What is a wax?

What is a wax?

Waxes are a group of materials derived from natural, petroleum, mineral or synthetic origin with the following general properties:

  • Solid at 20°C, varying from soft to hard.
  • Water repellent.
  • Relatively low melting points (40-100°C).
  • Low viscosity slightly above the melting point.
  • Consistency and solubility strongly temperature dependent.
  • Varies from large macro crystals to very fine microcrystals.

Why are waxes used in cosmetics?

Waxes have different functions and impart different characteristics in cosmetics:

  • Emulsifier – The ability of wax to act as a stabiliser of a water/oil emulsion.
  • Thickener – The modification of the viscosity of the emulsion which may act as a consistency regulator.
  • Emollient – The softening of the feel of the product upon the skin.
  • Lubricant – The property of the wax to create a hydration feel on the skin.
  • Moisture barrier – Waxes provide moisture barrier both from external moisture (water repelling) and by preventing moisture loss in the skin (occluding) by its film forming
  • Structuring Agent – Creates order within a product, typically stick materials.
  • Hardness adjuster – The modification of surface hardness which typically results in increased strength.
  • Oil Binding – The ability of the wax to prevent the oils from sweating or migrating out of the product.
  • Gelling – The thickening of the oils in the cosmetic product.
  • Melting Point Modifier – Creates thermal stability of the cosmetic product.
  • Plasticiser – The ability of the wax to create flexibility in a structure by reducing brittleness.
  • Slip – The smooth feel imparted by the wax when the product is applied across the body or lips.
  • Gloss – The modification of the surface of the product to have a shiny finish.

Categories of waxes

Petroleum Waxes

Petroleum waxes are derived from lube oil refining and are purified extensively to allow for safe use.

Paraffin Waxes

Paraffin waxes are refined mixtures of solid linear hydrocarbons C20 – C45, with predominantly n-alkanes (50–90%). Paraffin wax has a lower oil binding capacity than Microcrystalline wax but is an excellent oil gelling material.

Microcrystalline Waxes

Microcrystalline waxes are refined mixtures of solid linear and branched hydrocarbons. Microcrystalline waxes have predominantly branched structures, with minor n-alkanes content (10-60%). Because of its ability to bind high amounts of oil (more than other waxes), microcrystalline wax finds use in practically all types of cosmetics and is particularly useful in lip balms and lipsticks to prevent “sweating”.

Ozokerite Waxes

For cosmetic and pharma applications, formulated blends of petroleum waxes have replaced the naturally occurring mineral wax Ozokerite, as original Ozokerite is no longer commercially available. The original Ozokerite wax was obtained from bituminous coal. The chemistry was a blend of linear hydrocarbons (paraffin) and branched hydrocarbons (microcrystalline wax), but it had darker colour and odours due to contaminants. The formulated Ozokerite products are chemical equivalents to the naturally occurring material but are more highly purified from contaminants.


  Paraffin wax – FR Intermediate wax (ceresin & ozokerite alternatives) Micro wax
Crystal structure macro intermediate micro
% Iso alkanes 10 – 20 20 – 40 60 – 90
Colour white white White/yellow
Melting point °C 50-65 62 – 82 65 – 90
Penetration (hardness) (dmm) 12 – 18 10 – 30 6 – 60


Natural Waxes

Vegetable Waxes are of various qualities that occur as coatings on leaves, stems, fruits and grasses. Most of these waxes are produced in tropical or arid climates where the wax helps prevent moisture from escaping from the plant. Pure vegetable waxes are soluble in most non-polar solvents. They are usually high molecular weight fatty acid glycerides that do not become rancid.

Most popular vegetable waxes are as follows:

Carnauba Wax (Copernicia cerifera) obtained from the leaves of the ‘tree of life” in Brazil. This very popular and possibly the most widely used wax in the world sees most of its applications in lipsticks, mascara, eyeliner and different types of polishes where shine is desired.

Japan Wax is a protective coating on the berries of several varieties of Japanese sumac trees. Most of its use in lip and eyeshadow sticks.

Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia Cerifera) is obtained from a reed-like plant in northwest Mexico and the southwestern United States. It is used mainly in lipsticks and mascara.

Rice Bran Wax is derived from bran which is removed from rice. It is used mainly in lipsticks and creams.

There are still other natural waxes that see little use for now: soy wax, orange wax, sunflower wax, lemon peel wax, grapefruit wax, are just a few of the natural waxes that have become available recently.


The two most common Animal Waxes that are listed for cosmetic use today are Beeswax and Spermaceti:

Beeswax (Cera Alba) is secreted by the honey bee and is a building product for the hives. The wax is then bleached to arrive at its desired colour: either yellow or white. Beeswax is mainly composed of myristyl palmitate and a small amount of hydrocarbons and organic acids. It has a melt point range of 61-65ºC.

Spermaceti is the wax obtained from the head cavity and blubber of the sperm whale. Due to the outlawing of whale hunting in most parts of the world, spermaceti wax is no longer used in cosmetics. Since it is predominantly cetyl palmitate, synthetic spermaceti has become the main replacement for this wax.

Who is Paramelt?

A S Harrison & Co are proud to be partnering with Paramelt, a global manufacturer of speciality wax blends for a range of applications including food, cosmetics and packaging. Established in 1898 the company operates eight manufacturing and R&D facilities in the Netherlands, UK, USA and China. Through their global presence, Paramelt has strong global positioning in sourcing strategic raw materials. Combined with their multiple manufacturing locations, this offers enhanced supply chain security to our customers. The Paracera™ waxes for cosmetics and personal care applications are recognised by leading brand owners for high quality and consistent performance. The range consists of petroleum wax blends, natural waxes and specialty narrow-cut materials. The Paracera™ waxes are produced in FSSC 22000 certified food grade facilities.

Paramelt work closely with their customers by bringing their knowledge and expertise to the development and production process. This long-established know-how and experience can be found in every department of the company and results from many years in the business. Throughout the company, they share the commitment to constantly provide products of high quality and reliable performance to their customers.

Which products do we offer:

Ozokerite waxes

Paracera M
The most versatile wax in our range. Formulated with a well-balanced proportion of straight and branched chain hydrocarbon waxes. The product has consistency regulating and gel forming properties. Due to good absorption of mineral and vegetable oils, stable and fine crystals are formed.

Paracera W80
A balanced formulation of mineral hydrocarbon waxes that delivers dry consistency when used in creams and provides excellent oil binding properties for stick forms. Used as a regulator in preparations for decorative cosmetics when a hard and high melting point wax is required.

Paracera 11946
A blend of primarily linear mineral and synthetic waxes that imparts advantageous properties in warmer climates due to its higher temperature stability. It has superior gel forming properties with oils and excellent gloss from enhanced macro crystal formation. Also used to give stick products good structure and hardness and prevent tackiness in decorative cosmetics.

Paracera 13863
A formulated mixture of hydrocarbon waxes creating an Ozokerite structure and performance with increased temperature stability. The Ozokerite type composition allows for both good oil gelling and enhanced oil binding properties. For use in sticks, decorative cosmetics and skin care, it stabilises the final product, enhances hardness and temperature resistance and modifies rheology.

Microcrystalline waxes

A hydrocarbon wax, of microcrystalline structure, that distinguishes itself by its unique low congealing point. The low oil content and flexible character makes it very suitable for many cosmetic applications where good oil binding or viscosity regulation is required.

Paracera MW
A mixture of hydrocarbon waxes composed of predominantly branched chains, provides this microcrystalline wax with consistency, regulating and gel forming properties. Forms fine crystals and stable structures due to its good absorption of mineral and vegetable oils.

Paracera H
A hydrocarbon wax, of microcrystalline structure, that is distinguished by its high congealing and melting points. Used as a regulator in preparations for decorative cosmetics and its superior oil binding behavior makes it very suitable for stick forms.

Paraffin waxes

Paracera P
Used in ointments and cream formulations to improve consistency. Adds gloss and moisture retention to sticks and color cosmetics. Its good oil absorption permits the addition of high proportions of effective substances to the fat phase.

Narrow Cut waxes

Paracera N-line
A line of unique narrowly distributed waxes that allow highly selective performance enhancement in rheology, crystallization, gelation and stability. Paramelt introduced five products in this line: Paracera N78 – Paracera N88 – Paracera N96 – Paracera N101 – Paracera N106.

Specialty waxes

Paracera C44
A blend of Carnauba and other waxes that increases hardness and gloss of decorative cosmetics and sticks. It gives increased temperature stability to cosmetic products and is a good oil binder and co-emulsifier.

Beeswax Blend 164
A blend of beeswax with other ingredients, which comes in a white colour. In this partially synthetic beeswax, the chemical, physical and performance characteristics are comparable with pure beeswax.

Beeswax Blend 166
A blend of beeswax with other ingredients, which comes in its original yellow colour. In this partially synthetic beeswax, the chemical, physical and performance characteristics are comparable with pure beeswax.

Natural waxes

Beeswax Care 144
100% pure bleached beeswax. A natural emulsifier, it stabilises creams and lotions, increases compatibility of materials in decorative cosmetics and works as an emollient and oil binder in stick products.

Beeswax Care 146
100% pure refined beeswax. A natural emulsifier, it stabilises creams and lotions, increases compatibility of materials in decorative cosmetics and works as an emollient and oil binder in stick products.

Ask us

A S Harrison & Co offers a comprehensive range of Paramelt products – for more information, starting formulations and samples please contact A S Harrison & Co Performance Ingredients Team at performanceingredients.ash@harrison.com.au or +61 (0)2 8978 1016


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