Paraffin wax is a mineral wax derived from petroleum. It’s very soft to the touch, and with a low melting point, it can be melted into a liquid while still being cool enough to immerse your skin in. Paraffin wax is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) as a treatment to soften and smooth ski, but it also has several other uses. Paraffin wax treatments have been used for massage therapy as far back as the Roman empire.

Today, paraffin treatments have become a popular treatment offered in spa and salons as a luxurious addition to manicures and pedicures. Hands or feet are dipped into a bath of warm paraffin wax to create a thick coating that will retain heat for several minutes. As the wax hardens, the paraffin’s natural emollient properties soften the skin while the heat opens the pores. When the cooled wax is pulled away from the skin, it also removes dead skin cells, leaving skin softer and visibly smoother. During the treatment, the paraffin forms a light waterproof coating over your skin to help it retain the oils produced by your body, making it an exceptional moisturizer. This “waterproofing” makes paraffin wax treatments great for soothing and healing dry, cracked skin – particularly winter-worn hands and feet – because it offers protection from external elements.

As if these benefits were not enough, other uses for paraffin wax include treatment of injuries and rheumatic conditions, including sports-related injuries, arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, sprains, and pulled muscles, as well as other elderly health conditions.