What is paraffin?
Paraffin wax is a white or colorless soft solid wax. It is made from saturated hydrocarbons.
Because it is colorless, tasteless and odorless, it is commonly used in skin softening salons and spa treatments for hands, cuticles and feet. It can also be used to relieve sore joints and muscles.
Paraffin wax has many other uses. It is commonly used for lubrication, electrical insulation, and in the manufacture of candles and crayons.
Read on to learn more about the uses, benefits, and side effects of paraffin.
What are the benefits of paraffin?
Paraffin wax has cosmetic and therapeutic properties.
Cosmetically, paraffin is often applied to the hands and feet. Wax is a natural emollient that helps make skin soft. It adds moisture when applied to the skin and continues to improve the skin's moisture levels after the treatment is complete.
It can also help open pores and remove dead skin cells. This may help skin look fresher and feel smoother.
Paraffin wax can be used to help relieve hand pain in people with:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Other joint mobility issues
It works like heat therapy and can help increase blood flow, relax muscles and reduce joint stiffness. Paraffin wax can also reduce muscle spasms and inflammation and treat sprains.
Are there any side effects?
Paraffin is tested in laboratories to ensure it is safe and hygienic to use on the body. It's completely natural and has a low melting point, which means it can be applied easily to skin at a low enough temperature to not cause burns or blisters.
However, if you have very sensitive skin, paraffin may cause heat rash. Prickly heat causes small red bumps to appear on the skin, causing itching and discomfort.
You should not use paraffin if you:
- poor blood circulation
- numbness in hands or feet
- any rash or open sores
If you are allergic to chemicals, you may experience minor swelling or breakouts from the wax treatment. This is because paraffin comes from petroleum products.
If you are having a paraffin treatment at home, be careful not to overheat the wax as it may catch fire. The temperature should not exceed 125°F (51.7°C) when starting treatment.
What will happen during treatment?
Some salons and spas may offer paraffin baths as part of a manicure and pedicure, but most also offer it as a separate treatment.
The cost of a paraffin treatment varies from salon to salon, starting at around $15. It usually takes about 30 minutes.
How to use at home
You can get a paraffin treatment at a nail salon or spa, but you can also do it at home. It is important to follow the correct steps to get the maximum benefit from treatment.
To perform treatment at home, you will need the following supplies:
- Four pounds of food-grade paraffin wax
- double boiler
- measuring cup
- mineral oil
- Greased plastic containers
- olive oil
- sealable plastic bag
- Towel or oven mitts
- Moisture Cream
You can also purchase portable paraffin baths for home treatments. These devices help reduce the number of supplies you need, and many of them come with paraffin wax.
If you are using a paraffin bath, follow the instructions that come with your machine.
Step 1: Melt Wax
The easiest way to melt paraffin at home is to use a double boiler. If you have nail polish on, remove it before starting this process. Wash your hands thoroughly and dry with a lint-free towel.
Melt the wax:
Add four pounds of paraffin to the top of the double boiler. Add water to the bottom of the boiler and place it on the stove over low heat.
Add a cup of mineral oil to the wax.
When the wax is completely melted, remove the boiler from the stove. Carefully pour the wax into a greased plastic container.
Wait for a thin skin to form on top of the wax.
Check the temperature of the wax with a thermometer. The wax is ready for use when it reaches 125°F (51.7°C).
Step 2: Apply Wax
Once the wax is ready, it's ready to use. Apply:
Massage a few drops of olive oil into the skin of the area you want to treat.
Dip your entire hand or foot into the wax and leave it there for a few seconds until a layer of wax forms over the area.
Wait for the wax to dry. You'll know it's dry when the shine fades. Once dry, place the hand or foot back into the wax to a shallower depth than before. This prevents the warm wax from getting into the previous wax layer, thus preventing burns.
Repeat this process until you have at least 10 layers of wax on your hands or feet.
Step 3: Wrap your hands or feet
After applying at least 10 layers of wax to your hands or feet, place a large plastic bag over them. Then place it in an oven mitt or wrapped in a towel for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step Four: Remove Wax
After 15 to 20 minutes, remove your hands from the gloves or towel and plastic bag. Use a soft paper towel to remove wax residue from your skin. Apply moisturizer to your hands.
Once the treatment is complete, cover with paraffin and store it in a safe place for your next treatment.
Paraffin wax treatments have many cosmetic benefits and can also provide relief from conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. You can pay to have it done at a nail salon or spa, or if you have the right equipment, you can do it at home.