Is Emulsifying Wax NF Safe For Baby – Yes, emulsifying wax is a plant-derived fatty alcohol that binds oil and water in skincare and cosmetics formulations. It is responsible for creating the thick, velvety consistency of lotions, creams, and moisturizers for babies. Emulsifying wax promotes easy and quick absorption of other ingredients by the skin. This type of wax also contains compounds that act as thickeners, surfactants, cleansing agents, and emollients.

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Is Emulsifying Wax NF Safe For Baby
What Is Emulsifying Wax NF?

Is emulsifying wax NF natural? Yes, Emulsifying Wax NF is a natural non-ionic wax sourced naturally from fats and esters [1].  Once formulated, it is used as an emulsifier in skin care products. Depending on its concentration, the wax can be thick or thin. It is gentle to the skin, provides impressive benefits, and is easy to use.

The primary waxes composing Emulsifying Wax NF are vegetable emulsifying wax or petroleum-based wax. It also consists of Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steareth-20, and PEG-150 Stearate [2].  The NF initials at the end of the Emulsifying Wax NF’s name are an indication that it complies with the specifications laid out by the National Formulary [3].

The National Formulary, also known as the United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary or USP-NF, is the official print media of the American Pharmaceutical Association. It is published annually by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. The broadcasting medium includes two compendia: the National Formulary or NF and the United States Pharmacopeia or USP [4].

The print is published as a book which contains monographs or specifications of ingredients. It includes preparation methods of the emulsifying wax, its packaging and storage, dosage forms, and labeling requirements. It also encloses tests and procedures on Emulsifying Wax NF, all of which comply with the official USP Reference Standards [5].

The appearance of emulsifying wax is solid and white. It has a low fatty alcohol odor. Its pH can be as low as 3 and as high as 13. Emulsifying Wax NF is a versatile ingredient and combines seamlessly with anionic, non-ionic, and cationic systems. It does not degrade when heated but does experience a slight discoloration when stored at high temperatures. It has a shelf life of 18-24 months depending on the formulation [6].

What is vegetable emulsifying wax? Either petroleum-based, vegetable-based or both, vegetable emulsifying wax is made from vegetable sourced fatty acids. The recommended ingredient percentage of vegetable emulsifying wax is between 3-5% for lotions, and 5-10% for creams. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Emulsifying Wax NF classifies as safe for general use. Because of this, vegetable-derived emulsifying waxes are prominent in the production of skin care products for both infants and adults.

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Origins Of Emulsifying Wax NFOrigins Of Emulsifying Wax NF

Vegetable emulsifying wax is also a common ingredient in the manufacturing of cosmetic products. It is created by processing a vegetable emulsifying wax with a detergent. This method binds water and oil and results in an emulsion. The emulsifying wax then forms [7].

Is Emulsifying Wax NF Safe For Baby?  Yes, many homemade lotion-making often utilizes vegetable emulsifying wax. When combined with other ingredients, it emulsifies into a milk-like, opaque liquid. The appearance of emulsifying wax can best be described as that of yogurt; it is creamy, thick, and velvety to the touch. Unlike petroleum-based waxes, emulsifying wax easily penetrates the skin leaving it soft and smooth in almost immediately.

Ingredients That Compose Emulsifying Wax NF
Ingredients That Compose Emulsifying Wax NF

Cetearyl Alcohol

The Cetearyl alcohol, not to be mistaken with Cetyl alcohol, has been proven safe to use for decades [8]. Cetearyl alcohol is an excellent addition to the composition of Emulsifying Wax NF as it works as an emulsifier, emollient, and product thickener. Cetearyl alcohol was originally obtained by combining fatty alcohols from such vegetable sources as coconut fatty alcohol, but palm oil is currently its primary source.

Vegetable-derived fatty alcohols, such as Cetearyl alcohol, do not pose a risk to infants’ sensitive skin. In fact, the FDA, Cosmetics Directive, and Cosmetics Ingredient Review Panel assess that Cetearyl alcohol is safe for use in organic cosmetics as long as it is plant-derived [9].

PEG-150 Stearate

PEG-150 Stearate is non-irritant. It is also the main ingredient in various hair products. PEG-150 enables quick penetration of other ingredients in a product’s formulation.  According to a 2005 study, PEGs, including their ethers (steareths, ceteths, ceteareths, and oleths), were found safe for use in formulating baby skincare products [10]. PEGs do not irritate sensitive skin and are FDA and CIR approved [11].

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Steareth 20

Aside from being an emulsifier, Steareth 20 is also a cleansing agent and surfactant in skincare products. It is often found in moisturizers, body lotions, and eye creams, but less often in cosmetics. It is FDA and CIR approved for use in products aimed at fragile, sensitive skin like babies [12].

Polysorbate 60

Polysorbate 60 is present in a wide range of organic skincare products. It is the ingredient that helps the emulsifying wax to reduce surface tension [13]. According to the Cosmetics Database, it is a low hazard ingredient and does not pose significant risks to baby’s skin [14]. Just like the three other ingredients of the emulsifying wax, Polysorbate 60 is FDA and CIR approved [15].

How Does Emulsifying Wax NF WorkHow Does Emulsifying Wax NF Work?

When formulating a baby lotion, an emulsifying agent such as Emulsifying Wax NF is required to prevent oil and water from separating. Its emulsifying properties allow the Emulsifying Wax NF to hold two immiscible liquids together effectively.

Vegetable emulsifying wax works in baby skin care products because it increases the kinetic stability of the water-in-oil or oil-in-water mixtures [16].

The molecules inside these emulsifying waxes adjust accordingly in oil and water. It is the ingredient responsible for preventing skincare products from being greasy and sticky.

Another beneficial quality of emulsifying wax is its conditioning abilities. When added to cosmetic formulations for organic baby skincare products, it increases the product’s strength in maintaining healthy skin and hair. Emulsifying wax is a “surface active agent” that promotes hair growth among babies and keeps that hair smooth and shiny [17].

It is no wonder this type of wax is often included in shampoos, hair conditioners, soaps, body washes, and other hair products.

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Is Emulsifying Wax NF Safe For Baby References:

[1]   MediLexicon; Emulsifying wax.
[2][6]   US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Effects of oils and emulsifiers on the skin penetration of stearyl glycyrrhetinate in oil-in-water emulsions. O, S., M, F., N, K., M, N., K, K., & Y, W, 2014.
[3][4]   US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; Purified monocyte-derived angiogenic substance (angiotropin) induces controlled angiogenesis associated with regulated tissue proliferation in rabbit skin, Höckel M1, Jung W, Vaupel P, Rabes H, Khaledpour C, Wissler JH, September 1998.
[5]   USP; Reference Standards.
[7]   EWG; Heather Armstrong: Overcoming Skin Cancer and the Importance of Sun Safety, July 15, 2016.
[8]   EWG; Cetearyl Alcohol.
[9]   CIR-Saftey; Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, lsostearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Alcohol, and Behenyl Alcohol., Panel, C. I., 1988.
[10]   EWG’s Skin Deep, Cosmetic Database; PEG-150 Stearate.
[11]     ELSEVIER; Safety assessment on polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and their derivatitves as used in costmetic products, Claudia Fruijtier-Polloth, June 3, 2005.
[12]   EWG’s Skin Deep, Cosmetic Database; Steareth-20.
[13]   Costmetics Info; Polysorbate 20.
[14]   EWG’s Skin Deep, Cosmetic Database; Polysorbate-60.
[15]   U.S. Food & Drug Administration; CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, April 01, 2018.
[16]   US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; Kinetic stability and rheology of wax-stabilized water-in-oil emulsions at different water cuts, Haj-shafiei S1, Ghosh S, Rousseau D., November 15, 2013.
[17]   Semantic Scholar; Classifications of Suface-Active Agents by “HLB”, William C. Griffin.

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