03 August 2012

Science Fridays! Caranuba Wax

Another Friday with some more SCIENCE!  This time I'm talking about a fun wax that is formulated into virtually all types of cosmetics.  You will have been exposed to this at some point in your cosmetic career.  True story.

Caranuba Wax is from the palm tree, exclusively grown in Brazil, and is often used for tons of commercial products because it is SO shiny.  Like car wax, dental floss and is formulated into candies.


Caranuba wax does not dissolve in water (huge surprise, it's a wax, comprised of lots of fatty acids and esters) and is exceptionally hard.  Because of this, it's a great emollient, and can be used to moisturize and protect the skin.  An emollient, generally, is a substance that when applied, reduce evaporation of moisture from the skin.  This is in turn, is perceived as an increase in moisture, but its not particularly adding water back into the skin, even though they can be formulated with humectants.  Emollients also make the skin softer because of the high concentration of lipids.  Lipids at the cellular level are found in the cell membrane and keep the cell flexible and pliant.  The breaking down of lipids and loss of moisture cause the cells to become dry, tight and brittle and emollients reverse that.


Pretty much, being an emollient.  It's good at making things stick to your face - so don't be surprised to find it in eyebrow pencils, lip balms and lip sticks.  When formulated with other oils, to keep it liquefied, it can produced a ton of shine so caranuba wax is also used quite a bit in lip glosses as well.

Also, caranuba wax is used in explosives and tanning leather.  It's sorta an all natural jack of all trades.

CHEMICALS - the after thought

If you haven't picked up on the theme for Science Fridays yet.. well.. here's another hint.  Whether or not a compound is synthetic, natural or organic, it is still a chemical.  Being produced by nature does not make the substance any more or less a chemical (unless it's clearly biological, as in an organism).  Having the term chemical as a beauty buzzword is sort of a misnomer.  All cosmetics are chemicals - as all cosmetics are comprised entirely of chemicals.  Things like all natural and organic are buzzwords, that while having validity and merit, are being used to sell you things.  Take Botox, for example.  Botox is a purified form of botulinum toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum (the same bacteria that causes botulism).  Botox, if you wanted to play semantics, could be classified as both natural and organic (assuming you can get the USDA/ FDA certification for it) because it comes from an organism found in nature and the bulk of it, if produced from cell cultures of Clostridium could be called organic. (For the record, it's probably not. It's probably produced from CDNA inserted into myeloma cell lines that divide and produce just the toxin in large cultures, and then purified into what plastic surgeons inject into your face).

Just a little something to think about... but then again... aren't all Science Friday's that way?

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