The relationship between man and bees dates back to Paleolithic times or the time when our ancestors were primarily hunter gatherers. Armed with nothing but sticks and stones, these men and women would try to chase bees away and return later to empty honeycombs to gather honey. Cave paintings depict men collecting honey and what is perceived to be honeycombs. Beeswax may have very well been discovered then, though no reports exist to prove so. Today, there are records showing the special relationship early Egyptians shared with beeswax. Let us study some historical uses and medicinal benefits of beeswax, particularly in skincare.
Beeswax is the remnant of honeycomb after the honey has been removed. Galen, a Greek physician from the 2nd Century, used beeswax to make the first cosmetic emulsion of almond oil, rosewater and beeswax. Today, this formula is used, more or less in the same manner, as a basis of creams, pomades and balms. Unbleached beeswax contains bee propolis and other nutrients that guard against skin infections. It also creates a protective barrier to heal dry skin and minor injuries. Beeswax contains 284 different compounds like long chain alkalis, acids, esters, polyesters and hydroxy esters. The exact composition of beeswax varies from place to place.
As stated before, there are no definite records showing us that Stone Age ancestors used beeswax. However, early Egyptians recognized its value in embalming and mummification. Beeswax helped make the coffins airtight and preserved the mummified remains. Later, Egyptians started using beeswax with tallow and essential oils of myrrh, henna, cinnamon, thyme, sage and rose, etc. to make perfumes. About 2000 years ago, Chinese people discovered the medicinal benefits of beeswax. Many ancient records of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) mention beeswax’s influence on blood and energy systems of the body. TCM practitioners also used beeswax in wound healing and as a dietary supplement. Roman churches then started allowing only beeswax candles and Marco Polo, the great explorer, reportedly gifted beeswax as a tribute to kings.
Not much research has been conducted on beeswax but what little has been, shows that it has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, germicidal, skin softening and elasticity enhancing properties. Due to its anti-oxidant nature, it has the ability to scavenge free radicals. Depending on its source, beeswax is non comedogenic-meaning that it won’t clog up pores. Reports about sensitivity or allergic reactions to beeswax in skincare products are extremely rare.
Thanks to technology, it is a lot easier to use beeswax today mainly as an emulsifier in water-in-oil emulsification processes. It helps provide a waxy texture to lip balms, lipsticks, creams, and pomades. When applied to the skin, it creates a barrier forming a network instead of film which prevents moisture loss. Here are a few examples of diverse ways in which we use beeswax:
Thanks to silicone molds available today, beeswax easily shapes into beautiful, intricate candles. Not only commercially, people also use it at home to create beautiful candles as hobby crafts or for gifting purposes. Candle making is a small scale industry today providing a means of livelihood to many men and women. It is believed that beeswax candles emit negative ions into the air, cleansing and purifying it. Unlike paraffin candles, beeswax candles do not release toxic chemicals and burn beautifully and cleanly.
Decorative wall hangings made with beeswax have a wonderful aroma that can be further enhanced with the use of essential oils.
The use of beeswax in lip balms and lip sticks provides moisture to keep lips healthy, soft and supple.
Many beauty products contain beeswax and you can find it in soaps, mascara, lotions, moisturizing body creams and salves. It has also been used as thickener and occlusive (retardants of moisture loss) for millennia. Hair pomades and dreadlock waxes contain beeswax to prevent dryness. Beeswax blended with essential oils makes an excellent beard balm. Apply the blend to your beard and hair to keep frizziness at bay. No wonder commercial beard products all contain beeswax. Beeswax protects against the effects of dehydration and can be used as a natural anti-aging agent. It can protect the skin from dryness, pollution, diaper rashes, burns, psoriasis and other skin care issues.
Use this wonderful natural ingredient to lubricate your fly fishing line and keep it from tangling. You can also use it to lubricate window and door hinges.
Beeswax acts as protective agent on leather items and prevents rust formation on iron cookware. Dip a rag in melted beeswax and wipe down leather boots, gloves, jackets and purses to keep these items looking brand new. Also apply to pots and pans to prevent rusting.
Got young ones who eat crayons? Why not make your own non-toxic ones at home? Melt beeswax and add your favorite food color. Shape using mold. You can also create lip balm and lipsticks in a similar manner.
Fill up small holes in wooden furniture and use a mixture of beeswax and resin to etch glass.
Many food preparations consist of beeswax. It imparts texture to gummy bears and jelly candy. A bakery confectionary item called Caneles De Bordeaux also consists of beeswax.
Beeswax can be considered the miracle from the honeycomb. It is naturally antimicrobial and has been used for centuries as a medicine. Beeswax candles emit a natural scent that not only relaxes our senses but also purifies the air. Commercial cosmetics, medicinal formulations and skin care products often use beeswax for its ability to impart texture and stability.
Our products that contain beeswax:
The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More by Christine J. Dalziel
Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by M. Varinia Michalun and Joseph C. DiNardo
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