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Guide to Beeswax

Beeswax is the key ingredient in a huge number of skincare and beard products including beard balm and moustache wax. It provides a base for other ingredients, and brings its own unique qualities. Discover why beeswax is used in so many products offered by The English Shaving Company and how it can benefit your skin care routine.

Beeswax on wood board

What is Beeswax?

 

Shaving cream with beeswaxBeeswax is a natural product produced by honey bees. Bees use it to build their hives, creating the well-known hexagonal shapes (the comb) that are then filled with honey or used as housing for developing bees. It’s a rich, waxy substance and is only produced by bees of a certain variety - those belonging to the genus Apis.

Beeswax is mainly produced by the youngest bees in the hive. When a bee gets older and leaves the hive to collect nectar and pollen, the glands that produce beeswax change to make the bee more effective at gathering food. Older bees can still produce wax, but they’re less effective than younger bees. When the hive swarms, all the bees rapidly produce beeswax so they can create a new hive to protect the queen as quickly as possible.

 

 

Harvesting Beeswax

It’s estimated that for every six to eight pounds of honey produced, one pound of wax is made. Because beeswax is produced in relatively small quantities, beeswax for skincare products and other applications usually comes from large commercial beekeepers rather than smaller individual keepers.

There are a number of traditional methods for collecting beeswax including melting the comb over a fire. The honey and wax both drip off into a collection jar. The wax then hardens on top as the substance cools and can be collected. Beeswax can also be sliced directly from the comb.

In commercial beekeeping, the same traditional methods are used, but are often carried out by machines rather than by hand.

 

Grades

The compounds that create beeswax include a lot of different alkanes, acids, polyesters, and hydroxy esters, but the exact makeup of beeswax varies according to location. Bees in different regions produce different kinds of beeswax.

This means that there’s a lot of different standards and grades of beeswax, each lending itself to different uses. Only the highest grades are used in skincare products.

Different colours of beeswax can be a useful way to determine quality. The darkest coloured wax is usually obtained from the brood comb of the hive. Impurities occur more commonly in this area, so this wax is used mainly for lower quality applications. The colour of beeswax also varies according to the geographical location of the hive and the flowers the bees use for nectar.

Aftershave with beeswax

 

Uses for Beeswax

Beeswax has been used for centuries in a huge range of applications which include:

  • Candles
  • The production of food
  • Cosmetics including lipstick and eyeliner
  • Skin care such as moisturisers and balms
  • Hair styling products
  • Shoe polish
  • Making tambourines
  • Art and painting

It’s an extremely versatile, natural substance with many different uses.

 

Layrite with beeswaxBeeswax in Skincare

Beeswax is used in skincare products for a variety of different reasons. It’s a natural barrier cream, making it a great alternative to petroleum jelly when protecting the skin. Balms are often made with beeswax, which is mixed with various moisturising substances such as shea butter. It protects the skin from exposure to the air which can dry it out and lead to further damage. It makes for an extremely effective component in moisturiser.

Beeswax is also used in beard and hair styling products. Because it dries into a hard substance, it creates a natural hold that lasts a long time. Beeswax has a low enough melting point that it softens easily in your fingers without becoming liquid. It can then be applied easily to your beard or moustache, taming stray hairs to achieve your perfect style.

 

Do you use beeswax products in your skincare routine? Let us know your thoughts on it in the comments.

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