Article by: Perry Romanowski

One of the requirements of most cosmetic products is that they have an appealing rheology. This means that you as a cosmetic formulator you are going to have to figure out a way to control the viscosity (or thickness) of your products. There are a number of ingredients that are used for this purpose. Each kind has applications to different formulation types. Here is a basic introduction.

Lipid Thickeners

Lipid thickeners are primarily composed of lipophillic materials. They work by imparting their natural thickness to the formula. Typically, these materials are solids at room temperature but are liquified via heat and incorporated into emulsions. They are used most often in creams and lotions. Some common types include Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Carnauba Wax, and Stearic acid.

Naturally derived thickeners

Various thickeners are found in nature or are derivatives of natural thickeners. These ingredients are polymers that work by absorbing water to swell up and increase viscosity. Cellulose derivatives like Hydroxyethylcellulose are frequently used in liquid cleansing products such as shampoo or body wash. Guar gum is another example of a naturally derived thickener. Others include Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, and Gelatin. These thickeners can be used in any formula that contains a high level of water. Unfortunately, they can be inconsistent, cause clear formulas to become cloudy, and feel sticky on skin.

Mineral thickeners

Mineral thickeners are naturally occurring, mined ingredients that can absorb water or oils and boost viscosity. They give a different kind of viscosity than the natural gums. Materials include Silica, Bentonite, and Magnesium Aluminum Silicate. These thickeners can be used to thicken oils as well as water based formulations.

Synthetic thickeners

Perhaps the most versatile of all thickeners are the synthetic molecules. Carbomer is the most common example. It is a water-swellable acrylic acid polymer that can be used to form crystal clear gels. They have a desirable feel which makes them superior to other thickening agents that leave a sticky feel. Carbomer thickeners also have the ability to suspend materials in solution so you can have low viscosity formulas with large particles suspended. These thickeners also help to stabilize emulsions and are frequently used in lotion and cream products.

Ionic thickening

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most common thickeners for surfactant solutions. Simply adding Salt (NaCl) you can get an anionic surfactant solution to become thicker. In fact, salt is frequently used as an adjusting agent during production.  In a future article, we’ll discuss the salt curve and what it means for rheology.

What is your favorite cosmetic thickening agent? Leave a comment below.



  1. Avatar
    संजय सिंह

    Im make shampoo use natural ingredients as alovera , alsi tulsi which shampoo thickner , shinner, preservative use for this

  2. Avatar
    Pious Muslimah

    Hello sir I much appreciate your work. I had made natural shampoo using non ionic surfactants,herbal infusions,extracts,glycerin and some essential oils. now want to thicken my shampoo,i added an than gum but it subsided the lather and the look so can I add HEC,will it work making thick and giving viscousity and can I still call my shampoo natural? It’s phone is 6.5 .Thanks in advance. Pls help!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum Yes, you can use HEC instead of a gum to thicken. But non ionic surfactants are notoriously difficult to thicken.

  3. Avatar
    shruti sharma

    Hi Perry,
    Apart from what can give stable jelly like consistency…that does not loose its shape when put under water .

  4. Avatar


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That depends on what is in the formula. But HEC might work.

  5. Avatar


    What can I use to thicken hair oil?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know. It depends on what is in your formula.

  6. Avatar
    Dia Verma

    Hi Perry,
    I am making a hand wash using Decyl glucoside,Lauryl Glucoside,how do i make it thicker?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. Without knowing the whole formula, it’s tough to answer. But using a cellulosic polymer would probably work.

  7. Avatar
    Vaishali Patil

    Need to Gel , Salicylic Acid 30% solution in Ethanol. Problem is Ethanol at low PH LIKE 0.8-1.2
    please suggest a thickner

  8. Avatar
    Dorcas Abena Asem

    Hi Perry, I’m formulating a body oil with mineral oil as it main ingredient. Presently i have an issue with increasing the visosity. I used all the proposed oil thickeners but it gives a resulting cloudy mixture which settles during the stability test. Could you kindly propose a thicker mineral oil or a more efficient cost effective oil thickener with a transparent effect?

  9. Avatar

    I am making a lipstick remover using Coconut oil, Glycerine, Water and sweet orange oil which thickener can I use?

  10. Avatar

    Sir i want to make hand wash concentrated in which 1 liter concentrated make 5 liter thick handwash with only with reacting with water how can i do that

      1. Avatar
        N. Sivamoorthy

        Dear sir, Good afternoon I’m sivamoorthy from Tamilnadu we are manufacturing of liquid hand soap based on HEC (Thickening agent) but we are not reach the correct thickness please give some idea for high thickness.

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Increase the level of HEC? It really depends on what else is in your formula. I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

          1. Avatar
            N. Sivamoorthy

            Thank you sir, the given below formula we are using for liquid hand wash Kindly suggest me how to make a Hand wash concentrated liquid, becaz we are buying.
            HEC – 0.6%
            SLS – 3%
            Mild – UC – 6% (Hand wash concentrated liquid)
            Aloe vera – 0.6%
            Salt – 2%
            Fragrance – 0.3% (Lavender)
            Color – QS
            Purified water – 87.5%

  11. Avatar

    I have been trying liquid hand wash using common salt and cocoamine dea to thicken SLES but not getting desired result. Please suggest me suitable thickner to be used along with above two to viscose hand wash.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You can try Methylcellulose or Hydroxyethylcellulose.

    2. Avatar

      Add NaCl to thicken the SLES surfactant system

  12. Avatar

    Hi Perry

    Your post helped me fix an emulsion that i added a tiny but too much water to, i used xanthan gum and it came together beautifully – Thank you

    I was wondering though if you know of any wholly natural surfactants that can be used with Castile soap as a base for a gentle shampoo and handwash? If not, might I suggest this as a post for your readers? Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      There really aren’t any “wholly natural” surfactants that are suitable for making cosmetics. But it depends on what you mean by “natural”

    2. Avatar

      Hi there,
      Soap nut and Shikakai ( Sapindus mukorossi and Acacia concinna) are surfactants provided by nature. You can google articles on both the species for more information.

      1. Avatar
        Perry Romanowski

        Unfortunately, Soap nut and other natural surfactants are inferior in performance to synthetic surfactants.

  13. Avatar

    hiya, what’s the best thickening agent to add to Aloe Vera gel reconstituted from powder for a product marketed for the ‘organic’ market? Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Probably xanthan gum

  14. Avatar

    i want a thickener like honey in reology. is there any carbomer grade like this?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Sure. You just have to find the right one.

      1. Avatar

        Do you know which one? 940 and 941 are not like that.

  15. Avatar
    Madiha Humbal

    Dear sir,
    I am researching on making clear transparent watery cream formulation. I want a thickner that makes the solution stay clear. Other ingredients that i want to use to make this cream are 50% glycerin. 48% water. Fragrance oil and preservative both at 1%. Your help is highly appreciated.

  16. Avatar

    What is the best thickener for water based inks?

  17. Avatar

    Hello Sir

    A great website.

    I’m needing some advice.

    I’m currently looking at ways to gel hydrocarbon fuels and alcohol fuels with the ability to choose the viscosity that I wish dependent upon its use that I can also spray as a mist.

    In addition, I’m looking at making other gels and pastes that have extreme high resistance to temperature. I have one so far that I have had a lot of success with. Do you have any ideas on ingredients that could be suspended in a gel mix or other such? I’m fairly new to to this and so far I have been teaching myself.

    I’m also interested in how I could atomise or create a very viscous gel that can be sprayed.

    Thank you in advance for any help advice.

  18. Avatar

    Thanks Chemist Corner to given us this platform,

  19. Avatar

    Hi, pls i want to make body cream and lotion, my ingredents are Cytric Acid, Stearic Acid, Crodal Wax, Cytil Alcohol, Petroleum Jelly,Paraffin Oil, Glycerin, and Vitamin E. What type of thickner can i use instead of Crodal Wax?

  20. Avatar
    Cathie Marshall

    Thanks so much for this informative site.
    I’m making cream and would like to know at what point do I neutralize carbomer? Before I add the water phase to the oil phase? Or the completed product?
    Thank you…

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends on the formula but you should neutralize it just prior to mixing the oil and water phases.

  21. Avatar
    Hamza ali

    How to make a thick toilet bowel cleaner

    1. Avatar
      rajendra prasad singh

      thickening agent for toilet cleaner

  22. Avatar
    Hamza ali

    Which chemicals should be used to thicken the hydrochloric acid

  23. Avatar
    Hamza ali

    You can tell me a chemical name to thicken HCL acid
    HCL acid case is thicker than chemical

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know what your question means. Is it an HCL solution? What’s the percent HCl?

  24. Avatar
    Nicole Ortiz

    hi . just wanted to ask ? what is the best thickening agent for lipsticks? thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Since lipsticks are sticks, the thickening agent is a wax like Carnauba wax or Candellia wax.

  25. Avatar

    hi, may you plz tell me the type of thickening agents I can use in making a mosquito repellent?

  26. Avatar

    i m using labsa, cslye,triethonal amine,sls powder,sodium chloride, capb, i need low solid content ( below5%) handwash liquid pls suggest,

  27. Avatar

    Thank you for this informative post!

  28. Avatar

    I want to produce 5 litres of hair conditioner with guar gum powder as thickner, coconut oil as carrier oil, lemon oil as essential oil and water.
    What is the right qualities and what other essential oils could be used

  29. Avatar
    Mia So

    I’m making a natural liquid roll-on deodorant. Because the consistency of the solution is like water, it leaks from the roll-on bottle. What thickener can I add that is a natural ingredient, non-sticky, and doesn’t leave any residue? How is glycerin in this situation?

  30. Avatar
    Ahmed Abdel Maksoud

    I’m making dish soap using sodium silicate as alkali and salt as thickener but the result is jelly like layer floating on top how can I solve this problem

  31. Avatar

    i need to make an exfoliating shower bath.So what are the suspending agent with low cost that i can use?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Carbomer or Xanthan gum

  32. Avatar

    i m makin moisturizing lotion which contain urea n i have also added sodium meta bisulphate as antioxidant,,,plxx tell me what should i add to reduce the pungent smell of sodium meta bisulphate

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You need to add a fragrance that offsets the smell.

  33. Avatar
    Henrik Johansen

    Hi there.! I volunteer for a youth/children activation group and we wanted to try making our own molds for casting different things,

    We tried heating 1 part glycerol + 1 part gelatin, it works great, just pour over object and let it cool.
    Pros using gelatin:
    easy to acquire

    warm on skin (if duplicating a body part)
    will melt if trying to cast lets say hot chocolate/wax

    We are on a budget so we hope to find a cheap substitute (both for mold material and for the casting resin itself as well).
    Thank you so much and best regards,

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know. Why don’t you use something like Clay for the mold?

  34. Avatar

    Hi, I am using xantham gum 0.35% for cream. Also using cetearyl alcohol. my viscosity is 7000 cps and i want to achieve > 10000 cps. I don’t want to use carbomer. Should i increase xantham gum to .5% or 1 % or do you have any suggestion? thanks

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Increasing the xanthan gum should work.

  35. Avatar

    I am looking to make my own organic mascara. I was thinking of using castor oil and grape seed oil. The goal here is to produce healthy growing volume eyelashes. Not sure how both these ingredients would react together but wanted to get your opinion on it. Are there any other ingredients I should consider using for color as well? such as charcoal for black color or coca powder for brown? some other ingredients I was consider using was beeswax and aloe vera. I just wanted something that was natural and non toxic and easy to make and has a decent shelf life. Also how would I go about cooking so to speak these products together?

  36. Avatar

    Hi sir, I’m looking for a base, appropriate for adding a water-soluble anti acne agent in it.
    what is your suggestion?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That’s not enough information to answer. Are you making a cream, a lotion, a spray, a gel? It depends on what you want to make. I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

  37. Avatar
    Sheela Velappan

    Sir, I want a suitable thickening agent for a lotion containing 10 % potash alum. Can you suggest a thicking agent which is dermatologically safe.

    Expecting your valuable suggestion.
    Thanks & regards.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Use some of the ones suggested above.

  38. Avatar

    I am making anhydrous gel containing 60% Propylene Glycol ,30% IPA and 6% Lipid .

    I tried many gelling agent including many carbopol grades but its get precipitated.

    Can you suggest any gelling agent other than Carbopol to thicken IPA and PG base??


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

  39. Avatar
    Anshu Juneja

    I am preparing liquid detergent using LABSA, SLES, CDEA, CAUSTIC SODA, ALCOHOL, STPP and fragrance. But the liquid is not as viscous as I need. What are variou thickener shall I use to make the liquid more viscous that could maintain transparency as well? Please Suggest

  40. Avatar

    hi sir what can be used as a thickner in shampoo if we want it to be more viscous ?? and what will be the reason if a shampoo loses its homogenity ????

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That depends on what is in your shampoo.

  41. Avatar

    Hi, with the exception of carbomer, is there a thickener that can increase the viscosity of an anhydrous ethanol solution? Thanks

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

  42. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    What do you think about application of synthetic mineral thickeners like lithium magnesium sodium silicate in a variety of cosmetics? They are very efficient thixotropy agents used in, e.g. gelly deodorants. Do you think they may be used- instead of Carbomers- as highly efficient co-thickeners in cosmetics?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      They have a different feel than Carbomers. They certainly have application in cosmetics.

  43. Avatar

    i need a polymer thickening for liquid dishwashing

  44. Avatar
    Adaobi lweka Ezerioha

    Pls what hair thinker can l use for my hair mask products and mayonnaise too. Thanks

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That’s not enough information to answer your question. I suggest you post it in our forum.

  45. Avatar

    i need preservative for silicone emulation to prevent from smell.
    please tell which preservative i can uses

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know. It depends on what else is in the formula.

  46. Avatar

    I used Xanthan gum and Aristoflex AVC with EDTA-Na. Then, I found these thickeng agent didn’t work well. I wonder if you let me know why this happened. Thank you very much..

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. I can’t answer because I don’t know what is in your formula and what you mean by ‘didn’t work well’

  47. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    I am looking at formulating a water based hair pomade, similar viscosity to the Layrite,Upper Cut or Muk Slick (all brands of current popular hair pomades). Effectively they are more like gels, with an extremely sticky and thick viscosity. I was heading down the carbomer route, however all references are showing a thickness more like standard hair gel. Any ideas?

  48. Avatar

    I have been trying to thicken a solution containing Polyhexamethylene guanidine (PHMG) without success. when I tried it with xanthan Gum it didn’t work. please advice me. thank you

  49. Avatar
    Dane Hobbs

    I have been adding chrondrus crispus to a healing salve in order to thicken it up. The problem is that after a week or so a film of mold will develop on the surface. Is there another thickening agent I can use that will not allow mold to develop?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You need to add a preservative to prevent mold growth. No thickener will prevent mold growth.

  50. Avatar

    am making a stretch mark cream,
    how to thicken it without side effect

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      What do you mean by ‘side effects”?

  51. Avatar

    I am making creams with the use of Turmeric extract,magnesium sulfate,Neem oil ,Zinc oxide. Is it ok? and what are the best % can be use of each ingredient?

  52. Avatar

    Hi there! I’m making a massage oil with fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil and essential oils. What can I use as a thickening agent? I’d like to make it less runny and more like a gel. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Try one of the mineral thickeners listed above.

    2. Avatar

      The oil gel can be obtained with sucragel AOF (without heating) or with oliveme 900 (with heating)

  53. Avatar

    i am preparing w/o microemulsion using oleic acis as oil phase surfactant transcutol and labrasol. I need to improve viscosity of emulsion to form a gel which need to be transparent. can any one suggest suitable polymer?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Have you tried Carbomer?

  54. Avatar

    Please I want to thicken my lotion and need a thickner that has no side effect on skin.

  55. Avatar

    please how do I formulate garlic extract to produce a mosquito repellent lotion

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Garlic extract does not have any impact on mosquitos.

    2. Avatar

      The scent due to the sulfur content in garlic causes mosquitoes to expel. Mosquitoes can not withstand the scent. And so scares them in a way. please help me sir.

  56. Avatar

    plz tell me the name of acid thickner to thick Hydrochloric acid

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Cellulose would work as would clays. It really depends on the concentration of HCl that you’re using.

  57. Avatar
    Ali Khalid

    Hi Perry. I want to thicken oil into gel with strings.. and it should not effect the clarity of the Oil. Please suggest..

  58. Avatar

    please tell me how to emulsify silicone oil?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That really depends on what type of silicone you are trying to emulsify but typically you can just buy emulsified silicone and use it in your formula.

  59. Avatar
    dudi sukmawadi

    hai… i m making the hair spa, what best for thickening agent, i have used carbomer before but the product to be watery/not oily after robber by hand even performance looking very thickened, is the xanthan gum good to use??, and how to dilute to the water?, thanks..

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you could use xanthan gum. But carbomer should work. You probably didn’t neutralize it properly.

  60. Pingback:The Main 8 || Thickeners – Lens of Beauty

  61. Avatar

    How to avoid air trap in when making a xanthan gum gel?

    I try hydrate the xanthan gum first and mix it still making tiny air trap

    I try disolve it in glycerin and add water still have air trap

    Any suggrstion ?

    Thank you

  62. Avatar

    hi , i am making dishwashing liquid by sulfonic acid ,naoh , texapon, coconut, salt, urea , triethanol amin but its viscosity is low. what can i do for increasing its viscosity?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This is a cosmetic science blog so we don’t really talk about dishwashing formulations. However, you could do a salt curve analysis to see if salt can thicken or you might be able to use something like Hydroxyethylcellulose.

  63. Avatar
    Meenakshi Pathak

    I want to prepare 98% aloe vera gel but my carbomer is not swelling in aloe vera even on addition of triethanolamine. What i can do to prepare gel?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Disperse the Carbomer in water first and don’t use as much Aloe Vera Gel.

  64. Avatar
    mustaffa mukhtar

    dear sir,can I heat carbomer solution?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski


  65. Avatar

    Do you have any experience in formulation of chemical peelings with very low pH? which thickener you would use with high concentrations of AHA and pH about 2?
    In order to have homogeneous gel?

  66. Avatar
    Amit Thakur

    what are the post thickning agent for cream, lotion, or conditioner i.e; (O/W emultion).
    I mean to say that if the viscocity of cream or lotion’s remains low then what chemicals shoud i add in cool phase to increase desired viscosity.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You can add a thickening agent like Sepigel which is a water swellable polymer

  67. Avatar
    batool jaradat

    Dear Sir
    I am using the following ingredients in cats and dog natural herbal insecticidal shampoo:
    sodium laureth sulphate
    lauramide DEA
    pyrethrin extract
    pipronyl butoxide
    PLEASE advice the best thickener for this
    dr . batool

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You could try Hydroxyethylcellulose or Xanthan gum

    2. Avatar

      you may pls add xanthan gum with the ratio of 0.5 of the total formula i think this should solve your problem

  68. Avatar
    Yoseph Melesse

    I am preparing liquid detergent using LABSA, SLES, CDEA, CAUSTIC SODA, ALCOHOL, STPP and fragrance. But the liquid is not as viscus as I need. What low cost thickener shall I use to make the liquid more viscus?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski


  69. Avatar

    I am trying to prepare a handwash using an anionic (SLES)or no-ionic (Nonoyl phenol) surfactant. I have prepared the formultion using 5% surfactant with other ingredints normally used to make a shampoo or a liquid hand wash. When I use the finished formulation to wash my hands it keeps on foaming no matter how many times I wash my hands with tap water. I have tried reducing the concentration of the surfactant to as low as 1% but still the foaming does not stop. The handwash does not wash off the skin.
    Please let me know what I need to add or alter in the formulation in order to get rid of this refoaming or sticky feel.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You could add something like Glycerin or some type of oil like coconut oil which will reduce foam

  70. Avatar
    Richard Yeck

    We are looking for mineral thickener and synthetic thickener. Please let me have a mobile or land contact so that I can call as soon as I have your reply. Thank you.
    Kind regards
    Richard Yeck

  71. Avatar
    Shreyansh sethia

    I want to make guar gum powder for cosmetic purpose. So kindly suggest me what type of chemical or indegrades need to add in guar gum powder for cosmetic.. ??

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      If it’s a powder, you could probably mix it with talc to make it more manageable during application.

  72. Avatar

    Dear Sir

    I want to thicken the wetting agent chemical for textile processing .

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Use one of the thickeners described in the article above.

  73. Avatar

    I make Shea butter skin moisturizers. In 80 degree, or higher temps, they will melt back to a liquid in their jars. Lipid Thix increases the melting point so they don’t melt plus acts as a thickener. You only need a little bit. I use 2.5% of my entire batch size. Works beautifully!

  74. Avatar

    I’m looking to replicate this liquid grip product I use for lifting weights. The ingredients on the bottle are alcohol, magnesium carbonate, thickener, and fragrance. Which type of alcohol and thickener should I use? It’s essentially liquid gym chalk but without the mess because my gym doesn’t allow chalk. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      The alcohol to use is most likely Ethanol. The thickener is probably Carbomer.

  75. Avatar

    I’m making a hair mask which consist of Natural aloe, coconut oil and avocado. The combination is very liquidity and I’m looking to thicken it. What should I add?

    1. Avatar

      Avocado oil*

    2. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Xanthan gum

  76. Avatar

    how to make thick to silicon emulation to make polish?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Use a high molecular weight silicone

  77. Avatar

    what thickner I can use to thick water and glycerine mixture but should not be sticky. I tried guar gum, CMC but they are sticky. please tell me which non sticky thickner I can use?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Carbomer could be used.

      1. Avatar

        carbomer is very costly any other chemical which is cheap? i dont use it on body parts

        1. Avatar
          Anthony D'Ovidio

          You can also try the Polyaldos from Lonza. Its not as costly.

        2. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Sorry, I’ve suggested all the ones I know.

  78. Avatar

    Good Afternoon
    I am trying to make a gel out of honey
    I have tried the polymers more synthetic products but I was wanting to use a natural gel
    No problem Xanthem and some others great in a higher water based solution
    I can’t seem to achieve the honey gel
    I mix the water and gel and preservative in like a phase 1
    Heat the honey
    Add phase 2 add to phase 1
    Doesn’t gel up properly and still too sticky
    Suggestions please
    Thanks Sharon

  79. Avatar

    I made shampoo but it didn’t thicken as I expected. I tried xanthan gum but after some time it settles down. So please help me n tell me which other thicker can I use n what can I use to increase viscosity. My shampoo has SLES, WHITE OIL, GLYCERINE, SALT, N D FRAGRANCE.thank u

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      White oil is not a good ingredient to use in shampoos. And you need a secondary surfactant like Cocamidopropyl Betaine

  80. Avatar

    I am trying to make a natural shampoo for dogs with a coconut, palm and macnut base and need help w 2 best to thicken..and how best to make white vs clear..I have read failor and followed youtube and stumbled on tube by Susan who makes clear liquid too thick w borax, then cooks and when adds water to thin down it turns white..was not her goal but would work for me..any suggestions?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You haven’t really given enough information (like ingredient list) for me to help. You could probably use an ingredient like Hydroxymethylcellulose or Xanthan Gum or maybe even just salt to thicken. Then you could use Glycol Stearate as a whitening ingredient. But without more info I can’t offer much more help. You should post this question in our cosmetic science forum.

  81. Avatar

    Is it sufficient to use one thickener or better to use two – like xanthan gum and hydroxyethyl cellulose in the one formulation?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      One thickener is typically sufficient but it depends on various factors such as the feel you’re going for and the ingredients in your formula.

  82. Avatar
    Amoo Temitope

    Please can i use salt NaCl as a thickening agent for home made hand sterilizer

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends on what ingredients are in your formula but if you don’t have an anionic surfactant in the system, probably not.

  83. Avatar

    I am working on clear, sulphate free face wash. The Base is good but want to thicken up the system. Tried Carbopol ETD 2020 of Lubrizol, but the sensorial is not that much good, kindly suggest.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You could try Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose.

  84. Avatar

    Someone asked earlier how to thicken aloe vera juice to a gel, you said to use xanthan gum. My question is, how does this work? Do I just mix in the xanthan gum and the job is done or do I need to heat the aloe/ xanthan mix or what?
    Please help

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends on whether the Xanthan Gum readily goes into solution. That will depend on how much water is in your system. You probably don’t need to heat it but then you might.

  85. Pingback:Rheology – ARC's Chemistry Chat

  86. Avatar

    If I’m making a hair gel with tons of hold, which thickening agent would be best? i was thinking the xantham gum or carbomer but I’m not sure which one is better miscible with oils and water.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Carbomer would be better.

  87. Avatar

    Hi perry
    Can you help me can you sugest a thickener for mineral oil to make it a gel for candle am abedis from greece thankyou inadvance.

  88. Avatar

    How can I naturally thicken aloe Vera liquid to a gel consistency?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Use Xanthan gum. It also depends on what you mean by “natural”

  89. Avatar

    Im a producer of hand wash,dish wash and tile cleaner. And its been difficult for me to thicken the product. So wat should i use as the thickener?

    1. Avatar
      Zeeshan jamshed

      Hi nalaka and Perry I hope both of you are fine
      I have same problem like nalaka can you suggest me any thing

  90. Avatar

    I WANT thickner for waterless hand cleaner for remove motor oil based on water + orange essential oil

  91. Avatar

    I’m making a natural dish washing liquid with Castille soap and decyl glucoside, what could I use to thicken the formula?
    Thank u

  92. Avatar

    I have thickener agent for waterless hand cleaner based on water plus orange essential oil for mechanic worker
    Thank you

  93. Avatar
    Sally M

    I’m making a body wash that contains coconut milk, castille soap, honey, glycerin and essential oils. What should I use as a thickener?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You could use Xanthan gum

  94. Avatar

    How do I thicken up Alcohol?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Using clays can work.

  95. Avatar
    Subir Nil

    I’m white phenyl manufacture. i want need thinkcner for that. Please help me

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t have an answer for you but maybe someone else will.

  96. Avatar

    brother am making liquid hand soap with sls water nacl and perfume…what should add to get more thichnes?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You could add Cocamidopropyl Betaine

  97. Avatar

    How can I solidify a liquid soap ?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That depends on the composition of the liquid soap.

    2. Avatar

      african black soap

  98. Avatar
    betty kimble

    I made liwuid soap designed for my hair.. I added xantan gum to thicken it but it separated. could you please help me to know why this happened? and also when they say xantan gum should be added at 2%, what exactly do they mean.. is it 2/100 x the weight of diluted soap? and also, what is the bet preservative for shampoo made with potassium hydroxide.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It really depends on what is in the formula. Saying liquid soap is not enough information.

  99. Avatar

    Hi, I’m looking for a Natural Thickening Agent for 100% pure oils?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Bentonite clay may work. You have to test it.

      1. Avatar

        you have raton polymers for oil thickening but not very natural. Or you can simply use comprimitol CG (wax)

  100. Avatar

    Hi, I am making a 100% herbal product to sell in market. So i would like to know a few natural thickeners which are not sticky and beneficial for skin. Can you plz suggest me few of them. Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Thickeners are not beneficial for skin. They are simply in a formula to make it easier to spread. You could try Xanthan Gum or Hydroxyethylcellulose

  101. Avatar

    I have made a water based hand sanitized with HEC but its sticky. how can i remove its stickiness. I want it to feel like alcohol based ones
    please help

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You can try a different thickener. You might also add emollients to offset the stickiness.

  102. Avatar
    Jasmin Flowerz

    Hi. I would like to know how to thicken my homemade, handmade recipe for a tinted eyebrow gel formulation, it’s aloe vera gel-based, but needs a boost in viscosity.

    I’ve searched high and low, yet struggle to find the information I need, specifically suited for cosmetics.. instead, I find ideas for jellies and jams! I need any help/recommendation I can get for this botanical formulation. I will be selling this, SO it ‘needs’ to be good! I’ve considered adding clay (Amazonian clay?)to the mixture, but I’m concerned with the possibility of it making the product too rich and pigmented, therefore, minimizing it’s buildability.

  103. Avatar
    Ron Greene

    I have formulated a household cleaner that is water based and leaves no residue. The problem is that it is water based and runs rapidly down on vertical surfaces. How can I increase the viscosity and still keep it completely residue free?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Carbomer would work pretty well

  104. Avatar

    What is the best thickener to use for serum.
    Serum is natural with coconut oil, vitamin e etc

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      A clay is best for oil systems.

    2. Avatar

      How much oil part is there ? You can use Acypol TR-2

      1. Avatar

        Whats Acypol TR-2?

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          ACRYPOL TR-1 and ACRYPOL TR-2 polymers are cross linked copolymers of Acrylic acid having combination of hydrophilic Lipophilic regions within the polymer matrix facilitates the formation of stable oil / water emulsions

          1. Avatar

            same as PEMULEN TR1 & TR2 from lubrizol

  105. Avatar

    which thickener is best for alchoholic solution to get clear and stable and non-toxic gel form?

    1. Avatar

      Acrypol 956 and Acrypol 950 can work with 60%-90% alcohol. For hand sanitizer and other applications.

    2. Avatar

      Aristoflex AVC good thickener for alchoholic solution

  106. Avatar
    Rajendra singh

    I have one formulation which contain oil water henna powder to making paste but after some time it realise oil and water can u suggest me the thickness agent.

  107. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    please advice me on the best thickener to use for my liquid soap formulation. I normally use C.M.C but can’t find any at the store. Can I use Guar gum or is there a better one that you can be used?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Well, you could use HEC or HPMC. Guar gum might work but Xanthan gum could work too.

    2. Avatar

      You can use Acrypol ET-12

  108. Avatar
    Delicia A

    I made a shampoo/body wash from African Black soap imported from Nigeria grated finely. I brought 1 and 1/2 cups of water just to the boiling point to 4.5 to 5.0 ounces of the soap. I mixed till all soap was dissolved. I then added a slightly heaped tsp of raw Shea while the mix was still hot. Once at a warm temp I then added 1 tsp hemp oil and 1 tsp Argan oil, blending well. Finally, I added my essential oils and once again blended. I gave these as gifts for the holiday. My brother told me his thickened right up to the point it didn’t pour. I simply told him to add a bit more water and let it sit then shake it. He has had no problems with it since. Sometimes in my experience other additives are not needed. The Shea is what made the shampoo become thickened plus the 1 and 1/2 cups water was 1/2 cup less than was called for. But that extra 1/2 cup made it too thin. The next time I will do 1 and 3/4 cup water. I prefer going as natural and as organic as possible. I for one do not care whether my product is clear or not. My goal is a healthy, quality product.

  109. Avatar

    what is the alternative of Dimethicone Copolyol in after shaving gel formula

  110. Avatar
    Celese Brovelli

    Could you please suggest a thickener that:
    – dissolves easily in a water matrix, which is infused with botanicals and only 1% coconut oil
    – is of natural origin (I am not using synthetic ingredients for this conditioner)
    – doesn’t leave residues/flakes in a leave- in type of hair product

  111. Avatar

    please I am make lighting cream using kojic, arbutin, licorice. what thickner can I use

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That really depends on what is in the rest of the formula.

  112. Avatar
    Rajesh Bansal

    I am preparing a hand wash by using EGMS, SLS, SLES, Water and many other material. What should I have to add to make this thick except Sod. Chloride and what % should be there.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      A cellulose would work.

  113. Avatar

    i m making cream from stearic acid base so pls suggest me which thickner agent is best for my product

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Use Carbomer

  114. Avatar

    i would like to know which thickener is best for paraffin oil to get clear and opaque gel form

    1. Avatar

      Parrafin oil is available in diffenrent viscosities. Please buy high viscosity parrafin oil and there is no need to add any thickner

  115. Avatar

    I’m making a toner, and trying to incorporate Cetearyl Glucoside for texture reasons.
    It is an emulsifier, and I have no oils or fats in my product. would it incorporate at all if I mixed it in slowly?

    Also, if I use carbomer, is it necessary to use a neutralizing agent?


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you need a neutralizing agent if you are using carbomer. Cetearyl Glucoside should go into the solution but use rapid mixing and heat, not slow mixing.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you Perry!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Try one of the clay thickeners mentioned above

    2. Avatar
      john arthur (pharmacist)

      i know you can make an emulsion from the oil.the formula is 4:2:1 oil,water,gum. You can use mortar and pestle,or homogenise them………john arthur pharmacist. Ghana west africa.

  116. Avatar

    Hi Perry

    I’m new to using Hydroxyethylcellulose. I’ve searched everywhere, and found you. Can HEC only be used with water based actives, or can any oils (at all) be introduced to the formula without causing separation? I’d love your input. Thanks dearly!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      HEC works by absorbing water to make the system thicker. If there is no water in the system it’s not going to thicken.

  117. Avatar

    Thank you so much for this article. But I sincerely need a help. I am making a cold water liquid starch. Though I av tried pva+cmc,but its not giving me a good result. I wil appreciate it if you could help me with a very effective formular. Thanks

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I do not know what you mean by a cold water liquid starch. Why don’t you just mix water and starch?

  118. Avatar
    Teresa shaban

    I am making sugar based body scrubs with almond oil and liquid lecithan. It is separating after a short resting period . What can I use to help bind the oils with the sugar to stop the separation.

    1. Avatar

      Hello. You can use humectant like honey, vegetble glycerin or aloe vera gel to bind it together

  119. Avatar

    What thickener should I use to formulate a. Toilet bowl cleaner that contains HCL? I have tried so many thicneners but they loose their viscosoty quick. I also tried adding salt but it reduces the pH of the solution. How do I go about it?

    1. Avatar
      vinai srivastava

      we have recently developed a thickner for HCl. We sell this product for thickening HCl ( 15% ). Gelled HCl is stable at higher temperatures also. Our product name is AR – 104

  120. Avatar

    Hello, im making body oil, I would love to know what thickener is best for body oils. Thanks

  121. Avatar

    i m making cream from stearic acid base so pls suggest me which thickner agent is best for my product

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