Cosmetic Waxes

What Is It?

Ozokerite, Ceresin and Montan Wax are mineral waxes, derived from coal and shale. Paraffin and Microcrystalline Wax are derived from petroleum. Beeswax is secreted by honeybees. Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax and Rhus Succedanea Fruit (Japan) Wax are plant-derived waxes. Emulsifying Wax, Synthetic Wax and Synthetic Beeswax are manufactured waxes. In cosmetics and personal care products, these waxes are used in a wide range of product types, including lipsticks, baby products, eye and facial makeup, as well as nail care, skin care, sunscreens, fragrance and non-coloring hair preparations.

Why Is It Used?

Beeswax and plant waxes help to keep an emulsion from separating into its individual liquid components, especially in cosmetics and personal care products that require a creamy consistency. These waxes, and other mineral waxes like Oxokerite, increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion of solid and stick-like products such as lipstick, giving them structure and allowing for a smooth application. When used in eye makeup, waxes stiffen but do not harden the product; their flexibility and plasticity facilitate application. These waxes may also function in depilatory products to remove unwanted hair mechanically and also to hold together the ingredients of a compressed cake. 

The FDA Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP) data for 2021 report the following number of uses for cosmetic waxes:

  • Ozokerite (611)
  • Ceresin (263)
  • Montan Wax (3)
  • Paraffin (881)
  • Microcrystalline Wax (1,426)
  • Beeswax (2,062)
  • Candelilla (879)
  • Carnauba (1,250)
  • Japan (6)
  • Emulsifying Wax (20)
  • Synthetic Wax (1,000)
  • Synthetic Beeswax (295)
Safety Information

United States


The safety of Candelilla Wax, Carnauba Wax, Japan Wax and Beeswax was assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel in 1984, The Panel concluded that all are safe as used in cosmetics under present practices of use and concentration. In accordance with CIR Procedures, the Panel re-evaluated these ingredients in 2003, along with additional cosmetic waxes (Ceresin, Montan Wax, Paraffin, Microcrystalline Wax, Ozokerite, Rhus Succedanea Fruit Wax, and Synthetic Wax); the Panel concluded that the original safety assessment remained scientifically valid and, therefore, the safety assessment was not reopened.

The CIR Expert Panel concluded Ozokerite, Ceresin, Montan Wax, Paraffin, Microcrystalline Wax, Emulsifying Wax, Syntethic Wax and Synthetic Beeswax have, at most, a potential for mild skin irritation, mild or no eye irritation and that these waxes do not result in dermal sensitization.

When formulations containing these ingredients were tested, they produced no skin irritation and the formulations were not phototoxic.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Beeswax, Candelilla Wax, Carnauba Wax and Japan Wax on its list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food. FDA permits Paraffin to be used as an ophthalmic emollient in over-the-counter (OTC) ophthalmic drug products (21CFR349.14). FDA also includes Ceresin, Montan Wax and Paraffin on its list of indirect food additives that can be used as components of adhesives (21CFR175.105).

European Union (EU)

All of the cosmetic waxes reviewed on this webpage (except Emulsifying Wax) are listed on the EU’s Inventory of Cosmetic Ingredients (CosIng


U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR)
U.S. FDA Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP)
EU Cosmetics Inventory (CosIng)
U.S. FDA Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)