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Is Beeswax Vegan-Friendly? Everything You Need To Know

Beeswax is often touted as a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals, but there is clearly an issue for vegans in that beeswax is obtained from bees. Bees are animals that have necessarily been exploited for humans to obtain this wax. Hence, the answer to the question "is beeswax vegan?" is an unequivocal "no, beeswax is not vegan".

Beeswax is used extensively in cosmetics which are often labelled as 'natural'. It's important to remember that vegan cosmetics not only do not test on animals but also do not include animal products in their ingredients. Only if no animal was part of the process can you be certain that your cosmetics collection is indeed cruelty-free.

Let's take a look at the issues surrounding beeswax in beauty products, and also explore a 100% vegan, animal cruelty-free alternative.

Bee colony

What Is Beeswax?

Beeswax (Cera Alba) is produced by worker bees within a hive for use as a building material to construct honeycomb cells, where the bees raise their young and store honey. It is made by the busy young bees of the hive while they are roughly between 12 and 17 days old. These bees have special glands (eight of them in total) along their abdomens, and it’s from these glands the bees secrete their wax.

To obtain the wax, the honeycomb must be removed from the hive, along with the honey contained within, thus depriving the bees of their food source and storage space.

So, to ask yourself if using beeswax is ethical, you have to also ask: 

Is destroying the hive ethical?

Most vegans would not think so. Because the demand for cosmetics and other beeswax products is so high, it can lead to unethical handling of honeybees and their hives. This refers to the mass transportation of hives as well as the rather cruel mishandling of bees themselves. In addition, the process of isolating the beehive for destruction requires the cruel treatment of the Queen Bee. Her wings are often clipped so that she cannot leave the hive as swarming can lower honey production. 

What can not be ignored is the fact that the destruction of hives and bees carries far more disturbing implications. The humble bumblebee carries the whole balance of the world's food supply on its tiny shoulders. Despite its size, this fantastic creature pollinates up to 80% of all food crops. It's safe to say, the bee is essential to keeping us and most other creatures alive.

Oleo Bodycare moisturiser in small recycled containers

So, Why Is Beeswax Used In Cosmetics?

Beeswax is used in a wide range of cosmetics, including some lip balms, moisturising creams and lotions, shampoos and conditioners. There is no question that beeswax contains many beneficial properties for use in these preparations:

  • It hydrates, calms, soothes and conditions skin.
  • It is also a natural exfoliant.

This is fine - if you're happy with supporting the unethical exploitation of bees. I don't think you have to fully embrace a vegan lifestyle to appreciate that the use of beeswax should be avoided.

Thankfully for vegans (and indeed bees!), there are vegan-friendly alternatives to most of the products that currently utilise beeswax in some way, including vegan beauty cosmetics and vegan skincare. The entire Oleo Bodycare range of products are 100% vegan. We are proud that we make natural, cruelty-free, vegan body care products.

So, what does Oleo Bodycare use as an alternative to beeswax? The answer is Rice Bran Wax (Oryza Sativa).

Vegan body moisturisers by Oleo Bodycare

What is Rice Bran Wax (Oryza Sativa)?

This natural vegetable wax is produced from the extraction and filtration process of rice bran oil. It naturally contains squalane, which is extremely moisturising and, in addition, it has antioxidant properties.

Rice bran wax is a skin conditioning agent and protective wax that adds body to preparations, giving them good spreadability as well as a silky, non-sticky feel. This is why at Oleo we incorporate rice bran wax into several of our products. It helps to thicken our massage balms and acts as an excellent vegan body moisturiser. We also use this wax in our Happy Lips Lip Balm and our Intensive Dry Skin Balm

Another positive of the use of rice bran wax is that it is a by-product of the rice bran oil production process, making it a great choice for those who are concerned about sustainability.

So, next time you purchase a beauty product or dip into your jar of cream, you might like to take a good look at the ingredients label. If it contains beeswax, there's a good chance that you are unwittingly damaging the delicate ecosystem of not only the honeybee but also of our very existence on this planet.

Choose cruelty-free, vegan skincare products. Choose Oleo Bodycare.

Olivia, Oleo Bodycare Founder

Blog by Olivia, Oleo Bodycare Founder

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