Welcome to a new series, inspired by my latest DIY fail!
In my journey to become more conscious of what goes into and onto my body, I started searching for DIY beauty product recipes. It started mostly with wanting a simple lip tint, like you get in Korea (but not anywhere else, it seems), that stains the lip instead of being gunk sitting on top of it.
I Googled, then got sucked into the world of Pinterest. Look at my DIY lip balm! Look at my DIY deodorant! Look at my DIY shaving cream! All natural! No chemicals!
What a win. The power is mine, the knowledge is mine, plus I love craftsy things, so I was excited to get to DIY-ing.
After a Faithful to Nature haul (to stock up on a beeswax and shea butter, essentials in any natural beauty DIY project) and noticing how very pink my hibiscus tea is, I decided it was finally time to try out some DIY. My first project: pink lip tint. (I lie, I also made shaving cream, but shaved legs really isn’t as exciting as pink lips).
I gathered my ingredients. Most lip balm recipes have a few basic ingredients: beeswax, a butter, and an oil, and a dye to make it into a tint.
In my mind, I see the butter as the base. It is usually solid at room temperature, when that room is not in the South African summer. It’s not stable enough to work on its own. It’s more fluffy, sort of unconnected. I chose Shea butter as my butter. I got the Nautica Unrefined Shea Butter from Faithful to Nature for R150 for 150g. It is lots and it smells amazing! I really only need a smidgen at a time. My only qualm is that it’s not a local product, but it wouldn’t be anyway, since even South African brands source their Shea nuts from North Africa.
Beeswax has been called an emulsifier, but the science-y people will tell you that is in fact not. I see it as a sort of glue to bind the butter, sort of like throwing Maizena into soup. It is also the thing that will keep the butter from melting come summer time. I got the Simply Bee Pure Beeswax, again from Faithful to Nature, for R52 for 100g. It is local, unrefined, and unbleached, and smells like honey. It’s also lots, and as you’ll see in the foto’s, I used a tiny amount, which seems to be enough. The balm is solid but not hard.
The final member of the triad is the oil. I honestly can’t say what this does in the balm apart from adding another moisturiser, giving it some sheen, and working to balance the butter and the beeswax to prevent it from going rock solid. The recipes usually call for a food grade oil, as the entire point of creating an all natural recipe is to make it safe to swallow. Most recipes I saw used olive or sweet almond oil, and since I don’t have either of those, I used my good ol’ Woolworths avocado oil.
In addition to these lip balm basics, I added Soil Organic Peppermint Essential Oil as an antimicrobial agent and a lip plumper, and I used Woolworths Infusions Hibiscus Petals as the dye. The tea unfortunately is not locally sourced or organic, but the box at least is made out of recycled materials and the tea bags are whitened using an environmentally friendly oxygen bleach.
I started my process with several good intentions. I washed and dried a perfectly sized jar in which I had received a sample, to be used as the new little house for my amazing creation.
Step 1: Beeswax
I’ve read that beeswax takes a bit longer than the butters and oils to melt, so most people grate it. Because I was lazy and also because I didn’t want beeswax on my grater, I just hacked off pieces with a knife and placed it in a heat resistant bowl.
Inaccurate measure: I think I’m going to cut myself so I’ll stop.
Step 2: Shea Butter
I added the Shea butter. It scoops easily.
Inaccurate measure: Eh, I don’t wanna take two spoon fulls so I’ll pick at it until I think it’s enough.
Step 3: Misguided Optimism
I placed my bowl into a pot, added some water around it to make a double boiler, and started heating it slowly. This is the part where me not wanting a mess created a mess. Most DIY lip tints use dried powders, but I don’t have any of those. I’ve seen a few recipes that just squeeze berries into the oils, or just dump some raw beetroot into it (which I do have, but didn’t feel like cutting). So one side of me very happily just put the tea bag in there, believing I could heat the oils enough to get it to draw the pigment out of the petals. The smart side said, “What are you doing??”, and also that the tea bag will soak up the oil and this won’t work at all. I repressed that side.
Step 4: AAHHH!
The smart side of me was, in fact, correct. I poked the tea bag for a bit to see if it performed better under pressure, but alas. So I got another heat resistant bowl, took out the tea bag, and boiled some water to get some colour going. At this point I had very little hope for success, because the smart side knew very well that water and oil does not mix.
Step 5: Colour and Water
I poured some boiling water over the tea bag, and hoozah! Finally some colour. I initially planned to just dump all of this into the oil mix, but better judgement prevailed, and I decided to transfer only the teabag bag into the double boiler.
Step 6: Something Happened
There is no picture of this step, but you can imagine me squeezing the tea bag with my hand to get some pigment and the soaked up oil into the oil mixture. I stirred it for a while, trying to get some of the water would evaporate, and also trying to get everything combined. It didn’t work at all. So I put it in the refrigerator for it to harden a bit, to see if the added friction of the hardened mix would combine it. This is also the point at which I added about five drops of peppermint essential oil. It eventually mixed well enough, and I transferred it into the little container.
The lip balm didn’t end up being perfect, and while I do count it as a fail since I did so many things wrong, it turned out usable at least.
As you can see, the water indeed did not mix into the balm, and instead is trapped awkwardly in-between. When it cooled completely, it was solid, but soft enough to pick up with a brush to apply to my lips.
And it actually works!
In this unsettling close-up of my face, you can see that my lips are pink! I really like the colour, and my lips don’t feel too sticky. The peppermint oil does tingle for a bit, but then goes away. I did wonder why my lips taste sour, and then remembered that hibiscus flowers have a tangy taste. I don’t think the colour will be super long-lasting, but there is the lasting benefit of moisturising my lips.
I’m not necessarily satisfied, but I’m not overly disappointed by how this turned out. The amount of resources I used to make this is minuscule, and it seems like it could do well in my morning routine.
Hopefully I can post this again later as a DIY recipe, instead of a meh-sort-of-works-fail.