Everything You Need to Know About Ceresin, the Ingredient You Use Everyday

CLEAN SLATE: Everything You Need to Know About Ceresin

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With winter weather comes dry, dull, tight skin from the cold air and constant exposure to heat blowing out of heaters in your house, car, and workplace. While this is a feat you can’t seem to stray from during this time of year, there are products and ingredients out there that can help get your skin back to its glowing and hydrated state. One ingredient being one you may not have heard of before but use everyday – ceresin. 

Ceresin is found in your skincare and beauty products – and without it, your products would be watery, lumpy, and less effective. Board certified dermatologist, Kristen Miller, MD, says that products using ceresin will soften and hydrate your skin while helping protect it from the surrounding environment. It functions to hydrate and repair the skin barrier.

Some ingredients you hear magical things about may seem hard to come by, but not ceresin. When we say it’s found in a lot of your beauty products – it truly is. Check the ingredients on your lipsticks, eyeliners, and favorite skincare products. There’s a good chance it’s made with ceresin. We spoke with a few skin experts to get to the bottom of what exactly ceresin is, why it’s used in beauty products, and how it benefits your skin. 

What is ceresin?

Ceresin is a white or yellow wax that is obtained from a naturally-occuring mineral wax, ozokerite by purification. “The purifying process often consists of treating ozokerite with heat and sulfuric acid, although other methods have been used,” double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, Jaimie DeRosa, MD, explains. It’s commonly used as a substitute for beeswax or paraffin. It’s also pretty common to find it listed as an ingredient in the beauty products you use daily. 

How does ceresin benefit the skin?

“Ceresin is used as a thickening ingredient that keeps together the liquid and oil parts of an emulsion and prevents them from separating,” Dr. DeRosa shares. Since ceresin is an emollient, products lacking this ingredient could cause skin irritation. 

Being a wax, it helps harden oil-based compounds like pomades or balms. It has conditioning and moisturizing properties for the skin and acts as a moisture barrier, thus sealing water and active ingredients close to the skin. “It’s best for dry, rough and cracked skin that requires moisturizing,” Dr. DeRosa adds. It is also low allergenic, non-irritating and non-comedogenic. 

How is ceresin used in beauty products?

Ceresin containing products should be used last in your skincare routine to seal serums and creams with active ingredients. It helps to maintain the thickness and consistency of cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balm, mascara, and eyeliner. “It can also be used as a thickening agent in moisturizers and certain hair care products,” Dr. Miller says. 

Without it, large categories of beauty products would be impossible to create due to its thickening, hardening and stabilizing properties. The texture would be inconsistent without ceresin. “Lipsticks, pomades, balms, and thicker creams would be impossible,” Dr. DeRosa explains. Also, it would not be possible to create great moisturizers and do skin treatments such as slugging.

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.

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