Copernicia cerifera is a species of palm tree native to northeastern Brazil that is known by many as the “tree of life” because of its many uses. The most important product of the Copernicia cerifera tree is its wax. After harvesting, the leaves are left to dry under the sun. Drying causes the thin layer of wax coating plant material to disintegrate into a powder, which is then separated through beating and whisking the dried leaves. The powder is concentrated, mixed with water and melted to produce liquid wax, dried, and then concentrated into chunks to be sold. It is the hardest of all commercial vegetable waxes.
Carnauba wax is used for a variety of functions in cosmetics and personal care products. For instances, it can help to thicken a product by increasing the viscosity of a formulation. It also functions as an emulsifier by preventing the oil and water components of an emulsion from separating. Carnauba wax can often be found in creams and lotions due to its emollient properties, which work to soften and soothe the skin. Lastly, Carnauba wax is used to help thicken the oil portion of stick products like lipstick or chapstick, which solidifies the product and gives it structure.