Beeswax has been used for countless years for a wide assortment of commercial, cosmetic, and medicinal benefits. Originally, beeswax was the only form of wax that was used commercially in candles. In fact, ‘wax’ itself derives from the Old English word ‘weax,’ which exclusively referred to the European honey bee (Tulloch 47). Many beeswax uses in ancient cultures had to do with dry skin. Produced only by worker honey bees, it is no wonder beeswax is often considered a high-quality ingredient for many different products on the market.
A Brief History of Beeswax
The use of beeswax has been documented in many ancient cultures. For example, the Egyptians used beeswax for pharaoh mummification as well as to preserve paintings. Similarly, ancient Persians and Romans used the wax for embalming and death masks, respectively. Even the Greek classic of Icarus involved the use of beeswax to make the feathered wings which melted upon the heat of the sun. Later on, beeswax became popular in Christianity when the Roman Catholic Church decreed the use of natural beeswax for church candles (Bogdanov 1-2).
Historical medical uses of beeswax have also been documented throughout the ages. One of China’s famous books of medicine from the 1st through the 2nd BC indicates that beeswax was a top ingredient in the field of medicine for treatment of blood and energy imbalances: “[beeswax] is praised for its beneficial influence on blood and energy systems and the overall balance of the body. The author attributes beauty enhancement and anti-aging properties to beeswax. Combined with other ingredients it is applied to the skin for treating wounds and as a health food for dieting” (Bogdanov 2).
What is Beeswax?
As previously mentioned, beeswax is a byproduct of worker honey bees. According to the Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research & Extension Consortium, these bees have unique glands which help them create and mold cells into pure beeswax combs. The wax is initially white, but frequent bee activity within the busy hive, as well as the pollen they carry to and fro, darkens the beeswax (Beeswax 1). The beekeepers can then either melt the beeswax and honey to extract it from the hive, or they can use a mechanical extractor to extract the honey while leaving the wax comb intact (Ediriweera and Premarathna 180). By the time a beekeeper removes the beeswax and melts it, the wax appears bright yellow.
Beeswax’s Commercial Properties
In the modern world, beeswax is used similarly to how it was used thousands of years ago. Because beeswax is so versatile, there are endless ways in which one can make use of it. A few common commercial products that have historically implemented beeswax as key ingredients are candles and art supplies. Candle beeswax products are valuable today because, unlike cheaper wax candles, beeswax candles have a high melting point and do not warp from higher temperatures (Bogdanov 6). In the art world, beeswax could also be used as a glossy varnish and polish.
Medicinal and Cosmetic Beeswax Uses
Because beeswax is made by honey bees, it can cost up to 3 times more than vegetable waxes (Tulloch 47). It is, however, well worth its price, especially for the beeswax face cream benefits it potentially has to offer in comparison to cheaper alternatives. According to Stefan Bogdanov, “when formulated and used correctly in cosmetic formulations, beeswax will not cause a problem or clog the pores, but brings a host of very positive attributes, such as general healing and softening, as an antiseptic, and an emollient to cosmetic products” (Bogdanov 10). Beeswax for skin may be a superior way of hydrating the skin without clogging it, and it is easily removable, potentially keeping one’s skin free of thick, oily residue.
Unfortunately, beeswax is not as popular as an ingredient in cosmetics due to a beeswax scarcity that took place during World War II. Companies found cheaper ways to make cosmetic products and continue to use those cheaper ingredients today as opposed to high-quality ingredients that work better. MAAREC states that “lanolin (from wool) and paraffin were developed for cosmetics and because they are cheaper today, beeswax has been replaced in many commercial cosmetic preparations. Neither are as stable or beneficial for the skin” (Beeswax 3). Therefore, a product with beeswax for skin in its ingredients may be better than that of cheaper products that lack beeswax and contain the potentially less-effective lanolin or paraffin.
Possible Ways To Use Beeswax For Skin
It is relatively easy to make one’s own beeswax moisturizing creme. All you need is beeswax and an oil of your choice, such as coconut or olive oil. Add 5 parts of the beeswax to 3 parts of your selected oil and gently heat in a jar of simmering water so that they blend together evenly. You may use this beeswax for skin, make a beeswax cream that may be effective on hands, or a beeswax body cream that may noticeably repair dry skin.
If you don’t have the time to make your own, or if you prefer a product that has more high-quality moisturizing ingredients, then there are plenty of products on the market that have beeswax as a main ingredient. To potentially use beeswax for wrinkles, in particular, organic beeswax for skin is your go-to choice and is best found in stores that sell high-end beeswax skin cream for possibly helping with dry skin. There are also fancy beeswax for skin hand cremes that have essential oils and vitamin E added to them that might make your hands smell wonderful. The many ways in which beeswax may be used are endless, and your body just might thank you with glowing, vibrant skin, no matter what options you choose!
*Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research & Extension Consortium, vol. 3, no. 9,MAAREC, Jan. 2005, pp. 1-5, agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/wp- content/uploads/2010/03/Beeswax.pdf. Accessed 31 Dec. 2017.
Bogdanov, Stefan. “Beeswax: History, Uses, Trade.” Bee Product Science, April 2016, pp. 1-17, www.researchgate.net/publication/304012171_Beeswax_History_Uses_Trade. Accessed 30 Dec. 2017.
Ediriweera, E. R. H. S. S., and N. Y. S. Premarathna. “Medicinal and Cosmetic Uses of Bee’s Honey – A Review.” Ayu, vol. 33, no. 2, PMC, 2012, pp. 178–182, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3611628/. Accessed 31 Dec. 2017.
Tulloch, A.P. “Beeswax Composition and Analysis.” Bee World, vol. 6, issue. 2, Prairie Regional Laboratory, 1980, pp. 47, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0005772X.1980.11097776. Accessed 31. Dec. 2017.