Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homemade (Tinted) Lip Balm Experiments #1 and #1 1/2 (FAIL)

I recently tried a couple of different ways to make a tinted lip balm using the same two ingredients: my homemade non-petroleum jelly and a packet of Kroger unsweetened strawberry drink mix. Now, before you read any further, let me just call this what it is: my latest craft-astrophe. I can't imagine too many people were considering making their own tinted lip balm, but just in case you were, here is how not to do it.

I first saw the idea to use a drink mix to make a lip stain here, but the blogger used a Crystal Light packet instead of the store-brand Kool-Aid. I didn't want to use Crystal Light for two reasons: 1) I didn't have any on hand. I had the Kroger drink mix because it makes fun play dough. 2) It contains artificial sweeteners, which I would prefer not to mess around with. (For the record, I wasn't too sure about the safety of using the Kroger drink mix considering the artificial food dye, but I wanted to at least test it out. I felt that this might produce a gritty mess that wasn't ideal for a lip balm, anyway, and it cost very little, so I decided it was worth a try.)

Trial #1:
To make my first trial batch, I combined a small amount of my homemade non-petroleum jelly (made on a previous day and completely cooled) with about 1/3 of the strawberry drink mix packet. I used a small round plastic travel toiletry container that has a screw-top lid and resembles the pots that some commercial lip balms come in. This didn't appear to have much color, and it seems to be gritty, not combined well despite mixing as well as I could with a spoon and letting it set for an hour. The texture, once applied with a lipstick brush, was about what I expected: somewhat gritty. The color went on fairly sheer and then the drink mix granules sort of "burst" open on my lips, spreading a bright red just on the inside portions so that it looked like I had been sucking on a cherry Popsicle.

Trial #1 1/2:
After trying the first version of the tinted lip balm for a while and not getting the desired results, I figured that there must be a better way to get the flavor crystals to mix in with the non-petroleum jelly. So, I decided to melt the non-petroleum jelly and then add the drink mix while it was still in the liquid state, as was suggested by this blog. (My ingredients were not all the same, but I pulled from the idea of combining it all while it was liquified.) I took about a tablespoon of my homemade non-petroleum jelly, put it in a microwave safe bowl and heated it for 15 seconds. Then, I stirred in about 1/3 of the strawberry drink mix packet. On first appearance, I thought that this was going to be more successful. It was a beautiful plum color, much richer than my first attempt, and the color looked to be much more evenly dispersed throughout. I let it set for 2 hours and then tried applying it with my lipstick brush. There was more intense color, but it was still only staining the inside "o" shape of my lips, not the entire lips. And it was still cherry Popsicle red, not a particularly grown-up shade of lip color.

{Non-Petroleum Jelly, Trial #1, Trial #1 1/2}

The Results:
While combining the drink mix has apparently worked for some other bloggers, it was not particularly successful for me. The biggest issue is that the color doesn't go on evenly and once it does start to spread, the intense red color is centered on the inside portions of my lips, not spread over the entire surface. The rest of the lips have barely any color and there is still some gritty texture from using the drink mix packet. It would be simpler just to spread red dye #40 on my lips, and it might even color the whole lips instead of just the centers. (I am not suggesting that anyone try this, though!)

The other issue I had is that the unsweetened drink mix is T-A-R-T! Once those granules burst, I really start to pucker up! (I realize that using a drink mix with artificial sweetener like the Crystal Light would address this issue, but again, that adds more unnatural stuff to it, which is what I am trying to minimize in the first place.) Although some people might like the pouty look, I have tried repeatedly for two weeks, and I just cannot tolerate the tartness.

While the tartness makes it unpleasant to apply this, in the end, it's the uneven, cherry Popsicle red lip staining that makes this unsuccessful in my eyes. I am officially washing my hands of trials #1 and # 1 1/2 for homemade tinted lip balm! (And I mean that figuratively as well as literally, given this lip balm's tendency to stain my hands despite my applying it with a lipstick brush to avoid this very thing.)

The good news in all of this? My non-petroleum jelly does, in fact, provide moisture and shine, two important things that I want from a lip balm/gloss. Now, if I can just find a more natural and effective way to add color, I will be all set!

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