Ingredient Profile—Carbomer

Carbomers, a family of crosslinked acrylic acid polymers, are essential ingredients in numerous products, including: pharmaceuticals; cosmetics and personal care items; household, industrial and institutional care products; printing inks; adhesives and coatings. For more than 50 years, formulators across multiple industries have relied on various carbomers to build viscosity, form gels, stabilize emulsions and suspend particles. When used correctly, carbomers help to build consumer-desired aesthetics into products while simultaneously enabling long-term shelf stability. Due to their utility, reliability and occasional ability to rescue doomed product launches by stabilizing poorly conceived formulas against separation, carbomers have been described by seasoned product developers as, “a formulator’s best friend.” This column will explore the chemistry and properties of carbomers that have earned them this well-deserved reputation.

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