7 Beeswax Substitutes for Skin and Hair Products (Vegan)

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The best substitute for beeswax depends on what you’re making.

While they can all be substituted for each other in a pinch, some do better in different situations.

Some alternatives are better for hair products, while others are better for skin products (i.e. lotions and soaps), and some are better for lip balms or candles.

I’ll go through each of your options, and what each is best used for. Here’s a summary table so you know which substitutes to pay the most attention to.

PurposeBeeswax Substitutes to Use
Lip Balm
  • Soy Wax
  • Candelilla Wax
Candles
  • Soy Wax
  • Paraffin Wax
  • Rice Bran Wax
  • Sunflower Wax
Lotions (including salves) and soap
  • Soy Wax
  • Candelilla Wax
  • Olive Wax
Hair Products
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Olive Wax
Food
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Rice Bran Wax
  • Sunflower Wax

Note that all of these can be subbed in for beeswax in a 1:1 ratio.

Substitutes for Beeswax

Let’s go through the best beeswax alternatives one-by-one.

Soy Wax

soy wax packaging

Best for: Candles, lip balm and skin products

Where to buy: Walmart, Amazon, craft stores

Soy wax comes from soybeans as expected, and typically used in vegan candles. It’s the cheapest alternative and easiest to find in most cases.

That being said, it’s the most versatile of any substitute on this page, and can be used in lip balms or lotions as well.

Pure soy wax is usually softer than beeswax, but it’s possible to find some with additives that make it a bit harder.

Candelilla Wax

candelilla wax

Best for: Lip balm and lotion bars

Where to buy: Amazon, soap supply companies

If you look at my guide to the best vegan lip balms, most of the best ones use candelilla wax.

It’s a fairly hard wax, making it good for bars, and even things like varnish. It’s often used in certain food products like chewing gum, but I suspect that’s not what you’re making.

Candelilla wax is derived from a plant from Mexico and the southern U.S. I’ve seen some  ethical concerns over the treatment of workers (in Mexico) who harvest this wax. However I couldn’t find much backing it up aside from a DailyMail (essentially a UK tabloid) and untrustworthy blog posts.

So for now I’d consider it fully vegan, but it might be worth looking into yourself.

Paraffin Wax

paraffin wax

Best for: Candles

Where to buy: Walmart, Amazon, craft stores

Paraffin wax comes from petroleum or some other fossil fuel product. It’s a shade of bluish-white, and typically doesn’t have an odor (similar to vaseline in all these respects).

It’s typically not used for skin products, but more for lubrication and insulation. However, it’s a really good substitute for beeswax in candles.

Carnauba Wax

carnauba wax

Best for: Food and hair products.

Where to buy: Walmart, Amazon, certain hardware stores (e.g. Canadian Tire)

You’ll find carnauba wax in a lot of foods. But, it can also be used in hair products instead of beeswax.

It comes from a specific type of palm tree, grown in Brazil. Now, palm products are controversial to many vegans, but most of the reasons why only apply to the palm trees in Southeast Asia.

There are some ethical concerns when it comes to treatment of workers in Brazil palm plantations, but that goes for many other farming industries as well. Most vegans would consider carnauba wax to be vegan, but if you want to avoid it, there are plenty of other alternatives on this page.

Olive Wax

olive wax

Best for: Skin and hair products.

Where to buy: Amazon, certain specialty stores online

Olive wax is quite a bit softer than beeswax, so it’s not a great substitute in candles.

However, it’s quite a good substitute for skin and hair products that benefit from being softer and easier to spread.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to find, but it’s out there if you’re willing to look.

Rice Bran Wax and Sunflower Wax

rice bran wax

Best for: Candles and food

Where to buy: Amazon, Soap and candle supply stores

Both of these are good alternatives to beeswax, but also harder to find than the other alternatives on this page.

You won’t find them in skin products much, but they are very commonly used in foods, and often included as part of a mix of waxes in candles.

Summary: Use These Beeswax Alternatives in These Situations

To sum things up…

If you’re making candles, try to go with one of these alternatives:

  • Soy wax
  • Paraffin wax
  • Rice bran wax
  • Sunflower wax

Alternatively, if you’re making lotion or soap, go with:

  • Soy wax
  • Olive wax
  • Carnauba wax

Finally, if you’re making lip balm, the best waxes to use are:

  • Candelilla
  • Soy

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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