In a nutshell: wax is car makeup
Virtually everyone has heard of car wax at some point in their life, yet few understand what it is and how it works.
Most car waxes are made from carnauba palms. These trees protect their leaves with a waxy substance that is refined, sometimes mixed with other chemicals, packaged, and used on our cars.
Wax increases your vehicle’s shine by superficially filling scratches and leaving a thin layer of “shiny stuff” on the paint. This waxy layer repels some dust and water, keeping your car cleaner for longer.
Many believe carnauba wax is the epitome of paint protection. This is no surprise as a “hand wax” or “wash and wax” is often one of the more expensive options at your local car wash. As a result, wax and waxing are often over hyped in terms of protecting your car.
In reality, wax does a far better job of looking good than protecting. In ideal conditions, most waxes last just a couple months. Hence, detailers typically use more specific, synthetic products like coatings and sealants for protecting paint. Once protected, detailers add an additional layer of wax specifically for its shine.