Euphorbia cerifera, also known as candelilla, is a species of flowering plant native to regions of southwestern United States and Mexico. It is shrubby and has densely clustered, erect, essentially leafless stems that are covered in wax to prevent transpiration. The wax is obtained by boiling the leaves and stems with dilute sulfuric acid, and the resulting “cerote” is skimmed from the surface and further processed. Candelilla wax is yellowish-brown, hard, brittle, aromatic, and opaque to translucent. It consists mainly of hydrocarbons, which distinguishes this wax from Carnauba wax.
Candelilla wax is used for a variety of functions in cosmetics and personal care products. One of its main uses is as a vegan substitute for beeswax. Additionally, candelilla wax can be used to replace other waxes in a formulations to add texture or help make barrier products, such as lip balms. Lastly, Candelilla wax functions as an emollient with film-forming and protective properties. When candelilla wax is used in moisturizers like creams or lotions, it helps to keep the skin soft and smooth.