The optical density of pristine graphene is high and broad in the near infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum positioning this material as a highly efficient photothermal agent for in vivo applications. In this study, surfactant assisted exfoliated graphene was incorporated within bulk lipid samples of varying lipid types: glyceryl monoether, glyceryl monooleate and phytantriol. The pristine graphene sheets did not disrupt the packing of the liquid crystals while being in sufficiently intimate contact to provide localized heating and induce phase transitions. The phase progressions induced through heating using NIR irradiation of the entrained graphene particles within the bulk liquid crystal were studied using SAXS and confirmed using polarized optical microscopy. Increases in apparent temperature experienced by the matrix of up to 50 °C were observed by establishing a SAXS versus bulk temperature calibration curve allowing in situ measurements. The studies demonstrate the potential for use of graphene as a photothermal actuator across a range of lipid based systems of interest in controlled drug delivery.