Candelilla Wax: Everything You Need to Know
Been hearing some buzz about candelilla wax lately?
It’s with good reason. Read on to learn more about the various benefits of recharging and repairing with this gentle, powerhouse wax — made popular by many of your favorite bath and body products.
Learn why this wax is vegan-friendly and an indispensable component in clean beauty products.
You might be surprised and excited to know that some of your favorite brands and products use candelilla wax. Some of the biggest names are LUSH Superbalm super scalp treatment, Public Goods’ popular natural dental floss and Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Balm moisturizer for delicate lips.
What is Candelilla Wax?
Candelilla wax is a natural vegetable wax derived from the leaves of the small Candelilla plant grown in the semi-arid regions of northern Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States. Known as a family to a species of flowering plants, it is sometimes called Euphorbia antisyphilitica. Sometimes labeled as Euphorbia Cerifera wax or Euphorbia Cerifera, this wax is detectable by its yellowish-brown color, brittle shell, aromatic nature and opaque, translucent appearance.
Its name translates to “little candle,” an ode to its first use as wax for making candles.
Plant waxes like Candelilla are often included in the development of beauty and personal care products – think haircare, lip care, sun care, lotion bars, skincare, candles, and food products – because they help keep emulsions intact. Acting as a binder to prevent oils and liquids from separating in your favorite creamy products, Candelilla enriches creamy products like cream foundations, rich lip balms, conditioners for curly hair and smoothing wax pomades.
The melting point of Candelilla wax ranges between 156 -163°F, while the saponification value, which measures the average molecular weight of all the fatty acids present in a fat, wax, or resin, typically ranges between 43 and 65.
Candelilla Wax vs Beeswax: What’s the Difference?
Even though plant-based Candelilla (vegetable wax) and beeswax (an animal-derived product) have many of the same beneficial properties, the main difference is that Candelilla is a vegan wax, whereas beeswax is considered to be an animal byproduct. Candelilla wax is also harder than beeswax and typically melts faster under high temperatures.
Candelilla is a popular wax among vegans, as beeswax is secreted by honey bees. In addition, Candelilla is an ideal wax to use if you have an allergy to bees, pollen or honey. But that’s not the only way beeswax and Candelilla wax vary from one another.
Both waxes are suitable for DIY skincare and emollients in your favorite products and have a high melting point (with Candelilla wax having a denser consistency). The two of these natural raw wax ingredients are a staple in developing clean beauty products and consumer packaged goods (CPG), but Candelilla wax is scentless. Beeswax and other waxes typically jave a superior humectant quality (retains more moisture). However, natural or synthetic fragrance oil can be mixed with candelilla wax to evoke a pleasant aroma.
The product texture produced by plant-based Candelilla wax makes it ideal for formulating animal-free, cruelty-free products to naturally shield the skin from harmful environmental stressors (think cruelty-free lip balms).
Candelilla Wax Benefits
Candelilla has many benefits, including serving as a thickening and hardening agent, a synthetics-free emollient and nourishing skin conditioner. Not only effective in binding ingredients, but the unique quality of Candelilla wax also makes it safe for skin. also been found to soothe and soften the skin.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and The Candelilla Institute, “In the cosmetics industry, due to its protective properties, Candelilla wax is indispensable in an important range of formulas used in the production of lipsticks, body lotions, and hair preparations.”
Candelilla wax also has been found to improve the appearance of stretch marks, diminish the signs of aging (i.e.wrinkles and age spot) and relieve dehydrated skin. Studies also indicate that Candelilla can serve as an alternative to developing trans-free products for the food industry.
Considered a treasure for our hair derived “from our own backyard,” the natural complexity of Candelilla Wax makes it a viscosity enhancer, natural skin protector, soothing astringent and odorless skin conditioning agent that can be easily absorbed by the skin. Like Jojoba oil, Candelilla wax is rich in nutrients and can dramatically repair the loss of moisture to the hair and scalp.
It is reported that “Candelilla wax adds lubricity and gloss to hair. [The] Creamy consistency of Candelilla vegetable wax makes it an ideal ingredient for smooth applications in depilatories and in several hair care products including hair conditioners and scalp treatments.”
Versatile and effective, Candelilla Wax provides various uses across the personal care, food, and beauty industries. Used in balms and lotions, it binds ingredients like water and oil to offer suburb hydration and the ability to spread along the body’s surface.
Market research supports that, “Candelilla Wax functions as a barrier agent which avoids the loss of moisture, due to which it’s usually used in the cosmetics and personal care industry, in the products such as lip balms, lotions, moisturizers, etc. [Sic] Inclination towards vegan products gives candelilla wax an advantage over the animal-based waxes.”
Candelilla Wax is regarded as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food. The safety of beeswax and plant waxes has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. Candelilla Wax has been found to be safe for use in lip products, body creams, hair preparations, eyelash masques and body lotion.
Although designed for external use, Candelilla wax has been used as an edible coating and been applied to prolong the shelf-life and safety of apples. There are no known potential side effects of Candelilla wax, but you should always exercise caution, discontinue use and seek medical attention should an allergic reaction arise. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Confectionary News, there are no health risks associated with Candelilla Wax.
Here is the EFSA statement:
“The Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) delivers a scientific opinion re-evaluating the safety of Candelilla wax (E 902). Candelilla wax (E 902) is authorised in the EU as a food additive as a glazing agent. [Sic] This allowed the Panel to conclude that the use of candelilla wax as a food additive with the currently authorised uses would not be of safety concern.”
Nevertheless, pregnant and nursing women, and those with sensitive skin, are advised not to use Candelilla Wax without the advice of their medical professional. Children should not be exposed to the wax unless supervised. If you experience itching, burning, pain, localized swelling of the lips or tongue, immediately discontinue use and seek medical attention.
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No mention of exploitation of Mexican farmers here though, what are your thoughts about this?
I had not heard of this happening (Exploitation of Mexican farmers, per your post.) Do you have a citation, please?
I’m curious about the sustainability of this wax. Will it will cause greater harm if this is wild sourced, or if land is to be cleared to start commercially producing this crop only for it to go out of style/be shown as a danger. Along with mono cropping that our lifestyles rely on (for the sake of convenience and trends).