With the advent of lotion candles and paraffin wax baths, there is confusion regarding what can be used on skin for various applications. While the short answer is that you cannot use paraffin wax in lotion, there are various alternatives available. Paraffin wax itself remains a viable beauty product as an exfoliate and a heat applicator.
Lotion candles are food-grade soy candles with skin-safe fragrances. You allow the candle to burn for a few minutes then blow the candle out. After it has been out about 30 seconds you can dip your fingers in the wax and use it as lotion. Soy candles burn at a lower temperature than paraffin wax so you will not burn yourself.
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Misconceptions: Spa vs. Candles
Paraffin wax is used in beauty and spa treatments for exfoliation and warm application during massage. However, this wax is gently warmed to just the melting point so it won't burn. When you burn a candle, it is at a much higher temperature and can cause burns. Paraffin wax is an oil derivative and cannot be absorbed by the skin. Therefore, it imparts no softening qualities that soy oil would.
Paraffin Wax Baths
Paraffin wax baths are used exfoliate the skin or apply warm to joints and muscles in pain. You can either dip the extremity directly in the wax or use paper to dip in the wax and wrap around the area. These baths heat the wax slowly and only just to melting so you will not burn yourself. They use food-grade paraffin and skin-safe scents to protect the skin and minimize allergic reactions.
Food-grade paraffin is actually a misnomer. While food-grade paraffin is edible, it is not digestible and will pass through your system. Similarly, it will not be absorbed by the skin, so you cannot use it to moisturize. You can add essential oils to the wax for scent, but this does not change the properties of wax.
Waxes that Can Be Used in Lotions
Emulsifying wax is used in lotions and creams to hold them together. This suspends the water and oil particles in the wax and allows the skin to absorb them. Emulsifying waxes include cetearyl alcohol/ceteareth 20, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, polysorbate 20 and ceteareth 20. Each has their own application in various beauty products.
Why Can't Paraffin Wax be Used in Lotion
Paraffin wax is a petroleum by product that is solid at room temperature. In oil and gas production, paraffin wax is the culprit for fouling up oil lines if not properly removed from the crude oil. The skin does not absorb the wax when solid or liquid. Paraffin lays on the skin and keeps the skin from moisture which is opposite the desired effect of a lotion. A lotion is absorbed by the skin and imparts its moisture. When you rub paraffin wax on your skin, it solidifies and must be peeled or scraped off. You will be left with dry skin that still needs moisture. Paraffin wax with added oils stays solid and cannot be expunged from a lotion bottle.