1. Emollient – Softens and soothes the skin. Prevents water (moisture) loss from the skin
2. Glazing Agent – A waxy coating which provides protection and prevents water loss
3. Preservative – Prevents and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
Beeswax (cera alba) is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. Honey bees use the beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised with honey and pollen cells being capped for storage. When beekeepers extract the honey, they cut off the wax caps from each honeycomb cell with an uncapping knife or machine. Its color varies from nearly white to brownish, but most often a shade of yellow, depending on purity, the region, and the type of flowers gathered by the bees.
Beeswax has many and varied uses. Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. In food preparation, it is used as a coating for cheese; by sealing out the air, protection is given against spoilage (mold growth). Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a glazing agent, which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for some fruits. Soft gelatin capsules and tablet coatings may also use E901. Beeswax is also a common ingredient of natural chewing gum.
Use of beeswax in skin care and cosmetics has been increasing. Beeswax is used in lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams, salves, and moisturizers; and in cosmetics such as eye shadow, blush, and eye liner. Beeswax is also an important ingredient in moustache wax and hair pomades, which make hair look sleek and shiny.