Upcycling an antique grooming wax

Silly Shorn Sheep don't care what we think

When searching online for Mens Grooming Wax and Mustache Wax Recipes,

one will repeatedly come across a simple, two-part grooming wax recipe for men, calling for Beeswax and Vaseline. I assume it is from an old formulary or recipe book published at the beginning of the last century when newly discovered petroleum products were hailed as “princes of progress” and cures for all mankind’s ills. You may disagree, but, I think it is time to re-examine and reformulate that recipe.

 

 

  1. There were many misconceptions about petroleum Jelly or “Vaseline” when it was first “invented” and marketed to the public.  It was promoted as a ‘heal-all” , a “wonder” product and wonder drug. Many of those claims were unsubstantiated, while some were simply not true.
  2. We are now facing the toxic and destructive consequences of our love affair with fossil fuels and petroleum products. In the light of the negative impact our choices have had on the global environment, it would behoove us to stop for a moment, and see what we could possibly do differently. If it is not too late already.  Even with the small, everyday choices we make as individuals, I believe we can collectively make a difference.
  3. There are many traditional, naturally sourced, less processed and healthier alternatives to Petroleum Jelly. Such as Lanolin. Products that are better for us and for the environment. So let’s get that antique and misleading mens grooming wax recipe offline, replace it with one that is a little more enlightened, responsible and certainly better smelling!
English: Petroleum products made from a typica...
English: Petroleum products made from a typical barrel of US oil. Dark grey represents fuels, light grey is other products. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A brief history of Vaseline. Back in the late 1850’s, a black waxy substance was found building up on the American oil rig drills, it was causing drilling malfunctions. A chemist, who had been working on creating fuel from sperm whale blubber, ( which was “rendered” obsolete by the discovery of fossil fuels), was called to examine the phenomenon. He experimented with it , distilled and purified it, named it “Vaseline”, and called it a heal-all. He marketed the product, built a factory to produce it, and the rest is history. That was a condensed version of the Wikipedia description and history of Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_jelly.

 

 

This image is from Vaseline company archives o...
This image is from Vaseline company archives of various published materials. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For over a hundred years, Vaseline has been used in every department of life, all over the world. From healing babies butts and Mothers sore nipples, to waterproofing and sealing boats, baseball gloves and furniture. It was used as a hair dressing, a treatment for piles and hemorrhoids, nosebleed, toenail fungus and genital rashes. It was and is used as a seal in laboratory distillations, an axle and gear grease, waterproofer and rustproofer, and yes, in cosmetics and mens grooming wax. :-(.

 The Honeymoon is over

 

  • Now that we have rolled out of bed and hit our collective head on the harsh reality of our petroleum dependency.
  • Now that the honeymoon with petroleum is over, and we have come face to face with the backlashes our relationship with fossil fuels has brought upon us .
  • Now that we are looking at the environmental, economical, social, political and health related problems we have created on a global scale for ourselves, we are finally slowing down a bit in our headlong and blind rush to take advantage of the planet’s non-renewable, natural resources, and some of us are having a look around. Second thoughts. The sight is, at the very least, sobering.

Historically, since the beginning of the fossil fuel “revolution”, Vaseline or “petroleum jelly” replaced some of the traditional natural products that we had used and valued for thousands of years.  Products of agriculture and animal husbandry, (now there’s a word that explains in a nutshell what’s wrong with our factory production of “table meats”, there ain’t no husbandly consideration left in our relationship with the animals we eat! Our animals are on the production line with our TVs and iPads.)

Vaseline quickly replaced natural products that had a much greater affinity and similarity to our own skin structure. Natural oils that healed us through “affinity” One of these is Lanolin. With no harm done to the sheep, it is extracted from the wool before or after the sheep are sheared. Vaseline owes its only healing qualities, to its ability to create an artificial and impenetrable barrier on our skin. Which short term, keeps foreign substances and water out, and keeps moisture in, but longer term, it suffocates our greatest breathing organ, (Our  skin), maintains artificially moist conditions for bacteria and unhealthy organisms to grow, and does not allow the natural defenses of the skin to perform properly. It is, literally, a band-aid, not a solution or a cure. It is one step away from “Saran Wrap”, certainly not a “cure-all” as it was hailed, and marketed to us.

Not only is there a natural affinity between lanolin and the oils that our human body secretes, but the sebaceous secretions of sheep are very closely related to our own sebum, or natural skin oils in their chemical structure.  This is, a very important piece of  information that we have been slow to take advantage of, and quick to forget when the novelty of a brand new product was placed in front of us 150 or so years ago.

What this means is that lanolin is one of the best natural products for our skin and for our hair. That it is one of the best products to supplement the lack of natural oils, when our skin and hair have suffered damage,  a “natural” product that works with them and with our natural healing processes.

 

Grooming wax with Lanolin-creates Silly shorn Sheep
Silly shorn Sheep really don’t care what we think. A rich renewable resource.

With Lanolin, admittedly, the sheep look really silly after shearing, but despite appearances, they are in no way harmed, and carry on quite happily with their lives after we remove the wool and lanolin from them. No toxic byproducts, no global warming.  A renewable resource that will ALWAYS be available to us as long as there are sheep in the world. Wool for clothing, Meat for omnivores, milk for cheese lovers, and lanolin. Not Vaseline.

So, Why don’t we have another look at our use of petroleum jelly and other petroleum products in our recipes? Take a breath, relax and consider what we would choose to do differently, if we had the option. Which we Do. If you no longer considered petroleum our best friend, what would you choose?.   Besides the obvious issues of  “toxifying” the world with our use of a non renewable resource, I, personally, do not like the smell nor the feel of petroleum jelly on my skin or on my hair. Especially not under my nose as a grooming wax.

I’ve used Lanolin instead of petroleum jelly in mustache wax, in beard grooming waxes and formulas with great success. Not only does it feel better on my facial hair, it smells better.

It’s time someone changed things up a bit. We can’t erase that online fossil of a recipe, recommending the use of vaseline in yer mustache wax, but we can post something better and let the old one fade down Google’s pages by offering everyone a better option.
Fight the negative with positive. I like that approach.

I still love my tree saps and smooth Cocoa butter, but, sometimes simple is an excellent place to start. So, here is a simple 2 part recipe, updated and ready to go. One that you can use “as is”, or as a basic recipe to build on.  You can easily add essential oils to it as in the “Solid Mustache Wax Recipe“, or you can invent, elaborate, explore, and experiment, to your hearts desire.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on the subject, Lanolin has a lovely musky sweet smell, slightly “Animalic” even after processing and purifying which lends itself beautifully to many essential oils and oleo resins such as Labdanum.  However you choose to proceed with your mustache wax or beard wax formula, please remember to always take notes. Your future self will thank you!

 

–Also–-I must mention here, that I have noticed there are Moustache Wax recipes online, that call for heating the ingredients in the microwave! I STRONGLY advise against it! A bit of patience doesn’t hurt, especially when one remembers that if you make a mistake inputting the power or time setting on a microwave oven, beeswax will not warn you in any way, it won’t even give off a bit of pre-combustion smoke or smell, but will just burst into flames! It may not harm you directly, but it will certainly cause damage and not get you any closer to your goal.

Microwaving is fine for simple things, like heating food, and even for melting your finished and cooled mustache wax at a later date so you can pour it into containers.  If you ever do decide to use a microwave oven to heat or melt Mustache wax, make sure to use only glass containers, (not plastic or metal of course), and do it only in small, controlled increments, at medium power. (30-40 seconds at a time depending on the volume of material). Let sit for a few minutes after each microwave session for the localized “hotspots” to spread through your material, then give it another short, medium strength burst of microwaves. Eventually you will melt the volume of wax evenly, and thoroughly. A microwave is not an proper tool to use instead of a double boiler. Do NOT use it as a replacement for a double boiler!!  A lot can go wrong in the laboratory, especially when one can’t see clearly.

So please take the time, make the effort to set up a double boiler for your project with one jar of lanolin and one jar of beeswax, clip a separate empty jar to the side of your double-boiler, for mixing your product in.  If you like, add a jar for Carnauba wax, now that I have written about its benefits in a mustache wax. Or add extra jars for other ingredients you would like to experiment with. But take the time and do it right. Make yourself a high quality product. Do not take chances.

Remember, if it is worth doing, then it is certainly worth doing well.

 

 

Here is a recipe, modern, green, environmentally conscious, yet also one of the simplest recipes for a mustache wax.
Whether it is your first attempt at making your own mustache wax, or just your latest version, this recipe is worth trying and experimenting with. Gauging by how long it has been around, it is worth at least checking out. After trying this recipe, I found I like a higher proportion of beeswax.  That being said, try it out and see what works for you.
You can use it as a base and add whatever you like to it. ( Cocoa Butter for smoothness and reduce hair pulling, Carnauba wax for strength and endurance, Spruce sap for training whiskers, etc.), expand it with some of the ingredients I mentioned in “A solid Mustache Wax Recipe” or use it as it is with your own blend of essential oils. –
So good luck.
Remember to always take notes. Your future self will thank you.
Dan

 

 

A SIMPLE NATURAL MOUSTACHE  GROOMING WAX RECIPE

 

 (2 parts, no Vaseline)

 

 

  • 100 grams Beeswax.
  • 100 Grams Lanolin. You could use any amount of both as long as it was the same amount of each, and in different containers in the water-bath or double-boiler.
  • Make a double boiler. See A Solid Mustache Wax Recipe
  • Wait till your ingredients have heated up to the same temperature,
  • Pour 3/4 of each melted wax into a third, empty jar that is also warmed in the water bath.
  • Blend them thoroughly.
  • Test a couple of drops of your hot mixed wax on a cold plate. when it has reached room temperature, you will know whether you need to add more beeswax, (to make it harder). Or if you need to add more Lanolin, (To make it softer).
  • This is the reason you reserved 1/4 of each wax.
  • If your 2 part Moustache wax is exactly as you like it with equal amounts of both ingredients, you can add the last quarter of each wax. You should have exactly the same amount of Beeswax and Lanolin left in their jars.
  • You can now remove your liquid mustache wax from the double boiler.
  • If you have prepared any essential oils for fragrance, now is the time to mix them thoroughly in. (Refer to the “Solid Mustache Wax Recipe” for instructions on adding natural fragrances.
  • Pour the Mustache wax into moulds or containers.
  • Wash and clean up while they cool down undisturbed.
  • And have fun.
  • Did you take notes?? :-D!

Dan

 

 

 

 

 

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