Type of Ingredient: Texture Enhancer, Emollients
Main Benefits: Helps thicken the product’s consistency, locks in moisture in the skin, protects from free radicals
Who Should Use It: In general, anyone who wants their skin to be smooth and moisturized
How Often Can You Use It: You can use it daily
Works well with: When coupled with other oils for extra hydration
What is beeswax?
Beeswax is a naturally occurring wax produced in the bee’s hives by honeybees A. mellifera. Glands under the abdomen of the bees secrete this wax and it is used to build the honey comb. There are eight glands in the bee abdominal segment (4–7) of female worker bees that produce the wax. The wax is recovered as a by-product when honey is harvested and refined
Beeswax is in all sorts of products, from cosmetics to candles. It’s endlessly useful, both in its applications on the skin and for the way it works in formulations. Though there’s not a wealth of scientific study on what it could do, we know that beeswax works excellently as an emollient and stabilizer. Future studies will tell us if this common ingredient has any other beneficial properties.
In cosmetics and personal care products, Beeswax and the plant waxes are used in the formulation a wide range of products including baby products, bath products, lipstick, makeup, fragrances, coloring, and noncoloring hair products, nail and skin care products, personal cleanliness products, shaving products as well as sunscreen and suntan products.
The Benefits of beeswax
Beeswax and the plant waxes help to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components, especially in cosmetics and personal care products that require a creamy consistency. These waxes also increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion of solid and stick-like products such as lipstick, giving them structure, allowing for a smooth application, and keeping them solid. When used in eye makeup, the waxes stiffen but do not harden the product, and the flexibility and plasticity of the waxes facilitate application. These waxes may also function in depilatory products to remove unwanted hair mechanically.
Beeswax is a wax ester that has occlusive properties. It’s also a gelling agent, film former, plasticizer, and barrier agent. Essentially, it’s a natural ingredient that works well to give formulas the right consistency and coats the skin to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) in the same way that ingredients like petrolatum do.
Beeswax has a slight antioxidant effect, likely due to minor ingredients or propolis, but it’s primarily used because it creates a thin, non-allergenic, protective layer over the skin.
Reports have shown that beeswax may help in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema. Studies involving participants with both disorders used a mixture of beeswax, honey, and olive oil found that this mixture helped to significantly improve symptoms for both disorders.
A mixture of beeswax, honey, and olive oil worked to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans on human skin.
A moisturizer containing beeswax was found to work better than barrier creams when applied after work for dental laboratory technicians who suffer from contact dermatitis.
Beeswax has medicinal benefits to its use in body products as well. Beeswax has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. These three properties make beeswax very helpful for the healing of smaller wounds and injuries and can also be used for slight skin irritations. Beeswax works as an antioxidant and is a good source for vitamin A. This ingredient is great to use when making products specifically for dry and rough skin types because vitamin A promotes hydrating and softening, as well as stimulates cell repair.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review has declared beeswax to be safe for use in cosmetics (International Journal of Toxicology). However, beeswax can preserve and provide a slow-release for ingredients, so it can be good for beneficial ingredients but can do harm when combined with potentially dangerous ingredients.
Beeswax is considered as safe as an additive in food for human consumption. It does not affect the human digestive system. However, in medicines it can help provide a slow-release, making it beneficial in pharmaceuticals.
Ethoxylated derivatives of beeswax, PEGs Sorbitan Beeswax, have been approved in cosmetic formulations up in concentrations up to 11%. These were found to be non-carcinogenic (though they can increase the activity of carcinogens), irritants, or skin sensitizer. The sorbitans were relatively nontoxic when consumed.