What Is Microcrystalline Wax?
Microcrystalline wax is a type of wax that is used in skincare and cosmetic products to thicken and improve the texture and consistency of the formulations. Microcrystalline wax is a wax that is produced by de-oiling petroleum. While it may seem concerning that a skincare product is derived from petroleum, the ingredient is safe and is highly refined. Many skincare ingredients such as petrolatum, paraffin, and some silicones are derived from petroleum and don’t influence their safety or efficacy.
Microcrystalline wax is used in products such as lipsticks, eye makeup, foundations, nail products, some skincare products, sunscreen, fragrance, and hair care. It is used to improve the texture and consistency of a product, making it thicker or more easily spreadable. The texture and consistency of products is an important part of the formulation process as it helps to improve the sensory feel of the product as well as improving its efficacy through spreadability.
the good: Helps to improve the texture and consistency of a product.
the not so good: Like any ingredient, it can cause allergies for some people, however, irritation and sensitivity are rare with this ingredient.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.
Keep an eye on: Nothing to keep an eye on here.
Why Is Microcrystalline Wax Used?
Microcrystalline wax is used to thicken the lipid or oil part of the formulation. This helps not only to improve the spreadability of the product but also helps to emulsify the oils. When two or more oils are mixed they will often separate out or split after some time. This is where emulsifiers come in, as they help to keep the oils mixed together and prevent splitting.
Improving the spreadability of a product can help deliver the key ingredients evenly across the skin. This is why microcrystalline wax is used in some formulations. It also helps to lessen the fragility of stick formulations, such as a stick blush or deodorant. Microcrystalline wax is considered to be a more flexible wax, making it useful in thick or semi-solid products that need to spread evenly without breaking.
Is Microcrystalline Wax Safe?
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has reviewed the research available for microcrystalline wax. The Expert Panel concluded that microcrystalline wax is safe for its current uses and in the current concentrations in which it is used. The Expert Panel reviewed any newly available data in 2003 and reaffirmed the above conclusion.
Dermatol Ther. Sep-Oct 2007;20(5):314-21.
CIR, 1984. ‘Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Fossil and Synethc Waxes’, International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 3, no. 3.