Cinnamon Oil And Shea Butter: A Cheap DIY Shortcut To Fuller Lips

Customize your own lip-plumping balm for better results than what fancy plumpers can promise.
Publish date:
April 29, 2014
DIY, lip balms, shea butter, lip plumpers, cinnamon

Lip plumper was
always that product that I wanted to like more than I actually did. In
high school, I dreamed of a magical product that would transform my thin lips
into Scarlett Johansson’s, and I began to scour stores in search of that panacea.
I started with drugstores, where most formulas were just ineffective. Sure,
they would tingle a little, but the results were minimal. On top of that, they
usually felt thick and sticky, and as someone who doesn’t really like the
feeling of normal lip gloss on her lips I just couldn’t take it.

Dissatisfied, the search for lip plumper drove me to my very first trip to Sephora, where I was convinced I
would find the product of my dreams. While the products were certainly more
effective than the drugstore ones I’d tried, they still left this sticky, gross
residue. For the amount I’d be spending on them--which, as a frugal teen,
seemed like a fortune--they weren’t cutting it.

What was an
enterprising girl to do? Make her own, obviously!

The basic theory behind most
lip plumpers of the immediate-results variety is that irritating your lips
makes them fuller. Inflaming your lips plumps them, but it can also be painful
and aggravating, so those lip irritants get mixed with soothing, moisturizing

The overwhelming majority of the lip plumpers I tried had some kind of
cinnamon scent, and reading the ingredients of products, I realized they
contained cinnamon. (This may seem like an obvious deduction, but this was the
first thing I really DIYed, and 10 years ago, the wealth of resources and ideas
for DIYing we have today were less accessible.)

So, cinnamon it
was, then. The first thing I tried making was a simple lip scrub of brown sugar
and olive oil, and adding generous amounts of ground cinnamon. It absolutely
made a difference, plumping my lips and also stinging them like crazy; but the
results faded after less than an hour, and it wasn’t practical as a product that
could be reapplied throughout the day.

I turned my
efforts to making a combination product. I’ve always had very dry lips and a near
addiction to lip balm, and my lips transformed once I switched from purchasing
lip balm to just using pure shea butter. It was absurdly cheap, considering how
much ChapStick I went through, and vastly superior in result. It was a no
brainer, then, that I’d use shea butter as my base, and I picked up a cheap
vial of cinnamon oil at Whole Foods.

I mixed it up in
my kitchen, put some on my lips, and waited. Instantly, my lips burned, stung and
puffed up. This was working! But my thrill turned to alarm as I realized how
irritating it was. I washed it off immediately and still had red, inflamed,
painful lips.

Clearly, it
worked. I’d just way overshot in proportion my first time out.

After a few
days, when my lips were back to normal, I mixed again, this time adding just a
drop of cinnamon oil to a small container of shea butter. I put it on and... nothing. But I added a drop at a time, carefully mixing and trying a little,
until I had a ratio that worked for me.

Today, I make
this anew whenever I run out, and I always have a jar on hand. It seems boring,
but it’s one of the beauty things I DIY that I’m genuinely the happiest about
whenever I use it.

Here’s how to make it...

Gather your
ingredients! You’ll need shea butter and cinnamon oil, a way to mix them, and a
container to hold the mixed product in. I pick up these little ½ oz jars at
the Container Store and I keep both plain shea butter and lip plumper in them.

Scoop out a
little shea butter from the main jar, put it in your mixing vessel--I just
used a Ziploc bag and a toothpick, here--and stir it up. That’s it!

Now, in terms of
proportion, I cannot overstate how irritating cinnamon oil can be. First of
all, before you put anything on your
lips, dab some on a spot like the inside of your arm and see how it feels.
Start with just the barest drop of cinnamon oil mixed in with your base, and if
it isn’t irritating the skin on your arm, give it a shot on your lips. The odds
are, you will have lowballed the amount of oil you need. That’s good! It
way beats the alternative, and you can add another small drop of oil.

For reference, I
use 4 drops of oil per ½ oz. jar. This is perfect for me, but this really
depends on your lip sensitivity. I make these for friends, and I’ve put
everything from just one drop in to something like 10 for my friend with
unusually hardy lips. Start with one drop, and work your way up. It’ll also
vary based on the strength of the cinnamon oil you use. When you’re happy with
it, stick it in a container and impress all your friends.


I did my absolute best to make the same expressions, in
the same spot, from the same angle.

Obviously, nothing is going to transform the actual size of my
lips, but this plumps up what I have about as well as I could ask for, and it
makes a difference for me in the way I see my face.

Personally, I
DIY not just out of concerns with the ingredients, but because of efficacy and
cost. The monetary savings here are dramatic, but even better is how much this
just works. It plumps my lips without
inflaming them unduly, and doesn’t feel sticky or goopy at all. It’s as easy as
lip balm to reapply and leaves no residue. It also slightly changes the color
of my lips in a way that I like.

All things
considered, I’m incredibly happy I started doing this! It’s cheap, easy, and
helps me feel more confident, and really, I couldn’t ask for anything else in
a homemade beauty product.