Thickening Challenging Surfactant Systems

Noveon Consumer Specialties, a product line of The Lubrizol Corporation, has introduced a hydrophobically modified, alkali-swellable emulsion polymer for surfactant systems that are difficult to thicken. Novethix L-10 Polymer (INCI: Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer) thickens and controls the rheology of challenging surfactant cleansing systems such as mild, sulfate/amide-free shampoos and facial cleansers or low surfactant content formulations for economy markets.

The polymer is said to add structure to most cleansing formulations containing anionic, nonionic and zwitterionic surfactants. In addition, the company notes that the polymer may be more cost-effective than other nonionic thickeners. It works synergistically with electrolytes and is a cold-processable liquid.

Some surfactant systems containing nonionic thickeners are associated with problems such as poor viscosity reproducibility, jelly-like flow aesthetics and instability when stored at elevated temperatures. Nonionic thickeners often require controlled heating and cooling protocols to achieve formulation reproducibility. As the company's copolymer is an aqueous dispersion, it can be cold-processed without long mixing times; it has shear-thinning rheology and  excellent temperature stability.

The product also: can replace amides in cleansing formulations, enhances pearlescent appearance and stabilizes insoluble ingredients and high oil-loaded body wash emulsions.

The polymer delivers smooth-textured flow properties and high clarity in a wide variety of cleansing applications. It can be formulated in economy (low surfactant), clear or pearlized body washes and shampoos; and mild, sulfate-free, amide-free shower gels, shampoos and facial cleansers.

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