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Is Beeswax An Emulsifier?

Is Beeswax An Emulsifier?

People have long been using beeswax in their skincare products. In fact, historians have even seen it in products from 1000 years ago. Due to its soothing and healing properties, beeswax is a prevalent ingredient in natural skincare products. However, that begs the question: is beeswax an emulsifier?

Although beeswax appears like it would trap both water and oil inside, it is not an emulsifier. Beeswax only traps water inside through its viscosity, not its chemical components. Thus, if beeswax is heated, most of the water trapped will be lost and cannot be mixed in again, even when the product is cooled.

Read on to discover all of beeswax’s beneficial properties and what it can be used for.

What is an Emulsifier?

In cosmetics, it would be hard to find a product that didn’t say something along the lines of “hydrating” or “moisturizing.” While hydration may be very popular as a trait of skincare products, hydrating components aren’t very easy to put into cosmetic products.

The two most hydrating ingredients are water-based products and oil-based products. The problem is that these two ingredients don’t like to mix. Emulsifiers are chemical additives that encourage the suspension of one liquid in another.

This is a very common practice and can be found in everyday foods like shortening, ice cream, and salad dressing.

Emulsifiers work by introducing a chemical to a mixture with both a hydrophobic end and a hydrophilic end. The chemical acts like a mediator, allowing both an oil molecule and a water molecule to be suspended in the same mixture without separating.

What do Emulsifiers do in Beauty Products?

In cosmetics, emulsifiers are used to allow for oil-based and water-based ingredients to mix. Hence, the hydrating effect. Although conventional products predominantly use synthetic chemicals as emulsifiers, plant products are often used as well.

In cosmetics, emulsifiers trap water or oil within hair or skin, making it hydrated for longer periods. However, there are pros and cons to emulsifiers, and some dermatologists argue against them.

Pros of Emulsifiers

The most significant benefit of emulsifiers is that they deliver hydration to the skin. In addition, though, they also:

  • Increase absorption of skincare ingredients.
  • Help in prolonging topical delivery

Cons of Emulsifiers

Some dermatologists argue against the use of emulsifiers in skin products because they can:

  • Cause increased water loss and lipid dryness
  • Irritate the skin
  • Cause increased use and decreased efficacy of products

These cons are primarily because emulsifiers don’t lose their emulsifying effect once on the skin and can negatively interact with skin components.

Can Emulsifiers be Mixed with Beeswax?

Because of beeswax’s other beneficial properties, many professionals wish to mix beeswax with emulsifiers in skincare products. This is an excellent option, as beeswax has many other valuable properties for the skin.

Read below to discover the medicinal properties of beeswax in skincare.

Benefits of Beeswax in Cosmetics

Beeswax has been used for thousands of years in cosmetics. Similar to honey, beeswax is seen as a “super product” because of all the beneficial properties it can add to skincare. Some of these benefits include:

  • Hydrates. Beeswax is well known for conditioning, soothing, and calming dry skin.
  • Exfoliates. Unless super highly processed, beeswax often contains natural, gentle exfoliants that aren’t harmful to the environment.
  • Repairs damage & promotes skin regeneration.
  • Diminishes signs of aging
  • Creates a long-lasting protective barrier against environmental pollutants.
  • Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
  • High in vitamin A

In addition, beeswax is used as a thickener, medicated ingredient, and humectant in beauty products. And, although it doesn’t act as an emulsifier, it promotes the stability of emulsifiers.

Can I Use an Emulsifier Instead of Beeswax?

Although beeswax has many beneficial properties, some may not be interested in using it due to vegan preferences, its unique smell, or allergies. Luckily, there are plenty of other high-quality waxes out there to sub in for beeswax.

Emulsifying wax is an excellent option for vegans as high-quality emulsifying wax is only made from plant products. If you wish to get similar benefits from the product, you must ensure that it is the highest quality product available. Many emulsifying waxes are stripped of their beneficial value due to fast production and cost reduction.

You can also use candela (or candelilla) wax as a plant-based alternative. Candelilla wax is sourced from a native shrub of the southwestern United States and Mexico. It has similar medicinal and nutritional properties to beeswax. The largest difference between the two is that candelilla wax is a bit denser, so DIY recipes need to be adjusted to consider that.

Final Thoughts

Beeswax is an excellent alternative to conventional skincare products, as it’s natural, clean, and good for the environment. However, it is not an emulsifier and cannot be used as an emulsifying agent. 

Although the use of emulsifiers is argued, they primarily serve to combine oil-based and water-based ingredients into skincare – creating a long-lasting hydrating effect. Although beeswax is not an emulsifier, it can be mixed with emulsifiers to promote stability and provide several medicinal benefits.

However, there are several alternatives to beeswax in skincare, such as candelilla wax. Whatever you choose to use, though, make sure it is the highest quality product to ensure it’s beneficial for your skin and not damaging.