xanthan gum with cationic ingredients

I have always read that xanthan gum cant be mixed with cationic ingredients like BTMS or polyquartiums. but I have seen quite a few commercial products that have xanthan gum mixed with cationic ingredients. including my favorite hair styler, which I am trying to duplicate.

 pure water, Persea Gratissima (avocado) Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (shea butter), glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cera Alba, xanthum gum, perfume, dl-Panthenol, hydrolyzed oat protein, Equisetum Arvense Extract (horsetail), amla, Ulmus fulva (slippery elm), Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid

How are they keeping xanthan gum together without the mixture eventually seperating? I was wondering if it had something to do with the order in which they were adding the ingredients...


  • could it be that they are using it as low levels so it isn't reacting as badly to the BTMS? somehow it must be stable because my sister has owned a jar of this stuff for over 2 years
  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    Why make life difficult for yourself?
    Xanthan gum merely acts as a viscosity modifier and there are plenty of types of those around which would be suitable in a cationic medium.
  • well @johnb ;the xanthan gum provides the hold and curl enhancement in the product. xanthan gum is used as a hair gel for curly hair. i guess the btms is used to provide some conditioning to the product. im just curious as to how a homecrafter was actually able to get this combined and stable since everything i have read says it will not be. 
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    Perhaps not everything you have read is correct or overly generalized.  As johnb mentioned, simply contact a Xanthan Gum supplier like Cargill and inquire what grades of Xanthan they have that are compatible with cationic.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • thanks. i never considered that there could be some that are compatbalie in a cationic medium. i think i read johnb'd comments wrong. thanks!

  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    There is a slight misunderstanding about what  I wrote.

    My suggestion is, to make things easier, is to substitute xanthan gum with something known to be compatible with cationic systems.

    I doubt very much that the xanthan content of the conditioner you are trying to imitate, judging by its position in the LOI, has much effect on the holding power of the product and, even if it did, there are plenty of gums with better properties in cationic products e.g. cationic guar: hydroxypropyltrimonium derivative.
  • ok @johnb I have cationic guar! I will try to make a duplication with this substitute! I also think that will be easier. and more conditioning. 

  • According to ingredientstodiefor sclerotium gum works well with cationic ingredients
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