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Waxes Used in the Cosmetics Industry

Nick Morante I would like to conclude by discussing Mineral Waxes (which are part of the natural wax group), then on to Synthetic Waxes and Modified Waxes. All are extremely important and virtually indispensable in the cosmetics and personal care industry today. Mineral Waxes Ozokerite Wax is a bituminous coal product and is of mineral origin. It is found near petroleum deposits in Poland, Austria and Russia, and in the United States in Utah and Texas. Ozokerite is really a microcrystalline wax and is a mixture of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons with high molecular weights. It is compatible with most vegetable waxes and is usually the backbone of most mineral-based sticks. It has a melt point range of 60-90C. Ceresin Wax is really a blend of ozokerites modified by further refining the hydrocarbons contained in them. This was determined in 1875. Ceresin is yet another microcrystalline wax. Microcrystalline Waxes are unique in that they vary greatly in terms of hardness and melt point. They can be soft and pliable or very hard. They can have a high hardness and low melt point and low hardness and high melt point. In fact, using the right combination or blends of two or more microcrystalline waxes, one can custom design a specific melt point wax. The melt point for ceresin and microcrystalline waxes is fairly wide at with a range of 51-75C. Paraffin Wax (Cera paraffinum) is a purified mixture of solid hydrocarbons and is a product of petroleum distillation. They are odorless, colorless and tasteless. The melt point varies greatly as does the hardness depending on the crystal structure obtained in the refining process. The waxes are used primarily in the candle making industry because they burn very cleanly and with less smoke, as do their liquid paraffin counterparts that are used as fuels. There are various grades of paraffin wax with a melt point range of 50-69C. Montan Wax is the last mineral wax I would like to mention. This wax does not see much use but owing to the rise of natural products in our industry, it may soon become more popular. It is mined in Montana in the United States and is a product of lignite or brown coal. It was first discovered in 1897. It is composed of long chain C24-30 carboxylic acid esters. It can be used in mascara due to its ability to impart high shine and water resistance and has a melt point range of 46-60C.

Synthetic Waxes In 1935 the first fully synthetic waxes were produced by the Fischer-Tropsch process. Polyethylene wax has been synthesized by the high-pressure process since 1939, and became available by the low-pressure Ziegler process after 1953. Synthetic waxes are used in cosmetics as substitutes for natural waxes.

___________________________________________________________________________________________ Source: SpecialChem, www.specialchem4cosmetics.com

No where is this more evident that with synthetic spermaceti. Since whaling is outlawed in most parts of the world, a substitute for this elegant was needed. Since the constituent of natural spermaceti is mainly cetyl palmitate, a synthetic substitute was quite easy. It is basically indistinguishable from natural spermaceti. It is basically a mixture of esters of fatty acids in the C14-18 range. Synthetic beeswax is also indistinguishable from natural beeswax in performance, color, its melt point and all the other characteristics desired of beeswax. It also forms stable Borax emulsions like its natural counterpart. Polawax is a mixture of reaction products of stearyl alcohol and ethylene oxide. It is nonionic in functionality and self-emulsifying and is therefore called emulsifying wax due to its property of forming oil-in-water emulsions without the need for auxiliary anionic emulsifiers. There are various types of emulsifying waxes on the market today, but polawax differs in that it stays stable under heating conditions of about 112C for over 2 hours. That's really cooking it. Polyethylenes are a wide group of polymeric materials that function as waxes. I include them because their high and wide range of melt points allows for their use in stick formulations and emulsion-type products where water resistance is required. Most grades of polyethylenes have melt points over 100C, but there are some lower (~ 63-67C) melting point grades. Syncrowaxes are a brand of synthetic waxes that are unique in our industry. They are naturally derived from vegetable out but synthetically produced. They are not a direct replacement for any natural waxes and have characteristics all their own, but are very similar to those natural waxes. They are similar in that they contain fatty acids in the C1836 range. They can form very nice stick formulations and can compete with natural waxes in price, quality and availability. There are many other synthetic waxes on the market today such as Synthetic Candelilla Wax and Synthetic Carnauba Wax and many others are designed to fit the specific need of the cosmetic formulator. These are cost-competitive and as functional when the natural material is not available or cost-prohibitive. Modified Waxes Modified waxes are exactly what the name implies. They are modified natural waxes by means of chemical reactions with additions or subtractions to the existing chemical structure of the molecule. One example is PEG Carnauba. There are many other different types of modified waxes, all differing in function, emulsifying capabilities, melt point, color, and of course cost. Since their function varies greatly, I will only list them for you to get an idea of what wax manufacturers are doing to create a point of difference in the wax industry today. There are a number of beeswax derivatives, which make it desirable in many different applications: PEG-6 Beeswax; PEG-8 Beeswax; PEG-20 Sorbitan Beeswax; PEG-6 Sorbitan Beeswax (melt point range of 59-70C);

___________________________________________________________________________________________ Source: SpecialChem, www.specialchem4cosmetics.com

Siliconyl Beeswax (melt point range of 62-72C)

Kester Wax K82 is a Polyester fraction of Beeswax and has the same unique plastic characteristics as natural Beeswax. Although Synthetic Beeswax is also its INCI Name, it has a higher melt point range of 75-85C. When we talk about Silicone Chemistry, wax manufacturers not only have produced Siliconyl Beeswax, but have also done some interesting work with other waxes and silicones. They have come up with these interesting wax and silicone variations: Siliconyl Candelilla (melt point range of 62-72C); Siliconyl Polyethylene (melt point range of 65-75C)

There are also some unique mineral waxes aside from the work done with polyethylenes. There is Kester Wax K-EM which is a Montan-Glycol Wax (INCI Name: Glycol Montanate) which can be used as a Carnauba Wax replacement and melts in the range of 78-85C. Polyolefins are also a group of waxes that are seeing use today in cosmetics. In closing, there usually is a wax suitable to fit any formulator's need. Whether it is natural beeswax or synthetic beeswax, wax manufacturers are constantly striving for uniqueness in the world of waxes. And I don't think it will stop here. I've worked with many of the waxes mentioned in these articles and I can say that when searching for a high melt material, there was always a wax to fit the need.

___________________________________________________________________________________________ Source: SpecialChem, www.specialchem4cosmetics.com