What is Polawax? Polawax™ NF is a complete vegetable-derived emulsifying wax used to create oil-in-water emulsions. It is manufactured by Croda and is a brand name product. Croda calls it Polawax™ NF, but I find most places shorten that to “Polawax”.
INCI The full INCI is not available as Polawax™ NF is a proprietary product. The INCI is listed on supplier websites as “Emulsifying Wax NF”.
Appearance Small white beads/pastilles.
Usage rate 2–25%
Scent Nothing much.
Approximate Melting Point 50°C (122°F)
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Oil
Why do we use Polawax in formulations? In lotions and creams, Polawax functions as an all-in-one emulsifier as well as contributing some thickening.

In cleansing oils and balms it creates products that self-emulsify on contact with water. It also brings the “cleansing” element as Polawax is made up of molecules that have an oil-loving and a water-loving end; the oil-loving end grabs the oil on your skin, and the water-loving end grabs the water you are washing with to rinse away easily.

Do you need it? I’d highly recommend having either Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF (or both!) on hand.
Strengths It is a very simple to use, pretty much foolproof complete emulsifying wax. It works reliably at 20–25% of your oil phase.
Weaknesses It is a bit more expensive than Emulsifying Wax NF.
Alternatives & Substitutions Emulsifying Wax NF is a very easy alternative and you’re unlikely to notice substantial differences in the end product.

Emulsimulse/Ritamulse, Olivem 1000, and BTMS-50 will typically work as well, but there will be consistency changes with the first two, and BTMS-50 is cationic, so that will impact the skin feel and may interact with other ingredients in the formula.

You cannot use a solubilizer, like Polysorbate 80, in place of Polawax.

You cannot use a true wax, like beeswax, in place of Polawax.

How to Work with It Melt it into your heated oil phase; it needs to be heated to incorporate.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Polawax should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks As long as Polawax is 20–25% of your oil phase you can choose your own oil phase size, making formula design pretty simple!
Recommended starter amount 50–100g (2–3oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. I find Amazon tends to have products that are labelled as multiple emulsifying waxes, including Polawax, so I wouldn’t trust that it is Polawax.

Some Formulations that Use Polawax


Posted on

November 24, 2018