What do you want to know? post, Jodi asks: Would a lotion bar with harder butters or stearic acid work as well as lotion bars with beeswax? Is my skin getting extra benefits from the beeswax?
So what's the deal with beeswax? It's composed of esters - 70%, with myricyl palmitate being the main one - and 30% free wax acids and hydrocarbons. It has a high melting point at 62˚C to 64˚C, and it's recommended we don't heat it over 85˚C as it can discolour. It has an HLB of 9, and it is oil soluble, and slightly soluble in heated alcohol.
Beeswax is a great emollient and thickener that can form a film or create a barrier on your skin. A study showed it was as effective as Vaseline. It's used as a binder in mascara and lipsticks.
Beeswax is not an emulsifier on its own. It can allow for some water to be incorporated into an anhydrous or non-water containing product thanks to the hydroxy groups in the wax, but it is not an emulsifier. Any emulsifying you get in a lotion with only beeswax as your alleged emulsifier is thanks to the heat and mixing you apply to the product.
To answer the question of whether your skin is benefitting from beeswax, I'd say, yes, it does. Beeswax provides an effective barrier to the outside world to keep the good things in and the bad things out. And it is an emollient, so it is moisturizing your skin while it's on there.
another wax, like candellia or carnauba - as the base of a lotion bar because these ingredients are plasticizers, or ingredients that increase the plasticity of the product. The bar will be stiff but still yielding when we apply it on our skin. Other things that might stiffen our lotion bar, like butters or fatty alcohols and acids, won't be as yielding.
But if you want to use less, consider using more butters, like mango or cocoa butter. (Don't go with shea as it's just too soft.) Or consider using thickeners, like cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, or stearic acid. I'd go with one of the fatty alcohols as they will be more glidy than stearic acid.
So the short answers are...
1. Beeswax behaves as an emollient and barrier ingredient on our skin.
2. A lotion bar really does need some wax in it as a stiffener and plasticizer.
3. You can stiffen lotion bars with something like butters, fatty alcohols, or fatty acids.