Xanthan gum vs Carbomer

Can we discuss the pros and cons of each and decide which ingredient wins when used as:

a) An emulsion stabilizer 
b) A gelling agent in a serum


Comments

  • Both are good:we routinely use both in combination..
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Carbomer - best texture, most versatile
    Xanthan - seen as more natural

    But as @DRBOB@VERDIENT.BIZ said, both work for specific systems.

  • Xanthan gum has better consumer perception, particularly in the "natural" and Ecocert markets BUT if you're just starting out with formulating, it can be tricky to use.

    The soft grade is easier to use. You can find it on several repackers online, but unfortunately, it is pricey compared to carbomer.
  • RedCoast said:
    Xanthan gum has better consumer perception, particularly in the "natural" and Ecocert markets BUT if you're just starting out with formulating, it can be tricky to use.

    The soft grade is easier to use. You can find it on several repackers online, but unfortunately, it is pricey compared to carbomer.
    I thought carbomer was tougher to work with since it requires neutralisation and is incompatible with many ingredients? 

    As a side question, how can we know which ingredients carbomer is incompatible with? What is 'incompatibility' referring to in this context? 
  • Carbomers are anionic polymers and incompatible  with cat ionic oriented
    ingredients:Also total ionic additives have to be kept lower compared to emulsions made with xanthan gum.
  • ifamuj said:
    I thought carbomer was tougher to work with since it requires neutralisation and is incompatible with many ingredients? 

    As a side question, how can we know which ingredients carbomer is incompatible with? What is 'incompatibility' referring to in this context? 

    You can actually find a pre-neutralized easier-to-work-with carbomer at Lotioncrafter.

    But yes, "normal" carbomer is incompatible with many ingredients, but you can get special grades of it. Carbomer(and some other thickeners) does NOT like electrolyes. Incompatibilities would typically mean emulsion separation and dispersion difficulties.

    Xanthan gum often strings up, particularly when you use it in 1%+ concentrations. Gels can feel draggy if xanthan gum is the primary thickener.

    Carbomer suppliers should give you a list over incompatibilities... you can find it in their technical information sheets.
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    Better than either: acrylates copolymers, many of which are drop-ins already neutralized such as RapidGel EZ1 (3V Sigma).  Also not all carbomers are same, you get varying properties and rheology outcomes and most formulators either don't know this or forget. BTW, xanthan gum is anionic too, an aspect largely ignored. Make a xanthan gum dispersion then drop in CETAC or another cationic surfactant and see the mess you get. Xanthan is more electrolyte tolerant however. Can't beat it there. 
  • You can also use Poly amides such as Seppmax zen good rheology/thickening and very easy to use.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited March 2021
    xanthan gum gives you a non-fluid 'gel' effect but with much longer flow than carbomer, and very little viscosity
    a more comparable substitute for carbomer is gellan gum with sodium salts; this gives a strongly shear-thinning gel with short flow, similar to a carbomer
    UK based cosmetic chemist with 13 years' experience at the bench. I've worked with pretty much everything apart from pressed powders, soap, solid lipstick and aerosols.
  • Perry said:
    Carbomer - best texture, most versatile
    Xanthan - seen as more natural

    But as @DRBOB@VERDIENT.BIZ said, both work for specific systems.

    Would hyaluronic acid work as a stabiliser at 0.2% in an emulsion? 
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