Candelilla wax provides a protective barrier on the skin and hair that helps retain moisture. It is also useful in the manufacturing of cosmetic products as it helps to bind all the ingredients together and create a thick and workable texture with water-repellent properties.
Candelilla wax is extracted from the candelilla shrub (Euphorbia antisyphilitica), native to Mexico. Each plant is made of more than a hundred stems of a pale green colour. During the rainy season they grow very little pink flowers on their tops and each stem covers itself with a thick sap. The sap turns into wax during the dry season and protects the plant from dehydration.
Candelilla was overharvested during the 20th century as the wax was used for waterproofing tents and equipment throughout the two world wars. Its cultivation is now controlled and each harvester (or candelillero) must obtain a permit and harvest the plant in a sustainable way, such as cutting less than 60% of the plant so it can continue to grow, for example.
Lush buy the wax in Mexico, where the shrub is found in abundance, in and around the Chihuahuan Desert. The supplier works with local communities and has put sustainability at the heart of everything they do. From employees and farmers to land management, they invest to improve well-being, safety and environmental impact. They have, for example, researched and developed a new method to extract wax from the plant, as the traditional one involves using sulphuric acid, which is extremely dangerous to handle. This new technique uses citric acid and is harmless, and 100% of the candelilla wax in Lush products is extracted this way.