What is paraffin and what are its main uses?


Paraffin is a mineral oil derived mainly from hydrocarbons (oil) and other minerals such as coal. It can be presented in solid or liquid form and has multiple applications in different industries, especially pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

There are many beauty products that include it in their composition. Paraffin has been used for more than a century in the production of creams, especially lip balms, as stated by the National Association of Perfumery and Cosmetics (@stanpa_es). It is your ability to contribute soft to the skin and, above all, to hydrate and create a protective film that prevents loss of skin moisture which has made it the protagonist of many products of this type, subjected to exhaustive controls that guarantee their safety.

solid paraffin

Aesthetic use of paraffin baths

In addition to being present in the cosmetics sector, paraffin is also used in different treatments for aesthetic purposes. The most common are called paraffin baths, which consist of immersing the hands or feet in a container that contains the liquid paraffin and keeps it at a certain temperature.

The technique is simple: a hand is inserted for 3 seconds so that the oil covers it well (it may be necessary to submerge it again, even several times). He then retires and it is wrapped in a plastic bag appropriate, also covering it with a towel or mitt. The paraffin will solidify while creating a thin layer that will help retain the skin’s own moisture. After about 15 minutes, it can be removed without difficulty. The rehydrating and rejuvenating effect on the skin of the hands is instantly noticeable.

Beauty centers also take advantage of their ability to generate heat in different reducing treatments, which help mobilize and eliminate accumulated fatty deposits. In these cases, what is being done is a technique based on thermotherapy. As explained by the Spanish Society of Aesthetic Medicine (@SEMEsthetic), thermotherapy consists of the use of heat (or cold if we speak of cryotherapy) to achieve very specific purposes, such as raising the body temperature to stimulate the body fat metabolism.

Reducing paraffin may work well in areas with excess fat tissue, how can they be legs, hips, or abdomen, never the face. Such a treatment is usually accompanied by specific massages that help activate circulation. The effect of heat, together with that of massage, makes fats and toxins easier to eliminate.


Paraffin in physiotherapy and rehabilitation

Paraffin treatment can also have therapeutic purposes. In fact, its use is common in physiotherapy centers. The reason is that paraffin transmits heat and increases body temperature where it is applied, so it can be a good remedy, for example, for relieve muscle tension or the pain caused by a contracture. Likewise, it may be advisable in certain rheumatic diseases such as wrist arthritis, osteoarthritis, vascular disorders (heat acts as a vasodilator) or muscle spasms.

In this type of treatment, heat acts as a pain reliever and it can alleviate joint pain or that derived from other chronic ailments.

It is important to make it clear that before opting for these therapies prior consultation with a specialist doctor is essential, since paraffin treatments can present contraindications. Remember that in cases where a joint or muscle is inflamed, heat is inadvisable.

The use of paraffin may also be contraindicated when there are certain circulatory problems (varicose veins, spider veins, phlebitis …) and dermatological conditions (sensitive skin, dermatitis, itching, superficial wounds …). In addition, in the presence of certain pathologies related to the cardiovascular system, paraffin could have negative effects.

paraffin brush

The different methods of applying paraffin

If there is no medical problem that advises against it, paraffin treatments for aesthetic or therapeutic purposes can be applied with different techniques, depending on their objective. In addition to immersion baths, the most common therapy to treat hands and feet, it is also possible to apply paraffin with the embrocation technique, which consists of spreading it with the help of a specific brush or brush. In some cases, it is used when the body area to be covered is extensive or it is simply not possible to submerge it (the device used to heat the paraffin has a limited capacity).

Less frequent is the “shake” procedure, that is, before being applied, the oil is beaten vigorously to get a lighter foam which will be the one that extends in a certain area, generally the back.