Carbomer is a thickening agent that helps control the viscosity and flow of cosmetic products. They also help distribute and suspend insoluble solids into liquids and prevent separation of the oily and liquid portions of the solution. They have the ability to absorb and retain moisture and can expand up to 1000 times their original volume when dispersed in water.
Typically, this type of ingredient is used in gel-like formulations because it forms a colloidal, mucus-like consistency when mixed with water. In cosmetic ingredient lists, the name carbomer is sometimes associated with numbers, such as 910, 934, 940, 941, and 934P. These numbers represent only the specific molecular weight and composition of the polymer. This ingredient is included in a variety of personal care products, such as styling gels, facial moisturizers, sunscreens, shampoos, and here are a few of the properties of carbomers.
Additionally, carbomers are capable of dispersing or suspending insoluble solids in liquids. Therefore, carbomers are used to prevent separation of emulsions into oil and liquid components, as well as to control the consistency of cosmetic and other skin care products. By adding carbomer to products like shampoos, conditioners, creams and lotions, formulas will appear richer, smoother and creamier.
By varying the amount of carbomer used in a product, formulators can create anything from a firm hairspray that stays exactly where it is placed, a lotion that has body but still flows easily, or a rich cream that retains its shape. Large amounts of carbomer in the gel may cause the product to roll or clump on the skin, but this phenomenon depends on other formulation steps taken to minimize this effect.
Interestingly, carbomer doesn't seem to have any effect on the skin. Once you apply carbomer on your skin and it dries, you won't even notice it. Carbomer does not make the skin sticky, dry or tight. Carbomer polymers are not in the product to promote any benefit, only to improve the texture of the product.
In addition to being used in personal care products, carbomer polymers have a wide range of commercial and industrial uses. Some examples include use as fragrance carriers, medical bandages, wound dressings, and flame retardant gels, to name a few.
Is carbomer safe?
The safety of Carbomer has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel of Experts, which evaluates the safety of skin care and cosmetic products. Carbomer polymers exhibit low phototoxicity, light contact sensitization, skin irritation and sensitization at concentrations up to 100%. After evaluating the scientific data, a CIR panel of experts concluded that carbomer polymers are safe as ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products.
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