Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating HEC vs Carbomer

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  • HEC vs Carbomer

    Posted by Graillotion on March 27, 2020 at 1:14 am

    I have just started working with Sodium Carbomer (actually a pre-neutralized one), and have had all the issues that beginners have with it! (Fish eyed and lumpy….. I was adding after emulsion, because it was gelling my water so badly, I could not work with it….had tried it as high as .8%)  I have read the forums on the topic…and think I have it figured out now.  (will add it to the water phase, and let it soak for a while)
    However, I was wondering….is HEC simply a better product and easier to use?
    Let me start with saying….I was having emulsion difficulties, and that is how I started with the Sodium Carbomer to begin with.  The emulsion has 3%  Essential oils, (plus carrier oils) and 6-7% Ethyl alcohol as a solvent for 3% Vanillin.

    So the question in a nutshell is…. Would HEC help stabilize an emulsion that wanted to separate….just as well as Sodium Carbomer, and be much easier to work with?

    Jennycat replied 4 years, 1 month ago 5 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • jemolian

    March 27, 2020 at 9:16 am

    HEC will take certain conditions to hydrate. Either higher temperature or higher pH. 

    For the Sodium Carbomer, not sure if you have tried the slurry method by mixing it with a water free liquid ingredient and mixing it in while blending.

    You can also make 2% or 3% gel and add the percentage of gel as required if you are having issues. It’s something that i usually do if i make very small test batching like 30 to 50ml where i can’t use a overhead stirrer.  

  • alchemist01

    March 27, 2020 at 11:56 am

    @jemolian Would you mind elaborating on the slurry method?
    I’ve been having trouble preventing agglomeration of carbomer without shear mixing in larger batch sizes. Indirect addition methods I’ve read usually use an oil phase, but anhydrous hydrophilic solvents (for oil-free formulas) seem to clump the stuff just as bad as water.

  • OldPerry

    March 27, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    While HEC is good as a thickener, it is not as good as an emulsion stabilizer. The main problem is it doesn’t have the “suspending” property that Carbomer has. Also, it can feel slimy if you use too much. Finally, it can also suffer from the “fish eyes” problem if you don’t properly hydrate it.

  • Jennycat

    March 27, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    I’ve used Xanthan Gum to stabilize a emulsion at low percentage. The final emulsion is still spray-able.

  • Graillotion

    March 27, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you all, for your comments… I guess I will just try and master the fine points of adding Carbomer correctly!  Jennycat, I do use .2% Xgum in all my emulsions.

  • Jennycat

    April 3, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    There are liquid carbomers that are easier to work with. Eg. Carbopol AQSF-1

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