Vegan Wax Alternatives for Cosmetics

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So as a business owner who specializes in bath and body products, I’ve been looking into what I can do to make some kinds of products (like lip balm or the current super-secret product I’ll release soon) vegan. Beeswax is a common ingredient in balms, salves, and other cosmetics but many vegans oppose the use of beeswax (which I don’t think they should, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

So I’ve been digging into my stash of waxes, and here’s what I came up with for those who want vegan alternatives to beeswax for DIY cosmetic projects!

  1. Bayberry Wax: This is the wax I decided to go with when I was formulating my new product. Bayberry wax is an aromatic green vegetable wax. It is removed from the surface of the fruit of Myrica cerifera (bayberry or wax myrtle) shrubs by boiling the fruits in water and skimming the wax from the surface of the water. The fragrance of it is subtle, but I love it because it seems to anchor the scent of products exceedingly well. It’s a very brittle, easily breakable wax but once melted with oils it creates a pretty firm but stable product without much of the wax being used. It can be difficult to find and sometimes horribly expensive though, so it may not be something you decide on. I just happen to have some on hand and I don’t use a lot in the final product.
  2. Candelillia Wax: Candelilla wax is a wax derived from the leaves of the small Euphorbia cerifera and Euphorbia antisyphilitica (both called Candelilla) shrubs native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It is a yellowish-brown, hard, brittle, aromatic, and opaque to translucent wax. It gives a very similar feel to beeswax in products, but large amounts in your formulation can make a sticky product. It’s actually one of the main waxes in GCC’s Power Up Primer, which uses its stickiness to great advantage! It’s easy to find and sometimes is cheaper than unrefined beeswax.
  3. Carnauba Wax: Also called Brazil wax and palm wax, carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera (Synonym: Copernicia cerifera), a plant native to and grown only in the northeastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, Maranhão, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Norte. It is known as “queen of waxes” and in its pure state, usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes. It is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm by collecting and drying them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining and bleaching the wax. It’s probably the most similar to beeswax in terms of how much to use for a 1:1 replacement and texture. It’s not hard to find but can be very expensive.
  4. Rice Bran Wax: Rice bran wax is obtained by dewaxing of virgin rice bran oil. It is a pale yellow hard wax available in pellets, beads and powder. It has a nice non-sticky skin feel in emulsions, balms and butters. One of its specific applications is in lipsticks to inhibit syneresis. This wax is between beeswax and carnauba wax in price; it’s a bit pricy, but not exorbitant.

So there you have it! These are the four most common vegetable-based waxes I’ve been able to find if you don’t want to use beeswax. For people who sell or give away their DIY products, these are great if you want to target a wider audience!

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