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Carnauba wax – a hard wax for soft skin

Carnauba wax is obtained from the carnauba palm. This plant with the botanical name Copernicia prunifera is native to northern Brazil. It can grow to the impressive height of 15 metres. In order to protect itself in advance of the dry season, the roughly two-metre-long fan leaves of the palm exude small wax scales which cover the upper and lower surfaces. The tree does this to counteract the evaporation of moisture. Carnauba wax is the hardest of all the naturally occurring waxes and it is widely used in the cosmetics industry to give products the desired consistency and gloss. It also offers the skin protection against external stress factors in a similar way to the palm leaves.

Information about bisbolol

  • INCI name (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients name): Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Copernicia Cerifera Cera
  • Uses: Ointments, creams, lip care, make-up, grooming wax
  • Natural
  • Special properties of carnauba wax: Smoothening, water-repellent, film-forming and protective, prevents a sticky feeling in cosmetics (gives them a dry feel)

How carnauba wax is obtained

In Brazil, the dry season lasts from September to March. This is when the carnauba palms produce the much sought-after wax. It is obtained by cutting off a certain amount of the palm leaves on each plant every two months. After that, the leaves are dried. The ensuing natural shrinking process loosens the wax so that it can be easily stripped off from the leaves. Recovering the wax is therefore a relatively laborious process which delivers a small yield.

In the mid-20th century, attention increasingly turned to a synthetically produced alternative to carnauba wax. These petroleum-based substitutes have, however, become controversial based on the current level of knowledge, and they are classified as detrimental to health.

You can find out more about mineral oils in cosmetics here: Stiftung Warentest article.

Interesting facts about the carnauba palm

The indigenous people of northern Brazil called the carnauba palm the “tree of life”. In addition to the wax, the other parts of the plant were and still are used for a variety of purposes. The roots when added to certain preparations are said to aid inflammation. The fruits can be made into jelly or used as animal feed. They can also be ground into a powder to obtain a kind of coffee substitute. Carnauba “flour” can be produced from the pith of the fruit. The shoots of the tree can be eaten, and cooking oil can be obtained from the seeds. The large leaves are used to cover roofs or to make ropes, hats and mats. Finally, the strong and hard wood of the tree is suitable for use as a construction material.

In cosmetics products, bisabolol is mainly used for its skin-calming and deodorising properties. The healing processes of chamomile/bisabolol can help to nurture tired skin and chapped lips.

The statements about properties, effects and effectiveness made here refer exclusively to beeswax and its components/products.

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