Friday, January 13, 2012

Dramatic Metallic Lips: Making your own Lip Tars

Note: All images show D.I.Y. lip tars applied neat using a lip brush, without lip primer, liner or lipstick as a base!
Get your own metallic brown lips with a rich copper-brown pigment like MAC Chocolate Brown.

If you've spent some time being obsessed about OCC Lip Tars, you'll probably be interested to know that the formula is extremely simple. It consists mainly of oils and pigments. There's nothing really magical or all that hard to recreate aside from the color formulations, because matte pigments are harder to work with than metallic ones. 

Arm yourself with:
  • A light vegetable oil (avoid extra-virgin as these have a stronger smell and go rancid faster), jojoba oil, or silicone oil
  • a bunch of pigments in shades that you feel would make great lip colors
  • [Optional] skin-safe essential oils like rose, mint, etc. according to your preference
  • Clean plastic ziploc bag in the smallest size available
  • Small eye dropper bottle
  • Spatula/scoop

The steps are quite idiot-proof:
  1. Drop a scoop of pigment into a small ziploc bag and add about half the volume of oil
  2. Zip up and smoosh everything around, getting everything as smooth as possible. If the formula is too fluid, add more pigments. If there are lumps that refuse to dissipate, then slowly add a drop or two more oil. It's better to add too little oil at the start than too much, as you won't be able to go back if you've used all your pigment and the formula is too sheer.
  3. Test a tiny bit on the back of your hand. You should have a lotion like consistency and the formula can be as opaque or sheer as you want. If you're really going for the lip tar look, make sure it's opaque, but smooth to the touch.
  4. When you're done with the formula, cut the corner off the bottom of the ziploc bag and squeeze the mixture out into a small travel dropper bottle like you would pipe cake icing out of a bag.
And you're done!
Like lip tars, the pigments will settle to the bottom after awhile, so you will need to shake a bit before each use just to re-distribute the pigments.

It goes without saying these work better applied with a lip brush than applied with your fingers or from an applicator tube like actual lip glosses. 

Dark metallic purple home-made lip tar.
One thing to note whether you're using an OCC lip tar or a home-brew is that natural oils tend to absorb into the skin or dry up after a few hours, so the product will start to look less shiny and more matte. If you want a really sticky, high-shine finish, you will need to buy specialty ingredients like Versagel 750 ME, as lip balms and petroleum jelly won't quite cut it, although mineral-based or silicone oils tend to be shinier for longer than organic oils.

Metallic pigments tend to stay true to their finish and shade when suspended in a medium, but if you are working with matte pigments, you'll need to take note that they will always become darker once suspended. What looks like a bright neon pink powder will become a deep magenta once "wet".

To get it to look as light and bright as it does when dry, you will often need to slowly add in white pigment to slowly adjust and make the color "creamier", brighter and paler. If you're working with matte pigments, it's a good idea to have a digital micro-scale to weight how much of each pigment you added, or you will find it exactly hard to mix the exact same shade again once you run out of your current batch.

Electric pink creme-finish lip tar made with matte neon-pink and white pigments.


  1. Grah! Thank you. I felt like I was taking crazy pills for noticing that the Lip Tars are only a few ingredients. They basically look like the oil dispersed pigments and dyes from TKB Trading, just remixed and repackaged.

    1. Hi Michelle, you're more than welcome!
      Yes, the ingredients are so simple, there aren't even any fillers to help suspend the pigments in the oil. It's a bit of a hassle to buy all those ingredients and containers for mixing shades though, so I guess many people will still stick to buying them just for convenience's sake.

  2. Just wondering, what pigment is used in metallic purple lip? It's gorgeous!

    1. Hi Feijoa, I'll have to dig through all my samples and pots to find a name for you once I get home today! (I can't remember off the top of my head as I was just randomly grabbing for interesting shades when I did that post.)

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