Berry wax – Japan wax – Sumac wax

Aug 23, 2022 | Ingredients



Berry wax is one two waxes that has so low melting point which can be useful in many formulations. This wax is obtained from berry fruit peels Rhus Verniciflua tree which is native in China. You can also find a Japan wax (or Sumac wax) which is obtained from Rhus Succedanea tree. Even though both of these waxes are obtained from different species of trees, it seems that it is the same wax with different known names, as its CAS number matches (CAS no. 8001-39-6).


If you want to know from which tree this wax comes from, look at the INCI name. It should state Rhus Verniciflua Peel Cera or Rhus Succedanea Fruit Cera. Also, I have found that the Rhus Verniciflua Peel Wax is manufactured by Kahlwax company while the Japan wax is made by Fumei (there could be more manufacturers, though I only found these two).

I cannot comment how these two trees differ from each other as I am not a botanist, though it seems that their fruits are very similar and the wax is made from those berries.

Both of these waxes come in pale round pellet form, though the Japan wax can also come a bit more refined form and you can get it as white pellets with lower acid value.


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So what makes this wax so special? Well, it is very unique as most of the waxes have high melting temperature (beeswax melts at 63 °C (145 °F), Candelilla wax melts at 67-71°C (152-160°F), Rice bran wax melts at 79-85°C (174-185°F) and berry wax melts at 48-54°C (118-129°C).

The low melting point is due to high amount of glycerol ester C16-C18 fatty acid. And this brings different properties for it. For example I was stunned by the fact that with this wax you can create a gel – thicker, thinner, but a gel made only from lipids. The simplest gel can be made with 90% oil and 10% of wax. Depending on the lower or higher amount, you can get a variety of thinner or thicker gels.


Berry wax properties

INCI Rhus Verniciflua (Peel) Cera or Rhus Succedanea Fruit Cera
Function Emollient, oil binder, increased breaking resistance (pencil formulations)
Usage rate 1-34%. In O/W emulsions 1-1.5%, in W/O emulsions 3-5%, in oily gels 4-5%.
Origin Obtained from berries of Rhus Verniciflua / Succedanea tree
Appearance Pale yellow pellets. If you get refined version then pellets will be white.
Absorption rate Average to fast, has a bit of tackiness
Melting temperature 48-54
Solubility Oil
Skin type All skin types
Scent Faint vegetable
Refined or unrefined? Unrefined form has a faint scent, you can get a double unrefined form which is white with lower acid value.
Saponification index/heating 180-220
How to work with it? Add to the oil phase and heat it until molten.
Alternatives Myrica fruit wax (Myrica Pubescens Fruit Wax) also known as Bayberry wax.

3. Where and why to use berry wax in cosmetic formulations?

This wax is primarily used to anhydrous formulations such as lipsticks, lip gloss, mascaras, pencil preparations. Even though this wax is soft, it reduces breaking of pencils and improves skin feel. But it is not limited to only anhydrous formulations. It can be used in O/W or W/O emulsions to get soft textures with improved sensory characteristics.

Berry wax acts as an emollient – it smoothens and softens the skin, provides a nice and silky feeling after application and adds shine to the hair. It has good oil binding abilities and this is why it can create gels, increase oily formulation stability and reduce the probability of graininess. 

I have found it very useful when making body or hair butters with 30-40% butter content. No matter which cooling method I used, I have always got graininess in my end product (without changing the formula).

But adding 5% of berry wax resulted in a nice scoopable gel without any grains. I say this is a win-win! Though I still want to see how this initial formula changes the texture when I user higher amounts of butter without the wax.


4. Making gels with berry wax

I have made four different formulations to get the idea how this wax works – 34%, 20%, 15% and 10% with the rest being macadamia nut oil (I just have a lot oil this oil). Berry wax with macadamia nut oil were heated until wax was melted and were quickly poured into containers. After that containers were put into a fridge and kept for at least 3-4 hours.

Tests with 20%, 15% and 10% made gels but the texture varied. All of them were opaque, but the one with the least berry wax was less cloudy than the other three. The bigger the amount of the wax, the cloudier/more opaque it was.


Test with 34% berry wax

This gel was very firm. It can be pushed with a finger, though you need some power to do that. It is a bit hard to get it out of the tin, melts quite well, leaves some tackiness behind after application.


test with 20% berry wax

This gel was firm and needed some additional push to get more of the product. It slides well on the skin with a matte finish though there is some tackiness afterwards (but not much).


gel with 15% BERRY WAX

A gel with 15% berry wax was considerably softer and forms very nice peaks after getting the product out of the container. The skin feel is very similar to the first one. The gel itself is a bit cloudy.


gel with 10% BERRY WAX

The last gel with 10% berry wax was very soft – it quickly squishes after dipping a finger and it also forms some nice peak afterwards. For my taste this is a bit too thin, but it still holds its form and does not drip even when I hold the product upside down.


5. What can be made with it?

  • Lotions / creams
  • Lipsticks
  • Mascara
  • Pencils
  • Lip gloss
  • Oily hair gels
  • Styling gels

6. Where to get berry wax?

This is a list of several places where you can purchase berry wax and try it for yourself. I have found these suppliers but it is definitely not the only places where you can find it. Please do your own research as I may not know the suppliers you know.


  1. Diana

    Hi, Is this stir-to-cool method or direct pour? Thank you

    • Vaida

      Hi Diana, as these samples were very small (15 grams), they were stirred up to 30s and then poured into containers. However, if you want to make bigger samples than these, you should try both methods and see which works better for you.


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