Beeswax is one of the most important ingredients in home-made cosmetics. Why on earth I haven’t yet written a word about beeswax? Maybe beeswax is just so self-evident that I haven’t even thought about it. However, beeswax is the most versatile ingredient that suits perfectly to the skin. There is so much to tell about the properties of beeswax that it seems to be a long article again.
Beeswax is a natural product
Beeswax is a 100% natural product. You find beeswax in a beehive. It’s exactly the same stuff we buy from stores. Worker bees make beeswax to make honeycomb cells. The main raw material for beeswax is honey. Bees use six pounds of honey to make one pound of beeswax.
The beeswax itself is clear and transparent. Worker bees chew the beeswax which brings propolis to wax. The pollen carried by the worker bees gives to beeswax its clear, yellow colour.
Worker bees do produce a substance called propolis. Propolis is mixed with beeswax during chewing. Propolis is a particularly antimicrobial agent. It is a resinous substance produced by bees by mixing saliva with liquid from the buds of a tree. Propolis is used as a sealant in the construction process of honeycomb cells. The antimicrobial properties of propolis are amazing. The purpose of propolis is to protect the hive of bees from viruses and parasites. Propolis also acts as a sealant, making the nest more durable.
The history of beeswax
Beeswax has been used for thousands of years around the world. Its most popular uses have been
- Beeswax candles and torches
- Furniture and shoe waxes
- Cosmetics, hair waxes, lipsticks, etc.
- Painting, crayons, waxes, etc.
- Medicine, bleeding, tooth replacement
- Textile treatment for waterproofing, oilskin jackets
- The construction industry; sealing wax
Processing of beeswax
The beeswax is ready for use when taken immediately from the nest. Often, however, the wax needs cleaning and refining.
The beeswax is slightly melted to filter out the impurities. The beeswax is mould into sheets, ingots or pellets.
Natural beeswax is deep yellow in colour. Beeswax is also sold bleached.
Use of beeswax in cosmetics
Beeswax is the most common raw material for ointments. Waterless ointments can be solidified without emulsifier using beeswax. Usually the ratio is 80-90% macerated herb oil and 10-20% beeswax in ointments.
Beeswax can be added in small amounts to lotions to bring a suitable texture to the product. Beeswax is very plentiful. Even a small amount gives the cream a protective feature.
Lip creams, stick-like lip balms and lipsticks are very often made with beeswax. Beeswax makes the mixture solid. This keeps the product in good shape. A solid lip balm also makes dosing easier.
Beeswax also acts like an emulsifier. A water-in-oil emulsion made with beeswax needs a really powerful blender. A cream emulsified with beeswax is not very pleasant and its structure does not remain good for very long.
Benefits of beeswax on the skin
Beeswax has an incredible amount of good properties. In skin care, beeswax can be used by and to anyone older than 1 year.
Benefits of beeswax for the skin:
- Antibacterial effect; repels germs from the skin
- Treat scar tissue (combine with cocoa butter and vitamin E to make a scar cream)
- Soothes acne
- soothes irritated skin
- Treat dry skin by retaining moisture
- Moisturizing ingredient that binds moisture to itself
- Protect from wind
- Vitamin A in beeswax helps in cell formation
Beeswax is not for everyone
Although beeswax is a natural product without any artificial ingredients, it is not suitable for everyone. Especially people who are sensitive to resins cannot use beeswax products at all. People who are allergic to beeswax should be cautious. Beeswax can even cause problems that require hospitalization. Do not use beeswax, especially on broken skin, if you have allergies or hypersensitivity.
Bees products are not recommended for babies due to the risk of botulism. The danger is negligible but for babies the disease is fatal. Botulinum is a neurotoxin caused by the bacterium Clostridium. This bacterium is present in the soil and can in theory contaminate honey products. As it multiplies, the bacterium produces a dangerous toxin called botulin (botulinum toxin). Botulin is also used in medicine, for example in cosmetic surgery (Botox).
Is beeswax a responsible product?
Many people think about the ecology of beeswax and responsibility in general. Beeswax is not suitable for a strict vegan lifestyle. After all, its wax made by animals. However, many vegans are flexible for beeswax and honey.
There are many things that affect the responsibility of beeswax. I’ve listed here some things both in favour of and against of the responsibility.
Beeswax is not a responsible product because
- Honey is bee food. It is impossible to collect honey without first removing the beeswax on top. Collecting beeswax is stealing from other species and is disturbing the bee community.
- Some bees will die anyway when wax and honey are taken from the hive
- Taking wax and honey from beehives causes stress to bees. Stress weakens bees’ resistance to various diseases.
Beeswax is a responsible product because
- Beeswax is a 100% natural product and completely biodegradable
- The use of beeswax increases the rearing of bees and thus the number of pollinators
- Beeswax is naturally preserved and improves the shelf life of the product. This way, fewer chemicals are needed.
- There are purely ethical beekeepers existing. They do not collect honey (as in exceptional cases) but keep bees for pollination. Beeswax can sometimes also be found on these farms.
- Raising bees in Finland and China are two different worlds. There are no industrial-scale farms in Finland that use a lot of antibiotics and pesticides.
My own view of beeswax and other honey products is divided
Beeswax is a valuable raw material that should be used sparingly and responsibly. Beeswax should never be wasted. For example, I would not burn beeswax candles. Stunning and scented candles can also be made from soy wax at home. I would also never use crayons or modelling clay made of beeswax. There are plenty of other alternatives to make hobby craft materials for children.
I use beeswax in very small amounts in carefully considered products. Usually I need beeswax for treatment ointments, which I make every fall from herbal extracts. I also use beeswax in lip balms, lip gloss and hand creams. I also make them in the fall for the winter.
When a person perceives the true value of a product, he or she begins to appreciate the product as well. What if bees became the rarest animals in the world? the price of bee products would rise to astronomical sums. Perhaps then we would be able to appreciate this wonderful ingredient enough.