Humane Beeswax?

As I mentioned in a previous post, here’s a quick article on the controversial ingredient beeswax used in some of my products. 

What makes it controversial?

 

To most people, it’s not controversial at all. To strict vegans, however, it is. For that reason, it’s my duty as a thought-leader and product creator, to educate the public on the topic. For those who may not understand the controversy, you can read various comments and understand the issue. I’ll explain their argument here, as I empathize with it to a degree. I’ll also explain my position to vegans, hoping we can come to a compromise and open conversation of sorts.

Simply put, beeswax is not vegan by the standards of most vegans. Most? Yes, most. Not all vegans are strict about this rule. I have friends who consider themselves vegan, yet they occasionally eat honey and use products with beeswax in them. They’re not strict vegans, despite their public assertion of animal rights and exposition to the meat and dairy industry. I read an article on Quora today that summarized it nicely – the plight of bees takes less precedence to the horrific factory farming of cows, pigs, and chickens for many people.

Bee and factory farms are just not the same argument.


This isn’t an article about the choices and claims of my vegan friends who consume occasional bee products, so let’s avoid comments on “their hypocrisy,” according to your dogma. Please remember we’re all on the same side of the animal rights movement… a position that’s often forgotten in the strict vegan movement. Just because my views and their views don’t align with yours, doesn’t mean they aren’t having a huge impact on saving our planet. This isn’t a black-and-white issue, unfortunately. We’re all doing the best we can at the present moment. THAT is what matters.

They have denied my company listing on vegan sites because I use beeswax. Hey, I get it—there’s a host of natural and/or organic companies I don’t patronize because someone owns them whom I don’t respect, or their company standards don’t align with my beliefs.

As my products advise, however, I can and will GLADLY make a vegan alternative if requested. At least 80% of my skincare products are vegan by default. I’ve actually never had a vegan purchase any of the salves made with carnauba wax, so many of those items have come out of my shop page. There just isn’t a market for it in my business.

Note: the vegan options cost more, as the carnauba wax is more expensive than beeswax. This results from the production process; it’s not me capitalizing on a movement. The profit margin is the same, whether or not it’s a vegan product.

Here’s why many vegans do not consider the use of beeswax as cruelty-free and why my company still uses it, despite our cruelty-free certification. You’ll see that A does not equal B.

“Beeswax (AKA cera alba, cera lava)is the wax from a bee’s hive. Bees must consume six or more pounds of honey to create one pound of wax. They create it by either secreting it by worker honeybees from four pairs of glands on the underside of their abdomens, or by secreting droplets of wax called ‘scales.’ It can be found in many forms of makeup, from eye shadow to foundation to lipstick.” – Courtesy of http://gentleworld.org/. There is a great deal of information on the process of honey there, should you care to research it and form your own opinion.

There are two main reasons that vegans avoid beeswax:

  1.  Honey and beeswax are an animal byproduct (meaning we obtain both from the work of bees).
  2. Using these products is stealing from another species. In this viewpoint, it is the respect for another creature that warrants the purchasing decision.

I pose the question “what if bees didn’t return to a colony, we used no wax, and the colony subsequently collapsed? Would it then be OK to use the wax, rather than waste it?” This is a rhetorical question, and a rare circumstance. But with the increase of pesticides killing hives in large quantities, it may very well be a reality in our future.

The point of me asking this question is not to ruffle the feathers of strict vegans or create a debate. I’ve seen plenty of trolling where a flesh-eater maintains their position by asking questions like “where do you get protein?” and “what about plants—they feel pain, too!” The fact remains that there is a gray area, when it comes to bees.

The fact also remains that I do not believe in black-or-white lines, in labels, nor do I believe in absolutes.  There are times I make a choice to support small bee farms and pollination, instead of the harvesting of trees that might become extinct, should we use too much of their waxes. I have to weigh my decisions carefully with the ingredients I use.

Now understand my position; it will undoubtedly be refuted, belittled and argued with, in some circles.  But as I advise I am a cruelty-free company that uses beeswax, it is my duty to explain how I can make that claim.

  • Foremost, the company that certifies me as 100% cruelty-free is not concerned with beeswax as an ingredient. Nor are they concerned with other animal by-products. Their concern is how the animal is treated during their lifespan and that death does not occur to the animal by the harvesting of said by-product. I share their viewpoint.
  • My company is cruelty-free. I annually verify my suppliers do not perform animal testing. I have also verified that my source of beeswax is from fair-trade farms that ethically harvest the wax (not in China where the harvesting standards are beyond questionable). I understand it is the food meant for bees themselves and taking wax and honey makes them work harder. What may not be commonly known is that part of the meaning of ethical harvesting means there is plenty of food and wax left for the bees. Whether you agree with this position or not, ethical harvesting means I am not stealing food from bees, nor are they being killed for my beeswax. This is a valuable piece of information for me as a business owner.
  • Beeswax is a superior healing agent, which is a HUGE factor in all of my recipes. I choose ingredients for their healing ability, harvesting process, and the cost I must pass along to my consumers. High-priced products do little for the average consumer. I choose organic, fair-trade, ethically-harvested ingredients for my products.
  • My company is eco-friendly. Honey bees are not the only pollinators and are possibly, not the best at this task. I understand bees are being used for profit when I purchase their wax. I understand many honey bees are not treated fairly – I’m not purchasing the wax from these companies. I know local bee farmers who don’t always have honey, wax, or pollen available because they have tiny hives and there’s just not enough to go around for the bees and for us. These are the companies I support. These farmers raise bees for profit as long as the hive has extra, otherwise, it’s a company expenditure. Placing these farmers in a category with a company like Sue Bee is unfair and an obtuse way of looking at the world. There are ethical farmers out there of all types and we need to support them. Bees of every kind are crucial to our existence. I choose to support their work and the work of small farms, by choosing sustainable wax.
  • My company is NOT vegan.  Being cruelty-free is not the same as being vegan and vice versa. I have many vegan products and will gladly make any product with carnauba wax instead of beeswax. If you want to start a movement, refrain from complaining and support those products with your dollars. Start a movement for carnauba-based salves and prove it’s a product worth keeping on store shelves.

I respect the views of everyone and what they believe, regardless of my lifestyle choices (which is mostly vegan). My job is to educate, not dominate. My line of products is at least 80% vegan, if not more. I am also the only tattoo/piercing aftercare and laser tattoo removal aftercare company that has a full line of vegan products. This includes the ointment tattoo artists use while tattooing—A&D is typically used and contains lanolin. The transfer paper they use is also not vegan unless they special order it (my husband is a vegan, organic tattoo artist). If you’re vegan and wish to avoid the ointment used by artists, I created a vegan alternative here. My husband uses it in his organic, vegan tattoo process. 

I hope my position is more clear to everyone and that non-vegans understand the position of not using honey and beeswax. Should you have further questions, email me, or you can leave a comment below.

For more information on bees and another side of bee farms, check out this site – it was an article in one of their magazines that inspired me to discuss the controversial bee farm topic.


In gratitude of your support, use coupon code gratitude20 for 20% off your first purchase.

20 thoughts on “Humane Beeswax?”

  1. Hello-
    Just a quick note about the article you wrote/published on your site about the use of bees wax and the varied opinions on whether it’s vegan.
    FRICKEN AWESOME!
    I haven’t read an article expressing one’s own opinion in such an elegant, yet strong, professional (b/c you also have the required entrepreneur hat on as a business person who must balance being a responsible business owner AND one that prefers to make a living doing it!) – yet open-minded way in AGES!! (Perhaps ever .. or is it never?)

    I read it 2 maybe 3 times b/c it so expertly presented the facts from both sides of the fence – all while unapologetically making your personal belief crystal clear – and inserting details and examples that help the audience understand the effort involved with upholding personal values while running a business – and how someone CAN do it – AND make it work. (It requires more effort, which costs a bit more $ – but you do it b/c it’s the right thing to do!)
    I don’t think I’ve ever reached out like this to make a comment – but for some reason – it was something I had to do. I’m guessing your audience is mostly female (perhaps an inaccurate guess – or not) – so I’m probably not the demographic you target.

    I just wanted to say “JOB WELL DONE” – your article was just perfect in my eyes and I will remember it and use it to motivate myself when I’m presented with a situation where I believe I need to help educate.

    There’s a “RIGHT” way to do it – without bouncing back & forth, on & off the fence, shying away from highlighting your own values because of the possible negative impacts…. and your article is the TOP example !!

    I wish you continued success in your life, keep up the great work !!
    Of course, now I’m headed to your online store (who knows – maybe I AM the targeted demographic ?? I’ve already signed up for the newsletter!) – I’m curious to see the different products you offer… see if anything sparks my interest (for me or perhaps someone I know).

    Take Care,
    Michael M.
    San Francisco, CA

    1. Good morning, Michael-

      Your message moved me so much that I read it to my husband. I can’t express my gratitude enough, nor tell you what a wonderful reminder it is for me to remain upfront with my values. I’m heavily involved in the plant-based movement, so I deal with A LOT of vegans; I constantly walk a fine line with them when it comes to the meals I make and my products. Messages such as yours make that line so much easier to walk. Life’s not black and white, as you know from my post… there’s a world out there and not a one of us should make a determination on what’s right for all. Thank you for supporting that opinion.

      I read a lot of books on Compassion and Spirituality, as well as following some great leaders (as you’ll soon see in the WEALTH of emails you get from me lol). It’s an honor to know all the reading has translated into a motivating and compassionate view of our non-black-and-white world. I believe we must embrace the shades of gray, and beeswax is certainly one of those areas of gray. I’m proud to influence others to remain firm, yet compassionate in their opinions.

      No, you’re not my “typical demographic,” though I wish I could break through and reach more males with my message. Typically, men are interested in my tattoo aftercare, salves, or beard oil… nonetheless, compassion is a human trait, not a gender-specific one.

      I’d like to post your response to that article. It will inspire others to show compassion; speak in a free and safe space; and not be as judgmental… You also, as an outsider, hit the nail on the head regarding the difficulties of being in business. It’s a tricky hat to wear, when you serve the public and must sometimes say “no” to your patrons and their requests.

      Again, thank you immensely for your words… I look forward to speaking with you further!

  2. Dear Alicia,

    I came to your site by chance, while looking for a vegan alternative to beeswax for the purpose of creating some encaustic wax art. I’ve had some contact with encaustic wax art practitioners and they’ve been sympathetic to my wishes, but they have explained in detail the reasons why vegetable waxes won’t work as effectively. I’m still finding it hard to give up on the quest!

    I really appreciate your concern about how beeswax is obtained, and that you choose to buy wax from beekeepers with the same ethics. I knew a beekeeper who admitted that what he did was cruel to the bees, especially the smoking out, which not only confused them but killed many of them. He felt badly about it, and perhaps he has changed his approach.

    Although I’ve been vegan for nearly thirty-five years, and brought my children up as vegans (both very healthy), I agree with your views about the dilemmas we can face when we want to avoid the abuse of animals, which of course includes all other creatures. Your point about the harvesting of plant material from trees is a good one. There’s so much to take account of.

    Where animals are the only source of food, vegetarianism and veganism would presumably create further dilemmas. But in our so-called developed societies, we don’t have such problems. What irritates me regularly is the notion that animals being farmed with a degree of respect makes eating them acceptable, because this idea is attached to the further notion that they are slaughtered ‘humanely’. So the many references to ‘free range’ herds and ‘cage-free’ eggs, are meaningless to me. I think the closest anyone could ever come to the humane slaughter of mammals would be to remove each one from the sight of its fellows and end its life with a bullet to the head, and to use the old-fashioned neck-breaking method for birds. (Gosh, I feel uncomfortable even having written that.)

    Anyway, I liked your article very much, because it was so nicely balanced in regard to the many different but important perspectives.

    Thank you!
    Carrie.


    This e-mail was sent from a contact form on Pandoras Products (http://pandorasproducts.net)

  3. I googled “what is beeswax” because I didn’t know. Your article came up. It is well written and informative. After posting this, I will have a look around your site to see what you sell, because you’re so honest with your customers. Thank you.

    There should be a word for people who eat mostly vegan but use bee products – or people who just don’t eat animal products but have no problem with leather, fur, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t have such a word yet, so “vegan” with a footnote will have to do for now. Or maybe strict vegetarian.

    And I’m sorry people attacked you in the comments. I quite suspect the same is about to happen to me.

    1. Thank you for the comment! Someone below had a nice and open conversation with me and had a suggestion for what “almost vegans” are called. I’m not a huge fan of titles and labels, but I did greatly appreciate how he phrased it and have offered that as a suggestion…”mostly vegan” works. I’m not sure about a title for those who don’t eat animals but will use leather (I know one, but he’s not a fan of titles either, so it’s never been discussed).

      Thank you for the concern but have no fear–I don’t take comments personally, whether good or bad. We all have our opinions and are allowed to share them…it’s what makes the world go around! My job is to see if I can push the needle a bit and ask for a bit of Compassion from everyone to see all sides of the picture. Fear not, though–if someone posts a negative comment to you, I won’t approve it. I have complete control over what’s seen and won’t allow trolling or hatred on my site. 🙂 Have a beautiful day and I’m glad you found me…welcome!

  4. Thank you for your blog and for all of those that responded. I have been very confused as a non vegan. I manufacture natural personal care products. I am not a vegan company. I do use beeswax. I am not certified cruelty free but do make extraordinary efforts to source from sustainable eco friendly and free trade sources. Here is where I am confused: how is it acceptable for vegans to use petroleum based products for skin care? While it is true that fossil fuels do not come from animals that have roamed the earth for centuries, the cruelty and exploitation of animal life in the production and drilling of these resources is irrefutable. Of course I understand it is lunacy in this world to try to avoid all plastics, cars rubber etc… however it is entirely possible to boycott petroleum based beauty products. It is also confusing to me that boycotting beeswax yet still rationalizing choosing petroleum products without a second thought is some how more of a righteous pursuit in the vegan philosophy. The suffering of animals in petroleum production is gross even to someone like me who is not vegan or vegitarian. So I suppose some of the more sanctimonious posts here seem a bit misleading. If you drive a car have any plastic in your home, purchase food wrapped in plastic… well maybe you’re not as devout as you might claim. I can assure you that honey bees and the farming of beeswax is far less cruel than the production of petroleum!

    1. Thank you, thank you…I have to admit I had never thought about some of the concepts you mentioned and I truly appreciate your feedback. I also appreciate the way in which you expressed your opinion vs making it combative. I don’t believe in mineral oil/petroleum for a multitude of other reasons, but I had honestly not considered the aspect of how it is obtained. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I’ll look into the production of petroleum more, given your post. Thank you again, and good luck with your products! We’re at a point in our world that we need more and more of us conscious creators vs the corporations mindlessly grinding out dangerous products.

  5. In most of these comments I only read labeling labels for people vegan, vegetarian. People living by a label hmmmm sounds to me like it’s inauthentic living , I make 100% Natural Skin and Hair products and also ethically source all of the ingredients I use including beeswax! Because I fu*king love beeswax and everything about it including where it comes from. So id love to say thank you for writing this article and trying to explain it it didn’t go over my head at all. Blessings ????

    1. You’re welcome and thank you for the comment. Keep up the great work of authentically sourcing products…it’s not as easy as people speculate it is! <3

  6. Hi Alicia

    Thank you for your previous reply.

    I think the issue here is that you are confusing a “title” and “ego”-related issues with a noun, which has a specific, factual meaning.

    With genuine respect, perhaps it is even the case that your blog post is more about a reaction to your own ego having been bruised? It is correct that you should be denied listings on vegan sites – and wrong that you have tried to list there.

    “Vegan” means a person who does not eat or use animal products – at all.

    Someone who is not vegan, but who is nearly so, may perfectly accurately describe themselves, for example, as being “almost vegan”, “mostly vegan” or “nearly vegan”. But they are still not “vegan”.

    This is a simple, factual matter that protects the integrity and accuracy of the word “vegan” when used in daily language, so that everyone continues to know what it means and to recognise that someone who describes themselves as such avoids eating or using any animal products all of the time.

    To ask someone who is vegan some, but not all of the time, to describe themselves accurately is not to cast aspersions on them or to lessen, in any way, the beneficial impact of the other (say) 95% of their actions.

    They know, themselves, the benefits to animals and to the environment of those elements of their lifestyle that are vegan. They do not need a falsely claimed noun (or badge or label) to validate that. Nor would claiming one, inaccurately, either increase or decrease the benefits that they have contributed by their actions. Vegans will also still fully respect the vegan elements of their lifestyles.

    It may help to consider similar nouns such as “abstinence” and “teetotaler”.

    Someone who changes their behaviour to abstain completely from consuming alcohol is “teetotal” or “abstinent”.

    Someone who changes their behaviour to abstain from, say, 95% of their prior alcohol consumption might reasonably describe themselves as being almost, mostly or nearly abstinent or nearly teetotal. But they would not yet be either “abstinent” or “teetotal”. To claim that they were would be nothing less than a lie.

    In exactly the same way, someone who tells others that they are vegan when they are not is lying. They are misusing language and misrepresenting, to others, their choices and actions.

    Just as – again with respect – to seek to claim that a product is vegan when it is not (including, for example, seeking listings in vegan shopping directories) would also amount to a simple, factual misrepresentation.

    The word vegan means what it means. Nothing more and most certainly nothing less.

    PS. The “vegan” who told me about their beef burger was not confused. They were just embarrassed to have been caught out telling lies and tried to excuse it by referring to the quality of the animal’s diet compared to some other farmed animals.

    1. Hello again! I do hope your comment offers some clarification to those who are in that 95/5 split, with regard to what can be used as a description. I would guess their incorrect title is made to not have to get into lengthy conversations about it. It’s been my observation that people on both sides (omni- and vegan) can be rather combative when you’re not 100% all-or-nothing. It’s not confusion on my part–there are people who use the term as a title, rather than the noun it is. Just as many others use a noun as a title/victim badge.

      I find that telling people I’m plant-powered (the equivalent to what you say is mostly-vegan) opens a door for communication and curiosity for omnivores. Perhaps it’s a “safe” middle ground, where they feel they can question the path further. Perhaps it’s just the types of people my friends encounter or the fact that I’m usually teaching when the subject comes up. Maybe it’s the negative connotation around the word vegan itself. I honestly can’t say. I don’t make the rules for society, I’m just observing them and trying to explain the viewpoint of my company.

      Unfortunately, I have seen my friends attacked on social media by other vegans for that 5%…I’ve read the hateful comments about how it’s “not good enough.” It actually spawned another post where I mentioned being baffled that Paul McCartney was attacked for not being vegan, despite the MILLIONS of animals he’s saved in his activist lifespan. Not everyone is as kind as you are about the matter. Sadly, the vegan aspects of my friend’s life were not being respected, just as Sir McCartney’s weren’t.

      Just to clarify it, I wasn’t trying to offer beeswax products on a vegan site, nor would I. It’s not a bruised ego either, although I do understand that assumption. If I apply to a vegan website, it’s only the products I make that are 100% vegan, which is 90-95% of the products I create (the post incorrectly states 80%). My point was that the all-or-nothing attitude can be very divisive in any situation. I just happened to be talking about veganism in this post vs any other topic I may write about. I do still offer organic products that vegans can benefit from and I felt perhaps I could reach them on other sites tailored to them. Hence feeling perhaps it didn’t make sense to me.

      It’s not all vegan sites, by the way. My company was listed on PETA’s site at one point, regardless of not having strictly vegan products. I’m always very clear that I offer vegan products to anyone who would prefer them because I do understand we don’t all share the same belief systems. I advise I will gladly substitute carnauba for beeswax in any of the salves that contain beeswax, as well. Does that make my vegan products less valuable to vegans? I should hope not. I make it clear in several parts of the post that I offer vegan options–I never misrepresent my company nor my products.

      And thank you for the further explanation about the “grass-fed” beef! The curious world we live in…but I see how that is a *similar* situation.

  7. “Please understand I do have friends ** who are vegan ** that still eat honey, and use products with beeswax in them.”

    Please understand those friends of yours are, obviously and categorically, therefore NOT vegan.

    Just as (from your previous reply to another poster) those who “say they’re vegetarian, but who eat meat occasionally” are, equally clearly and categorically, NOT vegetarian.

    Reminds me of the man I met on vacation who told me that he was vegan, but that he “had a great beef burger the other night” – but it was OK, because it was grass-fed beef.

    1. Hello, and thank you for the comment (and for being kind about your views). I do understand they are not technically vegan and as you pointed out about a previous comment I made, it’s my very problem with titles. Because they may “cheat” 5% of the year, they are now considered no longer “worthy of the title” (by some, not me) and the good they do the other 95% of the year is completely negated.

      It’s what Colleen Patrick-Goudreau would Compassionately call “progress, not perfection.” They’re not perfect vegans if they have occasional products that are from animal by-products and are apparently judged as such. But they are extremely Compassionate with humans, which I’ve found plenty of others not to be (especially considering some of the comments on this post that have been blocked for malice). So where do we draw the line with our obsession with titles? I prefer focusing on the good they’re doing and not the 5% others deem as not good enough. It goes back to the book I mentioned earlier, “The Five Levels of Attachment,” and how far we’ll go to defend our Ego. As for grass-fed beef situation you discussed, perhaps he was confused and in need of an education? Without being there, I am left to only speculate that he may think the term vegan is somehow likened to what the cow’s eating and not what he’s eating? After years of teaching this subject, I wouldn’t be surprised. Thanks again, and have a wonderful weekend!

    1. You’re very welcome–I’m glad it helped! I understand both sides of the issue, but I find it’s important to consider all options in our world. I also understand that some vegans won’t purchase my vegan products simply because I offer beeswax in others. At least the option is there, however! Keep supporting those small farms and ethical bee products; our world needs more ethical harvesting! <3

  8. Well that doesn’t sound good. Will go clicking elsewhere now. Thanks anyway. Not a symbiotic relationship. More comparable to slavery. Speciesism included.

  9. Your friends that consume bee products are not vegans. There is no such thing as a vegan that consumes animal products. But thank you for taking care to avoid excess cruelty with your sourcing of animal products.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Amber! Truly, thank you…I do understand what you’re saying, and I do agree. Unfortunately, I don’t know of another word for what they do, and for all the help they are providing the planet by what they aren’t consuming. It’s akin to those who say they’re vegetarian, but eat meat occasionally. It’s my problem with titles and the attachment TO those titles, as Don Miguel Ruiz discusses in his book. In their minds, being vegan 95% of the year and having honey here and there (from a local farmer who is very mindful of what he sells), isn’t a big deal. However, I understand that this 5% will make them non-vegan to everyone else. Wishing you well, and saying thank you again! <3

  10. Yeah. Ate my comment, too. Probably because it pointed out all the reasons NOT to use beeswax or honey. Won’t repeat it. Too long. Just sum up by saying that bees, as with other non-human species, were NOT put on this earth for Man’s use. The bees do not voluntarily give up their food and homes for you to eat or make candles. It’s as simple as that!

  11. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for inexperienced blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

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