Oh, don't pretend like you don't have one!
I really love it when people ask me for recipes. I am a very chatty Cathy, so getting deep in conversation with people about ingredients, processes and results makes me very happy, whether talking about an apple pie or an antioxidant serum.
There are many ways to approach formulating cosmetic products, and just like cooking or baking, formulas start to make sense more and more with experience. This is why I try to point out important bits of info in my tutorials, such as raw materials that you will get oodles of mileage from, like an electric Fiat, if they even make those.
You might have noticed the similar ingredients in anhydrous (water-free) products that we make. All (most) of these super-simple and shelf-stable projects have four basic parts: Oil, butter, wax and active ingredients/fragrances/colors. Whether you want to make a hair pomade, multi-use color stick, body scrub, lip balm, or the recipe I’m sharing below, the choice of what butter/oil/wax to use is yours and yours alone. A half-pound of each of these ingredients is enough to make over 150 lip balms! That’s incredibly cheap, even if you use the best of everything.
I like products that are a little stiffer (less prone to melting), and I love the smell of chocolate, so for butters I mainly go with cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is the stiffer of the three most common butters (the others being shea and mango).
For formulations on eyes and lips, I love to use a majority ratio of castor oil, but you can go wild here. Castor oil has a great amount of shine, a stable shelf life, accepts infusion nicely, and takes pigment really well, so this is what I use. If you want to add a healing or exotic oil, by all means do so! Just bear in mind shelf life, because when you are DIYing with lip balm tubes like we will be here, you will fill up more than intended almost every single time.
Wax is an awesome ingredient because it plays many roles in the formulation. Though some oils are waxes, not all waxes are oils, and it is important to know what type of wax you want to use and why. If you are vegan, this automatically rules out beeswax, lanolin and anything else coming from animal or insect. Plant waxes are easy to find online and not too expensive, so if you want to avoid beeswax for any particular reason, go for carnauba or candelila wax.
I use beeswax because it is widely available on foot in my city and because I am not vegan. No bees were eaten for this tutorial, as I am terrified of them, but not their secretions. Oils that are liquid at room temperatures need to be firmer, and this is what wax does, in addition to emulsifying all of the ingredients within the recipe, it hardens the formula to the appropriate degree. Beeswax does not expire and has been used for centuries in many different applications.
The "other" ingredients in this case are all of my preservatives, pigment, and fragrance/essential oils. For most anhydrous formulations, a preservative is not explicitly needed, but it can’t hurt to add a smidge of vitamin E to help extend the shelf life of the oils blended together.
Pigment selection and source is all up to you! Since I always have extra makeup I am trying to use before tossing, I am mixing a few loose iridescent shimmer powders together with some sheer mica-based highlighter loose powder I already have on hand.
No matter what your skin tone, the under-eye area is always a little bit purple, which calls for a bit of golden color. Whether you are lots of pale or very not lots of pale, using a peach toned (pink+yellow+white) shimmer will do the job. The opacity and depth is 100% up to you and your melanin. If you are a bit deeper-toned, try adding a some bronzer or a teeny bit of brown eyeshadow on top of the sheer peach. It will match even more while still remaining translucent, allowing you to use it alone or with your usual routine.
The last batch I made included a wee bit of pale concealer, but it was still translucent enough to be used by my menagerie of beautiful friends and their various skin tones. I passed out samples to white, Latina, black and Asian friends with positive results across the board. This time, I left out the concealer, and it looks even better.
Butter, oil, wax, and "other" is all about the ratio. Most lip products I make are 45% oil, 20% wax, 30% butter, and 5% "other." That 5% can include a few drops of exotic oil, a preservative or antioxidant, fragrance, flavor, nearly anything! The basic principle is to melt the bulk 95% of ingredients and add the last 5% of important things after melting.
For an eye product, I shift the ratio just slightly to make the product softer, therefore easier to apply in stick form to the delicate eye area.
This recipe is satisfying and effective, and has joined the ranks of my regularly used products. I decided to start making my own eye brightener after getting fed up with paying $20+ for the good stuff. There are about three or four amazing brand-name eye brighteners that I adore, and I have tried many, but the cost is really an issue for me.
Most have either a whipped texture, liquid consistency, or a harder and more pigment-saturated stick. When I decided to try my hand at this stuff, I went for something in between: a stick-like application to keep germs at bay (SO IMPORTANT FOR EYE STUFF), but nothing too firm, so as to allow for mucho blending and layering.
My ratio for this recipe: 50% oil, 15% wax, 25% butter, 10% "other." How does one turn this into an actual recipe, you ask? Math, my friends. Math is not my friend, though; we do not get along, and that is what my iPhone’s shortcuts are for: the calculator.
First, figure out how much product you want to make and what containers you will be using. I like to buy my containers from SKS Bottle or Lorann Oils. For this recipe, I used .095-oz lip balm tubes, whereas a standard-sized lip balm tube is .15oz. (I like stuff small sometimes.)
Add up as many .0whatevers for as many containers as you are using to find the total volume in ounces, convert to grams, and divvy up using the ratio. Even for a times-table cheater like me it is really simple! If you aren’t using a kitchen scale, convert your measurements to units like a teaspoon--there are many easy converters on the web.
Here’s my actual recipe, including all of the "other" ingredients for this particular formulation.
• 20g caffeine-infused castor oil
• 7.5g beeswax
• 12.5g cocoa butter
• 9g evening primrose oil
• 1g of 20% strength frankincense essential oil (roughly 12-15 drops)
• 3g total of pigment with a pinch of zinc oxide (eyeshadow, highlighter, bronzer or all three will all do)
While this is happening, mix last 3 ingredients together.
When wax is fully melted, remove from heat, add pigment slush and mix thoroughly.
Quickly dispense into tubes or containers.
And it is really that simple, people. Here I made roughly 60g of product and that filled up about 12 tubes. Far too much! That means more of my friends get to try this batch.
A bit more on the "other" ingredients: I went with evening primrose oil for its high GLA (gamma linolenic acid) content, a wrinkle fighter and collagen booster. Frankincense is absolutely divine, all puns intended. Aside from the smell, of which I am very fond, many of its most devoted users claim that it reduces wrinkles and does not irritate. I had it in the last batch, and even after sweating on the beach, it did not sting my eyes, even a little. I’m putting my trust in one of those three wise men to see if this does improve my baby eye-bag wrinkles.
Always use a safe dilution rate with your essential oils, and remember that most are not suitable to use around the eyes.
I use a small dab of this stick under any face makeup or primer, and use a big C-shaped swipe from the lid to under-eye just before grooming my brows, blending well.
You can also layer this under or over concealer, depending on your desired level of opacity. This stuff is very sheer, but even without concealer looks glowing and healthy, masking any bluish or purple discoloration.
Whether making a big batch of vegan lip balm, tiny batch of solid perfume, or any number of cosmetics, having just a few things on hand leads to nothing but fun and learning, which happen to be in my top-five favorite things to do, ever.
Photos by Darnell Scott