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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Violet Leaf Lip Balm

Jan Berry
Hobby Farms Guest Blogger

Violet Leaf Lip Balm - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife

One of the first flowers to pop up around my house each spring is the shy and humble, yet highly useful, violet.

Often overlooked or considered pesky weeds, violets actually possess some pretty impressive qualities. The edible flowers are high in vitamin C and can be candied or added to salads, while the leaves have traditionally been used in herbal remedies to treat a variety of conditions ranging from sore throats and congestion, to constipation and skin irritations. The science community is studying violet extracts for their promising anti-cancer benefits and to treat hypertension.

Violet Leaf Lip Balm - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife

In this project, we're going to harness the tradition of using violet leaves on damaged skin to make a soothing lip balm, perfect for healing lips that have been battered by this winter's harsh weather.

Violet-Leaf Infused Oil
Before making this lip balm, first make a violet-leaf infused oil. To do so, gather up several handfuls of fresh, unsprayed violet leaves. Rinse lightly, if needed, then spread out in a single layer on clean dishtowels or paper towels. Let them air dry for at least one to two days, turning once or twice during that time.  This will allow most of the water content to evaporate from the leaves, reducing any chance of spoilage.

Violet Leaf Lip Balm - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife

Once the leaves are dried, fill a mason jar about half way with them. Pour a light oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, into the jar until it's almost full. If using freshly dried leaves, I secure a layer of cheesecloth over my jar with a rubber band so that any residual traces of moisture can evaporate. If using leaves that have been dried for several weeks or longer, I cap with a regular canning lid. Tuck this oil away in a dark cupboard for about four weeks, shaking occasionally.

If you'd like to speed up the process, set the uncovered jar in a saucepan filled with a few inches of barely simmering water. Let it steep in this makeshift double boiler for a few hours, monitoring carefully to ensure the oil doesn't overheat.

Once your oil has finished infusing the slow or speedy way, strain out the spent leaves, and store in a cool, dark place. The shelf life of this oil is about one year. It makes a great addition to salves, balms and soaps.

Making the Lip Balm
To create this lip balm, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 3½ T. violet-leaf infused oil
  • 1/2 T. castor oil
  • 1 T. shea or mango butter
  • 1 T. beeswax
  • 5 to 10 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)
  • alkanet root for a natural tint (optional; see directions under "Tinting Your Lip Balm”)
Violet Leaf Lip Balm - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife

Combine the oils, butter and beeswax in a small, heat-proof container. You can recycle a tin can for this purpose to make cleanup easier. Set the heat-proof container in a saucepan containing a few inches of water, and heat to almost a simmer.

Once the ingredients have melted together, remove from heat, and add peppermint essential oil, if desired. Pour into small tins or lip balm sliders and allow to cool, undisturbed.

Cap, label and store in a cool, dark place. Use in six to nine months for optimal freshness.

Tinting Your Lip Balm

Violet Leaf Lip Balm - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/The Nerdy Farm Wife

I use an alkanet infusion to tint my lip balms. To make your own, combine 1/2 tablespoon of dried alkanet root with 2 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil in a small glass container. Cover and let this infuse for a couple of days before straining. 

To tint to the color shown in the photo above, I added 1/4 teaspoon alkanet-infused oil to the batch. You can adjust the amounts as you wish to get shades varying from light pink to dark red.  Keep in mind, pregnant and nursing moms should not use products containing alkanet root.

Notes for Success
This lip balm recipe fills five to six 1/2-ounce round tins. It's designed to be applied with your fingertips from a small container.

To obtain a firmer texture for lip balm tubes, decrease the amount of violet leaf infused oil by 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. Conversely, if you'd like a softer consistency than the recipe makes, remelt and add extra oil. 

Don't feel limited to using just olive or sunflower oil. You can also try jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, hemp, apricot kernel or tamanu oil.

Cocoa butter can be used instead of shea or mango butter, but be aware of potential allergy that manifests itself as redness or worsening of chapped lip conditions. You can also completely leave out the butter portion of the recipe, for a different type of lip balm.

To make this lip balm vegan, substitute the beeswax with 1/2 tablespoon candelilla wax.

The castor oil in this recipe gives lips a smooth, glossy look and feel. If you'd like a more matte texture, replace it with additional violet leaf infused oil.

Jan Berry at The Craft 

Hub
About Jan Berry
Jan is a goat-chasing, soap-making, homeschooling farm wife who loves vintage tea cups, word games and turning weeds into beautiful things. She joins the Craft Hub each month with DIY body care recipes and projects. She can also be found at her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife.

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Violet Leaf Lip Balm

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Reader Comments
Hi Daisy,
Castor oil is a little thicker and stickier than other carrier oils, which adds to the texture of the final balm, however, you can substitute any of your favorite carrier oils in its place. Great ones for skin include sesame oil, jojoba oil and coconut oil.
Hobby Farms Editor, Lexington, KY
Posted: 6/16/2014 7:33:31 AM
I am not a big fan of castro oil. Is there another oil I can substitute in it's place.
daisy, highland lakes, NJ
Posted: 6/14/2014 9:06:28 AM
I didn't realize violets had so many uses!! Good read!
Michelle, Saint Clair, MI
Posted: 4/4/2014 7:08:39 AM
Lots of violets are beginning to bloom in the woods. I usually use them to make violet tea, but have to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing!
Frani, near Tallahassee, FL
Posted: 3/8/2014 2:15:10 PM
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