Of the many uses for beeswax, inside and outside the hive, skin protector is among the more obscure but better verified. Though often found in cosmetics alongside other known natural moisturizers like aloe, urea or shea butter, beeswax is primarily used when protection from the elements is desired too. This could be a lip balm to keep skin moist in frigid temperatures, or it could be a hand lotion with beeswax for skin that is exposed all day to moisture-stealing paper.
Honeycomb is secreted by female worker bees to cap the honeycombs where eggs are hatched and honey is stored. It is also used to seal off cracks in the hive that could permit access to predators or rain. To get at the honey being stored in the honeycombs, the beeswax caps must be removed. This wax, along with the scrapings from the crevices of the hive, is collected by beekeepers, melted down and filtered of impurities. It can then be packaged for sale as beeswax for skin products, hair pomades, candles, leather restorers or supplements.
Beeswax has a scientifically proven reputation for skin protection. According to a 2003 study, published in the German Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft, using beeswax for skin conditions or protection might have more success than several popular alternatives. Study participants rated a moisturizer with beeswax 98 percent effective, compared to 77 percent for a moisturizer with urea and 67 percent or less for popular commercial barrier creams. Apart from that, beeswax moisturizers can help prevent a greasy effect in lotions, which could cause various occupational difficulties or hazards.
When using beeswax for skin conditions or protection against the elements, consumers often purchase balms, lotions or creams with beeswax in several known moisturizers and skin protectors. Some alternatives or complements to beeswax are petrolatum, shea butter, urea cream, jojoba and aloe vera. Other common ingredients are oils derived from a variety of fruits or vegetables like apricots, soybeans, olives, corn and sesame.
Herbalists might recommend beeswax for skin care or any number of medical purposes. A handful of studies in recent decades have added credence to this lipid/alcohol compound's generations-old use as a pain reliever and treatment for ulcers. It is also used as a complementary and alternative medicine to lower cholesterol, heal wounds topically, and even quell the effects of diarrhea. The only side effect that has been noted is how overuse orally could possibly lead to digestive disorders. Also, a small percentage of the population cannot use these products due to an allergy to honey.