The number of ingredients that go into our facial moisturizers is fascinating. And in your pursuit of healthy skin and a healthy body, it’s always good to be extra careful with what you apply on your face every day. This time, let’s tackle a seemingly vague ingredient that seems to pop up everywhere, and look at the benefits of emulsifying wax.
What is Emulsifying Wax?
Emulsifying wax has an organic source, but it’s treated so it can be used in cosmetics and moisturizers. The base is extracted from fatty acids and plant oils, creating what is sometimes called vegetable wax. This wax is then mixed with a detergent (a cleanser that dissolves in water), such as sodium dodecyl sulfate, and it becomes an emulsifier.
How Does Emulsifying Wax Work?
In your elementary science classes, one of the first things we learn is that oil and water do not mix. Even if you shake a bottle with oil and water, they will simply separate. Emulsifying wax acts as a binding agent for oil and water, so that they can mix and blend together to make toners, lotions, and of course, facial moisturizers.
What are the Benefits of Emulsifying Wax?
Your facial moisturizer has longer shelf life
Because emulsifying wax is essentially the glue that holds all those important cleansing oils together with water, your facial moisturizer won’t last too long without it. If left too long on the shelf, or if you use it for a longer period than the manufacturer expected, the oils and water will separate. Chances are, one day you’ll tip the bottle over your hand and get a stream of oil before a gloop of water and other ingredients fall out.
With emulsifying wax, the oils and the water will stay blended together. You won’t have to worry about applying as much of it as possible or using it as frequently as possible within a certain time period. That’s quite a convenience win—and a wallet win!
Your facial moisturizer is easier to apply
Facial moisturizers use emulsifying wax to regulate their thickness and creaminess. Some facial moisturizers are runnier than others, some are thicker than others, and it does come down to your preference. However, a creamy moisturizer that holds when you massage it into your skin has more chance of being absorbed. So when you double-check your facial moisturizer ingredients, make sure emulsifying wax is included.
Is Emulsifying Wax Safe?
Emulsifying waxes are originally derived from plant oils, which means they are mostly vegetable-based. One of the emulsifying agents popularly used, called cetearyl alcohol, is also vegetable-based (so don’t worry about the chemical-sounding title). When it comes to the safety-radar of cosmetic regulators, emulsifying wax is the least of their problems.
Does that mean you shouldn’t worry about it? Not really. Even though emulsifying wax is not known to have any irritants even for those with sensitive skin, take note if you start reacting to anything with an emulsifying agent. You might want to try out something without emulsifying wax for a day or two to check if that’s really the ingredient you need to avoid. Otherwise, go for it!