Hi! I’m Gena. You may remember me from the time I was forced to wear the most unflattering lipstick known to man or when I wrote about wearing insanely bold lipstick to overcome my insecurities.
Let's just say there have been good times and bad times.
Basically, I’m lipstick-obsessed, and I’ve always wondered how easy it would be to create my own!
As with the majority of makeup tutorials, research told me that making your own lipstick should be pretty simple.
So after some deliberation, I settled on three methods to try:
The Natural Ingredients Method (aka the “Smushed Berries” method): This involves using natural food ingredients to make a lipstick stain or balm. You can use berries or natural colouring like cocoa powder to make something perfect for your pout.
The Crayon Method (aka the “Crayon? Really?!” method): This involves using nontoxic crayons to make a shade so vibrant it could give your favourite lipstick brands a run for their money.
The Old Lipstick Method (aka the “I Will Never Wear These Colours Again” method): This involves taking lipsticks you don’t like or wear, mixing them with other lipsticks, and creating whole new shades! I was most excited to try this method as I own over 100 lipsticks, and probably only wear 10 consistently.
I'd be making two lipsticks per method, and rating each method based on ease and stress level. I'd then try the lipsticks on the next day and judge them based on whether I look like I've fallen face first into a tin of paint or not.
I first decided to try a berry lip stain. For this I used:
Total cost of ingredients: £11.70
Approximate cost to make one lip stain: 99p
This was supposed to be easy, but for some reason I have this ridiculous curse where every recipe I try seems to turn out wildly different than expected.
All was going splendidly at first. I washed and ground up the raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries to a pulp, and added a few drops of olive oil, but then, when I added the petroleum jelly like the recipe said, the two wouldn’t combine. Even when I heated up the jelly and added the berries, the petroleum quickly congealed and refused to take the berries’ colouring. It was a bloody disaster, made even worse by the confused looks of my colleagues, which said, "How the hell did you manage to fuck this up?" Can't say I'm not talented, I guess.
In the end, I settled on starting again, but this time replacing the petroleum jelly with hot beeswax because I'm a goddamn problem solver.
This worked a lot better (which was lucky because my stress levels were on TEN) and I managed to mix in the berries to make a dark red that I hoped would come out OK when set. I placed it tentatively in the freezer and shut the door. I never wanted to see another berry again.
I then tried making the cocoa powder lip balm, and for this I used:
Total cost of cocoa lip balm ingredients: £24.28
Approximate cost to make one lip balm: 40p
My patience was being increasingly tried after my failed first experiment, but I was not to be broken.
For the lip balm, I placed shea butter and coconut oil in a microwaveable bowl, melted them over hot water, and then added in the cocoa powder and bentonite clay (which makes the mixture matte). Admittedly, this was after also adding beeswax pastilles, realising I'd made ANOTHER grave error, picking out all the pastilles with a spoon, and starting again. But listen, I’m not too big to admit my mistakes, and the second batch actually worked out pretty well! I loved the colour, it smelled deliciously of cocoa, and it poured out easily into the tub. Perhaps there was hope after all!
But unfortunately, the lipstick gods had other plans.
The recipe promises the mixture “should last a week when stored in an airtight container and refrigerated”, but I opened both of them the next day (the berry stain was stored in the fridge, and the cocoa powder balm was stored in my drawer after having set the night before) and they’d reverted back to liquid form, spilling all over my bloody hand. What’s the use of having lipstick if you can’t keep it in your bag and top up when you need to? The lipstick gods had spoken. Save your time, friends. If you want all-natural lipstick, just buy it from your local health store.
This method is pretty ~controversial~ because although the crayons are supposed to be nontoxic, many people online say “JUST BECAUSE IT’S NONTOXIC DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD USE IT ON YOUR LIPS!”, and that made me very scared. However, I checked with authorities higher than myself (aka our science editor, Kelly), and was assured that the crayons are nontoxic even if ingested.
For the crayon lipstick I used:
Total cost of ingredients: £21.96
Approximate cost to make one crayon lipstick: 25p
This was actually way easier than I expected, and I really wasn’t expecting much.
It was definitely the simplest of the methods — melt the coconut oil in a bowl over hot water, add one broken-up crayon, stir until completely melted, add a few drops of rose oil, ET VOILA! You have a kind of weird because it’s crayon brand-new lipstick!
Because it was so easy to do, I made a black lipstick out of crayon too. These came out the best, were easy to transfer into pots, and looked like I’d actually made real lipstick. Result! There was always time for me to find out they looked dreadful on, but my immediate emotion was pride and relief.
For this all you need are two or more lipsticks you don't use any more. Here's me modelling mine semi-awkwardly:
Total cost of ingredients: However much it costs your soul to cut up five of your own lipsticks
Approximate cost to make one lipstick: 0p
This was supposed to be the easiest method of the three, since it involves combining existing lipsticks to make a new one. The recipe did suggest using beeswax if you wanted more moisture in your lipstick, but considering the use of beeswax almost caused me to lose my shit the last time, I decided against it. Instead, I chose to make two new lipsticks — a red one and a purple one — from five lipsticks.
The process was pretty straightforward. I cut the lipsticks from the base, added them to a bowl over heat, and mixed them together once melted. But of course, nothing is without problems, and my problem came while transferring the mixture into the cosmetic pots once ready. As soon as I took the bowl away from heat, the lipstick would harden before I could get it into the pot, so I had to do a lot of desperate scooping to actually get it to work. However, like a phoenix from the ashes, I brought the experiment back from the dead, and by the end I had two fully formed lipsticks (and two very stained hands).
The next day was the moment of truth. It was time for me to try my lipsticks on.
The Natural Lipsticks:
Coming in bottom of the pile were the ~natural lipsticks~, which to be very frank were fucking awful. Aside from casually melting before I'd even put them on, both the lip stain and lip balm felt like I’d just rubbed an ice lolly all over my lips and left it there. It took everything in my power not to lick it off. Not impressed.
The Crayon Lipsticks:
The crayon lipsticks were better, but not without flaws. They set very nicely and applied pretty well, but you had to put on quite a bit to make the colour POP (particularly because the natural colour of my lips is brown), and this made the mixture so slick that it rubbed off almost immediately when I rubbed my lips together. However, I appreciated the versatility in colour choice, and I love a bold lipstick, so even though they're probably not a realistic lipstick choice, they're great for fun.
The Old Lipsticks Turned New Lipsticks:
It’s probably no surprise that the lipsticks that looked and applied best were the ones made from old lipsticks (which were formulated by actual professionals). I loved how the colours came out and they applied exactly how they should, which made me hopeful that the entire experiment wasn't in vain. Of all the colours I made, I especially liked the deep purple, which I wore for the rest of the day and considered myself a genius for having made.
So what did I learn?
It’s definitely an understatement to say I have a newfound respect for those who make their own lipstick products. Unlike the advice of the DIY blogs, it’s NOT as easy as they make out, and it takes patience, perseverance, and an innate knack for problem solving. My advice? It’d probably be easier to just buy your lipstick from professionals. BUT if you are going to do it, I’d recommend trying the Old Lipstick Method. If, like me, you struggle to find a lipstick colour that’ll suit your skin tone in high street stores without having to shell out loads of money, try mixing a few cheap lipsticks together to make one that suits you perfectly. My final piece of advice is to keep it simple. And for the love of god, don’t do this while heavily PMSing. Good luck!