Spas are all a-buzz about beeswax.
People have utilized the abundance that bees have to offer since the beginning of time, thanks to the crucial role they play in the environment and for crops, as well as the natural treasures they deliver: honey and beeswax. In fact, 8,000-year-old cave paintings in Spain depict humans collecting goods from wild beehives, and ancient Egyptians used beeswax for an array of purposes, including mummification and embalming, jewelry making, preserving writings and personal care products. It’s even believed that Cleopatra kept beeswax in her famed beauty regimen to moisturize and beautify her skin. In ancient China, beeswax was renowned for its antiaging properties and wound treatment abilities.
Beeswax as we know it is produced by the western honeybee, or Apris mellifera. The compound comes from the glands of a daughter bee’s abdomen, during a relatively short period of approximately five days. The wax is excreted in small flakes, then chewed by worker bees until soft and moldable for use as a construction material within the honeycomb’s cells. The honeycombs are havens where bees store honey and pollen and raise their young, so it’s no surprise that this all natural protectant has the spa industry buzzing.
Why It’s a Skincare All-Star
A host of beautifying benefits is possible when beeswax is added to skincare formulations. “Beeswax is used as a binding, thickening and skin-conditioning agent that can help absorb water in a product,” explains Aleks Vranicic, LE, and vice president of sales and technical training for skin- and bodycare manufacturer Vitelle Dermatology Laboratories. Beeswax is commonly found in lotions, face moisturizers, lip balms, body butters and lipsticks.
According to Dionda Pumphrey, account manager at FarmHouse Fresh, the ingredient “provides the same protection to the skin as it does for the baby bees in the hive, making it an excellent natural ingredient for skin health.” She says that—in addition to its antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties—beeswax has excellent moisturizing benefits. “When applied topically, beeswax forms a barrier that helps protect skin from environmental assaults, while holding in moisture and reducing dryness without ‘suffocating’ skin,” explains Pumphrey.
In the Treatment Room
At Sugar & Hive Beauty Bar in Henrico, Virginia, owner Summer Layton regards beeswax for its inflammation-fighting abilities. “It contains vitamin A, giving it antioxidant properties, and it’s considered anti-allergenic, which makes it a good choice for sensitive skin, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema,” she says. “Best of all, it won’t clog pores!”
The spa’s Signature Exfoliate + Glow (60 minutes/$150) is a popular facial featuring beeswax- infused Sorella Apothercary The Balm. The service consists of cleansing, toning and exfoliating with either a chemical peel or dermaplane, followed by extractions, facial massage and a custom mask. Serums and eye cream are applied prior to The Balm, and a lip treatment and SPF come after. “Clients notice an instant glow, with visibly hydrated, plumped skin. We encourage them to take The Balm home because it helps seal in the targeted serums and moisturizers used in the treatment, and it works the same way as part of a home regimen,” says Layton.
In St. George, Utah, staff at St. George Day Spa were pleased to swap the petroleum-based paraffin step of the Desert Oasis Pedicure (80 minutes/$65) with a shea butter and beeswax balm alternative, says COO Janet Clark-Jones. The service starts with a foot soak followed by callus removal and treatment of the cuticles and nails. An earthy mud scrub then exfoliates the feet and lower legs, and an enzymatic honey serum further softens rough heels. Next, FarmHouse Fresh Marshmallow Melt All-Purpose Shea Butter Balm—formulated with beeswax—is massaged into the hands and feet, which are then covered with warmed gloves and booties to lock in moisture. “Guests love how this balm melts into a luxurious, moisturizing oil as soon as it touches their skin,” enthuses Clark-Jones. After that, the brand’s beeswax- infused Moon Dip Back to Youth Ageless Body Mousse is massaged into the feet and calves with hot stones and the pedicure concludes with a polish application. “Clients leave with super soft, hydrated and fresh feet. They often need to take a few minutes to ‘come back to earth’ after experiencing such deep relaxation,” laughs Clark-Jones.
• 30% to 40% of the world’s beeswax trade is used in personal care products.
• Daughter bees must produce 6 to 8 pounds of honey in order to produce 1 pound of wax.
• Beeswax candles have been used in European churches since the beginning of Christianity.
• Beeswax is a common coating for cheese because it protects against mold growth by sealing out air.
• Beeswax is an ideal ingredient for lip balms because it can help prevent infections and cold sores.
• Although beeswax is an all-natural ingredient, a synthetic version can be substituted within a product for those looking for a vegan option.
–by Alisha Racker
[Images: Courtesy of manufacturers; Pixabay]