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Application of Carbomer in Personal Care Industry


Carbomer is a homopolymer of acrylic acid, which is cross-linked or bonded to any of several polyol allyl ethers. The chemical formula of Carbomer is C3H4O2, and the compound is usually a white powder. And it can be dissolved in water, ethanol and glycerin. Carbomer’s molecules contain 56% to 58% carboxyl groups, which are weakly acidic, so its aqueous solution should be used after neutralization with alkali to reduce its irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. When carbomer is dispersed in water, due to the repulsion between the negative charges generated by the ionization of the carboxyl group, the curled polymer stretches out and expands in volume. The 1% carbomer aqueous dispersion can be neutralized with an alkaline substance to form a gel. The concentration of the commonly used carbomer aqueous dispersion is 0.1% to 3.0%.

Carbomer is well known for its use in the cosmetics industry and personal care industry, and it is often used as a thickener and emulsion stabilizer, mainly to help control the viscosity and flow of cosmetics. It helps to disperse and suspend insoluble solids in the liquid and prevents the oil and liquid parts of the solution from separating. Carbomer has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, and when swelled in water it can swell to 1000 times its original volume.

Carbomer series products (Carbomer 934, Carbomer 940, Carbomer 941, Carbomer 980) are all similar in chemical properties, but their molecular weight and viscosity are different from each other. The codes of the Carbomer series products (ie 910, 934, 940, 941 and 934P) indicate the molecular weight and specific components of the polymer. Powder carbomer is commonly used in skin care products and cosmetics, while liquid carbomer is mainly used in cleaning products. At present, powder carbomer is generally added to disinfection and sterilization products on the market.

In the past few years, Carbomer’s global market has developed rapidly, with an average growth rate of 11.98% from 2013 to 2017. In 2018, the global carbomer market was valued at US$722.9 million and is expected to reach US$17.951 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.3%. Carbomer’s series products include Carbomer 940, Carbomer 980, Carbomer 934, etc. In 2018, Carbomer 940‘s market share is about 37%. Carbomer is widely used in the pharmaceutical, personal care and cosmetic industries. Carbomer is most used in the personal care and cosmetics industries, with a proportion of about 54%.

Carbomer is commonly used as a thickener, dispersant, suspending agent and emulsifier in cosmetics and personal care products. By adding carbomer to shampoo, conditioner, cream and lotion, these makeup and cleansing products will become smoother. It can also be used in styling gel, sunscreens, eye creams, and scrubs. Clinical studies have shown that carbomer polymers are less likely to cause skin irritation and sensitization at concentrations as high as 100%. Furthermore, carbomer polymers show low phototoxicity and photocontact sensitization potential.