Carbomers are high molecular weight polymers of acrylic acid that are available as a white fluffy powder and have the formula C3H4O2. To know in detail that what are Carbomers? you should know that they are emulsifying agents and used as 50% concentration in cosmetics and personal care products. They are safe for all skin types and mostly found in gel form. Carbomers have a very low potential for skin irritation at a concentration of up to 100%.
1. Carbomers - Introduction
Carbomers are the polymers of acrylic acid cross-linked with poly alkenyl polyether. They absorb the water readily and increase in size, reaching about 1000 times their original size if remain in the water for long.
All the resins available are similar in chemical properties while differing mainly in the molecular weights. Some properties have been mentioned below:
|Acrylic acid range||98.70% - 99.90%|
|Physical appearance||White, fluffy, free-flowing powder|
|Odor||Slight and characteristic|
|Nature||Mucilaginous, slight acidic, highly ionic|
|Dissolution||Water, alcohol, glycerin|
1.1. Types of Carbomers
Here are the details of types, after understanding that what are Carbomers? Carbomers have several types that are slightly different from each other regarding molecular weight or cross-linking with sucrose or propylene. These types are given as:
- Carbomer-910 – cosmetic ingredient
- Carbomer-934 – cosmetic ingredient
- Carbomer-934P - “P” stands for Pharmaceutical grade
- Carbomer-940 – cosmetic use
- Carbomer-941- used in emulsions and suspensions
- Carbomer-962 – cosmetic ingredient
1.2. Amounts of Carbomer used in products
Carbomers are used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry and present in almost all the products including eyeliners and mascaras also.
There are the concentrations of Carbomer-934 that are being incorporated in certain cosmetic products also including the products used in simple makeup:
|Product||% of Carbomer-934|
|Mascara||Less than 0.1|
|Blushers||More than 1-5|
|Foundations||More than 1-5|
|After shave lotions||More than 0.1-1|
|Shaving creams||More than 0.1-1|
|Cleansing products||More than 1-5|
Carbomers are polymers of acrylic acid that are cross-linked with polyalcohols or sugars. They are used as thickening and emulsifying agents in the cosmetic industry and pharmaceutical industry.
2. Carbomers for skin
Carbomers are part of a vast variety of skincare and other personal care products including the products used to get rid of textured skin.
They act as emulsifying agents in general and increase the thickness of the products. That’s the reason for using them in cosmetic products such as Biologique Recherche P50 lotion so that they hold all the particles together.
They work as thickening agents and prevent the separation of oil and water components of the product. They are considered as completely safe products such as the products used to get rid of acne scars.
However, Carbomers are reported to show some sort of skin irritation and sensitization up to the concentration of 100%.
It doesn’t mean that carbomers alone have the potential for improvement of skin but they are effective when used in combination with other agents.
1) Carbomers - Thickening and emulsifying agents
Carbomers act as emulsifying and thickening agents that hold the particles together by maintaining the flowability of the products.
Being the emulsifying agents, they help in suspending and distribution of the solid particles evenly in the liquid portion to maintain consistency.
2) Carbomers - Texture improving agents
Carbomers are the polymers of acrylic acid with a cross-linking of polyalkenyl polyether. Same as all other polymers, carbomers have the capacity to retain the water and expand in size.
They can expand up to 1000 times their original size if retained in the water. The creamy and smooth texture is obtained when the carbomers are incorporated in the shampoos, lotions, etc.
3. Carbomers – Why and How to use?
Carbomers are present in approximately all cosmetics and personal care products. As they are the polymers of acrylic acid so have the capability to retain a large amount of water in them.
1. Stabilize, emulsify and thicken
When used in skincare products, Carbomers used as stabilizers, emulsifiers, and thickening agents. They hold the ingredients together and maintain the flow properties of products.
Not only do Carbomers have all these properties, but they also provide the products a smooth texture such as in lotions and creams, etc.
2. Versatile and fit-to-all
Carbomers are not used in a single way or in a single industry, but because of their versatility, they are being used in medicine, cosmetics, and even in the oral care products industry.
They have a “fit for all” nature and that makes it must add an ingredient in almost every product.
3. No toxicity
Another important factor that makes their use possible in all kinds of personal care products is their safety.
Carbomers have no associated toxicity until they have a concentration reaching the maximum.
Carbomers absorb the water and expand up to 1000 times their original size. They are not having any effect on the skin but when combined with other agents they give the product a smooth creamy texture.
4. Best products with Carbomer
Carbomers are not as much known as they are used. Most people are unaware of them and their uses in products, especially products used to treat the textured skin.
This is because of the reason that carbomers are not given publicity hype when advertising the products.
You will be amazed to know that carbomers are used in the vast majority of products ranging from the pharmaceuticals to lotions and creams. Some best products with the carbomer have been enlisted:
|Squalene + peptide eye gel||Biossance||Anti-aging gel, ultra-hydrating||$ 54.00|
|Coconut & lemon natural hand sanitizer||Everyone||99.99% effective in sanitizing||$2.39|
|Soothing gel aloe vera 95||Varuza||Skin healing, anti-acne||$12.99|
|RESIST brightening essence||Paula’s choice||Anti-oxidant, glowing properties||$42.00|
|Suncare baby sunscreen lotion||CeraVe||SPF 45, protects from UV radiations||$18.00|
|Cetaphil SPF 15 daily facial moisturizer||Cetaphil||Moisturizing, sun-screen||$6.23|
5. Carbomers - side effects
Carbomers are so safe-to-use agents that they are considered free of any side effects. Neither do they interfere with sensitivity-related skin allergies nor alter the functioning of the immune system.
Only if they reach 100% concentration they may cause some kind of skin irritation but they are used in such minute quantities that there are no chances of any skin allergy or photosensitivity.
So, you can conclude that no matter what kind of skin allergy you already have, carbomers present in the product of your use will not impart any effect on it.
Frequently asked questions
As Carbomers are used in almost all kinds of daily use products ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals, you may have certain questions other than the question that what are Carbomers? Some of them have been answered below:
1. Are carbomers safe?
Carbomers are the resins or polymers of acrylic acid and have certain types. They are used as stabilizing and emulsifying agents – both in the cosmetic industry and the medical industry.
According to the safety studies data, there are no side effects associated with the carbomers. They only cause minor skin irritation if their concentration reaches its maximum – i.e. 100%.
2. Is carbomer the same as Carbopol?
They both are not the same although both are polymers and have almost similar properties such as gel formation.
Carbopol is the granular polymer that is used in direct-compression products. Moreover, Carbopol is the brand name of a synthetic polymer.
While carbomers are also synthetic, high molecular weight polymers of acrylic acid that are used as a thickening and emulsifying agents.
3. How do you dissolve a carbomer?
Carbomers are resins or polymers and absorb water when coming in contact. They are soluble in glycerin, water, and alcohol.
To dissolve the acrylic acid, sprinkle the carbomer in distilled water and wait for dome time to get hydrated. After 5-10 minutes, the hydrated polymer is mixed well with a hand mixer and it gets dissolved.
Article consists of the details about the question that what are Carbomers and how they are used. Carbomers are the polymers of acrylic acid that have high molecular weights and are available as a white fuzzy powder. They have the molecular formula C3H4O2.
They are used as emulsifying agents as 50% concentration in the cosmetic products and certain other personal care products. They are safe for all skin types and mostly used as gels.
Carbomers are considered as safest agents as they have a very low potential for skin irritation at a concentration up to 100%. There is a vast range of products that have incorporated carbomers as an ingredient.