joke about the winner getting to do “something special” with him at the end for a different prize: a lifetime supply of chapstick (one tube). My cousin, in all her sparkly-eyeshadowed and lip-lined glory, laughed along with the audience, but I knew this wasn’t something to be taken lightly. Winning a lifetime supply of chapstick would be a serious coup. Even as a fledgling gay, I was already going through a tube a month. Chapstick was and is my lifestyle choice. I buy bulk chapstick the way Mormons prepare for famine. Every bag, pocket and drawer I own has a tube of chapstick hiding in it somewhere.

With roughly 17% of my income going to chapstick (okay, not really, but I buy enough that it’s got its own line in my budget), you can imagine how thrilled I was when Laneia sent me a recipe for a homemade version. Although she was worried that we wouldn’t be able to figure out how to keep it from melting in the sun, with a little bit of tinkering we were able to come up with a formula that’ll stay solid all summer long and is stupid-easy to make. If you can find beeswax, you can make this stuff. Let us know how it goes, what flavors you come up with and if you figure out a way to duplicate Dr. Pepper chapstick in your kitchen. Seriously, I’ll buy you lunch.



+1 part beeswax
+1 part oil (we used olive, grapeseed, and coconut)
+Containers (we used paint cups we found at the craft store and bottle caps)


1. Grate the block of beeswax on a cheese grater.

2. Set up your melting station. We made this double-boiler type thing by putting a pyrex measuring cup in a pan filled with water on the stove. After the water initially boiled, we turned the stove down to medium low because the sound of the cup against the pan was driving us insane and crazy chapstick is not happy chapstick.

3. Decide how much chapstick you’re going to make. The first time we made it, we made tiny experimental batches (2 teaspoons of beeswax, 2 teaspoons of oil) of each flavor. The second time, we made two massive batches (6 tablespoons of beeswax, 6 tablespoons of oil) of the flavors we liked the most and it turned out spectacularly each time.

4. Pour the beeswax and oils into your measuring cup and stir until the wax melts. Add your favors, stir it for another minute and then quickly pour the mixture into a container.

5. Refrigerate it for at 5 to 10 minutes and you’re ready to pop it in your pocket and go.

Flavor Ideas

+Spiced Coffee: grind up coffee beans and spices like garam masala and cinnamon. The spices and coffee grounds rise to the top, so you’ll have to scrape them off before using the chapstick.

+Lemon: A little bit of lemon zest and some lemon-scented vitamin E oil make a refreshing chapstick if citrus is your thing.

+Buttermint: this one was inspired by a recipe for Jeni’s Savannah buttermint ice cream that I made last summer; you need 2 parts of butter flavor and 1 part of mint essential oil. It works best with a tasteless oil like (not extra virgin) olive oil.

+Coconut honey: use coconut oil and add honey. The honey will separate and go to the bottom, but the flavor gets infused through the whole thing.

+Cardamom Mint: grind up cardamom pods and add mint. This one is great with extra virgin olive oil for color and flavor.

+Vanilla Mint: all you need is half vanilla extract and half mint essential oil.

+Chocolate Cinnamon: Cocoa powder, honey, and cinnamon make a deep brown chapstick that tastes like brownies.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. First of all, this is amazing and I’m so doing this.
    Second of all, how do you get the clasps/string on those bottle caps??

    • i wasn’t sure if anyone would want to make them, so i left the instructions out, but here’s how i did it:

      1. use a hammer and nail to poke 2 holes next to each other along the ridges of a bottle cap. do it again on a second bottle cap. on the opposite end of the bottle cap (like if you were gonna draw a diameter, it’s the other side of the line), punch one more hole.
      2. poke wire through the holes to make a little loop on the outside and twist it together on the inside. do this to both bottle caps.
      3. superglue the little twists on the insides to the bottoms of the caps. this is important a) because you don’t want chapstick leaking out of the holes and b) because you don’t want the little twist on the inside to push the chapstick around every time you open and close the little clamshell.
      4. poke a wire through the single hole on one of the bottle caps to make a clasp and superglue it on the inside.
      5. cut a straigh pin in half and poke it through the single hole on the other bottle cap so that the clasp has something to hold on to. super glue it in place and let everything dry overnight.
      6. string a piece of rubber band through the little loops you made in each bottle cap and tie it in a knot.

      it’s time consuming and you will probably glue your fingers together, but if you make a ton at once, it’s not that bad!

      • I’m so glad you responded to this comment!! I was hoping to make the bottle caps as well. SO THANK YOU!

  2. I am ALL over this!! Perhaps this summer I will become a peddler of exotic chapstick.

    • If you phrase it that way, it seems legit. Or reaaaallly sketchy, I’m not sure….

  3. Oh this is exciting! Love the bottle caps. I wish I had a nice girl to make these for.

  4. I wanna make this, but knowing me I’d probably burn down my kitchen…Autostraddle penpal, wanna send me some for my birthday/in trade for the third season of the L Word?

    • I think a lot of penpals may be putting this on their to do list, so maybe you will luck out!

  5. I am totally making this for my theatre pal because she is leaving for her master’s degree in chicago at the end of August…actually I should just make them for the whole cast/crew. :)

  6. If you’re going to use the pyrex-cup/glass-bowl method, may I recommend a circle of rolled aluminum foil around the bottom to steady it? (In the shape of those airline pillows, belike.) Or a kitchen towel rolled into the same shape may work, too.

  7. I would also like to know more about that bottle cap situation…how to keep it closed and neat and not leaky in your pocket? And how much of the flavorings to add? For example the vanilla/mint extracts?

    • honestly, just add as much as you think you need and then keep adding it. the flavor gets a little weaker after it dries.

  8. Yay chapstick!! I make chapstick for my friends pretty much every year for the holidays. Or soap, its a toss up. I’m allergic to beeswax though so I make it with sheabutter and paraffin wax.

    If you want a cute gimmick, you can make seven different flavors and put them in the days of the week containers normally reserved for pills.

  9. I have a big bottle of coconut oil and honey that is taking forever to use because I don’t use it on my hair as much. Now I have some uses for them! Where exactly do you find beeswax though?

    • i got mine at hobby lobby but really any craft store should have it. some grocery stores have it in the canning section, too.

  10. I actually love your handwriting. The lovely chapsticks too (have you considered selling on etsy? you could probably make a pretty penny from it). But I love your handwriting so much. If you ever get a picture…I want to see it :D

  11. This is so cool, I have always been obsessed with chapstick and I thought it was just me. This will be so fun to try! Dr. Pepper has been my favorite scent for years so I second that if anyone figures it out to please pass it on.

    • You could buy concentrated Dr. Pepper syrup that’s meant for fountain soda machines. Although considering you’ll probably have to buy it by the gallon, you might well end up with a lifetime supply of Dr. Pepper chapstick…

      • Haha, hmm that does not sound like a problem. I might have to look into it now, thanks for the suggestion!

        • I had a feeling you wouldn’t mind. And if it works out you’ll be everyone’s heroine :D

  12. Finally, the lifetime supply of chapstick I’ve been waiting for since coming out of the closet.

  13. “reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway until The 700 Club came on at 2:00” mm hmmm

    I’m really excited to make this. I think I’m gonna do Coconut Honey and Lemon Mint! Also, ideas on what to add to make my lips red, like lip venon? cayenne?

    Also also, I need you both to know that the sugar olive oil scrub is the only “soap” I’ve used on my whole body for the last month and my skin has never been better. Lives have been changed.

    • cayenne works but only add a tiny amount or you will regret ever even thinking about it and feel like ripping your lips off.

  14. I LOVE YOU. Seriously.
    (I usually spend so much money on chapstick and it’s hard to explain to your parents why you don’t have money anymore. The “student life is so expensive nowadays!” excuse was getting old.)

  15. If you want to experiment with different waxes or butters, or want yummy smelling oils, check out GloryBee Foods. My mom is a soap maker who also does lip balm, lotion, etc. and that’s where she gets all of her oil and shea butter (she keeps bees, so no need to buy beeswax, but I think you can get that there also). They have some fun tins and roll up tubes, too.

  16. I just bookmarked this in my “Summer Plans” folder. Summer 2012 is going to be HUGE.

  17. This is exciting! Though if I ever do this, it would have to be with tubes. I hate the little tins because then my fingers get all greasy – not convenient at all for me.

  18. MY GIRLFRIEND IS GROWING AN HERB GARDEN AND NOW I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT. I’m so excited. I literally probably keep wax in business already, I don’t even know what’s going to happen now.

    Would cilantro and lime lipbalm be weird? THE POSSIBILITIES.

  19. You could probably take Dr. Pepper and reduce it back down into a syrup by slowly boiling it for a while.

  20. ooh! so late to this party. But! I’m a chemist/beginning soapmaker/general nerd and I wonder if you’ve ever done it by mass instead of volume? I just tried 2 parts almond oil to 1 part beeswax by mass and it is hilariously way too hard to be functional as chapstick.

  21. This looks awesome. But do you think you would be able to send me a step by step intention thing (with pictures) on how to make the bottle cap thing? I really wanna make those!

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  28. I used beeswax + shea butter + watermelon seed carrier oil with some essential oils, and the texture was soft and lovely, but the jar I had kept aside for later use – it developed fat bloom after a few weeks.

    Same thing happened with candelilla wax + cocoa butter + shea butter + sweet almond.

    Does anyone know how to prevent fat blooms in homemade lip balms please?

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