Makeup Science
Lipstick, making your own

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Intro to frankenlippies
Making your own lipstick base
Getting a melt back into the tube
Making a lipstick last longer on
Making a lipstick out of a lipliner
Stinky in, stinky out
MAC Lipmixes
An excellent lip balm recipe
Burt's Bees


Beeswax lip balm frankenlippies
An excellent lip balm recipe
Jane sheer "Penny Lane" lippy
MAC Lipmix recipes
Unstinky Revlon Super Lustrous recipe
Wet'n'Wild #666/Chapstick frankenlippy

Intro to frankenlippies
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date: 01/02/01

Comments: Love the color of your lipstick, but find it fades within an hour? A hundred lipsticks in your drawer that you never wear and can't bear to throw away? Want to create your own lippy colors and sheers? Sick of layering on a couple of lip products to get the right effect???

A frankenlippy may be the solution to your problem. A frankenlippy is a lipstick that you make yourself. (Ruthie invented this glorious term btw.)

There are many variations on the frankenlippy. Some pour lippy melts into pots (like old lipgloss pots), some use lipstick pallettes, others pour melts into lipstick or lip balm tubes to create new bullets. I've never known anyone who purchased an actual lipstick mold, but they are available for a reasonable price (try searching online).

The essence of frankenlippying:

You slice a piece of your lipstick off, or gouge out the entire lipstick bullet--I use a non-serrated knife for both operations--add other lipsticks, a chunk of lip balm, some lip gloss, a piece of lipliner pencil lead, or whatever else you like, and melt. Most melt in a microwave, but stovetop "cooking" works as well...I've even heard of melting in a spoon over a candle flame (wow). Choose a thoroughly heat-proof container at any rate, the melt gets extremely hot. Try to find a small container, so that you'll "lose" less of the melt (it sticks to the container). You pour this molten mass into the storage container of your choice. Should you be impatient, you can harden the stuff quickly in the freezer. That's it!

Personally, I'm usually not artistic enough to create my own colors. I'm better at solving technical problems, like adding staying power to a lipstick, making it sheerer or more moisturizing, stuff like that. I have a couple of custom colors in my stash though. One is a red that I made back in my fuchsia suffering days. For a long time, it was the only red I had.

In fact, true red is rare in low-end lipsticks. You can see this clearly if you try melting one...your "red" lipstick shows as the fuchsia it is. Oftentimes red is the color you need, too. For example, red can turn a too-purple plum lipstick into a nice, complex, wearable color.

At one point I had the idea of collecting a true brown lipstick, a true orange lipstick, a true red lipstick...and using them to do custom colors. But I could not find a cheap-enough-for-mad-science, red-not-fuchsia lippy.

(BTW Jane "Haywire" is a good, almost pure brown creme. Jane "Fired Up" is true orange, but shimmery. I'm not sure if Wet'n'Wild still makes stuff like orange, black or white lipsticks but there's a thought.)

Finally, MAC does make "Lipmixes." I've never tried them, but, thanks to Ang, I have gotten detailed information about them (see the MAC Lipmixes section below). Perhaps the Red Lipmix will solve the red issue for hardcore frankenlippyers. ;)

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Making a lipstick last longer on
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 01/03/01

Comments: What you need is beeswax. Food-grade beeswax. I would never in a million years have thought of this. It is Dain's advice, and it works brilliantly.

There are web sites that offer food-grade beeswax...I'll put the URL's for them here when I get them. Some health food stores carry food-grade beeswax; apparently some people use it, rather than paraffin, for canning. I ended up buying a health food store lip balm that listed beeswax as its first ingredient (Lip Trip brand, $3.50), and it has performed well for me.

Anyhow, get a hold of some beeswax.

Surprisingly little beeswax can transform a fade-prone lipstick into an iron lipstick. In fact too much beeswax is not desirable; you can sheer the lippy color too much, especially if it was a sheer to begin with.

Here are my beeswax lip balm recipes:

1 Jane "Cinnamon Stick" Liphuggers bullet
1/4" slice of Lip Trip lip balm

Note that this amount of lip balm makes this lipstick a tad sheerer.

1 Maybelline "Go Cinnamon" Wear and Go bullet
1/4" slice of Lip Trip lip balm


1 Almay One Coat "Sequin" bullet
1/8" slice of Lip Trip lip balm

The "Sequin" did not need sheering, but it doesn't last for squat straight out of the tube.

1 Jane "Loco Cocoa" Liphuggers bullet
1/8" slice of Lip Trip lip balm

Provides the "Loco Cocoa" with moisture as well as staying power.

1 Jane "Bye Bye Brown" Barely Lips bullet
1/16" slice of Lip Trip lip balm

Any more lip balm and it's too sheer, it's like water on.

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Stinky in, stinky out
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 01/03/01

Comments: This wise motto is from EdinaMonsoon. One stinky lippy can make the entire melt stinky.

I've had some success zapping the stink out of a Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick.... Now Revlon has de-stunk the Super Lustrous line, so this example is more theoretical than anything. I will relate it here in case you have a really stinky lipstick that you love the color of. :)

I got some clear Fun lipglosses, the kind in a squeeze tube, at MacFrugals (a surprisingly good, cheap source of Igoring products) for, I don't remember, $2 or $2.50 a pop. I got Peppermint, Cinnamon and Spearmint flavors. Taking a whiff of each, I decided only the Spearmint would be strong enough to overcome the Revlon.

Here is my unstinky Revlon/Fun recipe:

1 "Dune Rose" Super Lustrous bullet (fab color BTW)
6 good squeezes of Fun Spearmint gloss (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 small piece of Chapstick Lip Moisturizer to stabilize the gloss and prevent a mushy lippy.

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MAC Lipmixes
Reviewed by: Ang
Date of review: 01/06/01

Comments: Aha! Someone does know about the MAC Lipmixes. :)

The following recipes contain Burgundy (matte), Crimson (matte), Blue, Silver, Black, Tan, White Frost, Yellow (sheer), White (matte), and Copper Lipmixes. These are roughly half the shades of Lipmix available (there is a Red and also a Fuchsia).

From Ang: "My favorite lipmixes are Burgundy, Crimson, Tan, and Copper. I prefer the matte formulas (Burgundy and Crimson are mattes) in terms of quality, but they are a little drying, so usually I have to add other colors or lipbalm to them."

Also: " might want to add a disclaimer about the lipmixes not having the same consistency folks might like in a lipstick...they aren't very waxy. Therefore, the darker colors become pretty splotchy as they fade. I am not sure really what the lipmixes are...MAC's website isn't too definitive, either. They come in plastic squirt tubes (for lack of a better term), and the back of the tube says 'lip pigment'. When the girls at the store demonstrated them for me, they didn't add anything to it, so I guess they are supposed to work on their own."

Update: Further developments on what to use with the pigments.

Ang: "The trick (well, so far so good) is to use a teensy dab of clear MAC Lipglass as a base. It worked really well for keeping the dark colors from breaking up, and my lipstick stayed put for hours. The MAC folks (I asked another artist at the store) use the clear lipmix for this purpose, but mine has not come in the mail yet...."

Update: Crimson v. Red.

Ang: "I think that you might be really happy with the Red lipmix (but definitely NOT the Crimson). Red almost looks orange because it has so little pink in it. When I mix White with Crimson, it turns bright fuchsia pink. When I mix White with Red, it becomes a coral pink. I tried the trick with white paper [see the Fuchsia Sufferers Club section], and the Red lipmix had very little pink in the light. I have [Max Factor] Reel Red, so I put it on the sheet with the lipmix...Reel Red is much darker than the lipmix, but it had about the same amount of pink in it. You will definitely want to mix the Red lipmix with something because the color is so bright, but I like the lipmixes better when mixed with lipstick, anyway. Anyhow, thought that I would just give you a good description before you fork over the money for it (if there is a MAC store near you, not just a counter, they should have it for you to try)."

Thanks Ang!

Crimson with a little Blue and Silver

Makes a deep blue red. Adding the tiniest possible bit of Black will darken it.

Burgundy and Crimson (equal parts of each)

Makes a dark red.

Tan with a tiny bit of Crimson and White Frost

Makes a nice, cool, shimmery nude.

Crimson mixed with Yellow (Yellow is a sheer lipmix)

Makes a very interesting red.

Crimson with Tan

Makes a great medium pink.

Crimson with White (matte)

Makes a very matte, bright pink.

My favorite is Copper mixed with a tiny bit of Burgundy and Crimson.

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Getting a melt back into the tube
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 01/07/01

Comments: This was one of my first frankenlippy ambitions, because I don't use lipbrushes, pallettes or pots. I am strictly a tube gal. I've had mixed results doing this.

Some tubes simply can't be re-used, although you won't know this until you've dug the original lipstick out. These tubes have no cup at the bottom to hold the lipstick. This type of tube must be thrown away.

Other tubes have small holes in the cup. You can try covering these holes by cutting a small circle of paper and putting the circle inside the cup. (This tip is from Christel.)

Another idea from Christel is to make a small funnel out of paper and put that inside the tube prior to filling. This works really well.

It may seem glaringly obvious but don't forget to wind the empty tube all the way down before pouring in your melt!

Be forewarned...sometimes, despite your best efforts, the melt "sinks" into the tube. Sometimes you can recover some of the melt, sometimes it's gone. The safest (and, unfortunately, usually the ugliest) tubes are the plastic Chapstick-style ones...there's really nowhere for the melt to "sink" into.

Don't despair if you use a Chapstick-style tube and the lippy winds up, but doesn't wind down again. That means the inner cup has popped off the stick. Just push the lippy against your lips while you wind downwards to re-affix the cup.

A special warning about Jane tubes: they have a rim inside the top of the cap. If you fill the tube full or forget to wind the frankenlippy down, this rim will squash (unattractively) the top of your frankenbullet. One solution is to carve, using something like a paring knife, the top of the frankenbullet into a more tapered shape.

A reminder: you will lose some of the melt simply because it sticks to the melting container. You can produce a more satisfyingly large bullet by melting a double batch and pouring the results into 1 tube. Watch out if you choose to do this though, in case you overflow the tube.

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Making your own lipstick base
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 01/23/01

Comments: This section was inspired by Dain, and also by the fact that my health food store finally got in some food grade beeswax.

Dain's words of wisdom: a lipstick is basically an oil and a wax. The beeswax: a nice hefty chunk (local brand), 8 oz. for $6.99. Instead of using ready-made lip balms and lipsticks for mad science melts, why not make a (better and cheaper) base?

I started out melting four things together: a L'Oreal Colour Endure ("So Cinnamon"), some pure lanolin, a chip of the beeswax and some extra virgin olive oil (not too fruity-smelling). But that came out too hard and dry. Fortunately, kittin on LP shared her lip balm recipe (I'm going to nag to put it here) and today I'm using the wax-to-oil proportions from it--2 parts oil to 1 part grated beeswax.

So far so good...I left this in my nuking container to cool completely, and applied some with a fingertip. It feels good and soft on. A little bit shiny too. The natural color is yellow, but I doubt that would affect any added coloring much. Possibly, if you were to add a dry lipstick like the Colour Endure to it, you would need to add more oil.

As far as oils, I got some suggestions from the board to try jojoba, glycerin, lanolin, coconut oil, sweet apricot oil, sunflower or safflower oil (apparently one of these goes bad though), squalane (er, not sure what this is), petroleum jelly, mineral oil, as well as olive oil. I'm using extra virgin olive oil because it's what I have on hand. I suspect the jojoba, glycerin or coconut oil would produce the best results.

BTW the olive oil/beeswax base does not smell at all like olive oil. *whew*! It doesn't smell or taste at all.

As mentioned I did try some lanolin. It's an excellent moisturizer but it got lost in my original melt. Putting it on my lips straight from the tube, I found it remarkably similar to a really good lipgloss--thick, long-lasting, shiny, moisturizing, even a tad bit tacky. I would recommend reserving lanolin for franken-lipglosses.

Update: 01/24/01

Did more envelope-pushing today...added another part of olive oil to the original base, making it 3 parts olive oil to 1 part beeswax. Hm. As you would imagine, the base became softer and oilier. This is as much olive oil as I'd care to add to this sort of mixture. It's on the verge of smelling/tasting of olive oil. Also, you wouldn't care to make it any oilier. I used this new base for a new Colour Endure melt...1 part Colour Endure to 3 parts new base. Also, made a sheer lipstick out of my Jane "Penny Lane"--one part "Penny Lane" to 2 parts new base.

Conclusion: the proportions of oil to wax fall somewhere between 2 to 1 and 3 to 1. Using a heavier oil would probably produce better results than just adding more of a lighter oil.

BTW I read somewhere (Norman Mailer's book I think) that Marilyn Monroe was a mad scientist. According to her makeup artist, she had a secret lipstick custom-blended from 3 different lipsticks. Also, she had a secret gloss made of Vaseline and beeswax iirc.

More update: 01/25/01

The Colour Endure melt was a bust...way too sheer, not even buildable.

But the "Penny Lane" came out beautifully...sheer wash of warm plum with a slight shimmer that moisturizes and lasts for hours. Recipe:

1 Jane "Penny Lane" Liphuggers bullet
About twice as much "base" as the bullet (base = 1 part grated beeswax, 3 parts olive oil)

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Reviewed by: Josephine

Q. I tried to melt a long-last lippy in the microwave and the thing never melted! What's up with that?

A. I had this happen to me once...I was trying to melt some stuff in a plastic container in the microwave. I think the thing is this: the stuff you're nuking is melted in part by the heat of the container itself. If you use a container that doesn't get hot, it's possible your stuff won't melt.

I also find it helpful to melt stuff together...melt something stubborn, like a lipliner pencil lead, with something that melts easily, like a stub of Chapstick. The heat of the stuff that's already melted, melts the other stuff, if that makes any sense.

At any rate, watch your microwave like a hawk. I had a melt start smoking once.

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Q. How do you figure out what to melt with what, and how much?

A. I'm not the best person to ask for this because I don't have the best eye for color. Most of my melts were to solve technical problems--more staying power, sheerness, moisture et cetera. But I can tell you, just trying a couple of lippies on, one over the other, gives a good idea of what color the final melt will be.

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Q. Can you save money with frankenlippying?

A. It's possible. You can produce something wearable from a lippy you never wear. You can also create something you've been searching for. I'm fiddling around now with creating my own lipstick base, because it would be cheaper and better than buying existing lipsticks or balms for bases.

But I'll be honest, I don't franken expensive lipsticks. I have some Hemp Organics ones, they're a tad dry. I could melt them down with lip balm, but I won't do it because they cost $12 a pop! You lose some of the lipstick in a melt, it sticks to the sides of the container. I'll melt a Jane or Maybelline lipstick any day, or a L'Oreal one I bought on sale.

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Q. Do you feel funny whipping out a frankenlippy and applying it in public?

A. At first I felt a little self-conscious. I don't use a lippy mold, so the bullet has a flat or slightly rounded top. Then I thought, screw it. I'm clever enough to make my own lipsticks, why should I care?

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Q. Can you melt stuff inside a lip gloss pot in the microwave?

A. I just tried this...I had my melt poured into an old 3CC plastic lipgloss pot. I wanted the top to be smoother, so I popped the whole thing (looked to be 100% plastic, no metal) into the microwave for a short time. The top did melt and become reasonably smooth, but the pot did warp slightly. I can still use it, but I don't recommend doing this.

A glass lipgloss pot might well crack.

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Making a lipstick out of a lipliner
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 12/28/00

Comments: Love that Wet'n'Wild lipliner #666 but hate using lipliners? Looking for Wet'n'Wild #663A in lipstick form?

(In answer to the first part, Maybelline Hydratime lipstick in "Tempt" is supposed to be a dead ringer for W'n'W #666. The Hydratimes look as if they're going to be discontinued, but just FYI.)

The mad science approach to this problem is to crack open the lipliner pencil, extract the lead and melt it down with some lip balm. This actually works quite well and it's not hard to do.

Use a good pair of pliers to gently crack open the pencil (try to crack it along its two halves, it's easier). If you smush it up nicely, you can take the lead out in one or two pieces. Inspect the lead very carefully and remove any tiny splinters you see.

You can now melt the lead in the microwave, the same as with any other lippy melt.

Here is my recipe for a densely pigmented #666 lip balm:

3/4 of a Chapstick Lip Moisturizer (blue tube)
1 whole Wet'n'Wild #666 lipliner pencil lead

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An excellent lip balm recipe
Reviewed by: kittin
Date of review: 01/23/01

Comments: kittin: "I have had excellent success with this Lip Balm. Really easy and nice small batches."

1 tsp beeswax grated
2 tsp coconut oil
1 Vit E Capsule
E/O (peppermint is gorgeous) to taste

Melt in that good ol' pyrex cup (in a microwave on med in 60 sec intervals!) and pour into sterile jars. this is really easy to experiment with, try adding honey after it's melted. Yum! I don't see why colour can't be added as well...have fun!!

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Burt's Bees
Reviewed by: Josephine
Date of review: 12/04/01

Comments: I haven't done a lippy melt in a good long time, but recently I've had reason to dig out my lippy knife and my melting dish.

The reason: Permatone lipsticks. I looooove these, they have completely changed my lipstick-wearing habits. Now, I will seldom leave the house without putting one on.

The problem: Permatones are really drying. The only thing that seems to work over them is Burt's Bees lip products.

All fine and well...I have Burt's Bees in a pot, Burt's Bees in a tube, even two Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers ("Love" and "Inspiration") and a Burt's Bees lipstick ("Play"). I love all of these products, but...

Burt's Bees currently makes four Lip Shimmers and seven lipsticks. Excellent products, but expensive ($6.50 for a Lip Shimmer and $9 for a lipstick) and limited in color selection. My "Play" lipstick is beautiful and long-lasting on its own, but doesn't work over my current Permatone stash (Max Factor Lipfinity "Ethereal," "Radiant," "Spiritual").

Other companies, such as Hemp Organics and Ecco Bella, also make lip products that do not contain petroleum products...petroleum products wear away the Permatones so you can't use most lipsticks over them. But, the Hemp Organics lipstick ("Cinnamon") and the Ecco Bella lipstick ("Cafe Au Lait") I tried did not moisturize nearly as well as the Burt's Bees.

For a brief moment, I contemplated tabling "Cinnamon" and "Cafe Au Lait" to wear in the summer, when my lips would be a lot less dry to begin with. But, what a naive thought. Lipsticks have a limited lifespan. "Cinnamon" and "Cafe Au Lait" could well be dry little bullets by then. In a sense, you might as well toss them.

Enter mad science!

I recalled melting several lipsticks down with slices of Lip Trip lip balm--why not apply the same logic to "Cinnamon" and "Cafe Au Lait," with slices of Burt's Bees lip balm?

Wow...I'd gotten rid of quite a bit of my mad science paraphernalia, but not several empty plastic pots with screw-on lids...thank you, Arabella. Just the perfect thing.

I went back to my earlier notes. 1/4" of Lip Trip seemed best for lipsticks you wanted to sheer anyway...1/16" for lipsticks that were already sheer. "Cinnamon" is a sheer, actually, but, since I was planning on wearing it over my Permatones, I didn't have to care if it got a bit sheerer.

I started out with 1/8" Burt's Bees. Trying it out over "Spiritual," I still got those lovely "pleated lips," so I added another 1/8" and this seems just right.

I haven't done "Cafe Au Lait" yet, I'll have to see if the same proportion works with it.

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