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thickener

Thickens and bulks a product, makes it opaque, controls viscosity, etc. Carbomers, specifically, are a group of thickening agents used primarily to create gel-like formulations.

A variety of factors should be taken into consideration when using a thickener, including:

  • the products’ use
  • application surface
  • compatibility with other ingredients in the formula
  • pH – (certain thickeners, e.g., carbomers, are alkali swellable, and they need an alkaline pH to reach optimum viscosity; therefore, they cannot be used in an acidic environment)
  • clarity
  • the presence of electrolytes
  • temperature during processing – (waxes have to be melted in order to be mixed with oils; if a product is made without heating, waxes cannot be used)
  • shear during processing – (some ingredients, such as carbomer, require shear in order to be activated and gain optimum viscosity, while others may be sensitive for shearing, such as fumed silica)

It’s important to note that generally, the more thickening agents used in formulating a cream, for example, may enhance its stability, but can also cause difficulty in spreading.

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