GIY Lip Scrubs and Tinted Lip Balms

Making lip scrub & lip tint with Dr. Bronner's

I have a teenage daughter. (I could go in so many different directions from that statement.) She is wonderful and I love seeing her flourish in ways that are so different from me. One such way is that she plays saxophone and flute. Here’s what I know about these instruments:

  • 1. They’re so shiny!
  • 2. You blow into them and press levers to make notes. Sounds simple enough!
  • 3. They give her extremely chapped lips and surrounding skin.

It was this last one that motivated me to figure out how to make a lip scrub. She needed to exfoliate the dead skin so that it didn’t pull off the living skin, but the skin was tender, so the scrub needed to be gentle.

My motivation for making my own tinted lip balm was more personal. I am not a fussy person. I prize efficiency in most things, especially in my morning routine, so tinting my Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm with my favorite lip colors took me from applying two products to applying only one. Now my lips stay moisturized and protected while still giving me some color, all in one step. Time saved!

Why make your own lip products

One of the beauties of making your own body care products is knowing and understanding exactly what’s in them. When it comes to things we put on our lips, all the issues regarding ingredient safety in personal care products are heightened.

With most body care products, the concern is whether the ingredients are transdermal, or able to pass through the skin. But with things we use on our lips, they might enter the body simply by being swallowed.

Recipes in this article

GIY Lip Scrub

Lip scrubs are a great way to restore and soften chapped lips. This is a “choose-your-own-adventure” recipe, where you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

This lip scrub makes a great gift, too!

All the ingredients for my GIY Coconut Sugar Scrub I pulled straight from my kitchen pantry. Therefore, when I wanted to make a GIY (or Green-It-Yourself) lip scrub version, I had no concerns that this was a “high likelihood of ingestion” zone. The danger more would be not eating the whole tub with a spoon! It is made after all with just two delicious ingredients – coconut oil and sugar!

How a lip scrub works

Lip scrubs work by removing excess dead skin which is still attached to living skin. Since dead skin has no flexibility, it can keep the living skin from stretching as we move. That causes our skin to crack painfully. A scrub exfoliates, or removes, this excess dead skin by gently scouring it. Here’s an interesting tidbit: lips lack sweat glands and sebaceous glands. This means our lips don’t sweat and our lips don’t produce their own moisture.

This is why our lips tend to dry out faster than the rest of our skin. 


The exfoliant – sugar, baking soda, or colloidal oatmeal

The exfoliant is the workhorse in the scrub. Adjust the coarseness of the exfoliant to match the toughness of the skin we are exfoliating. For most of our body, a standard white sugar is a moderate level exfoliant. But for our lips, which have some of the thinnest

thinnest skin on our bodies, we want a very fine exfoliant. I use superfine, or “bakers,” sugar. You can make regular sugar superfine by running it briefly through a food processor or a coffee mill. (Powdered, or confectioners, sugar I find to be too fine and doesn’t exfoliate well.) Another option, though quite a bit less sweet, is baking soda. Lastly, colloidal oatmeal, which is a fine oat flour, is a nourishing option. You can grind regular rolled oats in a coffee mill to make the oat flour.

The base – Dr. Bronner’s Virgin Coconut Oil

Using Dr. Bronner’s Virgin Coconut Oil makes the scrub very gentle for this sensitive chapped skin. It replenishes the skin even as it is being exfoliated. You’ll want to liquify the coconut oil if it is solid in order to mix the ingredients in evenly.

The nourisher – honey, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil

These nourishers further strengthen the skin on the lips by replacing lost lipids and drawing moisture in. If you don’t happen to have them, you can leave them out, but they are a lovely addition.

The flavor – extracts, spices, and more

This is where it gets super fun. The flavors are optional, but don’t deprive yourself! Open your pantry and see if you have things like cocoa powder, peppermint or orange extract, or cozy spices. If you’re making this for someone else, think about their personality and what they might like best.

GIY Coconut Oil Lip Scrub Recipe


2 Tbsp. (30 g) exfoliant: Superfine sugar, baking soda, or colloidal oatmeal

1 tsp. (5 ml) Dr. Bronner’s Virgin Coconut Oil, liquified

½ tsp. (2.5 ml) nourisher: honey, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil (optional)

Your favorite flavor – My favorite flavor combos include:

  • Chocolate: ½ tsp. (2.5 g) cocoa powder
  • Mexican chocolate: ½ tsp. (2.5 g) cocoa powder + pinch of cinnamon
  • Mint chocolate: ½ tsp. (2.5 g) cocoa powder + a drop of peppermint extract
  • Pumpkin pie: 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Orange creamsicle: 1 drop each orange and vanilla extract
  • Sunburst: 1 drop each orange and peppermint extract

How to:

1. Combine all ingredients together to form a dough-like paste. Store in an airtight container.

2. To use, pinch off a bit of dough and massage gently into lips. Wipe off excess.

After you exfoliate, be sure to protect the lips with a good coating of lip balm. This is an excellent bedtime treatment, so the lips have all night for the softened skin to absorb the nourishing balm. Use once or twice per week.

GIY Tinted Lip Balm

Oh, this is a nifty one. And very impressive. You can add various colorants to make customized on-the-go lip color and a fantastic gift for friends. I’ve elicited quite a few oohs and aahs when I’ve uncapped a tube of Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm and revealed tinted contents.

“I didn’t know Dr. Bronner’s made tinted lip balm!!” they exclaim!

We don’t. But you can!


The base – Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm

I have read various recipes for making tinted lip balm, starting with making a base from ingredients like beeswax and various oils, and it occurred to me that I already know of an excellent base: Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm. So, all I did was take Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm and melt it so that I could mix stuff in. More on how I did that in a moment.

The colorants – lipstick, blush powder, oil-soluble edible powders

My favorite result came from adding a bit of my go-to lipsticks, but I also liked the results I got from using the powders I mention below. Make sure the makeup you’re using has trustworthy ingredients. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a great resource for research.

You’re welcome to experiment away with other coloring options but be sure they have ingredients that are safe to ingest, and any powders must be oil-soluble, or you’ll end up with an unpleasantly gritty balm.

You can test the oil-solubility of a powder by mixing a bit of the powder with olive or coconut oil between your thumb and forefinger. If they blend together with no grittiness, the powder is oil-soluble. Beet powder, which I came across a couple times as a recommendation for tinted lip balms, is not oil-soluble and results in a gritty balm.

I would steer away from food coloring for this as it could stain your lips in an undesirable manner.

Use however much of the colorant to reach your desired intensity.


Double-boiler – This is a way to melt things gently, without scorching them. If you don’t have an official double boiler, you can improvise one. I hung a tempered glass measuring cup over the side of a pot, which made pouring the tinted balm back into the tube much easier. Bring an inch or so of water to a boil in the bottom pot and then simmer gently.

Tiny funnel – If you have a super steady hand, you can get away without this funnel, but I found it very helpful for returning the tinted balm back into the lip balm tube.

GIY Tinted Lip Balm Recipe


  • 1 tube Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm in any flavor
  • Colorant: These measurements are starting points. Adjust to preference.  
    • ¼ tsp. (1.5 g) or approximately one ¼-inch (6 mm) slice lipstick
    • 1/16 to 1/8 tsp. (0.3 to 0.6g) colored powder, such as blush powder, cocoa powder, hibiscus powder, rose petal powder, or any oil-soluble ingestible powder

How to

1. Unscrew the lip balm tube to dispense all of the balm. Use a toothpick to scrape out any residual balm in the cartridge. Then twist the lip balm tube back to lower the cartridge to the bottom of the tube. You may need to push the cartridge down with a toothpick to reengage with the spindle.

2. Melt the lip balm in a double boiler.

3. Add your chosen colorant to the melted balm. Stir with a thin utensil—I used a chopstick—until thoroughly combined.

4. Using a tiny funnel and a steady hand, pour the mixture back into the lip balm tube. If this proves too difficult, you can also store the tinted balm in a small tin.

5. Set the tube or tin in the fridge to harden for 20 minutes. Remove and store at room temperature.

Shelf Life of GIY Lip Scrub & GIY Tinted Lip Balm

While I have not done official shelf-life testing of either of these GIY formulations, if stored in a reasonably temperate place, they should last many months.

Now it’s your turn!

Which of these are you going to make? I’d love to hear how you customize them and any other creative additions you come up with!

Further reading:

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About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

Learn about my book, Soap & Soul!

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Coconut Oil Cheat Sheet

Incorporate coconut oil into your kitchen & personal care routines!