Also known as cera alba, beeswax, is a vital ingredient in the cosmetic industry, one of the largest users of beeswax. Beeswax can be found in a wide range of cosmetics ingredients such as honey, wax, propolis and royal jelly.
Almost 4,000 of Britain’s best-loved cosmetics are reliant upon the honeybee for their production. Worryingly, the British honey bee is dying out and with the honeybee gone many of our must-have beauty products, including 643 brands of mascara, 589 lipstick products and at least 453 moisturisers, would cease to exist, according to The Co-operative Group.
In some areas of the UK, honeybee numbers have dropped by as much as 80 per cent, while bumblebees across the country have declined by 60 per cent since 1970.
Beeswax is one of the oldest cosmetic materials known to man. Its functions as a preserve and a barrier against air and moisture have long been noted. Ancient Egyptians, including Cleopatra, regularly used beeswax in a wide variety of beauty products, from skin creams to lipsticks and nail polishes. Cleopatra also used it in combination with fragrant oils as a dressing for her hair as well as in soaps for the luxurious baths for which she was well known.
Beeswax is a by-product of the bee pollination process. Without bee pollination, many of our favorite products would cease to exist, including some of the best-sellers below:
• Max Factor Lipfinity
• Nair hair removal products
• Wella shockwaves styling cream
• L’Or?al Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara
• Lancome DEFINICILS High Definition Black Mascara
• Dior Diorshow Black Out Mascara
• The Body Shop Shea Body Butter
• Nivea Visage Anti Wrinkle & Firming Cream
Number of cosmetics products containing beeswax
MASCARA 643 products
LIPSTICK 589 products
MOISTURISER 453 products
LIP GLOSS 400 products
FACIAL MOISTURISER 211 products
LIP BALM 482 products
EYELINER 196 products
CONCEALER 156 products
HAND CREAM 139 products
Beeswax is comprised of complex polysters and hydroxy fatty acids making it a great thickening and binding agent and emulsifier whilst also possessing fantastic oil retaining and water proofing capabilities. So, it provides structure, improves texture and lays a protective barrier on the skin.
From a dermatological point of view, beeswax is well tolerated by the skin, adds to skin softness and elasticity, and rarely causes sensitivity problems. Beeswax also contains natural antibacterial and germicidal agents and antioxidants.
The Co-operative Group has launched its Plan Bee campaign, a 10-point plan to save the honeybee and prevent the decline in population, which would have a direct effect on the cosmetic industry.
In addition, The Co-operative will make available ?150,000 for research into the decline of the honeybee. This is the UK’s largest ever private donation for bee research, and will pay particular attention to UK farming practices, the impact of pesticides and the restricted gene pool bees are derived from. In the spring of 2009, The Co-operative Farms will commence a three-year research project that will seek to identify the optimal mix of wildflowers that can be sown (in field margins and on set-aside) to attract and support honeybees.
Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative said: ”Nature’s number one pollinating machine appears to be breaking down and no one knows for sure why. But it’s not just pretty gardens that are at stake; one third of the average diet relies on honeybees and beeswax is a staple ingredient in the majority of beauty products available on the market today.”
“The great thing, though, is that we can all do our bit to turn things around. Whether it’s a lush rural retreat or tiny urban window box, we can plant and garden in ways that help the honeybee thrive. At The Co-operative we have more than three million members and we hope to educate and empower them to be ambassadors for Plan Bee.”