Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Best Wax for Stick Cosmetics 🙂

  • Best Wax for Stick Cosmetics 🙂

    Posted by emma1985 on February 25, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    Greetings from super snowy Detroit.

    I’m taking a dive into the world of stick cosmetic formulation (mostly stick highlighters and blushes, not interested in formulating lipsticks at this time.)

    I’ve looked at dozens of ingredients lists and there does not seem to be any consistency in what different brands use to harden their blush and highlighter sticks. Some use natural waxes like Beeswax, Candellila and Carnauba, whereas others use Synthetic wax, Ozokerite wax and Microcrystalline Wax.

    Still others make aqueous sticks using sodium stearate.

    I’m going to be doing a ton of experimenting, but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the best wax or combination of waxes for stick cosmetics?

    I have Beeswax, Candellila, Carnauba, Rice Bran, Microcrystalline and Cera Bellina. Willing to buy any others if needed.

    I prefer to avoid the Beeswax and Cera Bellina as I’d like to stay away from animal derived ingredients but will use them if I have to.

    Thank you!! ❤️

    michaelpolymer replied 1 year, 4 months ago 10 Members · 17 Replies
  • 17 Replies
  • ngarayeva001

    February 25, 2022 at 11:44 pm
  • ngarayeva001

    February 25, 2022 at 11:47 pm

    Besides what is said in that article you need to experiment to understand what each individual wax adds to the product. I suggest making 15% samples with all of waxes you have an the same oil to see what each do. You need high melting point waxes to keep it as a stick. 

  • emma1985

    February 26, 2022 at 12:36 am

    Thank you. The UL Prospector article was helpful, I took some screenshots.

    I’ve actually worked extensively with Candellila and Carnauba in anhydrous products. I experienced graininess and syneresis with both. 

    Other than the graininess and syneresis though, I really liked them (lol.) I love how they create glossy products and impart a really lightweight oil layer on the skin (not waxy in my experience.)

    I will take your advice and play around with all.

    Tonight I was actually thinking about doing some tests with a C wax and Stearic Acid. However I don’t think I’ve seen Stearic used much in stick products, is there any reason for this? (Keep in mind I’m not making lipstick.) 🙂🙂

  • Mondonna

    February 27, 2022 at 1:49 am

    Try Rice Bran Wax. It has a melting point of 79–85°C with nice silky feel.

  • ngarayeva001

    March 1, 2022 at 3:52 am

    Anhydrous products look easy on ‘paper’ but are tricky in practice. In my experience most of the issues are solved by combining waxes different in terms of polarity and brittleness/softness. 

  • emma1985

    March 1, 2022 at 4:06 am

    Thank you both so much for responding.

    I played with different concentrations of Candellila and Stearic and was actually pretty pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t used Candellila in a while and whatever I did before, the formulation always came out grainy. This time I have no graininess.

    I’m planning on ordering some Olive Wax (not really a wax) because I’ve heard its softness and creaminess is comparable to Beeswax, whereas Candellila, Carnauba and even Rice Bran are considered very hard. 

    I’d like to try Sunflower Wax, but it seems like there’s some sort of shortage or something, as it’s hard to obtain and quite expensive.

    And ngarayeva, I could not agree more about anhydrous products being very tricky. Emulsions are an absolute breeze comparatively.

    Thanks again!

  • bill_toge

    March 1, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    castor wax / hydrogenated castor oil is a very, very useful material in sticks and other anhydrous products - it gels oils and gives them more thermal stability

  • emma1985

    March 2, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    Thank you so much Bill. Question, would you say Castor Wax is particularly good for stick products, and particularly different from other hydrogenated oils like Olive Wax (Oliwax,) Almond Wax, etc?

  • Rockstargirl

    March 3, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Cera bellina is dreamy.

  • bill_toge

    March 4, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    emma1985 said:

    Thank you so much Bill. Question, would you say Castor Wax is particularly good for stick products, and particularly different from other hydrogenated oils like Olive Wax (Oliwax,) Almond Wax, etc?

    there’s a major fundamental difference between it and other waxes on the chemical level - castor oil contains a lot of ricinoleic acid, which is oleic acid with a hydroxyl group on the 12 position, and hydrogenation basically straightens out the molecule from its normal wedge-like shape and allows it to form polymeric structures much more easily
    for this reason, castor wax / hydrogenated castor oil is well known for its ability to form gels in oil-based formulas
  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    August 7, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    I know this is an older post, however I have to say BEESWAX is and always will be the best natural wax in the world for cosmetics. You need a wax that above all things, is malleable and this gorgeous wax is made from bees. Correct me if I am wrong, but the bees are not harmed during this process. Plus, not using beeswax has put a lot of our local farmers out of business for absolutely no reason. I thought we were to help our primary producers, not kill their careers and income for their families. This does not make sense to me. 
    I have nothing against anyone’s preference for food, gender, anything really, but taking away people’s lively hood for no GOOD reason is really ridiculous and callous. Additionally, tending to bees I am quite sure it is an art that will now be a dying skill and will not be passed on through the generations. Very sad indeed.
    Maybe Vegans need to rethink the rules.
    Any suggestions on how to save the use of beeswax?

  • pharma

    August 7, 2022 at 7:27 pm
    @”Dr Catherine Pratt” Here around, hobby beekeepers and small scale private honey producers are booming and well organised for example under THIS label. Beeswax isn’t what keeps them going, it’s honey and fun ;) .
    I just wish more would cultivate the native European dark bee instead of Carnica, Ligustica or Buckfast and other hybrids…
    @emma1985 I like olive wax, has a nice feel. However, it’s not a wax but a blend of straight chain hydrocarbons, squalane and other unsaponifiables. I haven’t tried to use it as oil gellant because I assume it wouldn’t work anyway.
  • MarkBroussard

    August 7, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    Beeswax, Rice Bran Wax, Acticire MB are my favorites to work with.  Beeswax imho is the best.

    I personally don’t pay much attention to Vegan, particularly as it relates to Beeswax.  The bees are going to make beeswax regardless of whether or not it is used in a product, so no harm in the process.  For those products containing Beeswax as the only animal-derived ingredient, I prefer to use the term “Beegan”

  • Squinny

    August 8, 2022 at 12:14 am

    Love the word “Beegan” Mark did you make that word up? I really cant understand Vegans not eating honey after all the effort bees go to to produce it. Honey is a beautiful natural product and bees are not harmed in the process, its what they do amongst all the pollinating they do we couldn’t survive without them. Support bees I say and eat their honey and use their wax. Also they are classified as insects not animals right? 

  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    August 8, 2022 at 2:59 am

    Yes yes feeling rather passionate down under today! Glad to here that beekeepers don’t actually make their primary living from these little creatures. However, right now as you are most likely going through too, is continually trying to find beeswax alternatives to achieve peace and happiness amongst clients. To my surprise you can buy a product called ‘Beeswax Alternative’ & Lanolin Alternative which I had to get, just too funny. 

    I think you all know the point I’m making, it doesn’t really bother me but I just worry in such uncertain times, why? and being chemists we love our pure compounds, how can you find much better than a wax so pure & chemically has so many attributes naturally!! 
    This is all so a product label can have that 5 letter word!
    why so strict? I say get out the Patchouli and let your hair down, maybe we are ready for a variant on this pathway!? 
  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    August 8, 2022 at 3:07 am

    #Emma Rice Bran wax mixed with cetyl alcohol or palmitate is good for sticks.
    Sunflower wax mixed with candililla wax can work. I do have a beeswax alternative using sunflower oil, and 2 plant waxes. If anyone wants the ratios I’m happy to send to you. 

  • michaelpolymer

    August 8, 2022 at 3:58 am

    Normally we combine a soft wax beeswax with a hard wax, carnauba or sunflower wax to balance the hardness and lubricity.Apart from the wax, the oil type also can influence the hardness even with the same wax. The stronger polarity,the harder.

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