Emulsifying wax is a very popular emulsifier in homemade cosmetics. I wanted to do this article because emulsifying wax is an unknown thing to many. The name of the substance is somehow misleading and many people think it is a natural wax like beeswax. Emulsifying wax has been used for a very long time. That is why a popular name has also been invented for it. In reality, emulsifying wax contains chemical compounds like other emulsifiers. Now, let’s find out what emulsifying wax actually contains.
Emulsifying wax; what is it?
An emulsifying wax is a solid, white, waxy substance. It is combined during the heating process with the oil phase of the emulsion. Emulsifying wax is a very popular and common cosmetic emulsifier. It is used in both washing and care products. The popularity of emulsifying wax is based not only on its versatility but also on its stability and easy use. Emulsifying wax is easy to use even for a beginner. You can make products with a pleasant composition with emulsifying wax. The structure of the product withstands storage and temperature fluctuations well.
Emulsifying wax has nothing to do with natural waxes such as beeswax or candelilla wax
I have heard someone said that an emulsifying wax is a natural wax that emulsifies. This is certainly not true. Sometimes the word wax can mislead us. Emulsifying wax is in no way comparable to natural waxes such as beeswax, candelilla wax or rice wax. In the case of emulsifying wax, the word wax only describes the phase of the product, meaning waxiness. There is no other similarity between these ingredients.
Natural waxes do not contain synthetic chemicals. They cannot be used as an emulsifier, meaning to combine water and oils. Natural waxes are also not detergent surfactants like emulsifying wax.
What chemicals does the emulsifying wax contain?
Emulsifying wax is not an ingredient in natural cosmetics. The chemicals it contains are completely synthetic with the exception of cetearyl alcohol. The emulsifying wax has a slight odour of fatty alcohol. It indicates the cetearyl alcohol contained in the product. Cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol most commonly made from palm oil, and sometimes also from coconut oil.
According to the NF standard, emulsifying wax contains the following chemicals.
- Steareth-20; emulsifying, waxy, fully synthetic chemical
- PEG-150 stearate; emulsifier, PEG compounds may be contaminated
- Polysorbate 60; synthetic surfactant
- Cetearyl alcohol; white, waxy, naturally occurring fatty alcohol
The NF standard is a very old chemical standard. It is from the 1880’s USA. The NF standard indicates the composition of chemicals. In this case the standard specifies the ingredients that the emulsifying wax may contain. That standard does not apply worldwide. That is why there are quite a variety of chemicals for sale under the name of emulsifying wax. The emulsifying wax we see in Europe often contains SLS, a compound called sodium lauryl sulphate, and cetearyl alcohol. SLS is a non-natural cosmetic chemical that irritates and dries the skin.
You can read more about SLS here: SLS in cosmetics, find out the facts and dangers. https://helenatur.com/sls-kosmeteti-assa-tiedosta-faktat-ja-vaarat-2/
What is emulsifying wax used for?
The main applications of emulsifying wax are creams and emulsified detergents. An emulsifying wax is both a surfactant and a detergent. It is used as an emulsifier to combine the fat-soluble portions of the cream with the water-soluble portions. Emulsion creams containing emulsifying wax can also be used as detergents.
In detergents, emulsifying wax is also used as a detergent ingredient. Often, the product may contain other detergent ingredients as well. Emulsifying wax is very popular in industrially made cosmetics precisely because of its versatility. Shampoos as well as shower soaps often contain caring oils. It is desired to compensate for the skin drying effect of the product with oils. The emulsifying wax combines the oil contained in the product with water. Without an emulsifier, the oils in the product do not form a stable emulsion with water.
How can I replace emulsifying wax in homemade cosmetics?
I understand very well the popularity of emulsifying wax. It is an easy, inexpensive and versatile product. You can continue to use emulsifying wax in your products. In this article, I just want to clarify the nature of emulsifying wax. An emulsifying wax is an emulsifier.
- Emulsifying wax is not a substitute for natural or vegetable waxes
- Emulsifying wax is not part of natural cosmetics
- Emulsifying wax is not very gentle on the skin
In case you have used emulsifying wax already in your products and you haven’t noticed any problems, and your passion is not to make 100% natural cosmetics, then you may well continue to use emulsifying wax in your products. The emulsifying wax is in no way toxic. Anyway, get emulsifying wax from a reliable supplier as there are huge quality differences in the products. A product bought cheaply from far away may be contaminated.
Two eco-certified emulsifiers
If you want to change the emulsifying wax to more natural emulsifiers, I warmly recommend you the Olivem 1000 emulsifier. Olivem 1000 is sold as light, waxy flakes that are combined with the oily phase of the cream. Olivem 1000 is a herbal emulsifier made from olive oil. Olivem 1000 contains Cetearyl oleate and sorbitan oleate.
Olivem 1000 is a COSMOS and ECOCER approved, easy to use and stable emulsifier. It does not have a washing property like emulsifying wax. Therefore, it also does not irritate or dry the skin. Olivem 1000 is also suitable for sensitive skin and small children. Olivem 1000 emulsifiers are easy to find in online stores that sell cosmetic ingredients which is a really good thing.
Another similar emulsifier is Vegetal or Montanov 68. Vegetal is sold as white wax pellets or flakes. It is a safe, COSMOS and ECOCERT approved emulsifier. Vegetal contains cetearyl alcohol and cetearyl glucoside. Vegetal gives the creams a wonderful skin feeling and texture. Vegetal applications and principle are similar to Olivem 1000. Vegetal is not a very common emulsifier in Finland. If you want to try Vegetal, you have to order it from abroad.
What is your favourite emulsifier?
Aloe Vera, one of the most popular ingredients in cosmetics
Aloe Vera does not need a lot of introduction. Most of us have used it in some kind of form in skincare. Some of us have even drank the Aloe Juice. It takes care of intestines based on same principles as in skincare. You can use Aloe Vera as an ingredient in home cosmetics to replace other liquids either partly or completely.
How to use aloe vera in skincare:
- Slimy Aloe Vera gel is a great moisturizer of the skin
- Aloe Vera gel is slightly antiseptic, good for acne and sunburn
- Aloe Vera gel nourishes the skin
- Aloe Vera contains plenty of vitamins that benefit the skin
- Aloe Vera has anti-aging features
Aloe Vera contains a polysaccharide called acemannan , a vehicle helping cells to get nutrients. The effect of Aloe Vera is mainly based on the acemannan compound. It allows vitamins and others, perhaps thousands of other effective substances to do their job.
Aloe Vera gel is often the basic material for after-sun lotions.
The gel is antiseptic and works very well for cooling down the skin. In herbal medical treatment the gel was used even to cure severe skin burns. One of the legends tells that Alexander the Great gave orders to plant Aloe Vera close to the future battlefields. So the first aid was close when medical herbs were needed to heal wounds. A good habit is to have some Aloe Vera gel as ice cubes in the freezer, they are excellent first aid for burns.
Nowadays the best reason to use Aloe Vera as a basic ingredient for home cosmetics is its outstanding ability to moisturize the skin. The itself is naturally moisturizing because it contains a lot of slimy compounds. These compounds do moisturize the skin very effective. Spread the gel on your skin as it is, without adding anything in it, and let it affect about 20 minutes. This is how to deep-moisturize your winter-dry skin. A protecting day cream after aloe vera mask will keep the skin moisturized. You can also mix other ingredients with the gel like colloidal oatmeal, honey or herb extracts and prepare more effective mask.
How to use aloe vera in haircare
- Aloe Vera gel prevents hair loss
- Aloe Vera contains saponins that keep sculp and hair clean
- Aloe Vera gel moisturizes the sculp and hair
- Aloe Vera gel nourishes and repairs the sculp
- Aloe Vera makes hair more flexible and prevents hair breaking off
It is worth of trying Aloe Vera gel in case your sculp is damaged. It contains plenty of enzymes. Some of them are used to fix the epithelium of sculp. If your sculp feels itchy you can try it for a small area. Feeling itchy or tickle may be a symptom of eczema or some other sculp disease. In that case Aloe Vera is not suitable cure and can even make things worse.
You can use Aloe Vera gel as a shampoo. It contains some saponins. Saponins are natural surfactants meaning they are naturally cleaning compounds. Wash your hair using Aloe Vera gel in case your hair feels too dry. Aloe Vera is also good for greasy hair because it cools down the sculp and prevents the excretion of tallow.
Everyone of us have experienced a moment(s) of extraordinary hair loss
Most common reasons are either stress or hormonal reasons. Sometimes the reason can be as simple as too dry air inside the office and home. Aloe Vera moisturizes very effective the sculp and even repairs it. In case hair loss is bothering you it is worth of trying Aloe Vera gel as a basic material for hair masks. Take a look at recipes-page. You can find a useful hair mask recipe for trying.
Because Aloe Vera is so moisturizing it brings the moisture to hair also. The gel has very positive effect to keratin which is hair’s own protein. Well moisturized hair is flexible and will not break off easily. You can use Aloe Vera gel as it is straight to the hair and sculp. Add the gel to clean, wet (not dropping wet) hair and let it affect under a cap about 30 minutes. After this, shower your hair and sculp. Aloe Vera gel is naturally sour (pH 4,5 – 5,5) so you do not need any sour flush or conditioner after Aloe Vera treatment.
Aloe Vera gel contains plenty of nutrients, proteins and enzymes for hair and sculp
You can possibly improve the growth of hair by regular Aloe treatment. Although the biggest impact to haircare is coming from inside of your body there is no reason to underestimate the outer treatment. Aloe Vera is 100 % natural product without any chemicals. It is very good alternative to industrial haircare products.
From where can I get Aloe Vera gel
Own Aloe Vera Plant
Best source for Aloe Vera gel is your own Aloe Vera plant, it has all effective compounds intact. If you use the gel soon after preparation you will not lose any important ingredient.
Get your own Aloe Vera and let it grow in a pot near window to guarantee sunlight. Aloe Vera is easy to take care of. Just do not give it too much water and let it enjoy sunlight.
When the plant is big enough you can cut one leaf.
Cut carefully the stem away using sharp knife. The leaf will leak yellow bile liquid that is very harmful to your skin. Do not let even a drop into your gel.
Cut both sides of the leaf away. After that you can remove both upper part and below part of the leaf.
You should have a thin slice of bright gel in your hand.
Crush the gel using a fork or any other tool in order to get a clear paste.
The paste will last in a fridge about a week. Do not use plastic container, a glass one is best. You can improve the shelf life up to one month by adding ascorbic acid to the gel.
You can always freeze the gel; small ice cube boxes are good.
How to use aloe vera powder
You can buy Aloe Vera powder from several shops and online shops selling compounds and materials for diy- cosmetics. The powder is usually very strong. Mixing ratio is 1:200. It means roughly that from 1 gram of the powder you will get 2 deciliters gel. The powder has been criticized because it is heavily refined. There are not necessarily all effective ingredients left anymore.
Aloe Vera juice
You can buy also bottled Aloe Vera. It is foodstuff-qualified juice so it is even more pure than the powder. Because it is virgin quality (cold-pressed) it contains more effective ingredients than powder. There are controversial opinions as well. Preservatives are added to the juice like ascorbic acid and citric acid.
Could Aloe Vera gel be harmful or dangerous to your health?
This is a good question. We can be allergic to anything and everything or be oversensitive. So, it is better to test the gel first in a small area of your skin. Allergic reaction may follow in days so be patient. In case there is no reaction it is still better to start with smaller areas. This goes as well with juice, it is better to test it on your skin first before drinking.
If you have an Aloe Vera plant in your home never use just cut Aloe Vera direct to your skin or eat it. Most probably there are at least some remains of yellow bile liquid which is very harmful. This yellow bile liquid is sometimes used as a very strong laxative. Always follow instructions given above when dealing with Aloe Vera.
There are some lousy quality Aloe Vera products for sale, mainly briquets for internal use which may cause serious symptoms to some people. Be aware of the quality of your purchases.
Aloe Vera is widely used in many kinds of cosmetic products. Generally, it has not caused serious oversensitive reactions. If you do not get allergic reactions from cosmetic products you most probably will not get any from Aloe Vera either.
Your own comments about Aloe Vera would be highly appreciated.