Bees! Bees! Bees!
When you save the bees, you save the earth
Bees are important to our food supply chain through pollination and their activities support a healthy plant ecosystem. Healthy plants are one line of defense in the fight to slow climate change.
Beeswax is also a key component to cosmetics, so you are likely to run into formulas which use it. This is especially true of older recipes.
The question becomes: is using beeswax in cosmetics an act of "saving the bees" or a violation of them?
Well, using beeswax can never be considered a "vegan" option, and so if you are a staunch vegan, you could easily answer this question up front. "Violation".
While it is not a vegan choice, using beeswax in a cosmetic formulation can be an eco-aware and ethically sustainable act. Use of commercial beeswax supports an economy which supports the care and development of bees. Additionally, most bee farmers are relatively small/family businesses and bee farming supports a lot of families throughout economically disadvantaged areas of the world.
Beekeepers make money by:
- Harvesting Honey
- Harvesting Wax
- Selling their pollination services by moving the bees from farm to farm.
For folks who decide to work with beeswax, the your primary concern will be if the wax is "sustainable" which could include the following criteria:
- Does the supply chain elevate the communities by paying fair living wages
- Does the supply chain support safe beekeeping practices
- Is the harvesting of the wax done in such a way that it benefits the bee colonies vs. destroys them.
- Is the beeswax certified organic
- Is the beeswax locally sourced.
Let's say you decide to not use beeswax and instead substitute a different product in your formula. "Bee" careful! It is easy to say that "any other wax will do" but beeswax has special properties. If you drop in a different wax into a recipe, you might have substandard results.
Just the other day, I was working up a batch of matte liquid lipstick base (we plan on selling it uncolored in bulk soon). The recipe called for beeswax and I just 1:1 dropped in sunflower wax instead. The results were a substandard product which dried too quickly and tended to flake off.
So instead, we are reformulating with synthetic beeswax. Synthetic beeswax is not "natural" -- it is derived from petrochemicals. But it mimics the body, melt point and performance of beeswax, and we love the end result.